Friday, January 31, 2014

Snowpocalyse Atlanta: My singular attempt at bacon (and pics of bacon)

The snowpocalyse/snowmaggeddon came to Atlanta this week. By now, you've seen the comparison photos of The Walking Dead and our unprepared city. If not, please get a giggle out of what 2 inches can do to southerners:
I woke up Tuesday morning pretty early because I had a dentist appointment to have a filling replaced at 8am. Not that it would stop me from getting my Dutch Monkey Doughnut fix:
I'm not really one to fear the dentist. It's not like strolling down the Champs-Elysees, but I'm more annoyed that I have to get up early. My dentist is pretty rad, so that helps. With the right side of my mouth completely numb, I headed to the Greenway to try to get my snow run in.

I had loosely on my schedule to do 3 mile repeats with 6 miles total, but I wasn't really feeling it. Almost all of my runs have been run pretty much at +/- 10 seconds at my supposed tempo pace lately so I was feeling kind of out of steam. Ish. I decided to run a warm up mile and see what transpired.

7:51, 7:43, 7:22, 7:20, 7:04, 7:13, last .2 at 7:11 pace. I was supposed to do the mile repeats at 7:14, so... whatever.  I was most bummed that I only caught a few flurries towards the end of my run. Snowrunfail.

I got home and left my running clothes on as it started to come down heavier by the minute. I went trekking through the field in my backyard and probably went about a mile or so in the snow. Yay! It wasn't a real run, but it sure was fun!

The yard slowly started to get whiter and whiter. It was sticking!

The dogs were a little confused. What is this stuff mom? 
We would really prefer to be inside:

Woman! Put the camera down! Let me in the house!!
I had already made bacon beer chili Monday:

So we brushed the snow off the grill and made steak. Logical right?
Wednesday was a snow day from work for both Adam and I. He played lots of Grand Theft Auto, I worked on the taxes. Wait...what? Finally, after a few hours of number crunching, I unearthed a sweet sum of cash and decided to go play in the kitchen. Prepped a huge dish of enchiladas for dinner and made black and white cookies:
Yesterday I headed back to work. Even though my Jeep has 4X4, I still drive like a granny (the opposite of my normal Evil Knievel driving ways) because of the icy patches. Cars were parked all over ditches on the highway and it really looked like we experienced the rapture. Definitely did not look like a normal Thursday morning rush hour in Atlanta.

When I got home, I remembered I needed to sign up for The Flying Pig! Since I was going to walk the 5K with Adam and run-party the marathon, I decided to just go for the gusto and do the 10K too:
I signed Adam up as well. Any and all are welcome to walk with us!
I take for granted sometimes that my legs are 100% healthy. Adam's MS is not troublesome for most activities in life--in fact, I rarely even think about him having it. But walking 3.1 miles exacerbates the issues he has with numbness on his right side. Towards the end, it can be very difficult for him to pick his leg up normally. So, I am pretty excited that he has agreed to not only attend his first Loopfest, but also be walking his 3rd (or 4th if he walks the Atlanta one in March) 5K!

Don't know much about MS? Read this list of FAQs if you're curious.

This morning I headed out to do my 18 miler. I was not anticipating it in the same way I usually do my long runs, but I knew I might feel better once I was out there.

Boy was I wrong.

Snow and ice and slush covered at least half of the trail. Holy moly, that stuff is awful to run in. It didn't help that I wore my Kinvara's which have zero traction and even less stability control.

I was trying to use the power of positive thinking (and smiling!), but my quads were like, yeah, right, good luck with that!

 It was quite beautiful and peaceful--I didn't see a soul for the first 3 miles. But there were definitely sections that were barely touched and I felt like I was running through quicksand:

I actually started to get pretty warm and ended up shedding my half-zip as the temperature rose. It was pretty weird to be running through snow in a short sleeve shirt. Well, it was pretty weird to be running through snow period. 
I'm just glad it's over. I think I was just due for an icky feeling run.  It just happened to coincide with a new physical challenge of trying to not bite it on the ice and/or gain traction on the soft snow. Onwards and upwards!
Looking forward to regular chilly runs without the obstacle course. Lesson learned, y'all can keep your snow!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quadracool's guide to a good running streak

How to have a good running streak:

1. Qualify for Boston at a Loopfest
It was a perfect storm. I ran a flat course in cool weather after a great training cycle with no injuries. Oh, and 30ish runners who I had blog-stalked for years were housed up together in a gigantic beautiful house next to the beach. It was like running sleepaway camp. But better, because there was beer!

