Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Power Hour Workout

For the last few Wednesdays, I’ve been running with the Fleet Feet Ladies Night Group – which has been absolutely fantastic. I’m meeting new people and exploring new routes. But, I skipped tonight to do one final speed workout before Sunday’s race. I'll refer to this as the Power Hour in this and any future posts.

The last time I used "Power Hour" in a conversation, I was talking about the drinking kind. If you’ve never done a Power Hour, the rules say to take a shot of beer every minute for an hour (approximately 7-8 beers: COLLEGE!). The result is a very special kind of evening.

The rules of my Power Hour tonight were similar -- just with a lot less beer (though that would have been interesting). When the song changes, add 0.2 MPH to your speed. I made a special playlist of two-minute clips of music from my DDR playlist and a few other favorites for the occasion.

Yes, I have a DDR playlist...

Yes, I play DDR...

This was the list for tonight's workout, which works out to 45 minutes of music. When I work my way up to 8.0 MPH, I'll should hit the full hour with no problem:

Warm-Up: 10 minutes at 5.8 MPH - Green Grass and High Tides, The Outlaws
6.0 - Flowers, Terra
6.2 - Freeway Shuffle, DJ Taka
6.4 - Electrified, SySF
6.6 - A Thing Called Love, D-Crew 2 US
6.8 - Music and Rhythm, NC
7.0 - Volcano, Yasuhiro Abe
7.2 - Raspberry Heart, jun
7.4 - Stars, Terra
Four-minute recovery at 5.8 MPH - Survivor, Destiny's Child
6.0 - Arrabbiata, Reven G
6.2 - Fire, Mutshiko Izumi
6.4 - Honey Punch, Riyu Kosaka
6.6 - Morning Glory, BeFor U
6.8 - Silver Platform, U1 Reincarnates
7.0 - Dragon Blade, Kozo Nakamura
7.2 - Nijiro, G.S.C License
7.4 - Under the Sky, SayakaMinami
3-minute jog at 5.8 - Can't Stop the Rain, Cascada
Cool Down

It felt great to push myself and run at an 8-minute pace!

I've been feeling kind of tired and out of it this week, so I'm going to say that today was my last run before Sunday. I'm starting to get really excited about the race -- it should be sunny and spring-like, and the route will be gorgeous with all of the Cherry Blossoms.  Tomorrow, I'll hit the elliptical and do a few light strength training exercises. See you at the finish line!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Inspiration: Fear is Fun

"When you feel fear, take that as a reminder to bring curiosity to the moment. Something new is on the other side of it. If you act in spite of the fear, something exciting is going to go down. Nine times out of ten you’ll end up gaining some situational benefit, and ten times out of ten, you’ll feel stronger immediately. And maybe there is a passing unpleasant feeling that will come with it. It’s probably a good trade-off anyway. Some of the best prizes in my life have come just on the other side of something I was afraid of, and they didn’t end up being difficult or painful at all. They were so close to me the whole time, and I would never have known what they were offering."
---"Why Your Fears Won't Come True" on Raptitude

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Going for Speed: Weekly Round-Up (12)

Post-race indulgence for the win! After a glorious nap, Saturday afternoon included pizza, watching two soccer games and a (poorly called) hockey game, hanging out with friends, and plenty of Guinness. Awesome!

But, it's time to get back to work and make final preparations for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. I won't call this training, but I want to make sure that I stay active during a week when it would be very easy for me to rationalize a decision not to run or go to the gym.

Cherry Blossom Pre-Week --

Monday: Yoga/Strength Training
Tuesday: Speed Workout - 30 minutes
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run -- Goal: Run fast.

Here we go!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

National Half-Marathon Race Round-Up

Race weekends are always exciting!

After picking up my bib, goodie bag, and doing a little bit of shopping at the Fitness Expo, I spent Friday afternoon getting everything that I needed for the race in one location. I’m usually very functional and organized in the early morning hours, but I can also be a total space cadet who forgets important things. After a quick load of laundry, I dug out my winter running gear – Damn you, Punxsutawney Phil – and pulled two energy gels and a pack of sport beans from my cabinet. Once I was sure that I had everything that I needed, I started dinner -- which I very quickly ruined thanks to my lack of focus.

