April 18, 2014

Friday Five: Fitness Goals!

The girls from DC, Mar at Mar on the run, Cynthia at You Signed up for what and Courtney at Eat, Pray, Run DC have a Friday link up and this week the topic is fitness goals.  I decided to join the party and take part by establishing what my fitness goals should be for the remainder of 2014!

1. Strengthen my core  My core is the weakest part of my body. My goal is to start strength training with a coach in May, with the hope of this improving not only my running but my overall fitness. Last year I participated in a strength challenge during the month of August and it really helped tone my middle!

2. Run a really strong 10k  My race calendar has been set with big races until April of next year, but I do not have a 10k on the schedule.  My time is not that great and I really want to have a PR in that distance!

3.  Become a better swimmer I have no goal to become a triathlete, but swimming is something I enjoy.  I would like to learn to do a proper flip turn and to be able to swim for at least 45 minutes without dying.  Advice anyone?

4. Improve flexibility with stretching: Despite leaving my foam roller and Yoga mat next to my chair, they are not used near enough.  Starting today, I will attempt to spend at least 10-15 minutes every day using these items to keep flexible and injury free for running!

5.  Plank for 2 minutes without a break  This will be the easiest item on my list of fitness goals, because I try to do a plank at least 3 times a week.  However, over the last few months, I have slacked and it definitely shows in the amount of time I can hang on.  Hopefully by June I will reach this goal!

What's on your fitness goal list?

April 17, 2014

My first running buddy

You may think that Mom was my first family running buddy and that would be a reasonable assumption.  But it would be wrong.  When I was in high school and swimming year-round, I often ran at the beginning of a season or during the off season to stay in shape.  And the person who usually ran with me was my Dad.  Being a former Army guy, he often had some good chants or stories that he would share while we were out on our runs.  We usually didn't run far, probably 2-3 miles or so.  But it was good bonding time during my teenage years when I was a pain in the you-know-what.

And why am I telling you this story you ask?  Because today is my Dad's Birthday and I'm headed down to Wilmington to help him celebrate.  I'm looking forward to taking him on a lunch date and maybe a mystery ride for good measure.  When I was little, he would take me on "mystery rides" where we went on fun adventures like going to see a movie (probably Disney) or to get ice cream or something along those lines.  I loved riding in the 'Blue Bomber' aka his Honda Prelude on our adventures.  He usually had Tom Petty or Genesis or another killer 80s band playing.
Celebrating my Birthday a few years ago
As I get older, I tend to get a bit sappier about Birthdays and I'm also realizing that Dad isn't one for much of a fuss, which is all the more reason that I'm ready to amp up the celebration.  It will be nice to get to spend some time together and enjoy some springtime fun!


April 16, 2014

What's on my race calendar!

After qualifying for Boston at the Quintiles Marathon last month, I have been thinking about what should be on my race calendar through April 2015.  After a last minute application for the Marine Corps Marathon lottery was accepted, it seemed the perfect time to plan out my race calendar for the next twelve months! Easy right?  Well not exactly.  This morning I had a long conversation with coach Sami trying to figure out what I should add, and what should be eliminated from my potential race list. Here are my races so far, and I may add a couple shorter ones this summer just for fun.

April 27, 2014 ,Divas Half Marathon North Myrtle Beach:  I can't wait to pace Mitzie for her first half marathon.  We have team shirts (8 girls from my running group will be racing) and we will be all gussied up in black tank tops with pink trim/letters and pink shorts or skirts.

August 6, 2014, Rock 'n Roll Dublin: So excited to be running in Ireland with my best running buddy! Christine and I are thrilled to be Rock 'n' Bloggers for this event and look forward to a week vacation in Ireland along with racing in such a fun city!

August 31, 2014, Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach: I will be looking for a relay partner for this race soon! Christine will be doing this race, and I plan to either be on the sidelines cheering, volunteering, or participating as a relay runner if I can find a partner!

October 4, 2014, Tower of Terror 10 Miler: This will be our first time to run this race, and it will be a fun way to celebrate Christine's birthday weekend.  Tickets to Mickey's not so scary Halloween Party and trick or treating in Magic Kingdom will be part of our fun Friday night!

October 26, 2014, Marine Corps Marathon: Last year Christine ran this marathon as her first full marathon.  Her experience was so great that it made me want to register for the race.  To say I was shocked to get an entry is an understatement.  My email came through very late on the day that runners were notified.  But a hotel has been booked and I am ready to have this great experience of running in DC!

