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Running related info.

Happily Running in a Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex 13 (I’ve lost count…) has settled into the Chicago area. In the middle of summer. I could very easily complain about the cold weather (like I literally just had to get up and close the windows so my hands wouldn’t be too cold to type) but it’s made for  some PERFECT running weather! After my awful 10 miler on Saturday, I was a little anxious about my next couple runs. Well, I worried for no reason at all. They were wonderful! Yesterday, I had an easy 3 mile run on the training schedule. I started off faster than I meant to but I was able to not just keep my pace up, but get faster! And I lied about the weather a little. Today was perfect running weather, yesterday was 71 degrees and 91% humidity. Not ideal. but check out these splits!

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This morning, in 55 degrees and 65% humidity, I ran a 5 miler with (at least for me) even better times!

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An 8 minute, 25 second pace for an entire mile!? Yes! I promise, I’m not sharing these to brag, I just would’ve never thought I could accomplish something that “athletic”. I’m amazed that my body is capable of running a mile in less than 8 1/2 minutes after already running 4. 10 year old Megan would have been a very different person if she knew she could someday do that!

Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s the weather, or if I’m finally getting back in shape, but I’m feeling strong. And I like it. I did go to yoga last night for the first time in a couple months. I know it helped loosen me up. More stretching will be in order in the future. It’s probably just the endorphins but I’m so excited that all the hard work is finally beginning to pay off!

Any other runners taking advantage of this cool weather streak?

Life is busy, training is good.

It’s been an insanely busy week! Wednesday we went to the Taste of Chicago to see AWOLNATION after work, Thursday I worked all evening, Friday I work a full day, then went to see Red Wanting Blue at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. Yesterday, Saturday, I ran, then spent a good portion of my day driving my husband and his car around in an attempt to get a passing emissions test before his plates expire. (Not successful, btw). In the midst of this, I got my act together and did a lot of things really well, and a few things not so well. Let’s start with the good.

At the Taste!

At the Taste!

Wednesday morning, I got up early and went to the gym for a weight lifting session. I spent about 45 minutes there and felt like I got in a really good workout. The best part was being able to increase the weight on two of the leg machines I use. I can really see the progress of my weight lifting, just once a week, and I suddenly have defined muscle in my shoulders, legs, and my stomach is flat for the first time since I was 15! I should take some pics to share. If you’re trying to lose weight, you really need to be lifting weights. The times that I do are the times I see myself getting fit and toned.

Thursday, I was physically just tired. I decided to listen to my body and get more sleep and take it easy that morning. I skipped my 3 mile “hard” run. I felt a little bad about it, but I was really careful all week to stick to my meal plan all week (I even packed salads to bring to the concert!) so I knew that skipping one workout wasn’t going to mean gaining 2 lbs this week, nor would it throw off my marathon training completely.  It’s didn’t. What really could have thrown off my marathon training was what I did Friday, and what happened Saturday…

Friday, all day, I was craving my favorite candy, Jr. Mints. So I skipped my afternoon snack and had a box of them instead. Not great, but I didn’t give up my entire “diet” either. I had my normal dinner later that evening and a healthy breakfast the next morning. Back to Friday night. The short story is that I went to a concert, had 3 drinks (and the first one was very strong), didn’t get to bed until 2am.

Saturday, I woke up at 6 so I could run at 6:30. It was supposed to thunderstorm, but hadn’t started raining yet so my running group still met for our 10 mile run as planned. As soon as we started it began to rain. It got harder, then lighter, then harder, but never stopped. I ran 10 miles in the (sometimes pouring) rain, on 4 hours of sleep, hungover. It was miserable. At one point (mile 8) I could’ve walked faster than I was “running”. But I never did stop, my times were terrible, the rain messed up my phone (hence the two pictures below – did you know water can “press” buttons on your phone and stop your Run Keeper? Neither did I.), but I kept going. I’d read in Runner’s World magazine just Friday night that it’s good to train tired, hungry, in the rain, the heat, etc. because it forces your body to adapt to non-ideal conditions. I’m curious to see how my runs this week go now.

First half of my 10 miler

First half of my 10 miler

Second half of my 10 miler

Second half of my 10 miler

You can see how, although slow as molasses, I did alright the first 6 miles. I was at least consistent. Miles 7 and 8 were my worst. I think at mile 9 I saw lightening and got my pace back up out of fear fo my life. Technically, my only goals yesterday were to finish, and not get struck by lightening. Check, and check. I win!

Anyone else get a long run in this weekend? In the rain? (Are you sick of the rain as much as I am!?)

Terrible Two

No, I don’t mean my seriously adorable, BFF and niece. Although she is two, she is far from terrible.

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Definitely NOT terrible! What has been terrible is my last two runs. After a perfect 8 miler Saturday, it’s bee so frustrating to have bad runs.

