It’s not a goodbye…

Running and I are taking a break.

Not breaking up, not divorcing, no one is moving out.

We are just going to be giving each other some space.

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After finishing the Maine Coast Half Marathon with a personal PR and feeling the strongest I’ve ever felt during a race, this sucks. I’ve been back and forth and on various stages of the grieving cycle regarding this decision but I know deep down it’s one that needs to be made. Since devoting much of my life to running (hello, I made a blog and turned down multiple nights of pizza for it) taking a step back is far from easy. Running has unsuspectedly become so much a part of my identity that looking at a summer without it is almost like looking at my reflection without a nose. Still recognizable, but odd – and kinda freaking scary.

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Feeling strong running 13.1

You’re probably confused. No kidding! I haven’t been super transparent on the blog about my personal history. You can read a snapshot that I wrote of it here, for The Lane 9 Project. Sparknotes version: I haven’t had a natural period (one that came without the help of some kind of birth control) since I was ~16. That’s almost 10 years at this point. Though I know I reached a healthy weight in college and had what I’d consider a normal relationship to food and exercise, there’s no way for me to know if I would have been getting a period at that time. Sparing actual numbers for the sake of NUMBERS AREN’T IMPORTANT, I ultimately weigh 20 pounds less than I did when I graduated college in 2014. Over the course of ~3 years, I’ve slowly and steadily been underfueling. That was a hard pill to swallow, but explains a lot when thinking about why it’s taken so long for my cycle to come back.

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Celebrating PR’s at the Maine Coast Half

Amenorrhea is gaining traction in the media. (See HERE, HERE and HERE) Or at least it seems like it is. I joined The Lane 9 Project because I identified with its mission, have listened to podcasts featuring Dr. Nicola Rinaldi, author of the book No Period Now What, and have been following Tina Muir on her journey to get her period back to start a family with her husband. I found Robyn’s blog and she became a huge role model for me.

I had no idea amenorrhea was common. I thought I was an anomaly – some girl with a crazy irregular cycle that would have to endure the rest of her life with no real certainty whether or not she’d be able to have kids of her own. No one I knew seemed to be struggling with this, and we were all bandaged with birth control so it wasn’t on my radar for many years, either.

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Eno River State Park, North Carolina

Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA) is a condition in which a women’s reproductive system, namely the menstrual cycle, shuts down because the body does not prioritize making babies when it only has enough energy to keep all other vital systems running. A combination of energy deficiency (eating too few calories for the amount of activity or calories burned), sleep deficiency, chronic stress and overexercise catapult the body into a frantic “survival” state in which non-essential systems are shut down in favor of shuttling any available energy to those that truly keep us alive.

Why is it important to maintain a cycle? I have had multiple doctors tell me that I’m probably fine. That I don’t need to try to get my period back until I want to start having kids. I took the bait for years. But always wondered, “why?” Why should I settle for one of my body’s systems not functioning correctly? I had most of my hormones checked, and since they were within the normal (super wide) ranges, my physicians assumed I was fine. Funnily enough, I never had my estrogen checked until this year. What do you know? It was crazy low.

Symptoms of low estrogen via Healthline

  • painful sex due to a lack of vaginal lubrication
  • an increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to a thinning of the urethra
  • irregular or absent periods
  • mood swings
  • hot flashes
  • breast tenderness
  • headaches or accentuation of pre-existing migraines
  • depression
  • trouble concentrating
  • fatigue

HA doesn’t just show up when a women drops into the underweight BMI zone. According to Dr. Rinaldi, she’s found that most women maintain their cycles at a BMI of 22-24, but everyone is different. Some women will lose their period at a higher BMI, some will maintain it at a lower one. Everyone tolerates a different level of exercise. There are thin marathoners who have kids – we all see this.

I just turn out to be someone who is particularly sensitive. Whether to stress, lack of sleep, overexercise, or undernutrition it’s not exactly clear. In some way, I think I’ve been experiencing all of this since I moved to Boston for my dietetic internship. I’ve pushed myself to work hard, talked about the benefits of sleep but pushed it aside in favor of building my portfolio and network. I used running as a means to escape and re-charge, but ultimately probably only made it harder for my body to rest.

I’m on a mission to get my menstrual cycle back (inspired by others like Brittany and Robyn), and I’m starting with running. I’m hoping that it’s not a forever goodbye. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to slow down, fuel myself properly, let my body realize that I’m not under attack and that it can devote energy to ALL my body systems. Then, I’m hoping I can start running (or doing intense exercise in general) again – while prioritizing sleep, recovery days, and always always always fueling properly.

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Pomegranate and Mimosa Donuts, The Holy Donut, Portland, ME

I’ve spent a good part of the last (few) month(s) generating mental lists like this and forging battles between the shoulds and should-nots.