February 22, 2015, Disney Princess Half Marathon: This will be my fifth Princess half and this one should be a blast. Both Christine and Alison will be running (I hope) and we will form teams of mother/daughter and sister/sister if I can be part of two different teams.  We have loved this weekend and some of our favorite running friends (Krista, Megan, Lacey and Meranda) are committed to run this weekend too!

April 20, 2015, Boston Marathon: My goal race and I can't wait.  There will be no pressure on finishing in a certain time, but I want to be well prepared for the tough course. Sami will be working me extra hard after Marine Corps so I am in great shape for race day. And the race is on my sister's birthday (not the running sister Alison) and hopefully lots of family and friends will be along the course!

May 10, 2015, Tinkerbell Half Marathon: Not only will we run this race for the first time, but it gives us another chance to experience the parks in California where we had so much fun during the Dumbo Challenge.  Hopefully there is a mother/daughter team event during the Tink half too!

April, 2016, London Marathon: After living in England for five years, this will be a dream race for me.  Spending any time in this wonderful city is always entertaining and I will be so excited to race there.  It's a shame I did not run while living overseas.  There would have been many race options!

I'm pretty sure there will not be any more big races added to this list until after April 2015! It seems like a very full load, and some races will be run as training runs. Do you map out your races this far in advance?  What special race is on your bucket list?

April 15, 2014

Running and dogs

This is a hard post for me to write.  I had an unfortunate encounter with a dog and this time, it was while I was out running in my neighborhood.

Sorry for the graphic photo, but I want to emphasize the importance of self protection.  April is the month when dogs are back outside in force after spending the harsh winter indoors.
My poor leg post dog bite.
Safety while running is clearly an important issue, but what do you do to keep yourself protected from animals?  This is something all runners should think about because a stray dog can appear out of nowhere and having a plan will help protect you.  As someone who has unfortunately been attacked in the past, I never run without Halt attached to my running belt or clothing.  Postal carriers have used Halt for many years and I remember as a child, my mother carrying Halt on her daily walks.  Fortunately for me, I had my spray accessible last week and managed to fend off the attacking dog after it had already bitten me on both the hand and lower calf.  I am certain I would have been bitten a third time and possibly more, if I was not able to defend myself.  Clearly this post is being written to help you avoid an unpleasant situation while out on what should be a pleasurable run.

Ways to protect yourself from an attack:
* Stop running and walk at a slow pace or stand still when a strange dog approaches you.
* Do not make eye contact with the dog.
* If your gut is telling you a dog in the distance is unfriendly, heed the warning
* Kicking a dog in the jaw is an option, but if you should lose your balance, you will be completely defenseless on the ground.
* Know your running route and always check a new area before you run there.  Better yet, run with a buddy if you are going to try out a new route.
* Buy yourself some Halt. (available on Amazon here)
I always have a few in reserve!
Have you ever been bitten by a dog? Any other suggestions on how to protect yourself?

April 14, 2014

Dreaming of another marathon

I daydream about the marathon almost every time I run.  And when I say "the marathon," I mean my first marathon experience at the 38th Marine Corps Marathon.  Everything about that day was pure magic for me and I often get caught up in the emotions I felt during the race when I'm out on a run.

The nerves as I waited for the race morning shuttle to take me to the Pentagon parking lot where I would walk up to the starting area to meet Lisa and Danielle.

The excitement of the unknown as I crossed the starting line.

The happiness I felt at mile 7 when I told Danielle that I loved running and was having a great time.

The temporary disappointment I felt when I thought I had missed seeing Jamie at the Kennedy Center.

The apprehension when my muscles started to tighten at mile 15 and wondering how long I could stay with Danielle.

The elation after seeing one of my dearest friends on the course.  I needed that hug and encouragement more than I can put into words.

The determination I felt crossing the 14th Street bridge.

The exhilaration I felt when I jammed through Crystal City and kept improving my pace.

The pride I felt when a Marine yelled "one mile to go" as we turned down the off ramp toward the finish line.

The chutzpah I felt when I looked up the final hill and tore up it as fast as my legs could carry me.

The overwhelming sense of accomplishment, relief, and satisfaction I felt after crossing the finish line.

After watching Mom train for her big spring marathon, seeing lots of friends complete spring marathons, and cheering for friends accepted into fall marathons through lotteries, I've been thinking long and hard about another marathon.  Knowing I'm not in marathon shape now has eliminated all hope of a spring race.  And I'm not sure I could even get my head around it, mentally speaking.

I know distinctly that I want to be ready, like really ready, when I run my next marathon.  I respect the distance and I don't have dreams of running one frequently.  I want to PR at my next 26.2.  I have a vision of a goal time, but I will have to get into training before I can solidify a true goal.

