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Running For More…

The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta

Posts Tagged ‘Training’

New Year, New Beginnings

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Welcome to 2016!

Much has happened since the last time I clicked myself over to this blog, with new beginnings happening all over the place. Since today is the first day of the new year, it only seemed fitting to give everyone an update about where I’ve been, and more importantly, what’s on deck for 2016.

Career Changes

By far the most significant change for me has been a job change, a change that was not unforeseen. I was employed at the CDC as a research Fellow, and my Fellowship was scheduled to end on Thanksgiving day, 2015.

One last stunning sunset over Atlanta, as seen from my office at the CDC.

One last stunning sunset over Atlanta, as seen from my office at the CDC.

Going into the final year of my Fellowship, all parties involved were both expectant and excited about the likely possibility that I would be staying on permanently at the CDC, as part of the rapidly growing Prescription Drug Overdose team. My team had the funds to hire several people and both my supervisors and I wanted me to be one of those people. However, over the summer, I learned that it wasn’t going to be possible. I’m not going to go into the details as to why here, but suffice it say, everyone was disappointed that it didn’t work out, including me. I LOVED being a part of the CDC, I really liked the vast majority of the people I worked with (both at the CDC and beyond), and I was pretty dang excited about several big things that were/are in the pipeline for the PDO team. To compound things, even as it became increasingly apparent that the primary project that I had been working on throughout my Fellowship was taking significantly longer to wrap up than expected, there was just no possibility of extending my Fellowship further. To be completely honest, it made for a pretty difficult last few months, especially as new people with less experience than I had were brought in to the permanent positions that I had been hoping to land. I wanted to stay and finish my project at my high standard of work, and instead, I felt like I was being pushed out the door. I would not give up my time at the CDC for anything – I had dreamed of working there for as long as I can remember and I am thrilled I was able to make it happen. I just wish things had ended on a better note.

A major SABCS highlight - meeting Dr. Susan Love and several Komen Advocates in Science at the Brinker Awards Reception.

A major SABCS highlight – meeting Dr. Susan Love and several Komen Advocates in Science at the Brinker Awards Reception.

BUT! When life closes a door, it opens a window, as they say. And in this case, life has opened a giant, beautiful bay window for me, with a stellar view of the future. With a bit of persistence and a good bit of luck, I was able to secure a job with Susan G. Komen as an Evaluation Manager, focusing on scientific research programs. In this position, I will be joining the team at Komen that is responsible for assessing the impact of the dollars that Komen has invested in breast cancer research over the years, identifying research successes that have stemmed from those dollars, and helping to improve Komen’s research programs overall. I will also get the opportunity to take these rusty blogging skills out for a spin by writing some pieces for the Susan G. Komen blog, email newsletters, and other social media properties. It is, in short, my dream job and in just three short weeks of employment, I have already had a career-high moment when I got to attend the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on behalf of Komen. I have followed the news coming out of SABCS for years, dating back to when my mom’s oncologists presented her case there during one of the case study sessions. To be there in person, just days after starting my new job, was an amazing experience. I cannot understate how excited I am for this new opportunity, especially given how crushed I was to have to leave a job I loved at the CDC.

Lifestyle Changes

The cherry on the sundae that is my new job is that in addition to doing work that I’m genuinely passionate about, I am going to get to do said work from home! My greatest frustration at the CDC was being forced to adhere to a standard 9-5 workday, with little freedom to manage my own time. While I will still have regular hours at Komen, working from home does give me a bit more flexibility. I will be able to do things like fold laundry while thinking through tricky problems, go for runs on my lunch break, and other things like that. At the CDC, I was easily spending 2.5 hours in the car every day between driving to & from daycare and commuting to work. Being able to just pop Dash over to daycare (or better yet, run commute him over on nice days!) and come right back home is going to save me TONS of time. Dash is about to have his own new beginning starting next week when he transitions to a new classroom at his daycare, so it’s nice to know I’ll have a little more flexibility in the event he needs me a bit more for the next couple weeks too. Plus, my beloved Shenanigans never really forgave me for taking an office job (she developed severe separation anxiety), so to stay home with her all day, every day, just feels right. Feeling like I’m in control of my time again has me VERY optimistic for everything I’d like to get done in the next year. And speaking of things I’d like to get done in the next year…

Volunteering with Komen Atlanta

I am once again serving as the Teams and Recruiting Chair for the 2016 Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure!

One of my homes away from home!

One of my homes away from home!

As always, the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure will take place on Mother’s Day weekend, returning again to the Lenox Mall. Race registration will “officially” open on Monday, but shhh…. a little bird told me you can actually register now (click here)! And to make things even better, this year I have a 25% off discount code that everyone can use to save some money. Simply enter “KCincotta2016” during registration and the computer will do the rest!

In addition to recruiting new teams and participants directly, I am also taking on something new this year – I have recruited 10 absolute superstars to serve as Race Ambassadors for the Race this year. I’ve already held one training session with them that left me totally jazzed up for the potential impact of this program on our Race registration, and especially on the performance of our teams. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this group in the coming months, so be prepared. As a I said, these ladies are superstars – longtime participants, top fundraisers, big time team captains. They are going to really push me to bring my best to our Race this year – I can’t wait!

I am also trying to launch one other initiative for Race that centers around improving the Race experience for our best performing teams on Race day. I don’t want to go into too many details here because it’s still in the preliminary planning stages. But – I AM looking for someone to join my “Teams Team” and head up this new effort for me. I’ll be there to help along the way, but I’ve already committed to launching the Race Ambassadors program this year and don’t want to give either program short shrift by trying to do both all by myself. So if you, or someone you know, might be interested in working with me on this new effort, let me know by shooting me an email. Thanks!

Volunteering with Atlanta Track Club

Dash trying out the indoor track at the snazzy new ATC offices.

Dash trying out the indoor track at the snazzy new ATC offices.

Last June, I was thrilled to learn that I was selected to once again serve as a Community Ambassador for my beloved Atlanta Track Club. The ATC has really helped me become a “real” runner over the last few years, and I’m honored to be able to spread the word about everything that they bring to our local running community. However, shortly after my Ambassador term started, I decided to back off of any racing until I knew what was happening with my job situation (and more specifically, our financial situation). I was already committed to the Atlanta 3-Day in October and I needed to devote my limited training time to that event anyways. So I didn’t really do much running between mid-July and mid-November, despite my best intentions. And as you can imagine, that made it pretty difficult to trumpet all the wonderfulness of the ATC.

Thankfully, right around the time I was tip toeing back into the running world post 3-Day, all of the Ambassadors were invited to extend their terms by an additional six months or so, so that our terms aligned with the calendar year. I sent off an email accepting that offer within seconds, knowing that this was my chance to really bring my best efforts to my Ambassador gig. So, you can expect much more from me about my experiences with the various programs and races that the Atlanta Track Club offers, both here and on social media, throughout 2016. Yeah!

Running in General

With my GOTR race buddy, before she totally smoked me!

With my GOTR race buddy, before she totally smoked me!

As I already mentioned, I began tip toeing back into running in mid-November after a bit of a break over the summer and early fall. I did my best to complete the “Striding through the Holidays” challenge that the

awesome ladies at Another Mother Runner organized, which was great motivation to get back into more consistent running and workouts. I also ran with my friend Julie’s daughter in the Girls on the Run ATL 5K, during which Niblette (her online nickname) absolutely dusted me. I was pretty dang proud of her wheels, but boy, was that the kick in the pants that I needed to get serious about running again. So I sucked it up, set some goals for myself for 2016, and got started. I rolled directly from the Stride challenge into training for the Publix GA Half Marathon (now being run by the ATC – holler!), following the final 14 weeks of the AMR Half Marathon Finish It! plan. This plan is a bit higher mileage than I’ve been running lately, but with more flexibility in my day to day schedule (see above), I am certain that I can handle it. I am also certain that my butt needs to really feel like I’m training for something if I’m going to stick with it, so hopefully this plan hits that sweet spot. I’ll wrap up my third week of training on Sunday and I’m pretty stoked with how it’s going already. More to come on that soon.

Beyond the Publix Half, I’ve got some other big running goals as well. But since this post is getting monstrously long already, I’ll save those for their own post. Cliff hanger!

Blogging

Celebrating with my Atlanta run-blogging ladies at our annual holiday get together.

Celebrating with my Atlanta run-blogging ladies at our annual holiday get together.