Monday:

I had an easy 3 miler on my training schedule. I started off maybe a little faster than I should have, but nowhere near my 5k pace. Basically I didn’t sprint out. And I slowed down after a half mile. And walked after on mile. And after 2 miles. and 2 1/2 miles. I’d taken my two inhaler puffs before the run, and my allergy medicine the night before, but the humidity was thick and it was already 70 degrees out at 6:30am. My lungs rebelled. I was gasping for air the whole way through. But, albeit slow, I finished.

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A little rough…

Monday afternoon I babysat my niece and made most of our meals for the week. I was going to go to yoga, but there was a substitute teacher and I love the instructor that normally teaches. So I stayed in. I was exhausted too from all the niece watching and cooking.

Tuesday:

Today’s run was so bad I almost don’t even want to talk about it. My calves and ankles were really tight, I presume from standing in the kitchen for hours yesterday. My starting pace was 11 minutes per mile. I got about a mile and a half in, and it began to thunder, lightening, and there was a torrential down pour. I stood under a tree and tried to wait it out but it was still monsooning one Pandora song later. So I sprinted the half mile home and called it quits. Which was lucky because the rain came down even harder right after I walked in the door and I was already soaked. I was supposed to run 5 this morning, and got 2 (super slow) miles in.

Miserable, wet and miserable.

Miserable, wet and miserable.

I had to to go to the dentist this morning so I a dry running outfit intending on going for a run when I finished, either on a treadmill at the gym or outside it if wasn’t too hot. Well, since I was about falling asleep driving, I did neither. I came home and took a 3 hour nap! Once a month (know what I mean?) I get run-over-by-a-truck tired. It lasts for just 2-3 days and then I’m fine again. Today is one of those days. Even now, I have absolutely no energy. I should be doing dishes, folding laundry, and finishing 3 more miles of my run. We’ll see what actually gets done….

 

**UPDATE!**

I ran 3 wonderfully fast miles this evening! And my legs didn’t hurt after my massive nap. Win! (I also did the dishes. Laundry will have to wait. Ha!)

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Tomorrow is weights. At least it’s a little break from running. How is your week of running going? Any other Chicagoans get stuck in the downpour this morning?

Been a while…

It’s been a while… I’ve missed writing. Work got crazy, eating got outta control, running was miserable, exhaustion set in, then we built a fence and had a big ol’ 30th (birthday party. I still have “extra” projects I’m working on and I can’t quite seem to get into the groove of a new schedule. So that’s why I haven’t written. Why on earth would anyone want to hear my whining and groaning about life circumstances? Well no one would. So I kept my mouth shut. You’re welcome.

Somewhere between my discovery of a medicinal concoction that solves my can’t-breathe-when-I-run-faster-than-10-and-a-half-minutes-per-mile dilemma, the acceptance that working will always suck no matter where I do it, my husband’s new commitment to try to stress less at work, and a random surge of new “fighter” attitude, I’ve become my normal self again. Maybe I was just subconsciously freaking out about turning 30 too? I wasn’t, but everyone acts like you should, so maybe deep down I did? Who knows.

Anyway, my marathon training has been going so, so well. I’ve really set my mind on just what I need to do each day in training and taking one decision at a time. I know next week I have to run 3, 5, 3, and 10 miles on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but I’m not thinking about that yet. I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight and when I need to wake up for yoga in the morning. If I start dreading my 5 mile run Tuesday morning, I’ll get overwhelmed. I’ll think about that Monday and simply do it. Just do it. Nike knows what’s up.

My actual runs having been challenging but good. I’ve found that if I take 5mg generic Zyrtec before I go to bed at night (I cut a 10mg pill in half) and have two puffs from my inhaler about 15 minutes before I run, my lungs are happy and I can enjoy my run. I tried the whole 10mg of Zyrtec at first, but I was too groggy the next day. All day. I could hardly stay awake at work. 5mg is just enough. I also have a sinus irrigator that I’ll sometimes use in the afternoon if I’m starting to get a sinus headache later in the day. Within 30 minutes, head aches is essentially gone and I’m not taking ibuprofin non stop.

Today I ran 8 miles at the butt crack of dawn. Literally. Okay, not exactly literally – dawn doesn’t have a butt crack. But you get what I mean. It was insanely early. I had to work at 8 so I woke up at 4:30am and left the house a little before 5 to run my normal Saturday trail at 5:15. Honestly, I loved it. I love waking up early in the summer. “The sky’s awake. So I’m awake!”