Reasons Why I Should Take A Break

  1. I haven’t had a real period since high school. My just-measured estrogen levels are lower than that of a women in menopause and there is no sign that it’s going to return to normal unless something gives.
  2. Even though I’ve healed my relationship with food I can’t argue away the fact that I’m still 20 pounds lighter than my college-aged self and that ultimately reflects the fact that I’ve been burning more energy, however slowly, than I’ve been taking in.
  3. There’s no denying I live a stressful life, and running/training placed additional stressors on that, even though it made me feel good in certain respects I hardly let my body have a chance to “come down” for an extended period of time.
  4. I know I’m injury-prone, and I should devote more time to strengthening other parts of my running system besides the lace-up-and-run part.
  5. The fact that I’m so torn up about simply taking a BREAK seems to indicate that I’m using running for more than just joyful movement. I am hesitant to identify any habit as an addiction, per se, but I know I sometimes feel compulsive about running, have ignored a few rest days or had a little too much emphasis on the “active” part of active rest for the balance to be surely weighted in the direction of more is better. My logical self knows more is not always better.

Reasons Why I Shouldn’t

  1. Physically, I feel great. I am at the weight I always dreamed of and it’s comfortable for me. I KNOW I shouldn’t be motivated by the appearance of my physical body but it’s still a fear barrier that stands in the way of taking a step back. Something I will need to work on.
  2. I just joined the Oiselle Volee this year and was excited to become more a part of that running community. I know I can still be involved while running less, but it’s hard to make myself believe it would still be as fun.
  3. I freaking love running – it’s so accessible and simple and my favorite way to jaunt around Boston, especially in the summer. I feel so accomplished after a good run, and love pushing myself to become a better, stronger runner.
  4. What’s the point of trying to get my period back, anyway? It’s not like I’m trying to get pregnant any time soon. At least birth control sort of puts a bandaid on my low estrogen levels and prevents my bones from totally eating themselves away. Thinking about gaining weight as providing nourishing ground for a baby to grow isn’t exactly motivating now, though having kids EVENTUALLY is one of the main reasons I want to avoid infertility.

Disturbed my the mental war zone? Inner arguments like this were a constant during the worst of my eating disorder and even as I moved into recovery. Constantly battling, coming up with reasons why and just as quickly a reason why not. Letting fear hold the steering wheel for a little too long. Thankfully, my logic muscle is stronger now. I can step back and realize when something is not healthy – not serving its intended purpose in my life.

Even now, as I go back and read through the posts I wrote during my marathon training season last summer, I see a recurring theme: power through it. You are stronger than you know. Get through the mud. Work. Work. Work.

I never told myself to slow down, or even allowed that to happen. Rest days were written in to my schedule and I probably abided by one or two of them as they were truly intended.

Now more than ever it’s time to give myself a break. For my own health. For my future.

It’s a see you later.

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Shipyard Brewing Co., Portland, ME

If you identify with anything here, I highly recommend joining the conversation with The Lane 9 Project ladies. We would love to have you, support you, and walk with you (literally). I will be hosting events in the Boston area as an ambassador, but am happy and proud to come alongside any women in similar shoes as we rediscover and embrace our true strength.

Email me: hannahmeier25@gmail.com

 

Presidents Day Thoughts

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Good morning, friends!

Sorry I have been absent for over a month now. Life did it’s funny thing where you think you’re super comfortable and happy and then it pulls out the rug from under your feet and you wind up on your butt, sore, and wondering how to stand back up.

Not going to get super detailed here, but suffice it to say I’m finally feeling like I’m finding my way back to a routine and getting back to a happy place.

I also turned 25 recently, and after a quarter century, decided to ring it in with some fun

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Doors have been opening, and I recently started working for a wonderful little food company in Boston you may have heard of: 88 Acres. They (we?) make small-batch granola bars that are nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and basically safe for most people with common food allergies. They also make a “seednola” from unused edge pieces of the bars, and specialty seed butters (chocolate sunflower, vanilla spice sunflower and pumpkin seed). 88 Acres is very responsible about sourcing and makes sure that all the ingredients come from single-crop distributors to prevent cross-contamination. 88 Acres is all about the seeds, using a blend of pumpkin, sunflower and coarse-ground flax seeds as the base of their products. It’s been very interesting in the short time I’ve been there to learn about scaling a small business with big goals, working with labeling and thinking about the future of food and added sugar claims, etc. What am I doing for them? They want to build out the nutrition library on their website to serve as a resource for their consumers, so I’ll be adding to that with blog posts and topic pages. I’m also establishing a firmer partnership between the brand and registered dietitians, because 88 Acres is serious about offering a nutritious, YUMMY option for people with restrictive diets and wants RD’s to be able to refer to them as a trusted brand in their wheelhouse. If you’re a dietitian and want to learn more about 88 Acres products, send me an email and we can get the ball rolling 🙂

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True hill running takes Maine Mountains (Pictured at Sugarloaf Mountain in ME)

Other things on my mind: to train or not to train for marathon #2. For so long, it was a no-brainer. Of course I’d sign up for another marathon. I had my eyes on the Twin Cities Marathon because the timing seemed perfect, the course seemed perfect, and I’d be able to get another trip home out of the deal. But as registration opening inched closer, I started to reconsider. Do I really have enough time to train for a marathon? These days I’m barely home enough to cook a solid dinner. With 3+ jobs and part-time school, I’m pulled in a lot of different directions and having flexibility with my workouts has been essential. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add on one more big thing to my plate. Because training for a marathon is a big thing, and this time around, I know I’d want to take it seriously – get faster, get smarter, run better.