Throughout this beast of an update post, I’ve alluded to the fact that I’m hoping to blog A LOT more regularly over the next year – about Race for the Cure, about ATC, about my running in general, and many other things. I feel like I promise this to myself and the four people out there reading this at least once every few months, but again, with a more flexible day to day schedule, I’m super optimistic that I can actually make it happen this time. I love having this outlet to share my thoughts, successes, and struggles, and I really don’t want to let it languish as I have in the past. I’m going to let the content evolve naturally as I see what happens with my new job, but I definitely want to get back to regular training updates and race updates as a start.

So that’s a bit about where I’m at and what I’m looking at for 2016. The last time I was this excited to kickstart a new year was when I started my Fellowship at the CDC, when I had a lot of similar things on tap. Thanks for joining me on this ride – let’s make it great!

Training Tuesday – Atlanta 3 Day, Week 1

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

This post is part of a series of posts that will document my 16 weeks of training for the Atlanta 3 Day in October. To read the rest of the posts in this series, please click here.

The first two weeks of training for the 2015 Atlanta 3 Day are officially in the books! It’s been hot and busy around here, but I’ve been doing my best to follow the training plan that I laid out in this post. In the interest of accountability, I’m going to do my best to use these Training Tuesday posts to recap how my previous week (or weeks) went. So let’s get to it!

Week of June 29th – July 5th

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A great moment from my first morning of training!

In general, the first week went well, although that isn’t really a surprise since it was basically the same running routine I’ve been loosely following for the last six months. I did miss my mid-week run on Thursday though due an uncooperative baby and some really exciting family news, although I justified that as being part of my “taper” ahead of the Peachtree Road Race. At this early stage in training, I can get away with skipping some runs here and there, but as the weeks go on, I’m really going to have to buckle down and get in my miles. Otherwise, the wheels are going to come off at the 3 Day and that’s just not okay with me. If I’m injured and can’t walk, that’s one thing, but if I don’t make it those 60 miles due to my own laziness? Nope. Not ok.

Monday

Ran 2.98 miles (plus 4 sets of strides) before work + 30 minutes of core strength before bed

Got in my miles super early and was treated to the most spectacular sunrise. This felt like a great omen for how the rest of my training is going to go!

Tuesday

30 minutes of core strength

At the beginning of June, I joined a 30 day core strength challenge on Facebook that KICKED. MY. BUTT. This was the last day of the challenge and I was ready to be done with it. The challenge was sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and planks, with an increasing number of reps of each as the month progressed. On the last day, I did 125 sit ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises, and a 2 minute plank. I’m stoked I completed all 30 days (on time!) and I am definitely much stronger through my core than a month ago, but PHEW. That was a lot of work!

Wednesday

Rest day!

Wednesdays are always marked as running days on my training schedule, but I’m considering these Wednesday runs as my “bonus” runs each week. If I can complete them, I will. But my husband runs on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, so my only options for these runs are pushing the running stroller after work or on the treadmill at the gym at my office. By making these runs “optional”, I’m building in some schedule flexibility for when life things come up as well. In this case, I got caught up at work and didn’t have time to run. Oh well.

Thursday

Rest day!

This SHOULD have been an early morning run. However, Dash woke up right when I should’ve been heading out the door and just did not want to go back to sleep. So I got stuck. I thought about making it up at the gym after work but I forgot to bring my gym bag with me. TWO of my cousins had babies on this day and a large group of us were keeping up with all of the excitement via group text all day long. So I was just a tad distracted this entire day. I decided to just consider it a mini-taper before the Peachtree and settled in to look at pictures of the newest Reeves babies.

Friday

Rest day!

At a minimum, this should’ve been knee PT, and preferably a make up run, especially since I didn’t have to work. But I decided to use my rare day off to sleep in and I just didn’t get another chance during the day to get my run in. In the afternoon, we all headed to the Peachtree Expo, where I volunteered for the Atlanta Track Club. Love being surrounded by the energy of a race expo!


Hanging out at the Peachtree Expo with my fellow Atlanta Track Club Ambassadors!

Hanging out at the Peachtree Expo with my fellow Atlanta Track Club Ambassadors!

Saturday

Peachtree Road Race 10k (which, by my Garmin, was 6.5 miles – WHOOPS!)

One of my favorite races every year. Splashed down Peachtree in a thunder storm and finished in a solid 1:04:50. Still a few minutes off from my pre-pregnancy PR, but a solid effort. More details to come in an actual race recap soon!


Celebrating at the Atlanta Track Club Members' party after the Peachtree!

Celebrating at the Atlanta Track Club Members’ party after the Peachtree!

Sunday

One hour of “Yoga for Runners” from Yoga Today

A few years ago, I purchased three hour long yoga videos from Yoga Today that I absolutely love and “Yoga for Runners” is my favorite of the three. It felt GREAT after giving it a solid effort at the Peachtree the day before.

Total Planned Miles: 12

Total Completed Miles:  9.48

Total Cross Training workouts: 3/3 

Total knee PT: none (unacceptable, Cincotta!)

 

Week of July 6th – 12th

Week 2 brought with it my first back-to-back long training walks! I was able to finish both of them at a much faster pace than I expected, which was a big confidence boost. Of course, pace doesn’t matter AT ALL on the actual 3-Day. In fact, if you’re walking too fast, you’ll miss all of the best of the event. But I’m a busy person and those training walks are going to get really long, really soon. The faster I can bang out my training miles, the better!

Monday

Ran 2.95 miles (plus 6 sets of strides) + upper body strength before work

Got up early and got it done. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to complete my planned upper body workout, especially given that I was still sore from yoga the previous day.

Tuesday

Rest day!

Wednesday

Rest day!

I had every intention of running over to pick up Dash from daycare after work because we had a new water meter installed and I was working from home all afternoon. However, the workmen didn’t come back to check the installation and turn our hot water back on until almost 5pm, which was way too late for me to run over. In fact, they were so late, I didn’t make it to daycare at all. Hubs had to pick up Dash on his way home from work instead. Super frustrating.

Thursday

Ran 3.29 total miles of speed work (10 min warm up jog over to the track, 6 x 1 minutes at 5k pace with 2:30 minutes of recovery, 10 min cool down jog home)

This workout felt SUPER easy. I hit paces that were WAY faster than expected (I averaged an 8:20 pace!) and I felt like the recovery intervals were too long. It was encouraging, to be sure, but I’m clearly underestimating what I can do. Speed work should be challenging and this just wasn’t.

I received some pretty tough news at work on Thursday morning, so I was strongly thinking about pounding out some stress (and making up my Wednesday run!) by heading home from work early and running over with the stroller to pick up Dash from daycare. But when I left work, it was literally 100 degrees. Yeah, that wasn’t happening.

Friday

Rest day!

I had planned to do a second strength workout plus some knee PT before work but the baby woke up super early and didn’t really want to go back to bed. So I skipped it.

Saturday

Walked 5.06 miles early in the morning

Got up early to get these miles in before my day really started. I walked 2.5 sort of slow miles around the neighborhood with my “OG” training partner, Shenanigans, and 2.5 miles on my own. I decided to explore the undeveloped northern stretch of what will be the Eastside Beltline trail extension and had a blast. I walked along trails and abandoned railroad tracks and felt like I was miles and miles from home. I would never go this way if I was running due to the uneven terrain, so this was a nice treat.

IMG_1956 The future Beltline!
With my best girl and original training partner! The future Beltline!

Afterwards, I headed to the Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market and helped Komen Atlanta distribute upcycled “market totes” made from old Race for the Cure t-shirts. Anything to spread the word and increase Race awareness!


Showing off my Pinterest skillz.

Showing off my Pinterest skillz.

Sunday

Walked 6.25 miles pushing Dash in the stroller followed by an hour of Ashtanga yoga

I expected that pushing the stroller would really slow me down (since it definitely slows down my running pace) but Dash and I really cranked on these miles. He was such a trooper too. Not too long ago, he would start fussing if he had to be in the stroller for more than 15 or 20 minutes, and today he hung in there like a champ for an hour and 39 minutes. Must be all that “base building” we’ve been doing walking around town and festivals for the past four months!

Yoga was tough but I was glad I got it done. I needed to stretch after pushing it for 11 miles of walking this weekend.

Total Planned Miles: 6.25-ish running, 11 miles walking

Total Completed Miles:  6.24 miles running, 11.31 miles walking

Total Cross Training workouts: 2/3 

Total knee PT: none (you’ll be ticked off when your knee implodes, Cincotta!)

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As always, I am putting in all of these miles to prepare for the Atlanta 3 Day which benefits Susan G. Komen. If you’d like to make a donation in support of my efforts, you can do so here. Thanks!

The Road to the 2015 Atlanta 3 Day Begins Here!

