Saturday, December 31, 2011

December and Year-End Stats

December Running Summary
Total runs: 22
Total miles: 147.3
Average miles per run: 6.7 miles
Average speed/pace: 7.3 mph / 8:13 per mile

2011 Summary
Total miles: 1378.8
That's an average of 3.77 miles every day.

Thanks, 2011, you have been a good running year. Let's run on into 2012.

Marathon Training Week 7

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 7, and 4 miles, rest, 7 mile pace run, and 14 mile long run. Step it up again. No more 3 mile runs til the week before Shamrock.

Sunday - yoga podcast, which was OK. I got lost on some of the poses. Next time I will print out the pose guide. I came close to holding crow, though. That's progress. I got to use my new yoga block. Also did some pushups.

Monday - 4.8 mile run, plus upper body strength training, squats, and calf raises. I had the day off and so off I trottled to the gym.

Tuesday - 7.5 mile run in the AM. Started off slow but got the overall pace down to 8:27 by the end. Saw some pretty red and pink clouds while the sun was rising.

Wednesday - 4.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus lunges and core work. I need to get my butt out of bed earlier so that I do not feel rushed to get to work on time (my schedule is flexible so it is technically impossible for me to be "late." I generally get to work at the same time every day, though, give or take 15 minutes). Or remember to do some of my strength training in the evening while watching TV. Or go to bed earlier so that I am not super tired when I wake up. Or stop celebrating holidays.

Thursday - Rest. And traveling. And Swedish meatballs at IKEA. Mmmm lingonberry sauce.

Friday - 7.2 mile pace run. On Long Island for a few days. Wasn't quite at my planned pace (7:45) but was pretty close (7:52) and didn't feel overly challenging. I ran on the sidewalk and had to keep jumping up and down curbs and watch out for uneven surfaces on the sidewalk, so maybe that was it. I also had to stop at about 2 miles and 5.3 miles to cross a busy street. Seriously almost got hit by cars twice. Thanks, Long Island. On a positive note, I didn't know there was a trail that ran through my hometown. I didn't run on it because I was alone and don't run on trails anyway, but that's nice to know.

Saturday - 15.2 mile run. Went to Eisenhower Park. The Long Island Marathon and Divas Half Marathon Long Island both finish in the park. Eisenhower Park is larger than its more famous cousin, Central Park in NYC. The perimeter is about 6 miles, and it is easy enough to cover some miles on paths inside the park or by doubling over some of the perimeter. I putzed around inside the park for the first 5.5 miles or so, failed at finding an open bathroom, stopped at my car to fill up my water bottles and get my iPod (because the perimeter is incredibly boring ... strip malls, busy streets, golf courses, nothing, and a residential area), then ran around the outside, then had about 3.5 miles left once I got back into the park. Surprisingly, I ran faster with my iPod. Hmm, interesting. 8:14 pace overall with the last mile sub-8. Go me.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 36 Actual - 39.3

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Do It for the Medals

If you run enough races, you end up with a pile of medals. Here's my collection of bling from my modern/adult running career. The collection resides in an old running shoe box. Better than having them lie around all over the place.

Just the ones from this year. 3 marathons, 2 half marathons, a 5K, and a special non-race medal. And I thought I didn't race much this year.

My extra medal for doing 2 Rock N Roll races this year and the only medal that I won (1st place in my age category in a small 5K).

The prettiest medal. From the first Divas Half Marathon in Long Island last year. This thing is so large and heavy that it could take someone out. The sparkly part spins and has a space in the back for a picture. You got a free race picture to put in the medal. Nice touch. The course was boring but the atmosphere was fun and female-filled. The Divas series reminds me a lot of Rock N Roll. Expensive races but lots of perks. Divas Long Island had the nice medals, clocks at every mile, a decent amount of water stops, tiaras and boas, roses and champagne at the finish, and firemen giving out medals.

This is the medal I am most proud of. The 2009 United Healthcare/Amica Half Marathon in Newport, RI. The infamous nor'easter race that I still talk about. It wasn't my fastest half marathon, but banging out a 1:53:40 in cold wind-driven rain was one of my strongest performances. Especially after having no idea what my time was after mile 10 because my timing device got too wet. Actually, the weather probably contributed to my time because I just wanted to be done, warm, and dry.

The oldest medal in the collection of bling is my first half marathon medal from 2008. My, how that race has grown and changed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 on the Rhode in Review

Ran my first marathon. And my second. And my third.

Learned than 3 marathons in 1 year is too much for me (We'll see, though. There's a possibility I will do 3 in 2012).

