Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Review

2015 was only the best year of my running life yet! 14 races, 8 PRs baby!, and a new PR at every distance I race.

I had a few goals I planned to accomplish:

...and miles to go before I sleep

1. Run a 1-miler under 7:00
Check - Ran a 6:58 on the TM in late April.

2. Run a half under 2:00
Check - Martian half 1:58:39

3. Run a full under 4:50
Check - Cincinnati 4:43:33

4. Save $... to my IRA
Check - although it was changed to save it to my stock account

5. Hit my goal weight!!!
Check! Working on getting back there. My body's natural weight is about 7 pounds higher than I want it to be.

Here's the monthly breakdown (2014 mileage in parenthesis for sake of comparison):

January - 96.76 miles (46.4)
no races

February - 105.05 miles (77.32)
Myrtle Beach half marathon - PR

March - 115.3 miles (95.13)
Shamrocks and Shenanigans 5k - PR
Pi run 5k ish - PR
Rock CF half marathon - PR

April - 138.36 miles (85.51)
Twinkie Run 5k
Martian half marathon - PR

May - 59.6 miles (63.57)
Little Kings 1 mile - PR
Flying Pig 10k - PR
Flying Pig 5k
Flying Pig marathon - PR

June - 61.85 miles (89.72)
no races

July - 113.08 miles (99.86)
Ann Arbor 1 mile
Electric Bolt 5k - 2nd place

August - 145.67 miles (146.47)
Run for the Hills 10k

September - 144.62 miles (119.49)
no races

October - 105.12 miles (103.68)
Chicago marathon

November - 89.7 miles (72.04)
Veterans half marathon

December - 70.6 miles (40.38)

Year-end total: 1245.71 (962.25)

I had arbitrarily set a last-minute goal of 1250 miles, and I could totally accomplish it today, but my left heel has been sore for the past several days and it's improving with rest. Why would I set back the healing to check off a completely arbitrary number? My total mileage is already a big PR and 283.46 better than last year! I had the same nagging annoyance in my right heel for the last 7 weeks of training for Chicago. It only flared up with speed work and long runs (over 3 hours). I could run through it, but it never really got any better until a head cold forced me to not run for 5 days. I'm using the same approach with my left foot, but without the snot-nosed sickness, thankfully!

Monday, December 28, 2015

5k PR*

This is actually a story from last week, but I've been remiss with posting...

Monday was a typical El Nino winter day - moderate temperature, but rain rain rain all day long. Nothing about that gets me excited to run. Yet what else was I going to do? I sure wasn't running outside though, wet shoes and wet feet aren't my cup of tea. (It's fine if I'm already running and it starts raining, but starting in the rain is brutal.)

The most recently added item to the bucket list is to run a sub-24 5K (treadmill counts). After work I started thinking "Why not?" More importantly, "Why not today?" Ummmm because I haven't done any speed work in months and my body wouldn't be happy going from zero speed work to 7:40s.

I could compromise though. Maybe not sub-24, but certainly something in the 26s, maybe even a PR.

I did a half mile warm-up, stopped the machine, stretched a little, and spun through the iPod for the song I wanted to start with.

It was time. Do it, girl!!!

I started the TM at an 8:30 pace, planning to increase it every half mile. The first mile felt downright easy. The second mile was a struggle. The third mile was agony. At about 20 minutes, my legs were screaming, my lungs were dying and every part of me wanted to quit, especially knowing I still had 0.6 miles to go.

Don't think, just run.

I hit 3.1 and thought "huh, I could have kept going," :D (if I didn't mind the puddles of sweat on the TM and the loogie I needed to hock - the joys of running right after being sick...)

25:31. Yep, that's a big PR, but it remains with an asterisk because I had a lot of help from the TM. My non-TM PR is a 26:08 and I had a pacer for more than half of that. Not bad for December.