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

After a bit of a blogging hiatus while I figured out the whole “working mom” thing, I am thrilled to jump back into active blogging in order to announce that I’m walking in the 2015 3 Day for the Cure in Atlanta!

Ok, so “announce” is a bit of a dramatic word. Most of my friends and family have known that I’m walking again for quite some time now. But it’s been five years since my last 60 mile go around, so I felt like this sort of deserved it’s own “Tada!” moment. So officially, I will be walking 60 miles in 3 Days here in Atlanta in October!


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Kicking off my 2015 3 Day training with a stunning sunrise!


For those who aren’t familiar with the 3 Day, this 60 mile walk (spread across, yes, 3 days) benefits Susan G. Komen at the national level. That means that all of the money that is raised goes to fund breast cancer initiatives, and most importantly to me, cutting edge breast cancer research. While the majority of the money raised through local Race for the Cure events generally stays in the area where it was raised to fund community-level breast cancer programs, the 3 Day funds RESEARCH. As a scientist myself, I know the power of those dollars. And this year, I will again be helping to raise those dollars by walking a lot of miles – both during the event and in the next 16 weeks leading up to it.

I will be posting more in the future (hopefully A LOT more) about the fundraising side of this adventure. For tonight, though, I want to focus on two things: my training plans and my pitch to all of you to join me!

Training Plans – Running and Walking!

While it is certainly not required, it is very important to me to walk all 60 miles of the 3 Day in October. In order to do that, and to do it with a smile on my face, I will need to train. And that means walking, walking, walking.


With my teammate Mel during my first 3 Day in Atlanta in 2007.

With my teammate Mel during my first 3 Day in 2007.


I’m not going to lie – I’m predominantly a runner these days, so the idea of slowing down to log some walking miles isn’t super tempting. But, running and walking really do use different muscles. Plus, there are gear challenges with the 3 Day that aren’t really a factor with running, even at long distances (have you ever run with a fanny pack??). So walking some serious miles over the next 16 weeks is going to be crucial.

That being said, I LOVE running races. I probably “race” too often, but I can’t help it. I love the energy of it, even at small community 5Ks, and I don’t want to lose that over the next four months. I’m also hoping to run a half marathon early next year, if not before the end of this year. So that means that even as I log more walking miles than I care to think about right now, I still want to maintain at least some level of running fitness throughout this journey.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve spent some time playing around with training plans, including the 16 week plan that the 3 Day coaches recommend. After a good amount of time with my calendar (and talking things through with my husband!), I’ve finally landed on a somewhat convoluted plan that I think will let me get in enough walking miles to be fit for the 3 Day while still running enough to make me happy. Here’s the basic gist of how it will all work:

  • The training plan I’m following covers 16 weeks, ending the weekend of the 3 Day (October 16-18th, for those keeping track at home).
  • I will be following a modified 10 week 10k running training plan for most of those 16 weeks. I’m going to repeat the last three weeks twice in order to get to the full 16 weeks.
  • Every other weekend, I will substitute my Saturday long run for the long Saturday/Sunday back-to-back long runs of the corresponding weekend on the official 16 week 3 Day training plan.

Note: Most running plans feature one weekend long run followed by a recovery day. On the 3 Day, we walk 20 miles on three consecutive days. As a result, the most important feature of 3 Day training is walking long miles on back to back days so that your body becomes acclimated to bouncing back quickly. So running weeks will be one long run, usually on Saturdays, and walking weeks will be long walks on both Saturdays AND Sundays.

  • Every fourth week, I will substitute my weekday runs for the corresponding weekday walks on the official 16 week 3 Day training plan.
  • As best as I can, I am going to try to fit in up to three cross training sessions as well (two strength sessions + yoga). Fingers crossed!
  • Oh, and in the interest of not re-aggravating my ITBS, I’m going to try to do some of my knee PT exercises twice a week.

So, most weeks will look like this:

  • Monday – short run +  strength
  • Tuesday – rest
  • Wednesday – optional short run + knee PT
  • Thursday – speed work
  • Friday – strength + knee PT
  • Saturday – long run/race or long walk
  • Sunday – long walk (if applicable) + yoga

And my full walking weeks will look like this:

  • Monday – short/medium walk + strength
  • Tuesday – rest
  • Wednesday – optional short run + knee PT
  • Thursday – short/medium walk
  • Friday – strength + knee PT
  • Saturday – long walk
  • Sunday – long walk + yoga

More or less. There are some weeks where I’ll have to get creative, but for the most part, that’s what I’m hoping to do. My mantra word for the second half of 2015 is EXECUTE. I am fully committed to executing this plan.


With my teammates at Closing in the 2010 Boston 3 Day.

With my teammates at Closing in the 2010 Boston 3 Day.


Every week, I will try my best to post a recap of my training for the previous week. In the past, posting regular training recaps has really helped to keep me accountable and I expect that to be true again. I’m also hoping that when all of you see how hard I’m working to prepare for the 3 Day, you’ll be more motivated to help me reach my not insignificant fundraising goals. Wink,wink.

My Challenge to YOU

As all of us 3 Day veterans can attest, no one ever walks the 3 Day alone. Even if you start out alone, you are quickly absorbed into the pink bubble, surrounded by supportive “teammates”. As of right now, though, I don’t have any formal teammates, which is a first for me. I have a number of friends that I’ve met through the 3 Day who will also be walking in Atlanta (including some that I’ve never met before, despite “knowing” them online for five years!). So I know I won’t be alone. But I would love to have some official teammates as well.

Walking 60 miles in 3 days sounds like a huge feat. Raising $2300 in order to have that privilege can seem impossible. But I am here to tell you that it isn’t. I strongly believe that just about anyone can meet this challenge (and even if you don’t, your efforts in the attempt are still SO VALUABLE). My family members have recently become Fitbit-obsessed. I’m hoping that some of them kick it up a notch and take on the 3 Day with me. I also know a number of people who are on “get fit” kicks of their own. What better way to motivate yourselves than to take on the 3 Day?

Honestly, there are as many reasons to do the 3 Day as there are people who have walked it over the years. Whatever your reason, if you feel a pull in your heart to get involved, I strongly encourage you to do so. You will not regret it. The theme for the 3 Day this year is “Do Something Huge”. Make this your something huge.


My reason for walking, at the 2008 Atlanta 3 Day.

My reason for walking, at the 2008 Atlanta 3 Day.


If you choose to join me, the team I envision will be relatively informal. As a three time 3 Day vet, I can help answer any questions you may have and of course, we’ll celebrate together on the event in October. But your training will be up to you to execute (or not) as you wish, as will your fundraising. The primary focus of our team will be support and encouragement. This will be a 100% NO PRESSURE team.

I know a lot of people have expressed to me that they’re intrigued by the challenge that the 3 Day offers. Or that they’d love to do something, anything, to help in the fight against breast cancer. So this is your chance. Come walk with me in October. You can do it. I know you can.

If you would like to join my team, you can do so by clicking here. While you can sign up anytime between now and the event in October, I highly encourage you to register soon in order to give you ample time to fundraise and train. If you have any questions, you can shoot me an email here or tweet at me here. Or you can always just leave a comment on this blog post.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure! Whether you choose to walk with me or just to support from afar, we are all in this together. So thanks!

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While I am not kicking off my formal fundraising efforts just yet, my fundraising page is ready to accept donations. If you would like to make a donation in support of my efforts, you can do so by clicking on the link above or by using the widget in the left-hand corner of this page. Thanks!

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Part 2: The Comeback

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Wow, finding time to write while working and raising a newborn is hard!

Even harder, it turns out, is finding the time to train for a half marathon. I had high hopes a few weeks ago that I’d be able to keep up a pretty easy training schedule, especially once we fell into a routine with work and daycare. Ha! I’m learning the hard way that newborns have a stubborn way of not sticking to a routine. They also have a stubborn habit of not letting you sleep. And when your only chance to run is in the morning before work and you’re faced with a choice between going for that run or grabbing an extra hour of sleep, well, you know where this is going.

Post partum yoga is EXHAUSTING, Mom!

Post partum yoga is EXHAUSTING, Mom!

That being said, I have managed to go for a number runs over the past five weeks, slowly stretching my “long” run out to five miles. Not nearly as many runs or as many miles as I had planned to have run by this point, but it is what it is. I wish I could say that I was running free of any residual knee pain, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Even after all of the this time, my IT band feels tweaky on most of my runs. Not enough to stop running, but enough that I’m noticing. I can’t really run on back to back days and I have to be diligent about stretching, foam rolling, and icing after every run. I also should be doing my PT strengthening exercises multiple times a week, but that definitely hasn’t been happening, despite my best intentions. But I’m working through it. Fingers crossed, if I keep doing what I’m doing (and add in those PT exercises… ), I will still be able to run the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving.