Set a half marathon PR.

Set my marathon PR twice (1 was an instant PR and 1 took 2 attempts to break).

Decided to attempt a Boston Qualifier. Still working on that one.

Traveled to some big races. Chicago Marathon anyone?

Ran outside the entire year. Not always easy in New England.

Had some amazing times with my running buddies.

Discovered the joys of Lululemon.

Ran my highest mileage year ever.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Marathon Training Week 6

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 6 mile pace run, and 9 mile long run. Stepback week #2. Very convenient that a stepback week lined up with the week before Christmas. I had most of my Christmas tasks under control. Cards dropped off in the mail, presents bought and wrapped, cookies and cake balls in progress, menus planned.

Sunday - yoga class, plus calf raises and lunges. Last yoga class for 2011.

Monday - 3.8 mile run in the AM. First very cold run. 15 degrees when I first woke up, and 25 degrees an hour after I was done. I was mostly appropriately dressed (winter tights, yoga pants, 2 long-sleeve tech shirts, fleece pullover, Bondi Band, lightweight hat, baseball hat, lightweight fleece neck gaiter, cheapie gloves) and stayed comfortable, except for my thighs and butt which got cold at 20 minutes in. That's pretty standard, though, and it takes some trial and error to find the right amount of clothing. Did abs and lower back in the evening.

Tuesday - 5.7 mile run. What a difference 24 hours makes. Easily 20 degrees warmer than Monday. I even got down to a single tech shirt.

Wednesday - 3.8 mile run on the treadmill (easy peasy), plus upper body strength training and squats. Even though it was warm, I headed to the gym to get everything done in one place.

Thursday - Rest. More sleeeeeeeep. And lots of cake balls. If you have never had cake balls, they are kinda like chocolate truffles with a cake and frosting filling. Cake balls everywhere. At work. In my fridge. More waiting to be dipped in chocolate in the freezer. Oh wait, I forgot. This is supposed to be about working out. I will have to work out a lot to compensate for all those cake balls. Or maybe cake balls are good fuel for endurance workouts? ;-)

Friday - 6.3 mile pace run. At an overall pace of 7:36. It really wasn't that hard. Hmmm. Something must be going right this training cycle.

Saturday - 10.2 mile run. Wasn't feeling it towards the end but I think it was a combo of 1) going out a little too fast 2) it was windy and fairly cold (a temperature reading I passed about 3 miles in said 28 degrees) 3) the holidays and 4) starting out mostly downhill which means coming back is mostly uphill. Overall, it was a fine run, though. I thought about wearing a Santa hat but decided I needed a real hat. I did have red arm warmers as a base layer and red Gatorade.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 26 Actual - 29.6

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today is the shortest day of the year. That means that days start getting longer. Woot! That means less running in darkness and more running in (at least some) light. Running in darkness is tolerable but definitely not one of my favorite things.

It takes about 3 weeks for the sun to start rising earlier, but the sun is already setting later. Not sure why the sun doesn't start rising earlier AND setting later at the same time, but I will take it. Longer days for the win.

Monday, December 19, 2011

There is a chill in the air

One of my least favorite parts of running in the winter is after the run. I get very very very cold after some winter runs. My fingertips are the worst of it. Every once in a while, my fingertips get so cold that they turn white and go numb. Not fun (or smart) if you need to hop in your car and drive somewhere. I am not sure why it happens, but I think it has something to do with temperature regulation. I find it is worse if I got from outside to inside without cooling down first (maybe because your body is confused and thinks you need to be cooled down). But it also happens if I stay outside too long. Interestingly, my hands and feet stay warm while I am running. As soon as I stop, it's a completely different story with my hands.

I am making progress on keeping the finger numbness to a minimum. If it's above freezing, I can get away with bundling up in several layers and walking for a bit. It is not unusual for me to put on 2 layers of fleece, my ski jacket, a hat, a pair of lined warmup pants and 2 pairs of gloves. If it's below freezing, I go inside, change out of my sweaty running clothes immediately, get into warm dry clothes, put my ski jacket on, make a cup of hot coffee (mmmm coffee), and walk around inside while sipping the hot coffee. The hot cup helps my hands to warm up. The caffeine helps my muscles to feel less tired.

One of my most favorite parts of running in the winter is dressing up like a ninja. Speedy ninja runner.

I go through so much laundry in the winter, due to all the layers. I sometimes wear things twice. Gross? Maybe. But if I didn't sweat too much in it, why wash it? I have 3 pairs of winter tights and only do laundry once a week. You do the math.