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Made history on January 21st in the Boston Common to march for women, science, facts, and common decency

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So on February 2nd, I didn’t sign up. I had until February 6th until the price increased, but I still haven’t signed up. I’ve been getting more comfortable with the idea of sticking to half marathons this year. 2017: the year of 13.1. I feel like I can PR this year if I keep my goals focused. I’m still working with Heather and have a training plan coming my way very soon to begin training for the Maine Coast Half Marathon in May, which I convinced a few Boston pals to train for and run with me.

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I just haven’t been running very much. 5-6 miles feels long, and satisfying, and if I went any longer I still feel like I’m risking injury. Probably because I’m not really running consistently. I think the major difference is that when I was training for the marathon over the summer, I would be running almost every day for about 30 minutes at least. That kept my legs used to the work of running, so when I headed out for longer runs on the weekend it wasn’t such a huge thing. Off-season has been weird. I feel like I took too much time off but then again never really got back on. I’ve been cycling a lot at the indoor studio I work at because it’s convenient. I did a 30-day yoga workshop in January and really stepped up my namaste game. Now, I’m trying to balance everything out with more strength and resistance training, especially since my IT band (I think) has been whining and I want to nip that in the bud as soon as possible.

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Miss You

So, next steps include getting new running shoes, breaking them in, and getting back on the training plan bandwagon. I am looking forward to having more to be accountable to – to stick to a schedule and train smart, since without a schedule I tend to mess things up for myself.

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New York City Marathon 2016: Race Day.

HOLY CRAP.

I did it.

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I finished (One of 51,000+!) And I can still walk.

After the rollercoaster of a month that was October, an extended taper and lots of training plan adjustments, I RAN the New York City Marathon and surprised myself with how great I felt. (Warning: this post contains a large amount of pride. Read with caution)

OK – it might be a little bit easier for me to say that now, as I’m sitting at home two days later, but really – heading into race day I had been preparing myself for the worst. True to form, my last shakeout run –just 15 minutes of jogging around Central Park on Saturday before the race — had me worrying about my knee of all things. My knee has not bothered me once this entire training session and it chooses the day before the race to start giving me pains? My ankle was a little whiney too. The excitement of the weekend started to give way to nerves as the sun set on Saturday and the reality that the next time I’d see my parents would be mid-way through my 26.2 mile trek around Manhattan. Nowhere to go but forward.

Thankfully, I had swiped a few samples of KT tape from the Action for Healthy Kids fundraisers lunch on Saturday and looked up a video for how to apply it for Posterior Tibial Tendonitis. Even though my ankle didn’t necessarily hurt, I was down to support it as much as possible (compression socks, arch-supporting insoles…) and the miraculous tape made me feel so much better instantly. Never will I ever scoff at another runner wearing tape in weird places – that stuff WORKS and thank the Lord for whoever invented it.

So I ran. I ran the whole damn thing and stopped once to stretch out the backs of my knees (forgive me for not knowing the anatomical term here) that were really tightening up around mile 22 (the worst). Besides that, I kept pushing forward. I took a swig from my bottle at every water station and ate a little bit of fuel every 30-or-so minutes (closer to every 20 minutes towards the end) and never hit the wall. It HURT to keep going, especially after mile 23 when the finish line felt so close, but with every additional pounding stride, so very far. But finishing that race was the most rewarding thing I think I’ve ever done and it definitely won’t be my last.

Without further ado – on to the official

RECAP

The Taper (October 23 – November 5th)

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My “official” taper week was really the peak of a month-long taper, full of alternative workouts that avoided putting any strain on my ankle, like water jogging (actually not that bad after the first few tries) and PT-style hip and core work. After the disaster that was the Boston Half Marathon in the beginning of the month, I had tried some shorter runs that felt OK but still pretty uncomfortable and made me question whether or not I could actually run 26 miles when running 3 miles made me want to ice my foot. After failing to finish one of my last longer runs, making it 10 of my planned 13 or so miles before calling it quits because I was afraid I’d really screw myself over if I kept going, Heather suggested I see an MD and get a lowdown and an expert opinion about how to move forward. His opinion: a diagnosis of Posterior Tibial Tendonitis and a prognosis of “you can run the marathon but you better get yourself some arch support and make anti-inflammation the name of your game” (not a direct quote). The minute I put those arch supports in my shoes (not even exaggerating here) I felt a wave of relief. Whatever pain I experienced just walking or twisting my foot went away. I did some internal cartwheels and walked out of the store happy as a clam and so happy I would actually be running this race.