The 5k playlist:
Bodies - Drowning Pool [1. Nothin' Wrong with me!]
Whatever - Godsmack [I Don't need your Sh** Today...I'm doin' the best I ever did, now get up and F***ing Go away!]
I Miss the Misery - Halestorm
Down With the Sickness - Disturbed
Lose Yourself - Eminem

Dang, that's a seriously angry playlist! lol Had to get amped for the run!!!

At the end of the day, I told my Bestie the PR wasn't even the best part of my day. The very best thing was the 15-minute nap with kitty sleeping on my chest :D

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Full Circle

In 2011 I took myself out to breakfast on Christmas. It doesn't faze me one bit to dine alone in a restaurant and enjoy a book with my meal. Why should I hide home alone because no one wants to enjoy a diner breakfast with me??? I befriended the waitress Pam, then before I left, I told her to give me a man's check. He was sitting alone and reminded me of my grandpa, and I wanted to buy his meal.
Jump ahead to 2015. I volunteered to work Christmas morning (double time), then I didn't have a ton of food, so I tried to go back to the diner, but they were closed. Ram's Horn is always open, so I went there instead. I enjoyed my meal, 3 cups of coffee, and my book, then when I went to pay, the guy running the register said "You're all set." The girl behind him elaborated "Someone took care of your check for you." !!!!

I figure it was one of three options:
1. Someone I know. I work at every public school and two Catholic schools in the same city, so I  know a ton of people.
2. Some guy thought I was cute (I wasn't - hadn't showered yet and was in jeans and a Star Wars sweatshirt).
3. Someone felt sorry for me eating alone on Christmas (most likely).

Whatever the reason - THANK YOU!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Being sick like a woman

Ok, this is gross. I woke up before my 2:45 alarm today because I couldn't breathe through my nose, seeing as it was clogged full of solid snot pieces ewwwwww yep, I'm sick again. Maybe it's still the same as before, I don't know. The good thing about my new job is that I can always work, we don't close for long vacations or snow days, etc, The bad thing about my new is that I can always work. Being sick is no excuse, especially when I have "permission" to work from home. So work was non-negotiable.

After the 2nd job, I was Miss Cranky Pants. I didn't feel well, I was woozy, full of snot, exhausted, and it was CLOUDY!


Then I thought I saw the sun peek out for a minute. 15 minutes later I was sure - sun!!!!! God wanted me to run today!

I had two choices. The first was to be sick like a man ie put on my pajamas, call Mom and beg for some food or attention or whatever babying men seek when they're sick.

Or I could be sick like a woman.

All I did was run my 3rd fastest 5k EVER! Yeah buddy!!!!

A quick and dirty 5k has become my go-to distance when I want no part of running whatsoever. My deal with myself is that I have to finish it under 30 minutes, otherwise I keep going. That requires a 9:40 pace, so I shoot for that the first mile, then see what happens.


Whee!!!! Total time: 27:20, the only 5ks I've done faster were both in the 26s at races. Not too shabby for a "last-minute, mid-December, not-training, get it done" run.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Meal 2 - Pork and Veggie Pita Wrap

It's meal 2 and I'm ready to abandon this cook ahead meal plan. My thought had been to cook a meal for dinner, then have the second portion of it for lunch the following day, yet I wanted no part of the "taco bowl" for lunch today, so I skipped right to meal 2, a pork and veggie pita wrap. It sounded good enough, and I like all the ingredients (except avocado, I substituted a pat of real butter).

It was adequate. It was 475 calories, and I couldn't finish all of it.

Less than an hour later, though, I don't like how I feel. I don't eat simple carbs very often. I figure I get enough carbs from fruits and vegetables, and a little from the hormone-free milk I use in my coffee, so unless it's pre-race or a special occasion, I'm not a big carb eater. The pita had 200 empty calories. My stomach feels all puffy and bloated. I want to do some serious core work, and drink a ton of water to flush it out. I'm trying to LOSE weight here, not get soft and squishy!!!

The thought of eating rice again tomorrow? Yech!

Since I already bought and cooked the meat and veggies, I'll eat meat and veggies for dinner the rest of the week and use the eggs for breakfast on days that I work from home. I don't need their recipes because it's way too many simple carbs for my diet.