Speaking of racing, tomorrow morning, I will make my “grand” return to racing. I will be racing in the Atlanta Track Club’s Cartersville 10k. The conditions should be PERFECT – temps in the mid-50s, clear skies, relatively flat course. Normally, I’d be chasing a PR (I’m seriously jonesing to drop that last minute off my 10k PR and get below one hour!). But that’s not going to happen tomorrow. So far, I’ve only run one five mile run since I’ve been “back” (and actually, since last October!) so racing six miles is going to be an adventure. I know I can finish the distance and I’m not really worried about my time. In fact, I’m so not concerned with time that I turned the time prompts off of my RunKeeper app. The half marathon course time limit is based on a 16 min per mile pace and I know I can do that, so there’s really no point to focus on pace. Just distance.

So here’s what I’m hoping happens tomorrow: I hope that the race goes well enough that I feel like the half marathon is doable, but not so well that it doesn’t motivate me to recommit to my training. I need to be better about training or I really am going to re-injure myself again. And that is the last thing that I want. So yes, I want tomorrow’s 10k to kick my butt a bit. Just enough to get moving again with some discipline and dedication.

Walking with my favorites in the park!

Walking with my favorites in the park!

As far as said training, here’s my general game plan for the next eight weeks:

Monday – 3 mile easy run, plus core conditioning
Tuesday – PT exercises
Wednesday – 5 mile easy run, plus core conditioning
Thursday – Barre3 class online (here)
Friday – PT exercises
Saturday – Long run (adding a mile each week, with one step back week in the middle somewhere)
Sunday – Yoga at home (I have a few videos that I love and rotate through), PT exercises

That shouldn’t be too hard to manage. It’s only three runs per week, plus conditioning that can all be done at home, with a focus on core and my PT exercises. At some point, I’d love to work in actual Barre classes in person, pilates with my friend Laura, and some actual cardio cross training, but those things are going to have to wait until after this training cycle. For now, the above plan is going to have to be sufficient. I just need to recommit to making it happen. Hopefully writing it here will help keep me accountable.

But before all of that can happen, I have to finish my race tomorrow. I’m nervous but excited. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve pinned on a bib and my new sneakers are aching to finish this race. Wish me luck!


Go, new kicks! Go!

Go, new kicks! Go!



 

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Part 1: Recap

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Today, I went for a run. I also went running twice last week. For someone who’s blog is ostensibly about running, that shouldn’t be anything noteworthy. But between my knee injury that developed last fall and my pregnancy, it actually is a big deal, at least for me.

I am four weeks post partum and was given the go ahead by my doctor to start “gentle” exercise a week ago. My guess is that my doctor what my doctor means by “gentle exercise” is a bunch of walking and maybe some easy yoga and upper body weights. However, because I am registered for a half marathon on Thanksgiving day (just over 12 weeks away!), I’ve been anxious to get back out running again. I am not an idiot and I’m not jumping back into eight mile sweat sessions or crazy speed work at the track. I am going to take my time and start with short distances, walking whenever and however much is necessary. I have a tentative training plan that I am going to try to follow to prepare for the half, which I’m going to write about in my next post. But first, since I haven’t really written about it yet, I wanted to fill in the blanks about what all has happened with my running since the Atlanta 10 Miler last October.

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 1 – Resting, Resting, Resting

Just before the Atlanta 10 Miler in October, I wrote about my frustrations with some pain in my right knee that developed during the 13.1 Half Marathon earlier that month. After pushing through a couple of weeks of light(er) running following the 13.1 race, it became clear that this knee injury wasn’t going to just magically go away. So I promised my husband that after the 10 Miler, I would rest for at least a month, something I very much did not want to do at that time.

Although I’ve been running in some form for the last 4-5 years, I’ve only really felt like a serious runner since early 2012. Everything was finally clicking last fall and I was starting to see some real improvements in my finish times (a sub-28 minute 5K!). So, knowing that my husband and I had just begun trying to expand our family, and having no idea if I would be able to run during my pregnancy (despite grand visions of myself running right up until my due date!), the thought of voluntarily not running for an “extra” month was pretty scary. I had a sneaking suspicion that my one month break could easily become ten months or more. What if I lost everything I had worked so hard for? What if I never make it back to running? It felt like my relationship with running was still sort of precarious and taking a short break that could very well become a much longer break was taking a risk that might end the relationship forever.

Regardless of all of that, though, I couldn’t deny that my knee was seriously messed up. It was to the point where it hurt throughout my day, not just when I was running. Walking down stairs was a particular challenge. As much as my heart wanted to keep running, I knew that I needed to rest my knee. So begrudgingly, I agreed to rest for at least a month. Little did I know that the start of this rest period would coincide almost simultaneously with the start of my pregnancy. In fact, based on how an OB traditionally “dates” a pregnancy, the first day of my pregnancy was actually five days BEFORE the Atlanta 10 Miler. Which means that my self-imposed injury rest period happened to correspond with my exhaustion-filled first trimester. When it was clear a month later that my knee was still not better, I was actually perfectly content to continue my hibernation on my couch for another month. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I had ZERO energy to do anything, let alone try to go running. So I didn’t.

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 2 – Rehab!

Once I got past Christmas Day (the lowest point in my pregnancy, health-wise, honestly), I started to feel much, much better. I never actually got sick during that time, but I was incredibly run down and just felt achy and blah. So when all of that started to lift, it was like having a whole new lease on life again. I knew that I had a pre-paid entry to the Atlanta Track Club’s Resolution Run 5K on New Year’s day and I was suddenly curious if my knee and my newly pregnant self would actually be up to running that race. So I cautiously tried for a short two mile run on December 30th, just to see how everything felt. And the answer was that while I felt GREAT during my run, my knee still felt like my knee cap was going to pop off at any time. To say I was disappointed that I would have to DNS the race would be an understatement. There were a lot of swear words involved.

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

At that point, I knew that I needed to see an orthopedist and that minimally, I could probably expect to be referred to a physical therapist. I wanted to be able to realize my dreams of pregnant running greatness, but even more so, I just wanted to be able to maintain some sort of fitness during my pregnancy for general health reasons. I was also nervous that suddenly carrying a lot of extra weight on a bum knee might do even more damage. It was definitely time to get a bit more proactive on the injury front.

After a relatively quick examination, my orthopedist finally identified what was really going on: inflammation of my right IT band, likely due to running on a sprained left ankle all last fall which altered my gait. Whoops. Because of my pregnancy, we couldn’t confirm the diagnosis with x-rays or anything, but my doctor was fairly confident. As expected, she referred me to PT for six weeks, with a strict no running rule. She did, however, encourage me to use either the bike or the elliptical at my gym to help break up some of the scar tissue and to get some form of cardio. So that became my routine for most of January and all of February – weekly PT appointments at the crack of dawn, PT exercises at home, and non-running cardio and light weights at the gym. Oh, and I also started prenatal yoga which I continued to do weekly right up until my due date.

Pregnant Gym Selfies: January, February, March

I was a little nervous about how being pregnant would affect my ability to complete my PT. However, totally by chance, my physical therapist was just back from her own maternity leave and was fabulous at coming up with stretches and exercises that I could do with my growing my belly. Plus, she was great to talk to about all kinds of pregnancy and parenting questions that I had. even though I loathed getting up so early in the morning, I actually really looked forward to our sessions. All in all, it was a great experience, and I definitely noticed a distinct improvement in my knee pain. Things were looking up!

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 3 – Racing!

I had my final PT appointment on March 6th. At the time, I began eyeing the ATC’s Atlanta Women’s 5K on March 29th as my comeback race. I knew with only three weeks to “train”, I wasn’t going to be setting any PRs (even though I’ve PR’d this course twice before!). But with stretching, foam rolling, ice, and a healthy application of KT tape, I was able to run relatively pain-free for the first time in months. Of course, I was starting to get a bit bigger at that point, making running a bit more a challenge in that respect, but knee-wise, things were coming together. I picked up my number and my race shirt and let myself get excited for my first race day in five months.

And then it rained and rained and rained. The race itself still went on as scheduled, but with the slickness of the roads, both Mike and I felt that it wasn’t worth the risk of me slipping and falling just to say that I finished this race. I was super bummed – the Women’s 5K is one of my absolute favorite races (like I said, I’ve PR’d there twice!) and I was really looking forward to finding my race legs again. But it was definitely the right choice to skip it this time around. So for the second time during this pregnancy, I DNS’d a race.