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So my real taper happened after I broke in the inserts – literally wore them every day in whatever shoe I had on – and had a breakthrough 30 minute run that was entirely painless, save for a few protesting stomach cramps that I always get whenever I try to run late in the day. I interspersed a few short runs between cross-training and a few rest days tried my hardest to actually get sleep and keep stress at bay. Unfortunately, the timing of my peak taper week also happened to be when I had a major assignment due and not very much time to work on it so I was low on sleep and high on stress and feeling notsogreat about my tapering status. I wanted to go in to race weekend feeling refreshed as clean laundry and was feeling more like a crumpled up sock than anything. My last “long” run did feel great, though, and soon enough I found myself boarding the bus to NY and confirming my lodging arrangements with my friend Tori who was such a peach to let me crash on an air mattress in her studio for the weekend.

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Friday and Saturday I happily chowed down on allthecarbs but made an effort to make most of them plant-based and high (but not too high) in fiber since that’s what my body was used to eating. Definitely had to get a bagel for breakfast in New York though – that was a must, no grain shame whatsoever. The Action for Healthy Kids luncheon was held at Nanoosh, a mediterranean sandwich shop, where they had soooo many delicious things to eat: falafel wraps, build-your-own kale salads, tzatziki sauce, to-die-for hummus and fluffy pita, pickles and more. The hardest part of Saturday was watching the Badgers football game at Mad River, a Wisconsin bar in the Upper East Side, not drinking beers with my fellow Sconnies. Definitely a good thing I got to sip on all that water for a few hours, though. #hydration.

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All the wonderful Action for Healthy Kids runners meeting for lunch!

 

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Seth and JD, the Team Healthy Kids coaches

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After my last little shakeout around Central Park that afternoon, I felt OK (see phantom pains above) but ready to really rest. I knew I wasn’t supposed to walk a whole bunch the day before the race, but between the expo, the lunch, the game, and my lil run, I hit my 15,000 steps and my legs were feeling a little too heavy for comfort. We headed back to my parents’ hotel where I taped up my foot, iced it and elevated it one last time, and got my last meal at a delicious new place Fresh&Co –> I went with the Wild Ginger brown rice bowl with Tofu and had a few bites of my mom’s vegan poke bowl (made with tomato sushi!). Finished off the night with a half pint of raspberries, organized everything I’d need in the morning, and went to bed.

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Sunday — Race Day (November 6th)

I set my alarm for 6:10 but ended up waking up at 5:50. Thanks to great luck (not sure if it’s like this every year..) Sunday was also daylight savings and afforded me an extra hour of much needed sleep. I woke up feeling quite refreshed for sleeping on an air mattress (it was actually super comfortable Tori!!) and had a game-on attitude as soon as I pulled on my capris. I double checked that I had everything I needed and that everything was fully charged, put together my breakfast — this time using two HUGE slices of bread from Paris Baguette (they had the perfect little loaves available at a store close to my parents’ hotel) with a packet of Justin’s honey peanut butter and a perfectly ripe whole foods bananas (they have the best bananas IMO). To tide me over until I would eat my breakfast sandwich on the Ferry (3 hours before my start time of 10:40) I took a big bite out of a pumpkin spice RX bar I had packed and a few last swigs from my water bottle, said goodbye to Tori and told her I’d text her when I finished!

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The Starting Village

I had chosen to take a Ferry to Staten Island back in July but only because all of the busses were sold out. This ended up being a pretty solid option anyway, because the Ferry was a straight shot on the Subway from the Upper East Side and I was able to hop right on a ferry even though I was a half hour early. I ate my breakfast and soaked up the distant view of the Verrazano Bridge – the first mile of the race. The easy ferry ended up being a blessing, since the busses from the ferry drop site to the starting village took what felt like forever and a day. First we shuffled through the ferry station, herded ourselves into a slowly moving line and finally on to full busses driving back-to-back in stop and go traffic for just about an hour before we reached the village. Some first-wave people around me on the bus actually ended up convincing the driver to let them off because their corrals had supposedly already closed and we were still half a mile away moving at a snails pace. I chatted with someone next to me from Brooklyn who was running the race for the second time and tried to remind myself I had plenty of time before my 10:15 corral closing time. It was 9:00 when I finally got to the starting village.

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The village was fairly easy to navigate, and happily had PLENTY of porta-potties. I visited them three times and never waited more than 5 minutes in line. I had been regretting my decision to wait for coffee since the commute was much longer than I anticipated and was beginning to feel headachy, but quickly bee-lined for the free dunkin’ once I checked my bag. I also drank two little 8-oz bottles of water because I was also regretting not bringing along any plain water with me – all I had was my pre-mixed skratch water that I wanted to save for the race.