2. Run like a child
Kids running are full of glee. Why? Because they run hard when they can and slow down when it becomes difficult. When you start putting limitations on your running, it becomes easy to think that you cannot go faster.  And if you are beating yourself up for having a slower day/week/year, it becomes easy to think you'll never enjoy it again. If you are so married to your charts and times and progress, where's the glee? If you can't find the glee, why do it?

3. Have a supportive spouse, friend, or family member
Some runners have runner spouses/friends/family members, some runners have non-running spouses/friends/family. Mine fall in the the latter category.  But my network knows that a running Carissa is a happy Carissa. My non-running spouse drives me to races, asks me how my run was just as he asks me about my work day, and supports my gear habits.  Case in point, the conversation at Fleet Feet this past week:
Adam: Did you find that pineapple Gu you were looking for?
Carissa: No, they don't have any of the Roctane Gu
Adam: Oh, that sucks. Sorry. Did you see they have gloves on sale? You said you wanted some gloves, right?
Carissa: I did. But I'd rather try to find a running skirt or another pair of capris.
Adam: Get both. I know you'll use them.
Carissa: <3 <3

4. Find your happy
Just because other people are running in blissfully beautiful places with lightening fast paces does not mean you are "less" of a runner because you are not. Running is running no matter where or how you do it.  Sure, the treadmill is notoriously boring, but I'm still running when I'm on it. I put on some Ke$ha, pump my arm Arsenio-style during the chorus, and leap over imaginary trees while I reach up to touch the ceiling. I like running with music--it makes me happy. It's cool if you don't. I enjoy running with people when I have the opportunity, but I happen love running alone. Do your own thing--there is no such thing as wrong running. Unless you are race-walking.

5. Be your own experiment in nutrition
Paleo works for you? Cool
Gluten-free works for you? Cool
Vegan works for you? Cool
Whole 30 works for you? Cool
Beer and nachos and wine and kale works for you? Cool

I'm fairly certain that most people reading this knows that nutrition can effect your running. But we are all different--both in body and mind. Some people thrive on structured eating, some people have religious or moral convictions about food groups, and some people find certain foods (or lack thereof) make them feel better. Cool. Find what works for you.

6. Smile while running
It sounds a little insane and maybe it won't work for you. But maybe it will. When the going gets tough out there, I force myself to grin wide.  And it's really hard for me to not giggle a little inside when I'm smiling like a big goober while running. Just try it once--you know you want to!

7. Live in the Deep South during the winter
Sorry for those north of the Mason-Dixon. You'll have your revenge in July. I'm not sure what the opposite of bacon is, but I am sure that it oppositely awful.

We do get snow every few years in Atlanta. Proof:

8. Take care of your body
Higher mileage, higher frequency, and faster speeds are all easy ways to get hurt. If I need to give my body a little more rest, I do. I sleep as much as I can. If I feel the slightest twinge of anything, I might take an extra day or two so that it doesn't become anymore serious. I often pushed through too hard before and felt miserable because of it.  4ish days a week, 30ish miles works for me. And rest. Lots of quality rest.

9. Fix your mind
Once it becomes a "must", it isn't fun. We've all been inspired by stories about who cannot run or will not run again. My streak has been inspired by the feeling that I "get" to run. Whatever your ability, you get to fly through the air with your own 2 feet.  I might not get to have this feeling my whole life. I've enjoyed it for many, many years and hope I can enjoy it for many, many more.

Grandma turned 91 the same weekend of Rehoboth. I have many, many more years (and apparently a lot more ice cream sundaes) to go:

10. Enjoy your life
Running is great. It really is. I love it a lot. But I love other things too. I love Adam. I love my Boston Terriers. I love my family. I love my friends. I love baking. I love traveling. I love crossword puzzles. I love date night. I love Downton Abbey. I love historical fiction. I love beer. I love gardening. I love sending and receive awesome mail. Etc. etc. etc.