However, I didn’t let that stop me. I still felt good enough to keep running, so I did. Throughout the month of April, I ran a few times a week, in addition to some light weights at the gym and prenatal yoga. I was super busy during this time with work, baby prep, and lots of volunteer work for both Komen Atlanta and the ATC, so it wasn’t easy to fit in gym/running time, but I made it happen. I really wanted to be healthy and fit during this pregnancy (mostly in the hopes of an easy recovery), and I also still really wanted to run a race while I was pregnant. There are a ton of races here in Atlanta in the month of April (at one point last April, I ran in three races and walked one more event in a 10 day span!) so it was just a matter of picking the right race.

For me, the right race ended up being the Inman Park Festival’s Rocket Run 5k. This race was in one of my favorite areas of the city, benefitted a great cause (Mary Lin Elementary School), had a later start time, and, most importantly for me at this stage, was untimed. Between my injury and being 27 weeks pregnant, I knew I had lost a lot of speed and I wasn’t too keen to see a clock reminding me of that. The goal here was just to finish and to be able to tell Dash that we ran a race together. Moreover, because Mike wasn’t concerned about his finish time, he ran beside me the whole time, which ended up being really helpful. The race was hilly and I needed all the encouragement I could get. But I hung in there and was proud to get across that finish line!

Ready to Race!

Ready to Race!

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 4 – Taking it Easy

After that, it became clear that running in my third trimester just wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t enjoy my runs and I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I would come to resent something that I loved before my pregnancy. The elliptical at the gym was much gentler on my body overall, so I moved my workouts there instead. By doing that, I was able to continue my cardio and light weights up through about 36 weeks, which I was pretty darn proud of. I know it pales in comparison to what some other running bloggers have been able to do during their pregnancies, but that’s ok. I did what I could do and I listened to my body. I probably should have made more time for my knee PT exercises, but oh well.

Pregnant Gym Selfies: April, May, June

As far as racing, I was actually registered for the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure in early May but knew I wasn’t going to be able to run that race (I was at my cousin’s wedding that weekend). I was also registered for the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th but at 36 weeks, the thought of squeezing my big belly onto a MARTA train to the starting line just to trudge six miles in oppressive heat and huge crowds was wholly unappealing. Instead, I got my race fix and fulfilled some of my ambassador duties for the Atlanta Track Club by volunteering twice at the race expo. All together, I DNS’d four races while I was pregnant. Oh well. There will always be more races to run.

Matching bellies at the Peachtree Expo!

Matching bellies at the Peachtree Expo!

And speaking of more races to run, when I was caught up in the excitement of the Peachtree Road Race expo, I made the bold move of registering for the Atlanta Half Marathon, on Thanksgiving day. Now that I’m able to run again, I’ve laid out a tentative “training” plan to work my way back. Over the weekend, I’ll write up what that plan entails, my goals for this race, and my progress so far. But for now, my early morning run is dictating an early bedtime tonight!

Half Marathon Training Weeks 8 and 9

Monday, September 16th, 2013

This is part of my weekly series tracking my training for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon. To read the rest of my training posts, please click here.

Whoops! Somehow, I missed posting about my training last week, so I’m going to cover the last two weeks in one post.13.1 Atlanta Logo

Week 8 was a FANTASTIC week of running and training for me where I really got to see how my hard work is paying off. I ran a strong set of intervals at the park on Wednesday that were actually FUN, I again ran a pretty speedy three miles with the Phidippides running group on Thursday night, Mike & I had our best (and fastest!) long run to date on Saturday, and I ended it all by running a pace in my opening leg of the ATC Run Around the Park Relay (formerly the Ekiden Relay) that would have sliced 11 seconds off of my 5k PR (and that was the day after the long run!). I can tell that pushing through all of these miles and balancing it out with strength training and yoga is really making me stronger. What a great feeling!

On to the details…

Monday

Rest day!

Tuesday

4.95 miles before work

Pretty standard file miler to start the week!

Wednesday

10 x 400m intervals at the track with 200m active recovery intervals and 0.85 mile warm-up and cool down easy runs for 5.50 miles before work

It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but I’m starting to love interval days. This was my peak for intervals for this training cycle and I could not have had more fun doing them. I felt strong through the first eight or so repeats and then had to dig deep for the last couple. It helped that it was an absolutely beautiful morning with a stunning sunrise!

I also went to Core Fusion yoga at Atlantic Station after work. Nothing special about this class. Just a nice, stretchy way to unwind after work.

Week 8 001

Feeling happy and proud post-intervals!

Week 8 002

Gorgeous sunrise over the track!

Thursday

Core AND Upper Body strength before work + 3.39 miles with the Phidippides running group

Because I wasn’t running in the morning and I skipped it earlier in the week, I doubled up on my strength training to get it all in. I was tired when I was done, but it was worth it.

As for the run, it was another super hot evening run where I surprised myself with a pretty quick average pace of 9:32 minutes per mile. I was also the third girl to finish for the night (and maybe 10th overall, I lost count), which still seems hard to wrap my brain around – I’m usually somewhere in the middle of the pack, not up near the front!

After our group run, Phidippides hosted Matt Fitzgerald, an author and runner who writes and talks about the connections between the mental and physical sides of running. His talk, which was titled “Brain Training” was fascinating to listen to (even if it did run a little long!), especially to this brain geek!

Week 8 003

Friday

Much needed rest!

Saturday

11.94 miles with Mike

We again moved our long run to Saturday because we were racing on Sunday. However, Mike had a haircut scheduled for 10:45am and a dental cleaning right after that, which meant we had to get up and out the door earlier than usual. The upside of that was that it was another absolutely perfect morning outside, with nice cool temps for most of our run. We were able to average our fastest pace yet on a long run, and even though we added on a mile from our previous long run, it added less than two minutes onto our total running time. I think the most encouraging thing about this long run, though, was that of the whole 12 miles, our fastest mile was the last mile and our second fastest mile was Mile 10. It was a total winner of a run, from start to finish and I couldn’t have been happier!

Sunday

3.5 miles as the first runner of the ATC Run Around the Park Relay

After lots of intervals on Wednesday, a fast run on Thursday, and a long run on Saturday, I had NO idea what my legs would give me for this race. But it was my first ever relay and I wanted to do well for my team. After convincing my much faster teammates (including Mike) to let me go first, I stunned myself by finishing my lap around Piedmont Park (each team has five members and each does a 3.5 mile lap) in 31:59, for a 9:09 pace. If the course had been a 5k instead of 3.5, I would have set my fourth 5k PR this year. It definitely helped that this was basically my home court and I knew every hill and turn like the back of my hand – the course even went past our condo. I was psyched to have really brought my best for my team. Talk about ending a great week on a high note!

Oh, and our team finished 19th out of 56 teams in the Open/Mixed division with a total time of 2:17:41 (I told you they were fast!). Our companion team also ran really well and finished with a total time of 2:27:57. More importantly, we all enjoyed mimosas and post-race snacks and just generally had a great, relaxing morning in the park. It was so much fun that I’m already looking forward to next year!

Team Cancer Sucks!

Team Cancer Sucks! (Me, Mike, Laura, Tim, and Crugar)

Team Will Run for Burgers and Brew (minus Robbie, who I didn't get a picture of because he was running when I was running. Sorry Robbie!)

Team Will Run for Burgers and Brew (minus Robbie, who I didn’t get a picture of. Sorry Robbie!)

You can see the rest of my pictures from the Run Around the Park Relay here.

Total Planned Miles: 29

Total Completed Miles: 29.28 

Total Cross Training workouts: 3/3 – Actually only two, although one was a double session, so it counts twice! 

 

After my awesome week in Week 8, I was ready to blast myself right into Week 9. However, a few unexpected (and some expected) things cropped up so I had to get creative to get all of my planned miles in. I did, however, end up skipping both of my strength workouts. I purposely decided not to do my planned lower body workout once I realized this was my highest mileage week of the training cycle. It just seemed silly to wear my legs out doing weights while also wearing them out running. I also unintentionally skipped my planned whole body strength workout because my parents came into town on Friday and I didn’t leave enough time that day for my dental cleaning, a work conference call, cleaning the house, AND my workout. Oh well!

Monday

Rest day! This is when I was supposed to my lower body strength workout and decided to bag it.

Tuesday

50 minute tempo run for 4.93 miles before work

When I realized I had both a five miler AND a 50 minute tempo planned back to back, I decided to swap them so I could do my speed workout on fresher legs. Didn’t quite hit the tempo pace I was aiming for, but that’s ok. I’m still getting faster over longer miles and that’s what counts.