I'll spare you the tale of my stupidity, but this cooking disaster seemed very similar to the Great Blender Explosion of Aught-Ten. So, I moved onto Plan B: a bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce.

After dinner, I settled down on my couch to watch Yale play the Air Force Academy in the first round of the Division I Hockey Tournament, going through my favorite hockey cheers and being on edge until Yale scored the winning goal in OT.

Then, bedtime.

Waking up at 5 AM was a little disorienting, but I felt good once I was out of bed and moving around. I had plans to meet Caitlin at 5:45 and cab down to RFK Stadium -- which should have been plenty of time to drop off my bag, stretch, warm-up, and hop into my starting corral. (I decided to cab instead of taking public transportation because Metro opened at 6 this morning, which wouldn't have been enough time to do all of the above.)

Our original plan was set to work out wonderfully -- except for the massive transportation fail which resulted in no cab arriving despite calling ahead of time and desperately trying to check the status of our request. In a last attempt to get to the start on time, Caitlin and I ran to catch the next trains to RFK, the first of which arrived at 6:30 AM. We were in great company, with hundreds of other runners trying to make it to the start as well.

We arrived at the Stadium-Armory stop at 6:55 AM for the 7:00 AM start, sprinted to the bag check, the bathroom, and the starting area. (Warm-up, check!) I hopped in when I saw a crowd of people in my corral walk by and made it across the starting line.

As I planned, I took the first mile slower than my goal pace. By the third mile, I found a great rhythm and cruised along the course.

I tried not to look at my Garmin during the race, but I knew that I my pace wasn't as consistent as I hoped. When I made it to Mile 10, my timer was somewhere around 1:38:00. There was a chance that I could run the last 3.1 fast enough to finish under two hours, so I decided to go for it and promised myself that I would be happy with my time no matter what happened; it had been a great race. And, considering that my 13.1 split from the Baltimore Marathon was 2:33:35, I knew that I was well on my way to absolutely crushing my record.

The last three miles were fantastic, and I felt incredible when I crossed the finish line.

Gun Time: 2:25:05
Net Time: 2:09:33
Average Pace: 9:47

Even though my average pace was a minute slower than I hoped, I feel great about my performance. My previous PR has been sufficiently destroyed, and I have a new medal for my collection.

Next up, The Cherry Blossom 10-Miler on April 3rd!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Inspiration: Chariots of Fire

With the National Marathon and Half-Marathon this weekend, I couldn't resist choosing the theme from Chariots of Fire as this week's Tuesday Inspiration.  I know how I'm spending my Friday night....

....well, my actual pre-race plan is to enjoy a home-cooked pasta dinner and watch the Yale Men's Hockey team dominate Air Force in the first round of the NCAA Division I Tournament.

But, watching Chariots of Fire would have been a good choice, too.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Going for Speed: Weekly Round-Up (11)

Cue the final countdown!

I feel confident that I’ve trained well enough to run a fantastic race on Saturday. I had no trouble reaching my intended pace during my runs this week, and I felt comfortable sustaining that pace.  Hopefully, I'll be able to do the same on Saturday.

Week 12’s workouts are very light, and I will not obsess about my pace at all.  This week's runs are more for my own enjoyment.

Monday: Cycling/Yoga
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 3 miles
Thursday: Yoga
Friday: Rest
Sunday: 3 miles

By the way, I’ve been working out what I want my goals for April, May, and June since I won’t have long races planned until the fall.  (I finally got around to making decisions, and the plan is to run two half-marathons and one full-marathon!) The full plan is to come.  Stay tuned! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

TGI Carb Night – Quinoa with Shrimp and Vegetables

Cooking with my dad was one of my favorite things to do growing up.  When I was younger, it meant that I got to pretend to be his little sous-chef in a five star kitchen; when make-believe became less cool -- whoo teen angst -- Dad and I still spent many Saturdays preparing family meals and talking about anything and everything.  Well, maybe not everything – but, you get the idea.

