Sunday, January 30, 2011

Going for Speed: Weekly Round-Up (4)

"Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'"--Peter Maher

Me? I'm going to be strong.

It's the end of week four, and I feel fantastic about the progress that I've made this month. After yesterday's long run (which I totally owned on the treadmill with the help of The Terminator and a sweet playlist) and this afternoon's run (fueled almost entirely by teen angst), I'm starting to see the results of my training. I'm faster. I'm lighter. I'm stronger.

And, I feel like I can win the future.

Week 5:

Monday: Cycling and Strength Training
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: Tempo Run - 35 minutes
Thursday: 3 miles and Strength training
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 3 miles


I've been using a nifty tool from Daily Mile to track my milage. (You may have noticed the bright orange counter on the bottom right of the webpage.) As of today, I've logged 78 miles for 2011.

So, I'm setting an additional goal for 2011: Break 1000 miles by December 31st. Totally doable.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Post-Workout Treat: Strawberry Vanilla Smoothie

I was inspired by this chocolate hemp shake recipe to make something delicious after this evening's workout. This is what I came up with:

In a blender, combine 1 cup low-fat milk, ½ cup almond milk, 5 strawberries (leaves removed), and 1 scoop vanilla whey protein. Blend until smooth. (I know that it seems impossible to mess up an already delicious combination, but I was very happy with how this turned out.) Enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Going for Speed: Weekly Round-Up (3)

It’s bloody cold again in DC.

On any normal day, I’d think that I was a wimp for not running outside because of a little cold weather. (I'm from New England, damn it, and I'll tell you when it's cold.) Yesterday just happened to be the coldest day so far this season, and I decided that it would be best to allow my better judgment to prevail and complete my long run on the treadmill. When I went out for errands, I layered just enough to make sure that I would be mistaken for a giant, teal marshmallow.

Of course, none of this actually prevented the worst cough/headache/sore throat combination from setting in. It's cool, though. I didn't mind having some time to rest and catch up on my pleasure reading and a few projects for work. Hopefully, whatever cold this is will be mostly gone by tomorrow so that I can move onto Week 4 of my training:

Monday – Cardio/Strength Training
Tuesday – 3 miles
Wednesday – Speed Workout: 6 x 400m at 5K Pace
Thursday – 3 miles
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 8 miles
Sunday – 3 miles

On the subject of Saturday's errands, I made a trip to my favorite running store yesterday to restock my stash of Jelly Belly Sport Beans and ended up purchasing my first Sweaty Band. My hair is too short to pull back in any meaningful way, so I was excited to find something that would keep it out of my face and stay in place during runs. I mean, I haven’t actually worn it during a run to test it out -- but not one strand of hair has fallen out of place while writing this post.

If you’re interested in winning a Sweaty Band, one of the coolest fro-cos (freshman counselor in Yale-speak) in the history of fro-cos is hosting a giveaway on her blog. Check it out the giveaway and her general awesomeness at Stuff Jewish Girls Like.

Friday, January 21, 2011

TGI Carb Night: Recipe - Chicken with Quinoa Tabbouleh

Pasta was nowhere to be found on my plate this evening, my dearest readers. Instead, I planned a bit of a culinary adventure (Adventure...we're going on an adventure, Charlie.) -- just me, recently purchased quinoa, a ton of vegetables, and thin-cut chicken breasts.

According to the interwebs, quinoa is something of a super food. (I’m very happy that there are entire websites dedicated to the joys of quinoa.) It’s rich in protein, low in fat and cholesterol, a great source of carbohydrates, and delicious.

Having never cooked with quinoa before, this recipe from Charlie Trotter (and featured in the Athlete’s Palate Cookbook) turned out well! However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the parsley vinaigrette dressing.  The parsley was a little overpowering even after I made a decision to reduce the amount used, but I will be experimenting in the very near future (hooray leftovers!) with a couple of things that are likely to pair well.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Going for Speed: Weekly Round-Up (2)

I can’t quite put my finger on why elements of my life felt out of sync this week. To be completely fair, I have very little to actually complain about. Still, I sometimes find myself with this feeling that something isn’t quite right, and I need to make changes – any changes – to my daily routine.

Thinking about this within the context of running, I learned that it’s important to add variety to training – if only to change the time at which you work out, the type of workout, or with whom you exercise. On Tuesday, for example, I decided to go to a work happy hour (and had a great time socializing) and was still able to get in a really great workout at the gym. On Wednesday, I ran with two of my coworkers, which was incredibly fun and helped me get to know them a bit more outside of the office.

So, new rule: Spice up your life (and your routine)!

Week 3 Workout Plan:

Monday: Cardio
Tuesday: 3 miles/Strength Training
Wednesday: Tempo Run (35 minutes)
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: Off
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 3 miles/Strength Training

Oh, and I almost forgot. I found a February race: Love the Run You’re With – 5K!

The great thing about running this race -- other than it being the day before Valentine’s Day and the color-coded t-shirts identifying racers as being in one of three relationship categories -- is that I will hopefully be able to see if all of the speed work completed up until the race is working. The event’s website boasts a great post-party – complete with karaoke. Sounds like a smashing good time to me!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Going for Speed: Weekly Round-Up (1)

One week down! (Eleven to go!)