Wednesday

3.06 miles before work 

Mixed things up again. My legs felt a little heavy after my tempo, so I moved my usual Thursday 3 miler to Wednesday as a recovery run. Ended up running a bit faster than planned for a recovery but that’s ok. The effort felt easy and that’s what counts!

I also went to Core Fusion yoga at Atlantic Station after work as usual, which was a great place to quietly reflect on the anniversary of 9/11. A very mellow but refeshing class.

Thursday

Rest day, by accident. I got home from yoga on Wednesday night only to discover that the gas company had come for routine maintenance during the day and never turned our gas back on. Mike and I both thought our hot water heater was gas-powered, which meant we were both looking at cold showers in the morning. Not wanting to spend any more time in the cold shower than necessary (meaning I didn’t want to have to wash my hair), I decided to skip my run on Thursday morning and make it up on Friday since I had a planned vacation day from work. As it turned out, our hot water heater is actually electric, so I could have run on Thursday morning, but it was too late by the time we figured that out.

Friday

4.97 miles

Nice and easy run before my parents arrived to kick off my four day weekend.

Saturday

11.77 miles with Mike

My parents requested some sleep in time on Saturday morning which gave us plenty of time for our usual long run. With the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon just over three weeks away, we had planned to run 13 miles as our longest run of the training cycle. However, the powers that be had already begun setting up for Music Midtown in Piedmont Park and there were fences blocking our planned route everywhere. We even had to run across a wet field at one point. There was also yet another Arts Festival going on that further limited where we could run. Making our way through all of that slowed us down so much that we decided not to run back through the park again on this run like we had planned and to reroute ourselves. That meant we ended up just over a mile short of our planned run which we decided to just tack on to our Sunday run. Flexibility!

Post-long run, we spent the afternoon exploring the Atlanta Botanical Gardens with my parents and then went to the Braves game that night. It turned out that it was both Father-Daughter Day AND Breast Cancer Awareness Night at The Ted – could not have been more perfect. It was also gorgeous all day long, making for a really wonderful day. After all of the rain we had this summer, these last two weeks or so of cool mornings and sunny, warm afternoons have just been fabulous.

Me, Mom, and Dad at the game!

Me, Mom, and Dad at the game!

Breast Cancer Awareness Night!

Breast Cancer Awareness Night!

Sunday

5.58 miles on the Beltline with Mike

Our training plan called for four miles, and then we tacked on a little extra to make up for the previous day’s shortened run. We have run south on the Beltline a number of times as part of our longer routes but have always routed ourselves out through Freedom Park and up through the VA-Highlands to run in a loop. This time, though, we decided on an out-and-back route which meant we just turned ourselves around and enjoyed the Beltline in the opposite direction. It is SO nice to have this greenway to run on when Piedmont Park gets taken over by big events!

Total Planned Miles: 30

Total Completed Miles: 30.31 – highest running mileage week to date and peak of the training cycle! 

Total Cross Training workouts: 1/3 – just yoga this week.

 

Finally, just a quick reminder that I am doing all of this training to prepare for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon. In conjunction with this training, I am also raising money for the American Cancer Society as part of the DetermiNation program. If you would like to read more about my #Run4Results fundraiser, please click here and if you would like to make a donation, please click on the image below. Thanks!!

ACS Determination Logo 2

 

Running Month in Review: August + Half Marathon Training Week 7

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

This post is part of my regular monthly running recap series. You can find the rest of my month-in-review posts here. This post is also part of my weekly series tracking my training for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon. To read the rest of my training posts, please click here.

It genuinely feels like just yesterday that August was beginning, and now it’s already September. Here in the South, school starts sometime in early August, so by the time September rolls around, the kids are well into their routines already. For me, though, having grown up in Upstate New York, the Wednesday after Labor Day will ALWAYS be the first day of school. A day to refocus, set new goals (or reaffirm old ones), establish new habits, and kick things off with a new attitude. After my mentally tough training week last week, this reboot could NOT have come at a better time. I took last Thursday and Friday off from work (my first vacation days since starting my job at the CDC just after Thanksgiving!) and used my time to refocus myself and to get back on top of things. I took care of some errands that had been languishing for far too long, I got back on top of some things around the house, and I recommitted myself to my training for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon in early October. When I woke up this morning, I was more than ready to kick start this fall with an eye towards making it one of my best ever. Don’t you just love back to school time??

Training

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know that for the most part, my training in August went really well (you can find my weekly training recaps here). My ankles are still chronically achey and beg to be iced after most of my runs. However, other than some mental gremlins last week, that’s been the only real challenge that I’ve faced in this training cycle. The miles will keep getting longer though as the weeks push on and I’ve got a low-key 10 mile race coming up soon that will serve as my dress rehearsal for the half, so I definitely need to keep my eye on the ball through each of these runs and workouts!

Rather than inundate you all with back-to-back posts, I figured I’d just quickly run through week 7 (SEVEN! ALREADY!) of my half marathon training here:

Half Marathon Training Week 7

Monday

Full body weight workout, after work. Same as usual.

Tuesday

4.97 easy miles before work

My five mile route is pretty easily my favorite, so I love how often my training plans calls for five milers. It starts with a tough 1.5-2 miles of hills followed by a relatively easy three miles of flats and downhills. I always try to hit negative splits on this route and this run was particularly great for that.

Wednesday

4.51 miles as part of a 45 minute tempo run + Core Fusion yoga after work

I really would’ve liked to get down to a slightly faster pace for this tempo run, but at least I managed sub-10 min per mile. That’s still a big benchmark for me to get under, so I’ll take it.

I also hit up Wellness Wednesday Core Fusion yoga after work, which was a particularly great way for me to kick off my five day vacation. Almost immediately after the class ended, the girl next to me turned to me and said “You are REALLY flexible!” which was an excellent morale boost as well (years of gymnastics and dance classes have left me quite bendy!). It turns out she runs regularly with the Phidippides running group as well, so hopefully we’ll cross paths again soon!

Thursday

Enjoying my hard-earned popsicle!

Enjoying my hard-earned popsicle!

Core strength session + 3.01 miles with the Phidippides running group

Going into this run, I expected THE WORST. First of all, I had been running errands all day and I had mall food for lunch. Not especially ideal. Then I came home and did my core strength session since I decided that morning snuggles in bed with Shenanigans took precedent over an early morning workout on my vacation. I also did some ankle strengthening exercises that my Mom’s PT recommended that I’ve been trying to do a few times per week. So my legs were pretty tired. Plus it was approximately 300 degrees outside. So I figured these three miles with the running group would be some of my slowest ever. And then I averaged a 9.39 pace, which was faster than my tempo run the previous day. Guys, I apparently have NO idea how pacing works or what my legs can do when they’re tired. But I got a popsicle AND a beer after my run, so I guess it doesn’t really matter. Hurrah for vacation running!

Friday

Rest!

By which I mean, I spent most of the day cleaning out my closet, climbing up and down on a step stool, lifting heavy piles of clothes, and hovering around in random squat positions. So basically a whole body workout.

Saturday

11.06 miles with Mike

Usually, we do our long runs on Sundays. However, we have some “traditions” that we like to observe on Labor Day weekend, so we decided to get this one out of the way on Saturday. It was hot and sweaty, but we got it done. It was Mike’s longest/farthest run ever!

Post-run, we met up with my friend Julie to explore the Decatur BookFest and then spent a few hours wandering around downtown and taking in all the great people-watching. For you non-Atlantans, our city hosts a number of “events” over Labor Day weekend – BookFest, Dragon*Con (Comic*Con’s southern cousin!), Black Gay Pride, a big NASCAR race, and some major college football kick off games. It’s so nuts in our city Labor Day weekend has been dubbed “ClusterFest”. Mike and I can’t get enough of all the crazy things going on, so we make it a point to do some serious people-watching every year. By the time we finally stumbled home on Saturday night, I’m pretty sure we logged an extra 5-6 miles of walking on top of our long run. Our legs were DEAD.

Sunday

4.93 hot, sweaty miles with Mike

Since we had a late night on Saturday, we weren’t in a rush to get in our run on Sunday. That meant we ended up running in some of the hottest temps of the day. We also were both still dealing with some seriously tired legs. Given all that, I’ll settle for an 11 min/mile pace on this “recovery” run. It was a victory just to get it done!

Total Planned Miles: 28.5

Total Completed Miles: 28.48 (Seriously? I missed it by 0.02??)

Total Cross Training workouts: 3/3 

So those are my stats from my training last week. As for the rest of August…

Training Stats for August

  • Total miles run in August: 108.38 (Almost twice as many as in July and my first 100+ mileage month EVER!!)
  • Total runs in August: 22
  • Total cross-training sessions: 6 strength sessions + 3 yoga classes

Racing

At the beginning of the year, I told myself I wasn’t going to race in August. It’s always hot and I always hate it. So, of course, we raced three times in August, all 5ks. Because I am a race-aholic.