Laundry pile of a winter warrior. This is from one long run last winter. See if you can spot: 2 pairs winter tights, 1 pair pants, 1 fleece pullover, 1 jacket, 1 pair arm warmers, 2 shirts, 1 baseball hat, 1 lightweight hat, 1 fleece headband, 1 lightweight balaclava, 1 pair gloves, 1 pair socks, and my running shoes

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Sunday Thoughts O'Random

I need to remember to not back up my computer at a time when I need to use my computer. Planning fail. Oops. At least I have an extra copy of my music, photos, and other assorted files.

I am seriously thinking about racing a half marathon. On a treadmill. Crazy? Maybe, but I've done crazier things. I'll take a half marathon on a treadmill over a half marathon in a nor'easter any day.

Costco rocks yet again for carrying Lululemon knockoffs. This time, it's yoga pants similar to the Groove pants. Same fiber content, same feel, same functionality. I've already worn the Costco pants to a yoga class and couldn't tell the difference between the Lululemon pants and the Costco ones. They seem true to size but with long inseams (they had short, regular, and tall). I am not particularly short, and yet short fits me fine. Thank you, Kirkland Signature brand.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Marathon Training Week 5

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 6, and 3 miles, rest, 6 mile run, and 12 mile long run. Stuck to it, except for averaging about 3 miles over Hal's plan as I have been doing every week. What else is new? ;-)

I have this idea to race a half marathon on a treadmill for the half marathon race in my training plan in Week 9. Crazy, huh? There are no half marathons anywhere remotely close to me that line up with my training plan. However, I could do a virtual half marathon. The Nike+ Women's Half Marathon is that weekend.

Sunday - yoga class (with a different instructor ... it was nice to change it up but I like the regular instructor better), plus calf raises and lunges. Really liking my Saucony Hattori shoes.

Monday - 3.8 mile run in the AM. Easy pace. Not gonna lie, I really like these frosty morning runs. The moon was still up and the sky was just starting to get light when I set out. So pretty. Did abs and lower back in the evening while spending some quality time with my DVR.

Tuesday - 6.5 mile run, plus upper body strength training and squats. Final exam day. Yay! I go back to only having one job.

Wednesday - 3.7 mile run in the AM. Tried eating 2 caffeinated shot bloks (because the packages were open) instead of my usual pre-run coffee. Yeah. No. Need coffee before morning runs. Or maybe it was my strength training the day before. Wasn't really feeling it, but it happens sometimes. Did planks and pushups in the evening.

Thursday - Rest. And extra sleep because I didn't need to be ready for an 8am class. Ahhhhh.

Friday - 6.2 mile run on the treadmill. It was relatively warm but very windy, plus I only have 1 route for all of my winter runs. I will get bored with that route if I run it too much. Can't run on the bike path once it snows and I don't feel safe running on my college campus while classes are not in session. The treadmill is a change of pace. Well, not literally a change of pace. The second half was pretty darn good. I increased the speed by .1 mph with 2.5 miles to go and kept increasing it another .1 mph every half mile or so. When I saw 8:20 on the pace display, I thought about how I held an 8:20 pace in my second half marathon. That was such a good race where everything came together perfectly. My iPod picked me songs I really like. That certainly helped.

Saturday - 13.2 mile run. Had some errands to run in the morning that put me on the highway, so I figured I'd drive farther and start my route a few miles farther down the bike path than usual. Ran on a mostly different section that I had never been on before. Very pleasant, not too cold, and good pace. Saw some interesting things, including a salt marsh, ducks and swans, and nice views of Narragansett Bay.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 30 Actual - 33.4

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shoe Review - Saucony Hattori

I had been looking for a minimalist shoe for a while. Not to run in, although I am not against trying it at some point. I wanted minimalist shoes for strength training so that I can maintain my balance more easily. Nike Frees appealed to me, but Nikes don't really fit me properly. I knew about Vibrams too, but they don't fit me properly either. The five toes thing in particular didn't work well. Sauconys have treated me well over the years, so I researched and set out to find Saucony minimalist shoes.

Enter the Saucony Hattori. Saucony's zero drop, very light and slightly cushy minimalist shoes. Added bonus for being on sale.


I had to size up a half size from my regular running shoes. The fit was slightly better in my regular size, but there was a seam that I could feel under my toes. Yeah. No. I'll take a half size larger, thank you very much.