The first few miles were rough. They always are. By the time I got to about 3 1/2 miles, I started to feel pretty good. I got stuck by a train for 4-5 minutes at mile 5, but I got right back into my groove when I started back up again. I finished in 1 hour, 16 minutes to the cheering and applause of my 40-person running group that was just huddling up to begin their run. Embarrassing and fun. My splits were fantastic and I finished a lot stronger than I thought I would. It probably helped that I stopped for a few minutes. And that the weather was perfect. 60 and sunny! Still, I feel way more confident coming off a good longer run.

 

Lovely negative splits.

Lovely negative splits.

 

In addition to running, I’ve also been doing yoga once a week and weights once a week. The strength, balance, and core strengthening has really helped my running too! Someday, I’ll have to post on just my cross training. I actually bought my husband and myself tennis rackets. Hopefully my cross training will include tennis pretty soon too! Currently, I’m trying to figure out when I can fit in one more day of weight training into my week. I have a few clothes that don’t fit right now because I’m not as lean as I was this winter. I know I can get there, I just have to do it!

Eating… I go through phases. I’ll be good for a couple days, then eat a couple handfuls of dark chocolate chips. Better than my ultimate vice, Jr Mints, but still not great. I’m learning that since I run/workout in the morning, I really need to have more protein in my breakfast (cereal is not an option!), a morning snack on days I run more than 5 miles, and a large lunch with lots of veggies. My afternoon snack just needs to hold me over til my early (5 – 5:30) dinner, which is the best meal to have carbs for my workout the next morning, and then if I need to nibble at night, I should have a little chocolate, and a lot of fruit. I know these things, but do I implement them? Course not. But each decision, every day, every week, I get closer.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m going to try and stay more on top of writing throughout the rest of my marathon training at least. I know that several people have commented on how motivating my blog is. That is such a massive compliment. I really never thought of myself as an encourager or motivator. I’m very flattered. And I’m trying. Thanks for sticking around.

Wolf Lake

I officially have a new favorite running trail. This morning, I decided I was sick of my normal neighborhood running route, and since I only work afternoons on Tuesdays, I went to Wolf Lake in North Hammond to run the trail around the lake. I couldn’t find much info online about the length of the trail (it’s either a 3, 5.4, or 7 mile loop?) or even a map of it. And, unfortunately, I only had a 3 mile easy run to complete today so I didn’t get to explore too much. The portion that I ran (and almost ran) was gorgeous though! It truly captured the Northwest Indiana vibe. Vintage industrial meets Wetlands and Wildlife.

Wolf Lake Hammond Indiana Trail

Wolf Lake Hammond Indiana Trail

Wolf Lake Hammond Indiana Trail

Wolf Lake Hammond Indiana Trail

My pace was all over the place because I had to stop to walk through a very large gaggle of geese. Twice. I still got my 3 miles in and I found a new favorite running place so no harm done. Oh, I also saw a swan and a giant turtle out on my run today. So cool!

I promised the other day that I’d post my balsamic marinated grilled summer veggies recipe. Well, it didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped. A little too vinegary and sweet. I might add a little molasses and/or cinnamon next time to cut the vinegar. Also, I know I let it sit too long. Next time, just 15 minutes in the fridge! Here’s the recipe if you feel like testing it out with the tweaks. (Let me know how it goes!):

Balsamic Veggie Ingredients

Balsamic Veggie Ingredients

Balsamic Marinated Summer Veggies

You’ll need:

2 Zucchini

2 Yellow Squash

1 Red Pepper

1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 TBSP Low Sodium Soy Sauce

2 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar

2 tsp Basil

Salt and Pepper (to taste)

1. Thinly slice the veggies and place in a large bowl.

2. In a smaller bowl combine the olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, basil (and here’s where I’d add 1 TBSP molasses and 1 tsp cinnamon)

3. Pour the marinade over the veggies and mix to coat. I used my hands.

4. If grilling, place in a tin foil packet and put on the second shelf, or out of direct flame. Leave on the grill for 15-20 minutes with the lid down. If baking, place in a shallow baking dish and back at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until some edges begin to brown.

Grilled Dinner Du Jour!

Grilled Dinner Du Jour!

 

Happy First Day of Marathon Training!

My stomach is in knots today. I’m terrified, nervous, excited, and anxious. It might have something to do with my afternoon chocolate binge, but I suspect it’s because I’m officially in training for my first marathon! As the out-of-shape big kid growing up, I never thought in a million years that I’d be running a marathon. Let alone be excited about it! I’ve come a long way. From young and overweight and hating to run, to “trying” to lose weight as a teen, to over exercising and under eating as a young adult, to actually losing over 40 lbs and becoming a legitimate runner in the last few years. So many emotions. (I may be PMS-ing, sorry if that’s TMI) I also have a long way to go. I’m  still about 10 lbs overweight for my height and frame and need to get that off for the sake of my joints, heart, and lungs. I have 431.4 miles left to run in the next 18 weeks – one week is 40 miles alone! And I need to fund raise – my goal is $1,310 – over $50 for each mile of the marathon (which is 26.2 miles). I anticipate this being a summer of hard work and character change. (Or if could just be a really fun challenge!)