Atlanta’s Finest 5k (ATC Grand Prix #5)

I won my entry into this race way back in January at the Atlanta Track Club’s annual Member’s Party, so that’s how this one ended up back on the race calendar. This course is downtown and is relatively flat, save for two ENORMOUS hills. I ran decently last year and was optimistic going into this one for a strong race. Ultimately started a little too fast and didn’t have as much left as I wanted for the later hills, but overall felt good about this effort. Really was striving for my first sub-29 minute time since April but just missed it. Final time of 29:03.

Jog Days of Summer 5k (ATC Grand Prix #6) 

I hate this race. This course is REALLY tough, with a lot of big hills that just don’t quit. It seems like everyone who runs these two back to back Grand Prixes loses at least a minute off their time on this harder course and I was no exception. Admittedly, I went into this race with a pretty negative attitude, which is probably why I ran so poorly. Final time of 30:58 which broke my streak this year of sub-30 min 5ks but WAS a course PR by over a minute.

Adam’s Reality Run for the Park 5k (our 4th “festival” race of the year) 

This was a total last minute entry for us. At the beginning of the year, we decided to try to run in as many of the festival-associated races around town as we could. The Grant Park Summer Shade Fest is one of our favorites and we’ve really been enjoying that neighborhood this year. We didn’t actually know about this race until the week before when we spotted some information on it at the weekly Grant Park farmer’s market. So we decided to just go for it. Unlike the Atlanta’s Finest race, I started out on a slow side for this race and then was able to build my speed over the course of the race. I logged some picture perfect negative splits (I listed them in this post) and finished in 29:41. Solid rebound from the Jog Days race!

Fundraising

No fundraising in August. I took some time to think through what happened with my BCRF fundraiser in June/July, though, which really helped me feel prepared to launch my #Run4Results to benefit the American Cancer Society this past weekend. Please click here to read all about this fundraiser which I am doing in conjunction with my training for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon!

 So that was my August of charity running. Now, it’s time time to move onward into fall, where I will face cooler temps (I hope!), three double-digit races (including my second ever half marathon!), and a lot of fun events. Stay tuned!

Half Marathon Training – Week 6

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

This is part of my weekly series tracking my training for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon. To read the rest of my training posts, please click here.

I’ve officially reached the halfway point of this training cycle – Week 6 is done!

Week 6 was not an easy week for me. Most of my runs were what I call “just get it done” runs. My heart wasn’t really in it and I didn’t necessarily enjoy my runs this week. Physically, I was fine, save for what are turning into chronically achy ankles. But mentally, I was a mess, for two separate reasons.

Selfie with Mike before the Run for the Park 5k!

Selfie with Mike before the Run for the Park 5k!

First, I have been stressed out and cranky for over a week and it didn’t really click with me until Wednesday night after yoga why (all that deep breathing DOES clear the mind!). What I finally figured out while I was laying in Shavasana at the end of class was that I’m currently feeling very frustrated with my lack of ability to control my own time and to use it the way that I want to.  I’m enjoying a relatively quiet stretch at work after completing two enormous tasks that have been consuming me for the last six months. In my past life as a graduate student, slow time at work always meant that I had more free time to do the things I want to do outside of work – run, blog, fundraise, etc. I would bang out my work in lab and then head home. But now with this whole “real” job thing, I don’t have that freedom anymore. I’m at my desk for eight hours every day, whether I have eight hours of things that need to be done that day or not. It’s a whole new thing for me to adjust to. I’m honestly surprised this hasn’t been a frustration for me before this, but like I said, I’ve been REALLY busy at work almost since I started. I’m still not over the stress of not being able to use every hour in my day the way I would prefer to use it, but at least I can recognize that that’s the reason I feel tense and try to let it go. Oooooooohhhhhmmmmmm.

Second, I did something this weekend that I almost never let myself do – I compared myself to other runners. And of course, I immediately became discouraged. The truth is I’m not a strong runner. I don’t have the right body type for it, I have weak hips, and I’ve never been an endurance athlete. My sports growing up were gymnastics and softball, coupled with decades of dance classes. Strength, muscle control, agility, and quickness were and are my bread and butter. But endurance? Never my thing. Running isn’t a thing that will ever be easy for me.  But I LOVE my self image when I think of myself as a runner. I love taking part in races and I love seeing that even though I’m not great at running, I AM getting better. I just have to work extra hard for it. So, as I followed the #NuunHTC ladies as they tackled the Hood 2 Coast 200-mile relay, I couldn’t help but want to be them one day. And when I realized that my average paces are almost two minutes per mile slower than all of them, I was a little heartbroken. I had a decent little 5k race on Saturday morning (with PERFECT negative splits to boot) and yet all I could think was how hard I had to work just to run a 29:41. I lost sight of my own successes this year (Lots of PRs! Lots of sub-30 min 5ks!) because I was too focused on what other people were accomplishing. So I was in a mental funk for a good part of this past week from that too.

So that was what I was thinking about as trained this week. I was stressed and down on myself and questioning if it was even worth to get up before dawn to get in my runs before work. Truthfully, I brought a little bit of that with me into this new week that started yesterday. And then I read this fabulous post from Jes at rUnladylike.com who just took part in the Hood to Coast relay and I was forcefully reminded that even though I may not finish my miles as quickly as others, my miles are the same as everyone else’s miles. My ten mile long run this past week was still TEN MILES. I also bring something else unique to my running that many others don’t – a cause that I care about., deeply. So going forward this week, not only am I re-embracing my training for the Allstate 13.1 Atlanta Half, I’m going to focus on the truly valuable parts of running that make me happy. That includes FINALLY kicking off my American Cancer Society fundraiser. I signed up for the DetermiNation mini-team yesterday and as soon as I have my fundraising page set up, I’ll post the link here. My commitment to this fundraiser is going to be the motivation that propels me through the second half of this training cycle and all the way to the starting line in October!

Oh right, I’m supposed to be telling you about the actual miles that I ran and all of that. Let’s do this relatively quickly, since that I was a pretty lengthy “intro”!

Monday

Rest day!

Tuesday

4.57 miles before work + lower body weights after work

Same recorded mileage as last Tuesday, but not because I’m a consistency machine. The rain and drizzle from the previous weekend was still sticking around and I didn’t want to ruin my new phone so this is the mapped mileage of my 4.5 mile route. Also, I know it helps, but I hate the jelly legs feeling the day after lower body strength day.

Wednesday

3.96 miles before work

This was supposed to be a 40 minute tempo, which is usually about 4 miles for me. However, it was STILL rainy in the morning, so I couldn’t take my phone. Without my RunKeeper app, I didn’t have any way to track my pace, so I didn’t really worry about giving it that extra effort that a true tempo demands. I was also SUPER grumpy during this run in particular and somehow felt worse post-run than I did before it started. In fact, I felt so grouchy that I decided to wear one of my Sparkly Soul headbands to work in an attempt to cheer myself up. It only partly worked.

I also went to Core Fusion yoga at Atlantic Station after work, which was where I had my “revelation” that I mentioned above. Unrelated yoga thing: during said Shavasana, the instructor gave me a posture correction. I didn’t think that was a posture you could actually do wrong, but I apparently it is.

[For the non-yogis, Shavasana is the last pose of every yoga class where you just lay quietly on your mat. It is VERY relaxing.]

Thursday

5.03 miles before work

Five miles is A LOT for me to get in before work. This was the peak of my “is this really worth it???” mental funk. At least I still finished my planned miles!

Friday

Much needed rest!

Saturday

Raced in the Adams Realty Run for the Park 5k, the race associated with the Grant Park Summer Shade Festival

This was a last minute addition to our “festival race series”. Grant Park is one of our favorite parks in Atlanta and we ultimately decided that we just couldn’t skip this one, especially since it benefitted the park conservancy. Plus, we got tickets for free beers for finishing. Can’t argue with that!

As for the race itself, it went well. As I said, I finished in 29:41, which is a little slower than I’d like but a great improvement from the ATC Jog Days 5k two weeks ago. I started this race on the slow side and I’m not really sure why. I kept pushing through though and was able to log progressively faster miles. As I mentioned above, I ended up with perfect negative splits, something I don’t do often:

Mile 1: 9:47

Mile 2: 9:27

Mile 3: 9:08

Mile 0.1: 8:44

I need to remember how to do that for future races!

Sunday

9.93 miles with Mike

Sunday Long Run Day! I felt great through the first six miles or so and then my leg muscles started to reflect my mental state – they felt heavy. But I trudged on and, with some excellent motivating from Mike, was able to finish all ten miles.

