Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer has arrived

I always feel like I just blooped and then realize it has been nearly a week since I went blah, blah, blah.

Sunday, I went running on the hills outside my front door.  The run started decently enough.  It was still early enough that I got a little shade and there wasn't much road traffic.  I ran out to the sidewalk area (re: evil concrete) on the main road about a mile from my house.  There is a big yucky up and down hill that isn't so bad on the 1st mile, but is terrible on the final mile.  I ended up coming back a different way (and adding another 2 miles onto my run) just to avoid it.  Cars were out at this point and I had to jump into the brush in the shoulder a few times to avoid becoming roadkill.

It's only about 150 feet of ascent in a half mile, but I still took a 2 mile detour:

elevation chart

Splits: 8:13, 8:16, 8:04, 8:09, 8:04, 8:12, 8:01, 7:48, final .3 in 2:29 (8:14 pace)

Tuesday night, I went to the Greenway for a 5-miler.  All the fairweather cyclists were out and in death mode.  I got nearly sideswiped with each mile.  And of course, the 'good' cyclists who were wearing helmets and calling out their presence were not the ones causing the ruckus.  It was the helmetless jerks who felt the need to bike at 20mph on the Greenway even though there are signs posted all over stating the cyclists must go only 10mph.

Apparently all it did was get me hot and angry.  Splits: 7:52, 7:45, 7:49, 7:51, 7:44

This morning I went out for 16 miles.  I had dreamed about Loopsters the night before (mostly because I'm stupid, ridiculously excited about Rehoboth!!!) and was feeling good mojo on my way out the door.
 carissa running

This was solidified by a Boston Terrier sighting at the trail head.  I probably freaked out the guy with the BT (and another pup) with my over-exuberance.  I love my BTs:

my fuzzles

I knew it was going to be a hot one, so I planned to try to stay as close to an 8:30 pace in the beginning as my I-want-to-run-fast-all-the-time self would let me.  The first few miles went along pretty good.  I was feeling happy to be out in the sunshine and I was finally not going too fast.  But as I got close to mile 5 and my first Gu, I realized that I was almost out of liquid.  Normally, I'm easily okay until the water fountain at mile 6.75.  2 10-ounce bottles gone in 5 miles--must be hot!

I refilled at mile 6.75 and drank about 8 ounces at the pit stop.  I started to feel a little better in the next miles, but noticed that I was almost out again close to mile 10.  There is another water fountain near a park off the path so I stopped again to refill.  Not too long after I got going again, my iPod ran out of juice.  Great, now I was going to have to listen to my sloshing and heavy breathing for the rest of the way.  It was getting hotter and I was starting to feel most uncomfortable.  My Garmin has been acting funny and lost satellite at probably the worst time--when I was feeling over and done with the run around mile 12.

I contemplated cutting the run short at 14 miles which would be when I reached the trail head again.  But when I got there, I kept running past the paved area and into the woods.  People obviously run and bike back along the trail, but with the impending summer, it was pretty thick with underbrush.  I ran about a half mile out and had more satellite issues. 

I went back to the trail head again and finished the 16 miles on the paved portion.  I had been dreaming of a Frosty for about half of the run and quickly hustled to my car to go get my sweet reward.  It tasted so delicious.  I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes slurping on it until I got a brain freeze.

After I got home, ate, and took a shower, the compulsive need to nap came on strong.  I needed to go the grocery store so I promised myself I could collapse after I finished that.  I don't know why sometimes I get so sleepy after some long runs.  Probably a combination of the sun and heat--it's like beach tired.  Without all the sand in your swimsuit. 

It was an awesome nap....

Friday, May 24, 2013

It ain't perfect, but it's close!

The comments left on my last post had me smiling for days.  In fact, I wish that I was artsy-fartsy because all those happy things would make some fantastic wall art. For now, I will just enjoy them in the digital archive and reference all the happiness when I need a shot of life mojo.

Speaking of life mojo, I have been riding high for the past couple of months.  Is it possible to find your own happiness obnoxious at times?   Perhaps that's why my running has been just kind of eh--everything else is super duper great. I have good running days and not-so-good ones, but it has been awhile since I've had a week or two of consistently strong runs.

When I run on the Greenway, I like to fly.  There is nothing better to me than careening around the corners and stretching my legs to their limits.  Which is perhaps why a few unplanned treadmill runs this past week really helped me today.