I have a feeling the soles will wear out quickly. I have some concerns about the stretchy material on the top of the shoe ... not sure how durable it is. But, for the price, they seemed worth a try. I like them so far. They are very comfortable for walking around, very light (3.8 ounces for the women's model, compared to 10.4 ounces for my Saucony Guide 4 running shoes), and almost slipper-like. In comparison, now my regular running shoes feel extra cushy. Interesting. I was not expecting that. I wore them around the house for a few days because they are so light and better than walking around barefoot. They've worked well for doing lunges with one foot on a stability ball. And for doing squats against a wall with the stability ball. And for standing around doing upper body exercises with free weights. I can feel the floor much better. I just have to make sure I don't drop the weights on my feet ;-)

I still don't plan on running in them. I'd have to try it out sometime when I am not training for something. The risk of injury is not worth it. But I won't rule it out. I once said I wasn't sure I'd run a marathon, and look at what happened. If I get another pair, I will order them online where there are more color choices. The white/purple combo is cute, but I like some of the other colors better.

Both shoes on my feet

And off

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: Winter and Darkness Stuff

More stuff. All good stuff this time.

Thumbs Up


1. Single-bulb LED flashlight keychain - I have no idea where it came from, but I want another one. I think it was a freebie? It is small, flat, and light so that I can tuck it away in my Spibelt when I no longer need it (unlike my larger 7-bulb LED flashlight which is round, too heavy, and makes the Spibelt bounce like crazy). Perfect for illuminating those dark spots and flashing at drivers so that they can see me.

2. Old Navy performance fleece quarter-zip pullover - scored this on sale for $7 last week. Used a $20 Groupon that I paid $10 for to buy this and another pullover in a slightly different style in dark pink and 2 pairs of fleece gloves. Not bad for $10. The light peach/light orange color is so bright that it glowed through a plastic bag. That's kinda the point. This is not a color I would choose on my own, but it works for low-light visibility.

3. Illuminite reflective vest - Bright yellow, has adjustable Velcro ties at the waist, and is more than just a reflective strip. I bought this at the Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon expo from a woman in my area who sells Illuminite samples. The funny color is from the flash reflecting off the reflective pattern all over the front and back. Without the flash, the vest is bright yellow.

4. Smartwool Ph.D. Ultra Light running socks - These socks knock my socks off so much that they are worth mentioning again. They both 1) keep my feet cool in warm weather AND 2) keep my feet warm in cold weather. How is that possible? Magic socks, I tell you.

5. Saucony Hattori shoes - Saucony's zero-drop minimalist shoes. Full review coming soon.

I seriously need to stop buying exercise clothes and gear. I go through socks and shoes pretty quickly, but other than that I don't need anything. Of course, now that I have said that, I'll probably come across some new clothing or gear that I need. Such as Lululemon Wunder Unders ....

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Running Playlist Additions

I got an iTunes gift card in a gift swap, and so I purchased some new songs to add to my running (and Shamrock Marathon) playlist. I run without music and actually prefer it now, unless I am on the treadmill or running longer than 15 miles.

Chris Brown - Beautiful People
Chris Brown - Yeah 3x
Fitz & the Tantrums - Money Grabber
Phoenix - 1901
Gym Class Heroes - Stereo Hearts
The Naked and Famous - Young Blood
Kevin Rudolf - I Made It
Kevin Rudolf - Let It Rock
Passion Pit - Little Secrets
Junior Senior - Move Your Feet
Jason Derulo - Don't Wanna Go Home
New Kids on the Block & Backstreet Boys - Don't Turn Out the Lights

I also have CDs by the Dropkick Murphys, Rihanna, and Foster the People on my Amazon Wishlist with the intention of putting some songs from those albums on my running playlist.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Marathon Training Week 4

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 6, and 3 miles, rest, 6 mile pace run, and 11 mile long run. Time to ramp it up for another push forward.

Sunday - yoga class, plus calf raises, lunges, and lower back.

Monday - 3.7 mile run on a misty morning. Kept the pace on the easy side. Was glad I swapped out my winter tights for a lighter pair of crops. It wasn't cold enough for winter tights.

Tuesday - 6.5 mile run, plus some planks afterwards. Much faster than it should have been, but whatever. The weather cooperated for an unseasonably warm day with some light rain showers. A December day when you are too warm in shorts and a T-shirt is a gift.

Wednesday - Two a day. Strength training in the AM (upper body, squats, and pushups) followed by a 3.7 mile run in the evening. In the dark. And the rain. Again. Oh yeah, there was some wind too. By far the most unpleasant run I have had in a very long time. My tolerance for poor conditions is high, but this was just not fun at all. I almost bailed about 1.5 miles in. It forced me to take it easy, though, which was exactly what I needed.