The point is, I'm okay if I miss a run because Adam and I are going to a Braves game. I'm okay if I have to cut one short because my sister invited me to lunch. I'm okay if I miss a week because Disney World was exhausting. I'm okay because somewhere along the way, it became harder to hang up my shoes than to lace them up.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Supercalifragilistic running and kitchen experiments

Last week, I was supposed to run this schedule:

Tuesday 6 @9:11
Thursday 6 @9:11
Friday 5 @9:11
Sunday 6 @9:11

Ew, cutback week. I welcomed this when I was in the midst of my 17 week training cycle for Rehoboth, but after the taper and post-race recovery weeks, I was kind of looking forward to getting back to the long run.  There is something so satisfying about those long runs (not to mention the beer-and-wings post-long run dinner tradition that I can salivate about why running).

But I am trying to do something sort of on my schedule 'cause it is clear that I am not running those paces.

So I stuck mostly to the mileage..

Tuesday 6.2 @7:15--I blooped about this last week
Wednesday 5 @8:34 at a 1% incline with the last mile moving 1% every 1/10th of a mile until I was running on a 10% grade.
Friday 8 @7:30 Splits: 7:44, 7:37, 7:34, 7:39, 7:28, 7:37 7:25, 7:02
Sunday 6 @9:08 with Heidi (aka northern lass)!! Splits: 9:09, 9:06, 9:18, 8:50, 8:58, 9:14

Today I ran my tempo that was scheduled for this Thursday. It was supposed to be 6 total, with 4 @7:41.

I ran 6.2 @7:14 pace. Splits: 7:23, 7:13, 7:01, 7:04, 7:26, 7:19, last .2 at a 6:50 pace

Wednesday was a mostly easy workout until the last mile.  I decided to add the hill workout at the end. It was some serious anaerobic effort towards the last few minutes, but differently hard than speed work.

Friday was one of the best runs I've had in a long time. I felt strong, happy, and loving every second of being out on a beautiful day running. I honestly felt like I was holding myself back for about half of the run and then just decided to push it a little harder at the end.

I totally forgot to snap a shot of Heidi and I on Sunday morning. But it was absolutely fantastic to run together. Every time I run with someone (which isn't too often), I am always amazed at how fast the time goes by. We talked about running, racing, cars, and plans for the next few months. I'm hoping to twist her arm to run the Georgia marathon with me the week following Shamrock!

Today was another beautiful day for running--upper 40s and sunny. I did my warm-up mile in 7:23. Oops. Was going to just do the first 4 miles at tempo pace after that and try to relax after that. Oops. I did ease up my effort the last 2 miles, but I knew I was still going sub-8. Oh well!

This week in the kitchen, I decided to test a lasagna recipe before subjecting my sister's friends to it. We are renting a cabin in Tennessee next month for her bachelorette party and as hostess, I am in charge of the menu!
I have been slowly working on my winter beer collection and trying to eat more veggies.  I've been obsessed with sauteed kale this week:
Luxy does not do green veggies or beer. Weirdo...
Friday night is date night and we opted to stay in this week and grill steaks since our 3rd and 4th wheel were out of town.  Washed it down with a delicious bottle of wine from the local vineyard we are wine club members of. They make surprisingly good wine considering Georgia is not really known as the Napa Valley of the South. Lolz..
Oh yeah, I made Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes for dessert. Another kitchen experiment.  They turned out just spicy enough.
Today, I finally got around to refilling my peanut butter container. I, like many runners, are kind of obsessed with peanut butter. Ever since Adam got me a Vitamix, I have made it at home from dry roasted peanuts. The hard part is not eating half of when transporting it to the container. Especially when it is slightly warm and perfectly gooey.
And what kind of blog would this be if I didn't leave you with a few pictures of the BTs?!?!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I have no idea what I'm doing, but it's fun!

When I started training for marathon #7 on New Year's Eve, I had plugged in all my workouts into my little planner and knew that while I wasn't going for another BQ, I was hopefully going to PR on a course I've run 4 times.

Little did I know that my newest harebrained idea was going to involve running marathons on consecutive weekends and following it up with another one 6 weeks later.  Definitely qualifying me for Marathon Maniacs and participating in 2 Loopfests to boot!