Anyway, the amount of time I had between arriving at the village and getting to my corral was actually great. I never felt like I was sitting around or too cold – the weather was PERFECT. I wore a throwaway sweatshirt and pajama bottoms over my race outfit and tossed them in donation bins before doing a quick 10-minute run around whatever open space I could find. Stretched out a bit, and finally made my way over to corral A – happy to discover I was in the front of my wave with a perfect view of the starting line and the bridge. I hadn’t had success on Saturday finding crafty materials to write my name on my shirt as had been so frequently suggested by anyone who ever mentioned running this race, but fabulously ended up talking with someone who had extra KT tape and a sharpie that I was able to fashion a “nametag” out of. Actually better, since I didn’t end up ruining my shirt and still got to hear personal cheers of encouragement throughout the course (ended up being a major key).

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Miles 1-6

I knew I had to run slow. Slow and steady, nice and easy, like I could have a conversation and run forever. The first mile runs at an incline over the Verrazano so slow was easily achieved. I let people pass by me and saw a weird array of dropped goods – hats, gloves, clif bars, empty energy gels already – people stopping to take pictures of the crazy views of the New York skyline. I just let it all soak in and kept moving forward. I was really doing this. The first mile buzzed on my watch and told me I was running a 10:56 pace. OK – that was slow, but I knew I could crank it up a little bit. So far all systems were go – my ankle pain was virtually a thing of the past.

After speeding through the second mile a little faster than planned at 9:20/mile I found my stride and kept the next six miles steady around 9:55. The people of Brooklyn were wonderful – full of life and humor and encouragement. It was SUNNY and I realized I might actually be hot during the race even though I was wearing a tank top (really glad I didn’t end up wearing a layer underneath). I didn’t wear my headphones and let the crowds and the music on the sidelines carry me on. Over the first few miles I saw the 4:30 pace group pass me, then forgot about it and later saw the 4:15 pace group within reach. Keeping those groups in mind helped me control my pace and slow down when necessary. There were so many runners. For the most part I didn’t need to dodge or weave through too many people and really tried to keep my pace consistent even though many continued to pass me. I thought my parents had told me they would be somewhere between mile 4-6 and so I kept my eyes to the sides in case I saw their allegedly “bright green signs” but to no avail.

Since I naturally ended up passing the 3 mile mark around 30 minutes in, my first planned fueling time, I decided I would divide the race up into 3-mile chunks. Every 3 miles I would make sure I had something to eat, and knock another section of the race off of my mental checklist. I started with 4 honey stinger chews and did a quick mental check that I would have enough to eat if I fueled every 3 miles – about 8 times. Each mile marker had its own hydration station, so I reminded myself to take a swig of my bottle as I ran through each one even though I wasn’t necessarily thirsty. Throughout the summer training, I had learned that keeping ahead of signs of hunger/thirst was key for maintaining energy. Once you get those signs from your body in the middle of a long run, it’s hardly possible to keep running with the same effort and overcome whatever deficit you’re facing.

Reaching mile 6, I was still feeling pretty good though my back was tense for some reason. It felt like I needed a massage. I had never felt that on a run before, and figured I just needed to relax a bit, and tried to focus on easing up on swinging my arms and channeled the yoga poses that had me dropping my shoulders and lengthening my neck. Could have killed for a foam roller, but kept going.

Miles 7-14

These miles ran me through shade and sun as I made my way further north through Brooklyn and finally Queens. Apparently my parents were actually positioned right around mile 10, what I remember as one of my favorite lengths of the course. It was shady and the crowds were great. I’m not super familiar with that part of Brooklyn, but it seemed to be a more youthful area, with lots of twenty-somethings screaming out at all of us passing by. I started to feel my left leg getting a little tight and my pace slowed down from the high 9’s to the low 10’s. I kept up my fueling/hydration strategy and dipped into my first larabar, eating about 1/3 of it at each 30-minute interval.

I had planned on not using my headphones until at least reaching the half way point, but with my increasingly heavy legs and thinning crowds, I needed a little extra somethin’ right around mile 12. The music did help push me through and kept me going up and through the sunny roads of Queens. This part of the race is really a blur now, but I think I was just in the zone – thinking about all the training I had done over the summer and how it had just become routine – get up, go run/workout/do whatever I needed to do to get to where I was at that moment. And I reveled in the fact that it was working. During these miles, I thought about all I had learned about working through the toughest parts of my training runs and prepared for the inevitably harder miles ahead of me.

