Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekly Running Recap

First off, Happy Halloween!!!  This past week was a decent running week post half.  I can't believe it's only been a week!  I've been so excited about running and training this week and I think it shows in ALL of my runs this week.  I've even started looking at runs for next year and have started putting runs I hope to register for in the 2012 part of my "Races" tab.

Weekly Mileage:
M- rest (at home squats/floor workout)
T- 4 miles
W- 1 mile warm-up run + weights/floor workout w/Katie
Th- rest
F- 5 miles
S- rest
Su- 6 miles (meant to do 10... then ran out of time)
Total miles: 16

Not as many miles as I wanted for this week, but they were three solid runs that I'm very proud of... So, I'm going to quickly talk about them.  My main goal after the half is to finish my runs stronger, and I'm proud to say that ALL of my runs this week finished with a faster mile than they started.  Big improvement for me already!

Tuesday (4):  My calves were still really tight from the half, but I decided to run up to campus and check out Mirror Lake and the Oval.  After starting, my goal was a sub-12 pace, and (even with a few walk/stretch-my-calves breaks) I pushed myself and got a 11:51 pace overall.  Woo!

Friday (5):  Didn't want to run at all.  Jon and I stayed in our PJs until far past a socially acceptable time, but I got out there, and I'm really, really thankful I did.  I started out with a quick(er) pace and felt really good, so I headed to the Olentangy Trail and dared myself to keep up this good 11:16 pace for the whole run, rather than tiring myself out and slowing down like I usually do.  It was hard, but I pushed myself and was ASTONISHED to see that my overall pace was 10:56, with my last mile in 10:31.  I checked back in my Garmin logs and I've never run ANY distance with a sub-11 pace.  I actually might have teared up a bit when I realized that.  Puh-ro-gress.  Felt AMAZING.

Sunday (6):  I had a fun 9.5 mile loop planned out, but then got nervous about not having anywhere to use a potty mid-run and hadn't had the necessary trip pre-run yet, so Jon and I decided to drink some coffee and clean the apartment for the Mary Kay party I had today BEFORE leaving for the run rather than after.  It took a bit longer than expected to get everything clean, but we got out there and ended up having to cut the run short to make it home in time.  That said, it was great running with Jon on this beautiful day and he really pushed me to stay fast.  The pace overall was 11:34, but we stopped to take these photos of the gorgeousness here in Columbus (which brought our pace down):

He pushed me and I often looked down at Mr. Garmin and saw a 10-minute (or even high 9:xx) pace on my current pace!  The last two miles were 10:57 and 10:47, so I am really proud of this run, and, most importantly, I got to spend some quality time finding new places to run with my honey.  ;)

Oh, and we also got home in time to shower and look presentable so that I could host a Mary Kay party for my friend Chris, who's a new consultant:

Doesn't she look official?  
I stole this photo from Bailey since I'm lame and forgot to take one.
(And my baker's rack needs some organizational love)

All-in-all, a really great running week post-half.  Instead of beating myself up over my short "long" run, I'm choosing instead to really celebrate how much I was able to push myself on ALL of my runs this week.  Can't wait to see what the next week of training brings!  Plus, it looks like we might have TWO 5ks in November, so maybe I'll even be able to set a PR!

Have a great Monday!!!

PS- Have any of you seen that new TV series on ABC "Once Upon A Time"?  Jon and I started watching it this weekend and we're hooked!

Friday, October 28, 2011

I've Caught the Bug

This is what came up when I typed this post's title into Google.
Fitting, no?

It's true, once you complete your first half marathon, you can't go back.  It's only 4 days post race and I'm already thinking about possible upcoming races and ways to improve my form and speed.

That's where you guys come in.  I've been doing some reading on Runner's World (because, let's face it, who doesn't?) and have been trying to come up with my next PoA (Plan of Attack) to get my speed up and to finish long runs stronger.  Then, I thought to myself, who better to ask than all you people who read this blog (all that handful of you) and definitely run faster than moi.

As someone who's pretty much detested the idea of speed workouts and generally "uncomfortable" workouts, I have no idea where to start on this quest to become a better, faster, stronger runner.  So far, I'm planning on continuing to run 3-4 times a week with at least 1 double digit run on Sundays and incorporating weight-lifting/floor exercises at least 2x week (Monday/Wednesday).  Now, I just need to figure out what kinds of other runs I want to add in to help meet my next goal of a sub-2:40:00 half.  At least.

So, that's where you come in.  Do you have any tips, workout suggestions, or book suggestions for things I could do/read to help inspire and get me to go from my 12-12:30 average pace to a steady 11:xx pace?  

I can't wait to hear your suggestions!