The meal plan was a great idea, and I loved the idea. Today's meal took 4 minutes to prepare, but it's too carb-heavy. Not for me!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Meal 1 - "A Fun, Colorful Taco Bowl"

Monday's dinner was advertised as a "fun, colorful taco bowl." Doesn't taco generally imply chips???

It was alright. Here's their picture of it:
And here's my picture. Granted I didn't wait for it to cool, nor did I have a food photographer to make it look great. Also, I eliminated the avocados and tomatoes because I don't like either, and why would I buy food knowing I'm not going to eat it?
It was alright, not fabulous, but good enough. It was 475 calories, and a little more food than I wanted. I tossed a little of the rice. Chipotle would have been tons better, but also probably double the calories and triple the sodium.

Total prep time: 6 minutes.

Would I make it again? Sure, with a few modifications:
1. Swap out the rice for black beans
1a. Or eliminate the rice altogether and have more veggies
2. Don't pre-cook the peppers, they got mushy. Dice and heat / serve as needed.
3. More salsa
4. Use colby jack cheese instead of cheddar (personal preference)

Here's the recipe

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Taking back control

Soup in a jar was prettier than it was tasty :(
I stop weighing myself a week before a marathon, and for a few weeks after because I eat a little more both before and after a big race, then this year I just never got around to weighing myself after Chicago. I finally did last week after I noticed my favorite dress pants aren't fitting the same as they usually do. As of Monday, I was 10.4 pounds over my ideal weight, so I sprung into immediate action and hit The Daily Plate with a vengeance. By Friday I was allegedly down 3.4 pounds, mostly water weight I'm sure. We'll see how well I sustained that over the weekend.

I know what you're thinking - who gets serious about eating healthy and limited quantities right before Christmas? This girl!!!! That's who! :) Let's think logically - Christmas is 3 or 4 meals out of the entire month!!!! 3 meals is no excuse to eat whatever I want for 3 weeks. Besides, I give myself one free meal a week, one time that I can have however much I want of whatever food I want, so long as it's limited to ONE sitting. I'll have my "free" meals when the family has Christmas. Knowing I have the break helps me stay focused when looking at the bland and limited. This week I had 2 diet Cokes, 2 candy bars, chips and salsa, and 2 1/2 tacos. I couldn't finish the 3rd one.... haha It was delish!!!!! And it made me totally ok today eating veggie stir fry for the 6th consecutive day.

I don't like cooking during the week. After an 11 or 12 hour work day, and a run, I want to put forth zero time or effort. It works a whole lot better for me to pre-cook as much as possible on Sunday.

The first week I pre-made 14 meals - 6 stir fry, 4 soup in a jar, and 4 chicken-sweet potato-cous cous. The stir fry was great. The others, not so much.
Fridge week 1 (oatmeal in front)
Here's a pretty sunrise from my kitchen window :)
Fridge week 2 - veggies, pulled pork, rice

Week 2 I'm trying something different. I saw a link on Buzzfeed to a "Make ahead meal plan that anyone can cook." The idea is to prepare as much as possible on Sunday, then use the ingredients to make 5 different meals throughout the week, each taking 15 minutes to prepare with the pre-made ingredients. Each recipe is for 4 servings, I made half of each and can eat one for dinner and the other for lunch the next day. Eating the same thing multiple times a week doesn't faze me one bit.

The Sunday prep was easy. I already had a pork roast that I threw in the slow cooker while I worked. The veggies and perishable ingredients cost $16 and took 40 minutes to prepare and clean up. So far, so good!

Come back tomorrow for my review of meal 1 :)

Friday, December 11, 2015

A New PR and a Final Goal

When we think about PRs, time is what typically comes to mind, at least in my world. The training is all done to shave off minutes or even seconds from previous times. This week, however, I realized I had hit a different kind of PR - distance!