On Thursday night, I made my decision.  I'll be running the Richmond marathon in November.  And I can't wait!

How do you know when you're ready for another marathon?

April 13, 2014

Weekly Roundup - April 13th

Spring has finally come to North Carolina and the running capris and long sleeve shirts and jackets have been packed away.  However, after such a bad winter, I have kept a couple clothing items at the ready just in case. We had a little break this week spending a day in Charleston and a few days at Hilton Head.  The weather was glorious and some rest and relaxation was greatly needed.  I came home refreshed and ready to tackle a long run today.

I am joining some of the girls from my group Without Limits for an 8 mile run. They have been so incredibly supportive since my dog bite injury and the aftermath.  It will also be nice to get out of my own neighborhood and run down at Wrightsville Beach!

Next Sunday is Easter and last year I made a running basket for Christine.  Here are the details if you are interested in making a special basket for your favorite runner!

We both had pretty good weeks and hopefully next week will be even better!  Tell us what you are doing to enjoy springtime!

Sunday, April 6th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Volunteered at Cherry Blossom 10 miler and walked around Alexandria

Monday, April 7th
Pam: Rode stationary bike 35 minutes, weights
Christine: 4.5 mile run descending pace (9:58, 9:21, 9:15, 9:02, 3:52) plus 0.5 mile cool down, arms and abs

Tuesday, April 8th
Pam: Group workout 4 miles including pickups
Christine: Rest day

Wednesday, April 9th
Pam: Walked 4 miles in Charleston
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, arm weights, abs

Thursday, April 10th
Pam: 20 minutes elliptical, 15 minutes stationary bike,  4 miles walk on beach, stretching
Christine: 5.7 miles around neighborhood at 9:07 pace and "cool down" included backyard sprints with Paddy dog

Friday, April 11th
Pam: Speedwork on treadmill 3.75 miles total, stretching
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, April 12th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 4 mile trail walk with Paddy

April 11, 2014

Friday Five: Shamrock Recovery

If you've been paying attention to the blog and our Twitter accounts, you've probably realized that I've been struggling to recover after the Shamrock half marathon.  I've never struggled to recover from a race like this.  At times, I've felt like my body has betrayed me as if to say "Ha, I gave you one fast half marathon and now you're donezo!"  My recovery runs have been pretty challenging, even if I was in it mentally. 

I know that part of it is my fall and winter marathon cycles followed up by very aggressive training for my spring half.  Deep down, I know my body is tired, but I've had a hard time getting comfortable with that fact.  And somehow, I can't help but wonder if this is just a small vision of what getting older will be like in terms of recovery. 

I was bound to turn a corner eventually.  After volunteering at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler (more on that experience in an upcoming post) and getting to spend some time with the elite athletes, my interest in training and running was renewed.  I drove home from DC on Sunday vowing to find my groove this week.  And guess what? I did!  So let's look at the 5 key factors that have played a role in my Shamrock recovery, both good and bad.

1. Post-Race Fueling: I didn't do anything right.  I only ate a banana, bag of pretzels and a sugar cookie in the 4 hours that I spent at the post-race party after I finished my race.  Oh, and I had 3 beers.  Mmm beer.  And then I came home, crashed on the couch and ordered takeout Mexican food.  It wasn't exactly the picture of the appropriate post-race refueling and hydration.

2. Knee Care: When I'm on a training plan, I'm usually very diligent about taking good care of my left knee, aka the bum knee.  I remember icing my knee from the couch after the race but I've basically ignored it for the last few weeks.  With my new Dr. Cool wrap, I've been icing more, but I've been lax on stretching and foam rolling, which typically help.

3. Inappropriate Paces: I didn't adjust my pace after Shamrock.  It wasn't necessarily conscious, but I kept running (or attempting to run) at the same paces I ran while in the midst of my training, which brings me to item 4....

4. Running Slow: I turned the corner this week and that's because I started running slow!  By now, you think I'm a Mensa candidate right?  Yea, I know...  When I hit the treadmill on Monday night, I decided to try a descending run, but started at 10mm pace.  It's the slowest I've run since Dopey.  Pretty crazy but as I ticked off 4.5 miles, I slowly increased my speed each mile, but kept all 4 miles over 9:10 pace.  And it worked!

5. Embrace the lazefest: While I'm eager to get back to training, I've really enjoyed my lazefest.  Yes, that's the nickname I've given this time.  I've spent many evenings after work with friends at happy hours or enjoying indulgent dinners.  I've gained a few pounds and that's ok.  I know I'll be back to training before I know it and evenings with friends are a real treasure.

How do you recover after a tough training cycle?

Have a fabulous weekend!