PS-- Currently:

Eating: Homemade Pumpkin Waffles (recipe to come)!
Running: Off for a 5mi run with Jonboy!
Reading: La Place by Annie Ernaux and Le Neveu de Rameau by Diderot (oh, grad school!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Race Photos & Stuffed Acorn Squash

Happy Thurfriday, all!

If you're in my household, you're lucky enough to have Fridays off, which make Thursdays one of my favorite days of the week.  Plus, I just picked my classes for winter quarter and it looks as though this 3-day weekend business will be a part of my life until at least March!  Bonus!

Want to know another bonus?  They posted the official photos from the half last weekend!!!  Check 'em out!  I apologize there are so many, so just skip down if you get bored and want to just see the recipe!

Jonboy thinks he looks "like a tool" with the layers, but I told him he looks like a hardcore runner.
At 9 minutes miles, I think he definitely is.

Look at that determination.

This is what a sub 2h half looks like.

Determination.  Any carrying my cell phone.  fun.

Thought I looked much cooler in my head than I did in reality...

I have a lot of hair.

Leaving a happy Jon in the distance to sprint to the finish.  
Look! I'm flying!

Success! In my mind, I looked way more triumphant that I do in this photo.  Oh, fatigue.

Jon crossing the finish for the 2nd time

Distance shot!

Like Christina posted last week, I wish race photos weren't so expensive so I could buy a few.  Bummer.  Still, makes me look like a pretty hardcore runner!

Anyway, here's another delicious Fall recipe to share: Stuffed Acorn Squash.  It's another old WW favorite (so I didn't make it up), but it is DELICIOUS.  The department chair/my professor at work even asked for the recipe!

The perfect size to be reheated for lunch!  
Sorry I forgot to take a photo of them fresh out of the oven! Oops!

-2 medium acorn squash
-Nonstick cooking spray
-8oz cremini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
-3 medium scallions thinly sliced (I substituted this for 3 shallots, which I really liked)
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-2tsp Worcestershire sauce (PS British friends, how do you pronounce this?)
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp rubbed sage
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp ground black pepper
-1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
-1/4 cup grated parmesan (Fresh is best, though I used the pre-grated stuff)
-3 tbsp dry white wine

1. Preheat the oven to 375º,  Also, so you don't forget to cook the rice before you want to bake it with the squash (like I did), go ahead and get out a pot and get the water boiling for that brown rice (mine usually takes 45-50 minutes to cook).

2. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the halves on it face down (sometimes I like to put a bit of water on the tray too) and bake for approximately 50 minutes (or until tender)

3.  Hang out for a bit (or cut up your veggies if you haven't yet).  Then, when you have maybe 20 minutes until go-time (i.e. when the squash will be out of the oven), spray a skillet with some cooking spray (or add some EVOO) and sauté the mushrooms, scallions (or shallots), and garlic over medium heat.

4.  Once the mushrooms look like they've started to give off some liquid, stir in the Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, sage, thyme, and pepper.  Cook for a minute or so.

5.  Take the pan off the heat and add in the rice, cheese, and wine.

6.  Then, remove the squash from the oven, flip them over and fill each with the rice mixture.  Replace the filled squash in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

I think this is a great, hearty Fall dinner!  It's really savory and filling and it almost feels like there's meat or something in it, but there's not. It's delicious.

Have a great Thursday all!!! :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cincy Half Marathon Recap: The Actual Race

FYI: This is a really long post.  It was kind of a big deal, so I want to remember pretty much everything about it.  Hopefully future race posts won't be as intense, but who knows.  Consider yourself forewarned! ;) 

First, here's a quick view of the course:

Overall, a nice flat course.

So, when I left off in the last post, we were shivering and waiting to get the ball rolling.  Then, the "gun" went off and we started on our chilly way.  

Mile 1: 10:55—Jon stayed with me for the start.  I was feeling really good.  We kissed goodbye at the beginning of mile 2 and I gave him a little pat and off he sped towards his sub-2h goal.  Speed demon. Two girls next to us aw-ed.  I was amused.  Plus, my hip was feeling great so far.  Added bonus!

Mile 2: 11:05—Still feeling really great.  Kept thinking about how far I've come and how I can't believe I'm actually here.  I knew I was going faster than expected, but I chalked it up to feeling so good and enjoying the race.  Actually ran into a guy I used to work with downtown too!  That was fun!

Mile 3: 11:35—Like the end of Mile 2, this had some uphills.  I ran up both and just remembered what I'd read in RW about just keeping a comfortable pace jogging up the hills instead of really tiring yourself out (bc that makes you slower in the end) and Christina saying that hills work different muscles.  Also ran by Fountain Square and listened to a band and got some good cheers.  