One my favorite dishes that my dad prepared is a simple shrimp and vegetable mixture served with pasta.  I've prepared that tonight but have substituted quinoa for the pasta.

You'll need:

1 pound cooked shrimp, tails removed
2 yellow squash, cut into thick slices 
2 pounds roma tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 ½ pounds broccoli 
1 cup quinoa 
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tbsp. dried parsley 
½ tsp. kosher salt

Soak and rinse quinoa in water before cooking.  Add 1 ¼ cup of water and quinoa to a small pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.

 In a large pot, steam squash and broccoli until squash is tender.

Add tomatoes and shrimp. Cover and steam until tomatoes have softened slightly.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan.  Add salt and dried parsley to butter sauce; then, add to vegetable mixture.  (You may need to drain some of the water from the vegetables.)

Plate quinoa and top with vegetables. 

The National Half-Marathon is so soon! The organizers sent an e-mail with final instructions, and I was reminded about how awesome it was to get the official e-mail for the Baltimore Running Festival.  I'm excited!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Inspiration: Run for a Cause

To raise awareness and funds for Parkinson's disease research, a former classmate is going to run the entire Pacific Crest Trail this fall and try break the current speed record of 65 days. Doing this requires covering more than 40 miles every day for two months. By all standards, this is an incredible endeavor.

Check out the launch video for his charitable organization, Run While You Can.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Patrick's Day 8K Round-Up / Weekly Round-Up (10)

Good friends, delicious food, gorgeous weather, and two fantastic runs made this weekend absolutely wonderful.

This morning's wake-up call was 6:45 AM, but cruisin' in dreamy-dream land quickly derailed my plans by 15 minutes. Still, I had plenty time to get dressed, have my usual pre-run bagel with peanut butter and green tea, and metro down to meet everyone before the race started. (Everyone being Jenny, Geoff, and two of his good friends that I met at a delicious pre-race dinner on Saturday.)

There were more than 6,000 runners in the starting area corralled into pace groups. Jenny and I stuck ourselves toward the end of the nine minute group, while the others went ahead to the seven to eight minute group.

I ran the first mile at an 8:52 pace, which is a few seconds faster than I intended. I'll chalk it up to being excited: it was a gorgeous day, there were thousands of runners dressed in green, and Journey was playing. I slowed down for miles two, three, and four, and picked back up to an 8:47 for the last mile.

Net time: 45:51
5K Split: 28:22 (PR: 27:48)
Average pace: 9:08

I felt good at 8:47 and 8:52, but I need to learn to pace myself. During Saturday's long run, I ran my fastest during the first four miles and slowed down significantly for the last four. This week and next, I'm going to do a bit of work practicing starting slow and working my way up to my race pace. I also need to do a better job of getting through my strength training workouts; I can't say that those have gone well for the past two weeks.

Week 11:

Monday: Cycling and Strength Training
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 3 miles/Strength
Thursday: Tempo - 35 minutes
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 3 miles at pace

With the sun setting later, I'm looking forward to being able to run outside again after work a few nights this week.

Thirteen days to go until the half!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dinner Tonight -- Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna

Tonight was my night to host our (bi-)weekly rotating dinner party: French Night.

French Night started as a way to learn and/or brush up on French conversation skills. (After nearly ten years of studying the language, I can proudly say, “Je parle français comme une vache.” Madame would be very proud if she knew.)  In all honesty, I can't remember the last time we spoke French at French Night, but I'm okay with that since it has evolved into an intimate group of young women who enjoy good company, good conversation, good food, and -- most importantly -- good wine.  

It is French night after all.

 This evening's wines included a 2003 red from Spain and a 2009 white from France.  There was also brie, gouda, and apples.  Cat brought a 2009 red made from montepulciano grapes (grown in Italy's Abruzzo region) that we'll likely enjoy later. Side note: I am no where near being an oenophile. But, I did just order $75 worth of wine from Wine Insiders thanks to a sweet Groupon.
One of the joys of French Night is that I get to cook dishes that I could never finish on my own.  (You should see my freezer.)  For tonight's dinner, I served eggplant parmesan lasagna with a very simple simple salad.

 I'm starting to become a huge fan of lighter lasagnas. This recipe is 432 calories and has 28.3 grams of protein per serving.