Tuesday, I had a dentist appointment and wore my running clothes so I could go to the Greenway afterwards. We had a ton of run over the weekend and when I got to the Greenway, the trails were closed from flooding.   I drove back towards my house and was going to park at the rec center nearby to just run on the sidewalks, but I had to pee sooooooo bad. I probably could have just gone into the rec center without paying the daily fee, but I felt like a big weirdo doing that (and perhaps a little embarrassed ).  So I drove home and decided to just watch a movie on the dreadmill.  I needed a slower paced run anyway and this would force me to stay that way.

Yesterday morning, I knocked out 3 miles before heading to work.  Started watching another movie and my run went by super fast. Woot!

Last night, Adam and I were talking with someone about his MS and how he has dealt with the physical issues over the past few years since his diagnosis.  I've blooped about it before, but when he was first diagnosed in 2010, we took an Alaskan cruise shortly after he started taking a medication for some of his symptoms.  The medication seemed to exacerbate his dizziness.  We signed up to do a 5K walk for breast cancer aboard the ship and he was unable to complete it.  The dizziness combined with the numbness of the right side of his body was just too much.  So he had his redemption this spring, completing a 5K walk while I ran my marathon.  Last night, he said that he was really proud he had finished a 5K a few months ago.

I thought about this a bit on my run today.  I was really proud that he was using my sport as a benchmark of his physical success.  I will never know if he wouldn't have tried something like that if we weren't together, but I like to believe that this was a positive influence that I had.  He may never become a runner, but I'm lucky to have a really awesome spouse who supports what I do and uses the word proud when talking about running.

My run today was pretty much perfection. I started out with a feeling of 'easy' and was pleasantly surprised when I saw easy was just under 8:00 pace.  I spaced out in my thoughts during the meat of the run and wasn't really paying attention to my Garmin.  I glanced at it a few times and then just plodded along, pleased as punch that the humidity was low, the temperature was decent, the wind was blowing a bit (creating a nice breeze), and the skies were sunny.  Plus, my legs felt fresh and I wasn't experiencing any major aches or pains.  By the time I got to the other side of the sandwich, around mile 8, I decided to just grind some speed out of the final miles.  It was a comfortable pace to keep up and I knew that I would still have enough gas in the tank to tear up the final mile.  Splits: 7:50, 8:00, 8:04, 7:49, 7:57, 7:52, 7:42, 7:54, 7:26, 7:12.

And for my food-porn pic loving peeps, I have a few items. First, I made a batch of blueberry muffins to send in a package to Vblevins along with my check for the Rehoboth house.


Then I decided to add some of Grandma's cowboy cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip) into the package too.  Grandma is 90 and has been making and eating them for almost a century--I think they are the secret to the fountain of youth.

Cowboy cookies

Wednesday night, I decided that we should have our first dinner al fresco.  A little caprese salad for me, greens for Adam, and a bottle of red wine from a vineyard in the North Georgia foothills.  Later, we enjoyed some grilled pork chops and candlelight conversation:

dinner al fresco

Today, after my 10 miler, we went out and bought a new grill.  Our old one was a Char-Broil that we got back in 2006.  We kept it covered, but this past winter, 2 separate wind storms knocked it over.  It still functioned, but was rapidly becoming a rusty mess.  We had said for years that our next grill was going to be fancy pants.  We got a Weber Genesis and our awesome local Ace Hardware store brought it out a few hours after we bought it:

new grill

Tonight, we'll be testing that bad boy out and perhaps enjoying another one of these:


Sunday, May 19, 2013

I ask, what's your happy?

I started a list of things that make me happy a few months ago.  It's by no means comprehensive, but I added to it as I recalled various things that were both comfortable and put a smile on my face.

This list is especially poignant almost exactly a year after I was writhing in agony so much about my work situation that I couldn't talk about any other than my own misery.  Things are different right now. It's good to be happy.  I like having time to be happy.  I like having a husband that makes me happy.  I like having running and the community of running in my life that make me happy.  I like Friday night date night happy.  I like beer with a close friend and a bottle glass of wine with my family happy.

I was going to keep it just to myself.  But this week as I ran along the Greenway and got a whiff of honeysuckle at twilight, I decided that others have their own ​things​ that make life a little sweeter.  The memories and connotations are reminders that in between the mundane, there is a lot of joy.  My bucket list is full of adventure and adrenaline.  This list is pure simplicity.