Mile 4: 12:03—Still feeling great and going strong, but you can see that my pace is starting to get slower as the early race buzz starts to wear off.  That said, hip still pain free!

Mile 5: 11:23—Started on the "out and back" part of the race and started to see some of the SUPER fast runners on their way back in.  Wow.  At this point, I'm really proud of how I'm doing so far.

Mile 6: 12:22—At this point, I was starting to feel a bit slower and started thinking to myself, oh man... only half way there?  Then I passed Jon on his way back for Mile 11, which raised my spirits AND I unexpectedly heard my name being shouted out.  Apparently some people I knew from church were there cheering on someone else and were surprised to see me!  That was an added boost!

Mile 7: 11:51—Almost to the loop to head back.  Look up ahead and who was I surprised to see on the side of the road?!  My momma with a sign!  Yay!  She snapped this as I scooted on by:

Less than gorgeous background, but hey, mile 7 was a good time!
Though, this photo really makes me think I need to work on my stride... or lack thereof.

Mile 8: 12:08—Between miles 8-11, Mr. Garmin got messed up and really off-track.  At around 8.5, I started to feel like I might need a potty break.  I couldn't remember where the closest one was going to be, so I looked up the info on the website on my phone... while running.  I'm ridiculous.  Thankfully, it was at mile 8.8.  A nearby runner actually cheered me on when I saw it and sprinted.  ;)  

Mile 9: MG claims 12:29, but he's wrong.  Somehow the whole porta-potty experience messed with him, because I looked down a bit after I started running and realized that he wasn't timing... Boo.  This leg was ok, I walked a bit and tried to pep myself up for the final 4 miles.

Mile 10:  Claims 11:21 (again... wrong, would be awesome if he weren't though!).  Finally on the "back" part of the out-and-back.  Ran into my mom again.  :)

Mile 11: Once I knew there were only 2.1 miles left, I reset Mr. Garmin so I could get an accurate read again.  This mile: 13:12 (Sadly, more realistic than Mile 10's 11:21).  Walked a bit and tried to get myself psyched up--my hip was kind of lightly hurting and the balls of my feet were starting to hurt, so I really just wanted it to be over.  Kept telling myself that I can do a 5k.  Ain't no thang...  Also, saw my mom one last time and decided to take her picture with her cute sign (hence looking at my phone).


Isn't her sign cute?  Apparently some of the other runners kept seeing her too and one joked about how she kept beating us.  She pointed to her car.

Mile 12: 12:12!  Haha, how's that for a pace for the 12th mile?!  Again, walked a tiny bit and kept trying to pep talk myself into running the rest at a fast clip to finish strong, but I was tired and my feet and my hip just hurt.  Saw Jon right before the 13 mile marker, which always lifts my spirits and he jumped in with me.  

Mile 13:  Saw the finish line and the mile 13 flag and was SO happy it was almost over--I felt like I was REALLY on my last bit of energy, but somehow I dug down deep and left Jon (you know, who'd already run a half and then sat around waiting for me for 45 minutes and thus was already very tired) in the dust and gave it everything I had and sprinted to the finish.  Ow.  No idea where that came from, but the announcer guy even commented on it saying "Oh look, we have a sprinter!"  Crossed the line strong, then couldn't even bend over to help the girls cut off the timing chips.  Ex-hausted.  Immediately searched out and downed a Powerade and found out my official time: 2:43:51!!!!  I beat my A-Goal!! 

The first half of the race really was what let me reach my goal, since I'm sure miles 8-11 were really slow.  I'm so thrilled and can't wait to run another!  Now, I just want to work on my stride and finishing long runs stronger so hopefully the next race will be a more even effort and pace throughout!  Now, time to start researching speed work?


The guy kept yelling that he had "free breakfast!'  
I guess ale and lager qualify.  
We definitely partook.

If you know us in real life... obligatory kissy photo. 
Real love wants a kiss even with you're smelly.

Anyway, the day ended up being SUPER busy.  We stayed awhile and drank beer/chatted with a couple of South Carolina fans (the wife and I actually ran near each other most of the race).  Then we grabbed lunch (a well-deserved Skyline chili) with Jon's cousin who's in school here in town, watched some of the Auburn/LSU game (sad times), and then attended a friend's wedding last night... WHEW!  

At least we clean up well, don't ya think? 

To end, I think this photo of our girl on our trip home pretty much sums up what we want to do now!  Recover from the weekend!!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Cincy Half Marathon Recap: Foiling our pre-race plans

Ça y est! (That's it!) I've completed my first official half marathon race (and it went pretty darn well)!  Jon and I had meticulously planned things out for the day of the race.  Then it all got foiled. 