So that was my week. It wasn’t easy, but I got through it. Thankfully, I have vacation days I have to use by the end of September so I have some free days coming up this week. In fact, I don’t have to work another five day week for the next FOUR weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to use that time to catch up on some things outside of the office and get back on top of my game, both mentally and physically. Plus, I’ve got that new fundraiser to focus on starting this week. Things are looking up again!

Total Planned Miles: 26.5

Total Completed Miles: 26.59 

Total Cross Training workouts: 2/3 – never got around to my second strength workout. Planning to make it up this week though! 

 

Half Marathon Training – Week 5

Monday, August 19th, 2013

This is part of my weekly series tracking my training for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon. To read the rest of my training posts, please click here.

Happy Rainy Week 5!

From my morning at the track!

From my morning at the track!

Normally, I’m a sunshine weather kind of girl. I get cold when it’s 73 degrees outside. I like it hot. There’s a reason I moved south after growing up in Upstate New York. I almost always prefer sunshine and hot temps. Almost. The big honking exception to that rule is when I’m running. When I’m running, I want it to be gray, cool, and usually a little wet. Running in the rain makes me feel like a true #RunningBadass. Running just feels easier when it’s cool and wet outside. Normally, that is not a forecast one gets down here in Atlanta in mid-August. But lo and behold! This weekend, Mother Nature decided to give us southern runners a treat. From late afternoon on Thursday until noon on Sunday, our temps didn’t get above 70 degrees. And it was a perfect drizzly gray all weekend. It was like March up in these parts. Not great for normal summer weekend activities, but oh! The running! It was wonderful.

Monday

Core Training for Runners at Phidippides. We were supposed to have class outside, but a pop up thunderstorm forced us all inside. I think I found my next pair of running shorts while I was doing some Superman holds!

[Unrelated: I’m looking for new running shorts. I’ve been running in Nike tempos FOREVER and I am O.V.E.R. them. I want something more streamlined and less puffy. Anyone have any favorites they’d like to recommend?]

Tuesday

4.57 miles before work

Nothing exciting to report about this run except that it was cool and refreshing outside. A great first run of the week!

Wednesday

8 x 400m intervals at the track with 200m walk intervals in between and an approximately 0.85 mile warm-up and cool down jog back and forth from the track. 4.61 total miles, all before work.

Some of my strongest intervals to date. The weather was cool again and I was able to nail my goal paces. Really, really stoked about this run.

I also FINALLY made it back to Core Fusion yoga at Atlantic Station after work, even though I was bugged by some soreness/inflammation in my first two toe joints of my left foot all day. It felt wonderful to stretch out again, although those toes were really aching and it was really apparent that my ankle stability has weakened. Time to do some targeted ankle strengtheners again!

  

A couple pics from yoga on Wednesday night, courtesy of the Atlantic Station twitter feed

Thursday

2.77 easy miles with Shenanigans before work

Took it easy and was pleasantly surprised that my toes didn’t hurt at all when I ran, even though they were super sore in bare feet or in ballet flats. Shenanigans, however, had some GI issues during our run and we ended up slowing WAY down in the middle mile or so. I think it was the lack of fuel before our run. I’ll need to remember that she needs some quick carbs before morning runs too. Dogs – they really are just like us!

Friday

Rest!

Saturday

3.92 miles with Mike and Shenanigans in the wonderful drizzle

Fantastic family run! We only ran four miles, but in that short distance, we ran through an arts festival, a farmer’s market, a race course for a local 5k, a wedding being set up for later in the day, and a Soccer in the Streets event. Shenanigans did particularly great. Normally, that many distractions would be too much for her to handle, but she was a little running machine on Saturday. I think she wanted to make up for having two bad runs in a row. Also, due to a serious planning failure, we ran out of dog food the night before, so she had a mix of rice and peanut butter before this run instead. Apparently, that’s her power breakfast!

Sunday

9.13 miles with Mike

Sunday Long Run Day was back with a vengeance! For the first eight miles, the cool temps had me feeling invincible. I felt like I could go on forever. On that last mile, though, my legs started to feel it. I guess that’s the point of the long run, though – push one mile past what your legs think they can do.

Oh, and I tacked on an upper body weights session after we finished because I was feeling like a beast. And also I didn’t due to it earlier in the week when I should have and I really wanted to get in all eight planned workouts.

All in all, a great week. If only I could dial up this running weather when I strap on my sneakers and then switch it to bright sunshine once I’m done!

Total Planned Miles: 25.1

Total Completed Miles: 25 (just missed!)

Total Cross Training workouts: 3/3 

My view during my intervals on Wednesday morning. Loving the panoramic function on my new phone!

My view during my intervals on Wednesday morning. Loving the panoramic function on my new phone!

Half Marathon Training – Week 4

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

This is part of my weekly series tracking my training for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon. To read the rest of my training posts, please click here.

While my half marathon training went pretty well in Week 4, this week was also marked by one unlucky thing after another. But in the end, I mostly completed all of the workouts that I had planned. It helped that this was a “step back” week in my training where I get a bit of a break, mileage-wise. That reduction in mileage allowed me to move some things around and still get in all my workouts, despite some weird bad luck, as you’ll see.

Monday

Rest day!

Tuesday

2.03 easy miles before work with Shenanigans + core strength session

I had planned to go four miles, which is about Shenanigans’ max. However, on this particular morning, despite it being 6am, it was a bit warmer than I had anticipated and definitely warmer than Shenanigans is used to. Not completely surprisingly, after about a mile and half, Shenanigans decided she was done. As in, she refused to go in any direction but back to our house. So I headed back home earlier than planned and got in a quick core strength session too.

Wednesday

4.24 miles as part of a 40 minute tempo run

I was able to average a 9:09 pace on this run which is pretty darn fast for me. I was STOKED with this effort. Then I got home and realized I stepped in dog poop at some point near the end of my run (NOT from Shenanigans). Yes, in my new, blue shoes. SUPER unimpressed. I also had planned to attend Core Fusion yoga at Atlantic Station after work, but it was canceled due to rain for the umpteenth time in a row.

Thursday

Busted Phone

The saddest sight in the world to a social media junkie like me. Cue the sad trombone.

2.1 easy miles after work to make up for Tuesday + a whole body strength session

Heading into this week, my plan was to run my 40 min tempo during the Phidippides Thursday night group run (I find running with the group helps me push/sustain my pace) and not run at all on Wednesday. However, when Shenanigans aborted our run on Tuesday, I planned to make up these two miles at Phidippides instead. Then it looked like it was going rain when I got home after work. Not wanting to miss out my last two miles, I attempted to dash back out the door and bang out these two miles. Of course, being “unlucky running week”, something else had to go wrong. As I was rushing to put my phone in my armband and get out the door, I dropped it on the floor and absolutely SMASHED the screen. UGH. Luckily, we were due to replace our phones anyways, so I only have to be “broken phone girl” for a few more days. Anyways, back to my training – I did still finish those two stinking miles, albeit faster than I intended. I channeled my frustration over my phone into my legs, I suppose. After I got home, I also did a whole body strength session. More frustration channeling. There are worse ways to work through a bad mood, I suppose.

Friday

Rest! I probably should have made up my yoga session after work, but, well… Friday. [Yeah, basically the same as last week… ]

Saturday

5k race; finished in 30:58

Raced in the ATC Jog Days of Summer 5k, my sixth Grand Prix of 2013. Jog Days is widely acknowledged to be one of the hardest courses in the Grand Prix and my time reflected it, breaking my streak of sub-30min 5ks this year. Oh well. It was still a course PR by over a minute and it still counts as a Grand Prix finish!

Sunday

6.21 hot, sweaty miles with Mike

It was SUPER humid on Sunday morning. My legs were “all trot, no pop”. I think dealing with all of the annoying little things this week took a toll, especially combined with that tough race on Saturday. Next week, things WILL be better.

As you can see, there were some annoying things that I had to deal with this week. Nothing really bad about my running, just a lot of annoying things surrounding my runs. After all my bad luck earlier in the week, I was fully expecting to have to race in a downpour on Saturday and to fall on my face during our long run on Sunday. Seeings as neither of those things happened, I suppose you could say my luck is turning around. Now I just have to take advantage of that and make this week the best I can!

Oh, and I HAVE to be better about getting in some yoga. I’m starting to feel the lack of stretching in my joints and muscles. You guys will hold me to that, right?

Total Planned Miles: 17

Total Completed Miles: 17.68

Total Cross Training workouts: 2/3 — no yoga this week, again.