I'll continue to add to it over the months (or years) as even reading it makes me breathe a little slower, smile a little wider.

All kinds of mustard, the smell of freshly cut grass, a love story with a happy ending, red wine (shiraz, zinfandel, pinot noir), really strong black coffee, long runs where I get lost in my thoughts, the crack of the bat, Disney tired, beach tired, night swimming, a medium rare ribeye, houndstooth prints, late afternoon naps, showering after working in the yard, ice cold watermelon on a hot day, sleeping in nice hotels, riding in airplanes, crunchy cereal in super cold milk, the smell of Christmas tree in the house, the first day of shorts after a cold winter, the first day of jeans after a hot summer, dining al fresco, a book I can't put down, old couples holding hands, the smell of honeysuckle at twilight, solving crossword puzzles, salt spray, Bailey's on the rocks, heavy rain in the middle of the night, the smell of new running shoes, the smell of books in an old library, puppy kisses, clean sheets, eating cherry tomatoes off the vine, the sounds of a forest in the morning, candlelight conversations, driving fast with the windows down, a towering piece of chocolate cake, having my hair brushed.....

What's your happy?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ha, she said "glorified fartleks"

There was some silliness that I was spouting off about a few bloops ago.  Something about me spicing up my routine.  In the back of my head, I didn't want to just keep laying down 7 milers during my non-training time.  I had blooped, therefore, I needed to make good on my own proclamation.

So instead of 7 milers, I have run 8 milers this week.  Both of which have been alternating bouts of good versus bad and lots of tortoise and hare.  I guess they've been glorified fartleks.  I'll feel good for a spurt and carry along gleefully, nailing a 7:45 pace with ease.  And then I'll feel awful and try to remind myself that I should be running so easily that I could sing songs out loud.

I swear there has been an angel  and a demon on each shoulder for the past few runs. 

Monday splits: 7:55, 7:43, 7:49, 7:54, 7:53, 8:15 (errant satellite issue, rawr), 7:43, 7:24

Wednesday splits: 8:03, 8:08, 8:16, 8:00, 7:44, 7:55, 8:14, 7:34

The good news is that I have been plodding out the miles after work and doing lots of great running outdoors.  The bad news is that my shin is angry about these evening runs and I haven't had a non-pained run in awhile.  Since I've already had 2 full weeks of non-running this year (gee, thanks, flu & strep throat), I really don't want to have to be forced onto the disabled list.  I thought new shoes might help, but now I think I will have to move onto other measures.  So, I will be working at trying to do more morning running, more foam rolling, and rotating my work shoes.

And maybe I will tell myself it's okay to slow down a bit every once it awhile.  My average March marathon pace was 8:31 so I'm pretty much running solid tempos ​all the time​.   I need a running buddy to yak at and force me to take it easy now that I'm barely using my treadmill. You'd think after all these years of running that I would have learned that the body doesn't like running like a bat out of h*** all the time.  Classic rookie mistake that I'm still making practically 20 years later...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Retro pic: thankfully, my race pics got better

I posted last about spicing up my running routine, but I didn't really do that this week, oops!  I ran 7 miles on Monday, 7 miles on Wednesday, and 13.5 miles on Saturday.  I was off Monday, worked 11 hours Tuesday, and 11 hours Wednesday.  Needless to say, I was pretty beat around 5:30 on Wednesday evening, but there was still plenty of daylight and I had my bag all packed to run.

After a quick change in the parking lot with a sheriff car parked nearby , I decided I would just play the mileage by ear.  I'd run to the 2 mile mark and decide if I wanted to keep going or turn around.  My legs definitely felt the fatigue of being on them for 2 11-hour days, but I was determined to push through the initial soreness.  Once I got to the 1.5 mile mark, I decided I felt good enough to do my 'usual' 7-miler.  At the 3.5 mile mark/turnaround point, I was wishing I had just turned around at 2.  The last 3.5 miles were alternating thoughts of run faster and you'll get to the car faster and slow down--keep it easy.  I felt strong for finishing the run on such tired legs, but very relieved when I was done.  7:54, 8:00, 8:00, 7:48, 7:59, 7:47, 7:50

Thursday, I was achy all over my bottom half.  Being on my feet all day again helped me feel a bit stretched out, but I was in no shape to run happily.  So I decided I would just forgo Thursday and with Friday being date night, I would take a nice 48 hours off of running.