This week went extremely well. There were a few workouts during which I really had to work, but it felt incredible to push myself.

Week 2's Schedule:

Monday - Strength training and Yoga
Tuesday - Speed Workout: Intervals
Wednesday - Group run with colleagues (40 minutes)
Thursday - Strength training and cycling
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 8 miles
Sunday - 3 miles

Friday, January 7, 2011

TGI Carb Night: Recipe - Chicken Tenderloins with Spiced Tomato Sauce

Protein is one nutrient that I’m rarely sure if I’m consuming enough during training. And, now that my Meatless Mondays have become Meatless Most of the Week, finding alternate sources of protein has become very important. (Thankfully, Fage yogurt has 15 grams of protein per serving.)

But, in the spirit of getting more protein into my belly, I decided to cook a meat-based dish and prepared a spiced tomato sauce with chicken tenders (served with rotini). This recipe comes from Cooking Light, but I omitted from and added to the recipe with delicious results.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Adding to the 2011 Calendar

Okay, folks, new plan! Instead of heading to Virginia Beach in March, I decided to register for the 2011 CareFirst National Half-Marathon in DC.

I considered entering the full marathon at some point back in October, but I was discouraged when I saw that my finish time from Baltimore did not meet the qualifying standards. So, I put the entire event out of my mind --- until this morning when I learned that I could use my results from December’s 10K to qualify. I opted for the half marathon instead of the full so that I would have no problem treating the 10-miler (two weeks later) as a race. I’m really excited about the course, which covers a good portion of the city.

The distance should not be a problem, so my training will focus on improving speed. Each week, I’ll weave in one speed workout with runs of three to five miles during the week (longer on the weekends), cycling, and strength training.

I estimated a finish time of 2:14:00 on my registration form to give myself a bit of wiggle room should something go wrong. My actual goal is a finish time that is under two hours, and 1:59:59 is perfectly acceptable.

Week 1 kicks off tomorrow (why waste time?):

Monday – Cycling and Strength Training
Tuesday – 3 miles
Wednesday – Tempo Run: 30 Minutes
Thursday – 3 miles and Strength Training
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 6 miles
Sunday – 3 miles

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hey there, 2011!

New Year's Day 2010 doesn't seem all that long ago, and now I am very happy to welcome a new year and a new race calendar. For the record, I probably should not be allowed to read other runners' blogs; it only serves to fill my head with crazy ideas and wagers about the maximum number of races that I can run in one year before my body decides that it hates me.

It's only now that I'm starting understand exactly why I like running in races -- besides the sweet t-shirts, finisher's medals, and competition. To be completely honest, I enjoy the goal-setting (and goal-accomplishing) that comes with running races. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of goals to work toward (including that whole doctorate thing -- by the way, folks, I've decided that it's GWU School of Education or bust), but the prospect of crossing a finish line and the glory that comes with it are great motivators to keep this crazy train moving.

In 2011, I hope to run at least one marathon (two maximum), one half-marathon, and several local races. The problem is deciding which races to run:

March 20, 2011 - Shamrock Marathon: Virginia Beach, VA: I'm seriously considering running this race. However, one potential challenge is that I'm committed to running the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in DC on April 3, 2011 (two weeks after the marathon). Then again, I can always run the half-marathon for a great weekend getaway in March.

May 1, 2011 - Gettysburg North-South Marathon: Gettysburg, PA: Combines my love of American history and running. One of the cool things about this race is that, although it’s a single event, there are two courses: "North" and "South." Plus, there's something wonderfully awkward about running a course based on the side your state fought in during the Civil War.

May 1, 2011 - Cox Road Races Providence Marathon: Providence, RI: One of my good friends from college mentioned this race to me a while back, and -- according to Facebook -- he's already registered. I took a quick look at the course map and elevation, and I imagine this would be a great place to shoot for a personal record. (The elevation peaks near mile 7, and the rest of the course is relatively flat after that.)

October 15, 2011 - ING Marathon: Hartford, CT: This is one of the few marathons held in my home state, and it would be awesome to run a race so close to home. Like the Providence Marathon, the course is flat after Mile 5.

November 6, 2011 - ING New York City Marathon: New York, NY: I imagine that running a marathon through New York City would be an incredible experience, but I can't say with certainty that I'm going to run this race because there is a lottery for bib numbers. I think that I'll just enter and hope for the best. (P.S. I love that there are video checkpoints at this race. The stakes are pretty high for elite runners, but little old 9:13-minute mile me isn’t going to win any prize money or be named the top female runner in the world as a result of this race.)

I've spent some time clicking through the Washington Runner's Report Race Calendar to come up with a list of options for 5Ks and 10Ks to fill in gaps between the longer races, but there is also a chance that I'll find some awesome races on the Potomac River Running Race Calendar once it is updated for the new year.

Readers, I welcome your comments and suggestions if you have any experience with any of the above races or other favorites.

No matter what, I am looking forward to whatever this year brings. I hope you will forgive me for quoting Jack Dawson, but I think it is fitting considering my one resolution for this year: "I figure life's a gift and I don't intend on wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at make each day count. "

Happy New Year, folks. Here's to making 2011 count.