And, for dessert, chocolate-dipped fruit.

I swear, this is healthy.  See -- there's fruit! The chocolate sauce is very simple -- Stirring constantly, melt a bag of quality, milk chocolate chips over simmering water and mix in two tablespoons of evaporated skim milk. 

Bon soir, mes amis! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Inspiration: Shedding the Past

Running has transformed me, inside and out. It's as much a part of my identity as being a writer, or a mother, or a wife—maybe even more, because I truly don't know if I'd be any of those things if I hadn't toughed out that first mile. I still experience those rock-star moments, every time I make it through a 5 a. m. six-miler when I'd rather be in bed, or finish a hard set of intervals on the treadmill at the Y. There may be no cheering crowds, no medals, no booming baritone announcement. But the finish-line feeling lives on, in my head and in my heart.
---FromShedding the Pastby Lisa Delaney

I came across this article early on when I started training for my first marathon, and it still resonates. Weight loss and running will probably always be linked in my mind because it was through running – and learning to make healthier decisions about food along the way – that I was able to drop the weight that I put on in college.  I love what running has done for me -- not only has it helped me shed the extra weight and become more comfortable in my body, but it has also allowed me to see just what I'm capable of if I'm willing to push myself.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Going for Speed: Weekly Round-Up (9)

On a cold and rainy day, there isn’t anything better than a fast run and spending the rest of the day in cozy mode with tea and 24.

I’m down to the last few weeks of training before the National Half Marathon and will start to taper so that I’m in a good place to run at my intended pace: 8:57 min/mile.  I’ve been going back and forth in my head as to whether or not my goal to finish under two hours is too ambitious, but I'm more confident that I can do this after this weekend's training runs.  (According to the data on my Garmin, I hit an 8:12 pace during one of the splits on Saturday – sweet!)

Week 10:

Monday: Yoga, Cycling, and Strength Training
Tuesday: Speed Workout – 45 minutes
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 3 miles and Strength Training
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: 8K Race

My goals for Sunday’s race are to 1) have fun and 2) run at my half-marathon goal pace.  I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of training.

Friday, March 4, 2011

TGI Carb Night: Recipe - Pasta with Chicken, Asparagus, and Tomatoes

I spent a few days in Greensboro, NC on a business trip; now, I’m back in DC and ready to start the weekend! 

This afternoon, I took a walk over to City Sports to pick up the Garmin Front Runner 110 that I’ve been eyeing.  Sometime between the marathon in October and now, my pedometer decided that it had no interest in accurately tracking my distance and speed. I thought that adjusting my stride length, weight, and sensitivity would help, but it didn't.  

Most of my runs ended with me calling it a liar. 

After debating whether or not I wanted to spend as much as I did on a GPS/heart-rate monitor, I decided that it would be a worthwhile investment since I intend to run as long as I'm physically able.

In other news – it’s carb night!

To fuel for my 12-miler tomorrow, I prepared another recipe from the good people at Cooking Light: Pasta with Chicken, Asparagus, and Tomatoes. 

You’ll Need:

8 oz pasta (I used penne tonight)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken tenders cut into strips
1 cup sliced asparagus
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup crumbled goat cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Heat a large, nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. 

Add chicken and asparagus to pan. Sauté for five minutes.

 Add tomatoes, garlic, and basil to pan.  Sauté for one minute.  Remove from heat. In a large bowl, mix pasta with chicken mixture.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and oil. 

Plate and top with goat cheese.

Finally, I made the decision not to run the ¡VAMOS! 5K.   Instead...

...Jenny -- widely known for her love of party shades, delicious eats, and being a total badass -- is coming to DC next weekend. (I'm so excited!) There will be brunch.  There will be a dance party. And, there will be the St. Patrick's Day 8K

Time to break out the party shades! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday Inspiration: Ida Keeling

Today’s lesson: It’s never too late to try something new!

From The Huffington Post:

“At 4-foot-6 and 83 lbs Keeling says she has always been the oldest person at her meets. That might be because she didn't even take up running until she was 67.”

She has such an amazing story, don't you think?