First, we stopped at the Under Armour outlet on a whim as we were driving down to Cincinnati and I scored a new pair of my favorite ColdGear tights and a new cold weather running top (see below) and Jon went away with a nice fitted mock top, a matching navy wind breaker, and a great pair of cold weather running tights (see top below).  So, that broke Plan #1: The Get-Up.  I know you aren't supposed to change anything on race day, but it's so cute I couldn't resist (and I have the exact same pair of tights at home).

Look what greeted us in the "guest" bedroom at my mom's!  No, no mints on the pillow, but rather a bowl full of GU samples!

She'd gone to the local running store last week and apparently they were giving out samples.  I've never actually tried GU before (I'm still working my way through my Sport Beans), but I'm excited to try it out.  Also got some Gatorade chews at the Cbus half that people were throwing away, so we'll be trying those too... What do your favorite things to use to fuel?  At least we left them at home and didn't try any new fueling things on race day... One no-no followed!

Plan #2: Get up really early.  In an effort to go potty at home (you know what I'm talking about), Jon and I had planned to get up at 4:30ish and drink some coffee/eat/go back to sleep for a bit.  Great idea... Until we heard my mom moving around and I asked her what time it was and she responded "Oh! You're still here?!? It's 6:30am!"  Panic ensued.  Thankfully, Christina had already picked up our packets and so kindly dropped them off, so at least that wasn't a worry.  

Even the drive was an adventure (as all things are when you're kind of freaking out and tired).  We took the most round-about way to Sawyer Point (Thanks, GPS!) and then had to switch parking places since the machine in the first one only took $1-5 in cash (and I, of course, had a $20).  Not going to lie, I was so upset and flustered that I fed it the $20 almost hoping it'd just take it so we could park.  Instead, it shot back out and we ended up (literally) parking under a bridge nearby. 

We finally made it to the Porta-Potty line by the start.  We were FREEZING.  It wasn't a stellar trip and I was already getting nervous for the race, but we lined up and got all geared up to go.  I have to say, it was pretty cool seeing the 5kers and thinking to myself that this time, that wasn't me!  

Let me just say, 30º is not a lot of degrees.  Despite the coldgear (and my extra tank layered underneath), we were definitely cold little puppies waiting for the gun to go off.

Here's us at the starting line! 

Wide-eyed and bushy-tailed (?) at the start line at 7:45am.  Brr!!!

And then the "gun" went off and we were on our merry, frozen, little way!

Stay tuned for the recap of the actual race!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Half Marathon Plan (and cookies)!

So, tomorrow's the big day.  It's been a really busy past few days so I honestly haven't been dedicating more than passing thoughts to tomorrow morning's half.

This week, we took it pretty easy so there's no way I could develop hip pain again before tomorrow.  So, I did a quick 2.25 mile run on the treadmill before a quick floor workout with Katie on Wednesday, and just got back from a 3-mile run with Jon around the neighborhood.  Christina, my neighbor at home (who also happens to be a kick-ass runner and blogger @ Just Running), picked up our race bibs for us the other day, so we're all set.  Jon and I are also hoping to go down and check out the expo this afternoon if possible.

As for tomorrow, I'm a mix of excited and nervous.  I really do think running a full 13.1 miles in training a few weeks back has helped ease my nerves considerably.  I never have understood why for shorter races (i.e. not marathons and up) they don't have you run the full distance at a slow pace in training.  Though, seeing how that run went has led me to develop two possible goals for tomorrow:

If I'm feeling good (i.e. no excruciating hip pain unlike my training 13.1) my goal is 2:45:00.  According to Cool Running's pace calculator, that's an average pace of 12:35.  My average pace for last weekend's pain-free 9-miler was 12:33 (with a quick potty break), so this seems like a really attainable goal.  Since it's my first half ever, I don't want to get too ambitious and really just want to get out there and enjoy the distance and complete the race (I already have a few others on my radar too!)

If my hip starts hurting really badly like it did in my 13.1mi training run, my goal is sub-3h.  My training run for the half distance was really painful and I had to stop a few times to try and stretch, get some water, cry, and limp and finished in 3:01:14 with an average pace of 13:10.

I know that in a race setting, I'll be able to push myself harder than I was alone on a training run, so these goals could probably be lower times, but I really want to set myself up for a great day tomorrow, so there they are.

The weather is supposed to be:

So, it's going to be a beautiful, brisk day.  Since the race starts early, I'm going to wear my winter running tights and either my winter running turtleneck or a shirt layered with my lined running jacket, not sure yet about my gloves.  There are 6 aid/fluid stations on the course, so I won't be running with my hydration belt (so that'll make me a lot lighter than both of my training runs), so that'll help too.