Miles 15-19

This was a weird interval. I was anxious to run over the infamously quiet Queensboro bridge and fly into the wall of sound as we entered Manhattan. I wasn’t even really aware that the bridge was a hill (THANK YOU Boston for training my legs on bridges!) but my right leg kept doing a weird snapping thing every now and then that wasn’t painful, but just made me perk up a little like, “woah what was that, that’s weird”. Thankfully, it never turned into anything. I chomped a little bit more on some chews, soaked in the lyrics of the music in my headphones, and dodged around the runners that chose to take the bridge to walk. I considered walking a bit, but decided that no – I was running. I felt good (relatively speaking) and like my legs could keep moving. I was going to keep running.

The “wall of cheers” was a bit underwhelming running in to Manhattan (thanks to my high expectations), but still fired me up anyway. The next straight shot up 1st ave was the most energizing part of the course for me. From mile 16-18 I took out my headphones and soaked in all of the people on the sidelines shouting out to me that I looked strong and to keep it up. I’m pretty sure the photo at the top of the post was taken right around this time. I couldn’t help from smiling. It felt so amazing.

 

I had pre-arranged to meet my parents in between mile 17 and 18 at a specific intersection that served as my mantra as I flew through the city blocks. We had arranged to swap water bottles – my empty one for a full one they would have pre-mixed with a packet of skratch. Once the golden intersection was one block away, I edged to the left of the road and loosened my water bottle. I slowed down a bit and scanned the crowd but did not see them. I pointed my arm up to see if anyone would should my name, but nope. I moved on. Since it wasn’t very hot, I hadn’t even needed to finish my bottle at that point and figured I would be able to stay hydrated with straight water for the rest of the race. I had a volunteer fill up the rest of my bottle with water at the next water station and finally realized that I had less than 10 miles left. I could SO do this.

But as we reached the north of Manhattan and ran over a bridge into the Bronx, I entered into the lowest part of the race for me. The bridge was steep and sunny and felt so long. I put my headphones back in and hunkered down into my head, and tried to harness the energy of the race to keep my motivation up.

Miles 20-26.2

Definitely the hardest part of the race. Mile 20 wasn’t even so bad. It was mile 22-24 that got me. Once I realized I had the last 10k left, I knew I would finish and that I would run to the finish. I could handle another 10k. I knew I had it in the tank, thanks to starting slow and fueling regularly. But mile 22 was still so far from 26, even though I had less than 5 miles left. Mile 23 was worse. A 5k, that’s all I had left. But it was still another 30+ minutes of running I had in front of me and my legs were begging me to stop. Just when I wanted to start walking, someone would call my name from the sideline, or I would see a funny sign, and I would WAKE UP and realize I was running the NYC marathon and why not just keep running? I was this close anyway, I had come this far, I was going to run even if it hurt. Everyone was hurting at that point. It was time to join the club.

Between mile 23 and 24, just as we turned into Central Park, I saw my parents. I saw their green signs first, and then waved and decided to run over and say hi. I gave them a quick hug and shrugged off the water bottle since I was set with my water. Seeing them was the perfect jolt of energy I needed running into the last leg in Central Park. I decided to kick it up. Why not? I was almost done. I had more fuel if I needed it. I wanted to finish strong and this was my chance.

The Central Park hills were real, though. Going down was worse than going up. I like going up-hill – I practiced with up-hill. Going downhill was pounding and hard on my knees and the backs of my knees that I could tell would be very sore when I stopped moving. FINALLY I reached mile 25. 1.2 miles left. 1.2 MILES. SO CLOSE. I took the last of my energy chews and drank more water and kept a steady pace until I saw the 26 mile mark, where I decided that I would finally push it to the end. Mile 26 wrapped us around the bottom of Central Park and some absolutely wonderful spectators – I can’t imagine what we must all have looked like at that point – in so much pain but so excited to be close to the finish line. I finally got my adrenaline rush to the end, amped up by the live music and increasing crowds, and picked up to as much of a sprint as I could manage to finish (with a smile!) in 4 hours, 29 minutes and 10 seconds.

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Though I didn’t go into it with any sort of time goal whatsoever (basically because I didn’t feel like doing all those pace calculations), I was so proud of myself for finishing in under 4 and a half hours (just barely!). I was so proud of my pacing, of my fueling, and never hitting the wall. I was proud that I didn’t stop running, and didn’t need to make any pit-stops, and so overwhelmingly thankful for my coach and the training plan she set up for me. IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM. Despite the ankle hiccup, following the plan got me to that finish line feeling awesome. I walked to get my medal, gave a woman who I heard on the verge of tears a big hug and almost started crying with her, and pulled out my remaining larabar and basically ate it in 30 seconds. I did the damn thing. THANK YOU HEATHER.

Of course, once I met up with my family what seemed like hours later, I had one thing on my mind: shower. Then ice. Then pizza. In that order. I had talked about getting a beer for so long but when the time came, I really just wanted a cider. So I got one and savored it, and savored the pizza. And then I ate a pint of ice cream. Hey, I just ran a marathon, give me a break.