Friday night date night shenanigans:


I'm not sure I've ever blogged about the back story of date night (all the drinks make it fuzzy ).  Adam and I have been married for 4.5 years.  Adam's best friend is Jeff.  They have been friends since junior high and were living together when Adam and I started dating.  I kinda-sorta-don't-judge-me started living with staying over at their place not too long after we got serious.  And the 3 of us pretty much lived together for 4 years until Adam and I got engaged/bought a house (it was the same day--if you are really bored or want that back story you can read it here).  The 3 of us now get together every Friday night for date night.  Adam and I share dinner together 6 nights a week so it is fun to have Jeff (and sometimes a date) along for the ride.  Some people might think it's weird that 3 people go on date night, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Anyway, as my faithful bloggers know, I usually run well after tacos and tequila.  However, Saturday was not really the case.  And I even had new shoes (same style, just not trashed with 400 miles on them) to run in.


I was all ready to test out my ninja skills, but apparently, I just didn't have the mojo fully in me.  It wasn't a terrible run, but it wasn't great either.  The first few miles went by pretty unknowingly and I finished strong, but I didn't have my heart in the run.  'Tis okay.  I know they can't all be puppies and rainbows.  I don't have anything on the agenda racing-wise, so this is all just for kicks. Not quite sure when 13.5 miles became for kicks, but alas, it is.  Splits: 8:00, 8:01, 8:06, 8:08, 8:13, 8:14, 8:18, 8:26, 7:56, 7:57, 8:01, 8:11, 7:57, 3:56 (7:57 pace) for .50.

The front on my left shin is still acting funky, but not enough to keep me from running. It seems to hurt less the faster I go which is probably not a good way to deal with pain. I randomly use The Stick and foam roll when I notice it being extra sore, but I'm kind of terrible at that whole RICE business.

Today, I hosted Mother's Day lunch for my mom.  Normally, I'd love the opportunity to cook, but I kind of wanted to just relax and enjoy the weekend so I ordered ribs and sides from our local barbecue place.  Adam and I picked up growlers of beer and root beer from our local tap place on our way to see Iron Man 3 in IMAX last night (okay, it was really cool, I'll admit it...just don't tell Adam!!).  My mom and her boyfriend like beer as much as the kids so I thought it'd be fun.  In lieu of cooking, I baked and made a flourless chocolate cake, candied cherries, and a creme anglaise sauce. Yummers!

Flowers from the garden to decorate Mom's Day table:

rose garden

Mom brought over a few boxes of stuff as she was clearing out our old childhood bedrooms.  She included this gem from my track days in high school:

florida relays

I was a high school sophomore at the time and was invited to my first out of state relay because I lettered that year.  I ran a 4X800 relay and ran it on pure adrenaline--it was so exciting to be at this meet with big time runners.  The funny thing about my proudest last millennium running moment? My future husband happened to be a college student at the time at University of Florida at that same time. It's highly unlikely that we crossed paths during that weekend, but I like to think of my life in movie terms, so I pretend we might have!

Fortunately, my race pics have gotten cuter.  Here's one from this year:

flying quadracool

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bustin' up my routine

For quite a long time, I have used the 7 miler as a measure of my running aptitude.  It was back in 2007 that I solidified a regular schedule of running about an hour every other day--it was much less regimented before that time.  At that point in my running career, it took me just over an hour (63-ish minutes) to run 7 miles and thus, a rut began.  Over time, I have slowly shaved off minutes and now a 7 mile easy run is around 55 minutes.  If I am feeling particularly speedy, I do it around 53:XX and if I am chillin' on the TM, I run it in around an hour.

In 2009, I took the plunge into marathon training and revamped my schedule during that time period to prepare my body for the trials and tribulations of running 26.2.  But, after I could properly walk down the stairs again, I returned to my old ways.  Each spring marathon training cycle for the past 4 years has brought the same shake-up to my routine.  But like a creature of habit, I found myself returning to those 7 mile runs. I'd toss in a long run about once a month to keep myself in a good place, but I'd never really do any shorter easy runs save for days where I'd be forced to by time constraints.

However, this post-marathon spring has been different.  I ran my 7 milers on vacation--moreso to ensure that I was burning mojito calories and less about the actual running.  But the rest of the weeks have been blissfully different.  And it's been a good change-up for me.  I run far when I have the time and energy and run short when I find myself lacking on those things.  The weather has been perfectly cool thus far for spring in Hotlanta and except for the torrential rain pour this weekend, I haven't been on the TM.