Thursday - Rest. And chocolate-covered espresso beans from Trader Joe's. Oh wait, this is supposed to be about workouts, not food.

Friday - 6.3 mile pace run. Frosty (literally ... it was about 30 degrees when I started) and mostly dark. My individual mile splits varied (particularly the middle miles where my legs felt cold), but my overall pace was spot on. I nailed it down to the second. Not bad for my first non-treadmill pace run. Ran on my usual packed dirt/gravel running path with a flashlight so that I wouldn't trip on the uneven surface. I haven't ran this particular route in the morning recently. I was pleasantly surprised that 1) I was never alone because there were plenty of runners and walkers out and 2) I saw most of my morning regulars who have been out since the summer. Now that's dedication.

Saturday - 12.3 mile run. Ever have one of those runs where you felt slow as molasses, then look at your Garmin and realize you are running much faster than you thought? Yep, that was this run. I kept trying to slow down in the first few miles but was still going too fast. It got windy in the last 30 minutes or so but was otherwise cool and comfortable. I stopped at mile 4 for a potty break in a supermarket and had to wait at mile 8 to cross a street. Pushed in the last couple of miles. 8:13 pace overall.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 29 Actual - 32.4

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Running Thoughts O'Random x 4000

I ran my 4000th mile since I started keeping track in January 2008 in my run yesterday. No wonder it was a good run.

I didn't realize I had hit 4000 miles right away because most of my runs are logged in Nike+. Anything since the beginning of June is logged in Garmin Connect. One of my tasks (whenever I have free time ... good luck with that) is to consolidate everything into Garmin Connect.

One of the reasons I like running is that I just really like data. Distance, pace, time, calories. It's all good. Reports for specific time periods? Made of win.

Speaking of Nike+, Nike is sending me a free Nike+ sensor because I reached the black level (5000K or about 3100 miles). I don't use Nike+ much anymore, but I have family members who do. Free is good.

And one more thing. My husband just registered for the Shamrock Half Marathon. Yay! Oh, we won't race or train together because the races start at different times and we run at different paces (I am considerably faster), but that's good that he has a goal to work towards. 100 days to go.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I wish someone had told me ...

... that the pace on my Garmin during a race was going to be off by 5-10 seconds per mile than the official pace. The Garmin calculates pace based on the actual distance you run. So if you weave or don't run perfect tangents on turns or there's just some errors inherent in any measurement, the pace will be off.

... that running is cheap. Until you enter more races, travel to races, start running longer distances, go through shoes more quickly, need to get rid of all of the cotton clothes in your workout gear collection and replace them with wicking socks/shirts/pants, start running in the cold, start running in the dark, decide you need a Garmin, etc.

... that I would start getting up early to get my run in and actually look forward to it.

... that I would get so many more benefits from running than I ever imagined.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Marathon Training Week 3

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 6 mile long run. Stepback week #1.

Sunday - yoga class, plus lunges. Got a pair of Saucony Hattori shoes for better stability for strength training. They are lighter than Nike Frees and more supportive and cushiony than Vibrams. Plus they're Sauconys and Sauconys have been my go-to shoes for years. So good so far. I don't plan on running in them, but we'll see.

Monday - 3.7 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training, abs, lower back, and squats. Had to be up early, so I figured I'd go to the gym and get most of my strength training for the week done. Still got to work a little earlier than usual, even with spending extra time at the gym.

Tuesday - 5.2 mile run. Outside. In shorts and a T-shirt. At the end of November. Felt slow but ran faster than I thought. That was a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday - 3.7 mile run in the PM. In the dark. I have a lot of trouble accurately sensing my pace in the dark. I don't know what it is. Maybe my sense of speed is thrown off, or I am not checking my Garmin as much, or I naturally slow down so that I don't trip on things I can't see.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 5.2 mile pace run. Didn't feel like trying to run fast in the dark (see Wednesday), so I ran on the treadmill. I even kept up a short conversation at the very end. I need to get outside for these runs, though, so that I learn how to pace myself without the help of a moving belt. Also did pushups and planks.

Saturday - 7.2 mile run. Trotted along down to Brown University and back. Nice run on a chilly morning. Got to break out my pompom hat for the first time this season. Pace was all over the place, but then again, I wasn't really keeping an eye on it and my run was unexpectedly hilly. I missed a turn and ended up running up a hill that I wouldn't have otherwise encountered. Haha, oops. I won't do that again.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 22 Actual - 25