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2 days out and I actually feel pretty much back to normal. My legs are still a little tight, but I can walk-even trot-down stairs without much fighting back. The 5-hour bus ride back was not ideal, but led me back to my foam roller that I immediately put to use. I slept, I took two days off of work, I walked around and did a quick 20 minutes on the elliptical. I ate lots of carbs and then lots of protein and BOOM. I feel great. I’m ready to train for the next one… someday.

Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

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Well hello there. Yes, I’m still alive. Yes, I know I’ve neglected this and I could throw a slew of excuses out there as to why (school, work and personal life all decided to ramp up their demands from me at the same time and naturally something had to give – and that was recounting my weekly training). Since my last post, I started my second semester of grad school, this year taking classes part-time to allow myself more breathing room for other life ventures as well as to be able to really dig deep into the classes I am taking if I want to. Last year as a full-time student and half-time employee, I found it really challenging to be able to balance the responsibilities of both. So far, I’m really enjoying the balance of part-time school along with my now two part-time jobs (I found a really awesome gig at a local Cycling + Bootcamp studio that not only pays decently but also allows me to take comped classes during times that I’d otherwise just be sitting around (or managing this blog….) –> WIN. It’s been a busy month of getting used to my new schedule, but the one thing that’s stayed consistent has been my training plan.

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Well, until now.

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For the majority of the month, my training plan was stable: two easy runs each week, one work-out run for speed work or hills, and two strength training days with yoga mixed in and a long run on the weekend. The easy runs were breezy – usually done in the ever increasingly dark mornings (bought a blinky light to save my life) while listening to podcasts or a chill playlist to keep my heart rate down. The work out runs were energizing. I’d end them feeling stronger and really excited to notice how much more in-shape I felt since beginning this whole adventure. The strength training was harder to get in to, but as the weeks went on I noticed it hurt a little less each time. I was a little more stable with each one-legged squat. I could do 50 seconds of mountain climbers without wanting to cry. I felt like I was making progress and my body was working with me. My long runs were great, too. Each week increased intensity a little more. After the step-back week of the wedding in Wisconsin, I ramped up to 2 hours and 45 minutes, then 3 hours. I made it up to 18.5 miles and felt amazing. Some of my best runs. I practiced fueling and found my go-to pre-run breakfast I have no intention of swaying from. I trained my body to handle more real-food carbohydrates on the runs without protest. Long story short, I felt like I was heading in a great direction. Until I wasn’t.

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My last long run was two weeks ago. 2 hours and 45 minutes, and by the end of it I knew something was wrong. It was my first run that was derailed by real GI issues and forced me to stop to use a bathroom (surprisingly, since this happened to me multiple times while training for my half on much shorter runs). After stopping, my body did not want to start again. Thankfully, I had basically completed the entire run at this point and just walked for the remaining 20 minutes back home to cool down. I tried to speed up to a light jog, but it was a no-go. I chocked it up to one too many beers the night before (and perhaps one too many nachos while watching the badger game) and spent the rest of the day eating simple foods. I couldn’t help but notice the nagging pain in my foot that stuck around longer than normal, despite elevating my feet against the wall of my bed as usual. I wore rain boots downtown to work that evening and felt sharp pains with some steps. I figured my feet just needed rest, but the next morning on my short, 30-minute shakeout run I couldn’t even finish 25 minutes of running. My heart rate was sky high for the pace I was going (felt like crawling) and I knew something was off. It was my shoes, I was sure. I know I had put in hundreds of miles on them over the summer and that I was due for a new pair. I only wish I had realized that BEFORE the problem set in. Runners: Don’t ignore footwear. Lesson LEARNED. I made an emergency trip to Marathon Sports that Monday and picked up a brand new pair of the same Mizuno Wave Inspires since they had carried me through most of my training successfully.

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Rest day??

The ankle problem persisted that week despite taking it easier and modifying some of the workouts I had planned. Of course as timing would have it I was going to be running the BAA Half Marathon on the following Sunday, and really didn’t even consider not running it until the day before, when I was on my feet all morning and could tell that the issue had definitely not fully resolved. Basically, on the inside of my left ankle, I have a tightness in what I now believe is the tendon that runs from my ankle down to the bottom of my foot. I’ve tried to ice it and wear a compression brace for as much as I can and that has seemed to help. The problem is that I really can’t let it fully rest. Being in Boston, and used to walking pretty much everywhere while also working on my feet twice a week at the spin studio, I’ve still managed to stay relatively active. Great, except when it’s not. I worked out a plan for the half with my coach the day before the race, and since I had already picked up my bib and gotten excited about it with some friends who were also running, it was near impossible for me to think about skipping it. More lessons learned — let the ego GO when it comes to healing and taking care of your body. I made the decision that I would go to the race mostly to practice pre-race strategy, but pull back and DNF the minute I started to feel pain.