Fortunately I had a decent base so I was able to modify my 11-week plan into a 10-week plan so that I'd be ready to properly taper for Shamrock and still get 2 20-milers under my belt.

Today I made the epiphany that since I was no longer really gunning for speed or time--but simply to finish--I really should perhaps think a little bit more about my training plan.  Or not.  I figure I will finish and any sort of extra speed or boost I get from training like I'm going for a 3:32:xx marathon will maybe help me out.

I have no idea what I'm doing.

But that's kind of fun too. I know that my body is physically capable of doing it so I'm just going to stick to my plan. If I can make it through this training cycle and the workouts feel decent, I know that I could have it in me to train for a 3:30:xx at Rehoboth in December.  Maybe that's getting too greedy, but the confidence I got in shaving over 17 minutes off my marathon time in a year is hopefully enough to carry me to another PR.

Anyway, I'm feeling relatively good and still have lots of great mojo left from December.

Aside from the fact that I was relegated to the treadmill ALL last week due to weather and well, life, I feel like running is going well for me right now.

I was supposed to do these workouts this week:
Tuesday: 4 @9:12
Thursday: 6 tempo with 4 @7:47
Friday: 4 @9:12
Sunday: 14 @9:12

What I actually did:
Monday: 4 @8:34
Wednesday: 6 speed with 6X800 @ 3:29, 3:26, 3:20, 3:15, 3:09, 3:05
Thursday: 4 total, 3 @8:34, 1 starting at 8:34 and increasing by .1 mph every 1/10th mile to 7:30 pace
Saturday: 14 @8:34

Running on the treadmill definitely keeps me in check both ways.  It helps keep me from running my easy runs too fast (well, it's still faster, but not sub-8s) and helps me complete my speedwork when I feel like my stomach is going to come through my esophagus.

I loved doing the 800s though and I felt like a rock star when I finished. Probably because there was a one-person dance party in the lady cave...

The long run was awful though. I had intended to run with Heidi (northern lass) on Saturday morning, but it was crazy storming and I even got 2 flash flood watch warnings texted to my phone. I had a work self-review to complete and I knew I wanted to finish it before Adam got home from work, so I trudged to the 'mill and watched a movie. My Kindle died about 3/4 of the way through and I just said to heck with it and listened to music instead.

The only good part about the run was that I had a very delicious peppermint Gu that BHop sent me for winning his change counting contest.
I had thought it was supposed to rain all day according to the weather news, but just after 3pm, it was gloriously sunny outside.  I was so mad that I was stuck inside doing my stupid work review.
Today, I made up for all those dumb treadmill runs like a caged beast.  I started the first mile with a little pep in my step, but I was shocked when I looked at my split: 7:28.  I really though I was close to 8:00.  I tried to reel back and keep it comfortable until about mile 4 when I figured I would just finish strong since I felt so good. The last 5.2 were in 7:29, 7:23, 7:13, 7:01, 6:58, last .2 in 1:17. 
I was spent, but in a good way. Everything felt good, the sun was shining, I was wearing short sleeves (and a Loopfest shirt at that!) in January, etc.
Now that the holidays are over, I have been back to making dinner pretty much every night at home.  I got lazy for awhile when I had so much to do, but I found my kitchen mojo again.

I made beer chili:

Lamb with sauteed greens and roasted root veggies:

I even cooked up a little post-run snack on Saturday. Normally I don't pull out pots or pans when I'm cooking for one, but I decided I was worth it (hah!):
Date night was the exception this week.  We went out for Mexican and I had to have a Coronarita:
The next night Adam and I went out just by ourselves and we split wings--my favorite post long-run dinner--and laughed until our sides hurt at Anchorman 2.

The only other excitement this week was that the little fuzzies had to go to the vet for their preventative care.  Torrance, the younger BT got out with just shots and a few pokes and prods.  Luxy gets a yearly deep clean of her teeth and we had to drop her off as they put her under general anesthesia.  Poor pookie had elevated liver levels and they had to do some more tests before they could complete the cleaning.  She was not a happy camper when she got home:
She got lots and lots of extra snuggles!