This morning was just a 3 mile easy run. Rewinding a bit back to Saturday, I ran a 5k test run. A test run tells you what you can expect your marathon finishing time to be and what pace to train at. There’s a whole chart, you could probably Google it if you wanted to check in out for yourself. I found out that I’m on track to finish between 4 hours, 30 minutes and 4 hours 45 minutes, or a 10 minute, 45 second pace per mile. That’s great news is it’s right where I’d hoped to be. Even though my finishing time Saturday was on target, I had a horrible run. When I went back and checked my splits, they were opposite of what they should of been. Typically, you want to start slow and get faster as you go. It’s called a negative split and it’s essential to finishing strong. As you can see below and had consistently positive splits. (Is that even a term?)

 

Those numbers are going the wrong way!

Those numbers are going the wrong way!

This morning I decided to flip that around. I started off pretty slow and gradually built up speed. By the end I was feeling pretty good! When I checked my splits this time, they were perfectly negative! Much better! Going on from here, I’m going to try and stick with a 9:30 pace for my weekday “easy” runs with nice negative splits. That’s the goal at least.

Great negative splits!

Great negative splits!

I should touch on my little binge for a second. I failed miserably this afternoon. I got too hungry because I had to run a bunch of errands during my normal lunch time so I was starving when I got home. I have two smallish chocolate bars and a fun sized York Peppermint Patty before I stopped myself. It could’ve been worse, but I felt gross, bloated, and groggy afterward. I’m going to try and remember that next time I want to binge. I feel so much better when I eat well!

I briefly mentioned fund raising earlier. I’m raising money for World Vision to build wells in Africa. $50 is enough for one person to have clean water for a lifetime. That’s the short version. Pretty soon I’ll try and get all of my thoughts together about my commitment to World Vision and their cause. In the meantime, if you’re feeling like you want to support me in my training regardless of my deeper thoughts, opinions, and emotions tied to this cause, you can visit my fund raising page and donate online. Anything you could give would really be an encouragement for me! Thanks!

Make a Donation!

 

Happy Monday! (For real.)

I feel like I don’t have a lot of time to post… my husband’s on his way home and dinner’s in the oven (yes, at 10pm). But I got my butt in gear today and I’m so proud I must share!

6:30am: 2.5 mile run. Absolutely awful. My legs were dead weight. I forgot to stretch after my fantastic and fast 5 mile (say that 5 times fast…) run Saturday morning. Then we walked around Lincoln Park Zoo, and to the beach. I have pictures of that. It was fun. Maybe I’ll share later this week.

7:30am: Quickly showered, ate cereal for breakfast and got ready for work.

9:00am: Worked an easy 4 hour shift. Had a protein bar at some point.

1:00pm: Got groceries at Meijer where half of my grocery list just happened to be on sale! Buy 10 for $10 and 11th item is free! (Mushrooms, peppers, Larabars, Annie’s organic mac and cheese, bagged lettuce, low sodium black beans, Greek yogurt, and canned salsa verde  in case you were wondering)

1:30pm: Picked up Domino’s pizza to stash in the freezer because I had a 50% off everything coupon. A few times a year, the owner passes them out to local businesses to use for lunch hours only. I had 2 pieces of the Pacific Veggie pan pizza while out running errands.

2:00pm: Household essentials shopping at Walmart. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant. You know, the fun stuff.

2:30pm: More grocery shopping at Aldi. Finished off my list there. I only spent $90 for all of our groceries for the week and a lot of that is snack food that will last another 2 weeks!

3:00pm: Unpacked everything, cleaned out the fridge. Sprayed the ants that had gotten into the house. Watered flowers. Took a little break.

5:00pm: Cleaned, chopped and packed most of my fruits and veggies for the week. I’m cooking dinners, having salads for lunch, and snacking on fruit instead of candy this week. No excuses now! (Follow me on Facebook to see the “before” picture and get other between-post updates!)

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6:30pm: Prepped BBQ Bacon Meatloaf for dinner. Cleaned up the kitchen.

8:00pm: Yoga! Holey Moley am I out of yoga-shape. Fun story – A couple old guys came into the class 40 minutes late and starting chatting about how they were boys so they couldn’t do some of the stretches. I asked them to stop talking, please. To which one responded “I’ll stop talking if you stop talking.” Yes, they were correct. They are boys. Hilarious.

9:00pm: Put dinner in the oven and wrote a bog post.

On top of all that, I did some dishes, and did 3 loads of laundry. Granted, none of it’s put away. That’ll be tomorrow’s task. It feels so great to have some energy and motivation back!

How was your Monday?