Friday, I took advantage of ​ my day off and went for a 10 mile run in the rain.  It wasn't raining hard and the temps were in the 50's--it was actually super refreshing.  I planned to just keep between 8:15-8:30 pace, but my body was primed for something faster.  The best part?? I was completely lost in my own thoughts for 90% of the run and the final mile was the only point that I felt like I was giving the run much effort.  I ​LOVE​ getting lost in my brain when I run.  It had been too long since I had such great mojo like that!!!  Friday's splits: 7:58, 8:03, 7:58, 7:44, 7:53, 7:48, 7:45, 7:54, 7:45, 7:37.

Due to work and a family dinner on Sunday, I had no time to run (re: I didn't want to get up early), so I ran 5 miles on Saturday.  It was raining super hard when I left work and was supposed to continue all night.  So I decided to run on the TM--weird after so many outdoor runs! 

Today, I knew I couldn't run on my awesome Greenway because it was sooooooooo flooded.  But it was 50 degrees and overcast outside, so I went running on the dumb sidewalks about a mile and a half from my house.  It is a very hilly run and all concrete.   But I made the most of it.  I enjoyed the different scenery and listened to a different Pandora station.  I even tried to lollygag, but then I got amped up on the hills and well, here's what happened: 8:09, 7:58, 7:50, 8:03, 7:54, 8:01, 7:48. 

I hope to keep up the trend of random mileage throughout the week--I like it!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

This is my normal

No news is good news right? Nothing terribly exciting going on in my world which is just peachy keen with me.  After 9 days of going into work (albeit a short day on Sunday), I finally am off tomorrow. Woot!

I ran Monday night after work.  I had an 'early' day and so I got to the Greenway around 5:30pm.  The weather was pretty pleasant and I knocked out 8 miles at a sub 8:00 pace.  It was comfortably easy and I was glad that my body was feeling pretty good.  Tuesday, I was a little achy so I did a little foam rolling to loosen up my tight muscles.  I'm been an absolute slacker about my strength-training--er, really any other exercise except running.  Including stretching.  I'll fall back into again, I promise!

Last night I just had time to do 4 miles before the sun went down.  My Garmin battery was dead so I ran with RunKeeper.  The GPS isn't great so it really was more of a guesstimate.  I finished the 4 miles in about 30 minutes--a nice little tempo-esque run.  Probably a 7:30-7:40 pace overall.  My shoelace came untied when I was about 4/10th of a mile from the end.  My shoes were tight enough and I was running fast enough that it didn't really bother me.  But there were a few other people ahead of me on the trail and I didn't want to be the weird runner girl running with her shoes untied.  I stopped and gave up a few seconds to retie.

Adam walked the 5K that was in conjunction with my last marathon so he is on the email list for all things related to the marathon.  I'm such a email deleter that I just fly through my emails and delete anything that isn't personal.  However, he actually pays attention and read this particular email that explained any runner that ran the full or half could run a half in October as part of a series and receive a special medal.  A 26.2 for the two halves or a 39.3 for the full plus half.

Adam was all like, "you should do this.  You could run a half in your sleep."  I was all excited for a fancy 39.3 medal and the deal was sweetened when I learned that there are special prizes for the top 3 male and female finishers who run the 39.3.  Since these are smaller races AND 6 months apart, I stand a chance at actually contending for a 'prize'.  It could be a paper certificate printed out on Microsoft Word, but whatevs, I like prizes.  So maybe I'll run a half in October.  I'll decide when it gets closer to the next price increase--cause I like to procrastinate like that.

When life is good, I am busy enjoying my other hobbies (and avoiding strength training).  I have been busy in my garden--planting a few veggies and annuals, and enjoying the pretty perennials:
garden grow

I have also been in the kitchen, making pizza:

making pizza

And baking cookies:

baking cookies

Tonight, I made spicy basil tofu stir-fry and while Adam initially balked at the idea of not having meat with dinner, he actually cleaned his plate.  I won't press my luck often with bringing tofu to the dinner table often, but good to know that it is in the realm of possibilities.

Tomorrow, I hope to get in a double digit run if I'm feeling good and rested.  Then, it's time to maybe order a new phone (ooooo, technology!) and Friday night=date night.  Yay!!