I started tracking my miles on The Daily Mile in 2011. One year I realized on New Years Eve that I had to go run 3 miles THAT DAY in the snow!!!! to break 1000 for the year. This year, I crossed 1000 before Chicago. On Wednesday I hit 1200, or an average of 100 per month. Nice :) The months weren't all 100-mile months, but the average is good.

Then I realized if I run 2-3 miles every day for the rest of the year, my distance PR will be 1250. What makes more sense for me is 5 miles every other day to round out the year at 1255. Although today was a bonus run just because the weather was nice. When it's mid-50s and SUNNY, and I can wear shorts in mid-December, I have no excuse or reason whatsoever to not be out there running!!!! I didn't feel up to 5, and I've been getting a little slower, so I mixed it up and shot for 4 miles sub-10. Final average: 9:29. It's ironic - I couldn't find 9:30s to save my life in Chicago, and now I'm popping them right and left. Stupid hot weather!

Forecast looks to be close to 60 this weekend - who wants to join me for a long run???? Or 2.... :D

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The redeeming runs

After my cranky weather-induced rant on Tuesday, I bounced back with three killer runs.

Wednesday - it was glorious full sun driving between jobs. I had a few minutes to spare, so I sat in the car, closed my eyes and did my best cat-snoozing-in-the-sunlight impression. I texted my bestie that I couldn't bear to go inside and work in the gloomy lighting, and could I just see the kids in my car? Hah I had the purest intentions, but there is no way to say "come on little child, I'll read you a story in my car" that doesn't sound completely creepy!

By the time I was done working, it had predictably gotten overcast. Yuck!!!! I had already skipped two days though, and I won't skip a third, so I dragged myself outside. It wasn't that cold - low 40s, and the humidity kept it from feeling colder. I always tell myself to do 3 miles and if I hate every second of it, I can stop. I never do though. 6.25 miles at a 9:33 average.

Thursday - scheduled day off to have coffee with the pastor's wife.

Friday - mostly sunny all day! Yay!!!!! A little cold, but the sun helped immensely! I had plans later on, so I had to go immediately after school. I was going to stop at 5.25, but a nice driver backed up from the intersection so I could cross, and I did one more block. 9:44 average.

Saturday - the forecast had been for almost 50 and sunny. Yeah, not so much. It was super foggy and 29. The fog eventually burned off, but it remained cloudy and cold. Did a few dippy errands, then it was getting too dark. Oops :)

Sunday - foggy and cold to start. During church, however, the sun came out! I always want to sing the song from Hair "Let the sun shine, let the sun shine, leeeeeeet the sun shiiiiiiiiine in, the suuuuuun shiiiiiiiine in." Lunch, RUN!!!!!! I haven't done 7 miles in almost a month, so that was my goal. Once I got out there, it was so amazing, and I don't really have a 7 mile route, so I changed it to 8. The weather was amazing and I had nothing but time. After 8, I wasn't quite to my car, so it became 8.25. All the better. 10:00 average. Awesome :D

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

God didn't want me to run today

I hate winter in Michigan. The snow and cold are bad enough, but I truly despise the flat gray skies for DAYS ON END, days and weeks that make me want to stick my head in the sand, retire to my cave, hibernate until it goes away. Or hop on the next plane to San Diego and figure it out when I get there. I need to live somewhere with 300+ days of sunlight a year!!!!

Such was Tuesday. Nasty gross weather. Not that cold, but disgusting depressing gloom. The kind of day that makes me want to excuse myself from the living world, not the day that I want to wake up at 2:45 and work work work for peanuts. I'm cranky!

After an 11-hour workday, I drove home in the rain and told my bestie that God will give me sunlight if He wants me to run today.

Wouldn't you know, at 4:50 it cleared up a little. That's even worse than not at all! I live in the ghetto, so I don't run around home, but by the time I got dressed and drove to a safer location, it would be dark, and running in the dark when it's in the low 40s with huge puddles everywhere just doesn't sound fun. I'm not desperate enough yet to even consider the hamster wheel.

Revised plan: a date with Charles Shaw and some Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Here's how I feel.