All in all, I really think I'm ready for this.  I feel like I'm in a really great place and am already looking at some other races next year.  Who knows!

Oh, and I'm taking this 'carb-loading' thing seriously.  RW said you should start carb-loading 3-ish days before?  So, after a SUPER long and stressful week, I came home last night and whipped up this AMAZING snickerdoodle recipe and... may have just had batter/cookies/wine for dinner.  Oops!

Forgot to roll the first batch in the cinnamon sugar mixture, but they were still YUMMY!  

Made the rest of the balls and put them in the freezer for almost-instant home-baked cookies when we want them.  

The recipe was great--I followed two suggestions in the comments though: added 1tsp vanilla and baked them at 300º for 20 minutes instead of 350º for 10.  They came out perfectly soft and were STILL soft when I had one this morning.  This recipe is DEFINITELY a keeper!

On that note, off to pack for Cincinnati for tomorrow!  Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall Recipes: Greek Spaghetti Squash!

Fall is the seasonal love of my life.  Absolute favorite.  It's full of beautiful colors:

Football and tailgating:

Pumpkin flavored food:

Perfect running weather:


Ask Jon about what we eat in the Fall, and he'll inevitably list off a multitude of soups, bakes, sautes, etc that all involve my favorite seasonable vegetable.  So, today, here's the recipe for what we'll be eating for lunch today (and had for dinner yesterday): Greek-Style Spaghetti Squash.  It's a WW recipe that's only on the site if you subscribe, so I'm VERY glad I pulled it to my desktop when I found it a few years back.  It's amazing.

-2 pounds raw spaghetti squash
-2 tsp olive oil
-1/2c shallots (sliced)
-2 tsps minced garlic
-1 can of chickpeas
-1 can of diced tomatos in juice
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp lemon zest (though I usually use the zest from a whole small lemon)
-salt/pepper to taste
-1/4c mint (the WW recipe lets you choose between mint and dill... I always pick mint)
-feta (to sprinkle on top)

1. Preheat oven to 350º.  While the oven is preheating, cut the squash length-wise and scoop out the seeds.  Place the squash face down on a cookie sheet and fill the bottom of the cookie sheet with a thin layer of water (keeps the squash from sticking and helps it cook).  Poke a few holes in the outside of the squash.  Bake at 350º until the skin starts to turn golden (about 50 minutes).  (WW also says you can microwave the squash to cut down on time, but I so prefer a slow cooked one!)

2.  While the squash is baking, heat up the oil/shallots/garlic in a skillet.  Once the onions start to cook down a bit, add in all the remaining ingredients (except the feta) and bring to a boil.  This shouldn't take the whole 50 minutes, so enjoy the first 25 or so to read a book or something. ;)

3. Once the squash is cooked, pull out the strands of squash with a fork and add to the skillet.  

I cooked my squash a bit longer than 50 minutes and it almost fell out of the skin.  Yum.

4.  Cook and stir until all the squash is coated with the tomato/chickpea/tasty mixture.  Scoop into bowls and top with feta.  :)  Should make approximately 4 servings!



Eating:  Nothing.  Though this recipe now makes me want a snack.
Running: Did 2.25 miles and some strength yesterday--hoping for at least a few squats today!
Reading: Roland Barthes "La mort de l'auteur" (The Death of the Author aka grad school is fun!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A New Blog

After some serious consideration (and a lack of consistent posting on my old blog), I got to thinking.  Why was I blogging?  What did my blog mean?  I started my old blog En Route to En Shape two years ago because I was trying to start running and to continue losing weight.  I've maintained a 25-30 pound loss for over two years now and as of this coming Saturday, I'll have successfully trained for and completed a half marathon race.  While I'd still like to lose 10-15 more pounds and have plenty of other goals for running, I figured that I am no longer "En Route to En Shape," but rather in decent shape and trying to get better.

Plus, my focus has shifted more to being an overall healthy person who feels good about myself and how my clothes fit rather than a number on the scale.  Sure, this blog will probably have some weigh-ins, but I don't want it to be the main focus of this new space.  In this new space, I hope to focus more on healthy eating and cooking on my student-tastic budget, working on improving my speed and endurance as a runner, and hopefully finding some spare time to read interesting things (that aren't just French literature).

So, here you have it.  A new blog.  On that note, I have some reading to do.

Eating: Drinking coffee and looking forward to mom's chili for lunch
Reading:  Le Neveu de Rameau by Diderot
Running:  3 miles easy later today (let's hope it doesn't rain)