(Eats + Treats from the past month…)

The day of the race was miserable and rainy and cold, perfectly, and though I was able to run a (SLOW) 4.5 miles before deciding that enough was enough, shutting down my watch and settling in to the idea that this weekend was a bust, I couldn’t get back to the starting line without continuing my march forward with the rest of the runners. I stopped at one medical tent to see if there would be sweepers picking up injured runners (hello), but the only sweeper would be at the end of the race – meaning I’d have to wait a full two hours just to be shuttled back to the starting line where most of my friends would probably already have left. I decided to keep walking, but after 3 miles of walking and trying to find a short cut in the pouring rain, I felt so impatient and worn down and I just wanted to be done. I upped it to a jog despite knowing that I was probably making a mistake, and ran another mile or so until I found the branching point where the runners go out and back for a loop – I jumped in on the pack of runners that were coming back and probably bypassed about 3 miles of the course. I tried to sneak back to the finish line without finishing the race – did not feel like I deserved to run through that finish line – but found that the only way to get to where the finishers were was to run through that line. After I finished, I shoveled a hamburger into my mouth and regretted what I had just done. I had to keep repeating to myself along the course that it was OK – this wasn’t my race – New York would be my race, where I would put it all out there and really go for it. It was OK to hold back here, but it was hard to be in that place amongst all of the other runners who had worked so hard to get to this day and this course. The post-race was the worst part. There was nowhere to go to escape the rain and cold, and I ever-so-smartly forgot to pack a change of clothes or even a sweatshirt, so I shivered my way all back home and FINALLY took a hot hot shower once I was back. I prayed that I didn’t do as much damage to my ankle as I expected I did and checked back in with Heather to adjust my plan.

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What it’s looked like this week: Not a lot of running. Yesterday was the first time I laced up for a jog since Sunday, actually. Other than that, I took the two days following the race completely “off,” though both days I somehow managed to rack up 15,000+ steps despite only going to work and class. Wednesday I was able to go to a yoga class focused on stability and stretching big workhorse muscles like the quads and core, and also did some basic core and hip strengthening moves at home. I iced my ankle every night and propped it up whenever possible. I willed it to heal, but it’s been a slow process.

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I was supposed to have my last big push of a run today, Friday, before the national nutrition conference FNCE this weekend. One more 3 hour run to set the stage for my two taper weeks coming up before November 6th. But yesterday on my quick 30 minute run it was obvious things were still not 100% – though they have improved a lot since last week. After a bit of warming up, I could run without thinking about the pain in my ankle but this was just 30 minutes – I had no idea what would lay ahead of me during a 3 hour training run and the last thing I want to do is mess things up even more with less and less time to recover. Moving ahead this week, it’s looking pretty conservative. Trying to agitate it as little as possible and that means little to no real road miles. As scary as that seems, heading in to the last weeks of my training without reaching for high miles, I have to trust this process. I trust that my coach has given me the tools to train myself to be prepared for the race, and I have to take care of my body for all of that training to pay off. The last thing I need is to ignore all the lessons I’ve learned over the years and continue to train on a stressed body in need of rest.

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A true lesson in patience and letting go of the stubborn will to push myself farther. It’s about keeping the bigger picture in focus. I’ll be OK as long as I let myself heal. That’s the important thing right now. The mantra I’ve repeated to myself this whole training season is still relevant: Get Through The Mud. But I need a solid footing to do that, so hopefully by next weekend I have it back.

Current Fave = My Pride & JOY of a Running Playlist – Getting a lot of play time despite the lack of mileage

Have you run through an injury before? How did you handle it? Mistakes you learned from or success stories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you!

Week 11 NYC Marathon Training

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I know a few posts back I said I’d try to sprinkle in more non training-update posts, but this past week has been chock full of writing, researching, learning a new job, and working so getting an interesting post fabricated just didn’t happen. So, here we are, a little late to the party with WEEK 11 TRAINING. Going to try to be short and sweet this week ❤ We are getting ridiculously close to the 2-month countdown mark and that’s just insane. Am I ready for this? Will I be ready for this? CAN YOU HANDLE DIS?

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Ever been super hungry and also very indecisive? (Um yes, every day). Chopped up my Iggy’s Multiseed Bagel into threes –> Part one was basic tomato + arugula + fried egg. Part two Neufchatel cheese, salmon, dill and capers. Part three basic cashew butter. 100% satisfying

Flashback to last Sunday when my heart rate was being super wacky during what was supposed to be an easy jog and ended up just being a long walk — I turned on the heart rate monitor of my watch during a bit of my walk to work Monday morning to see if things had resolved and found that my HR was back to normal. So odd why it was elevated, still not really sure what was going on. Maybe it was just my watch being a poop (really has been a temperamental piece these days)

WEEKLY TRAINING PLAN WEEK 12

Monday – Spin Class + Core Work Week 11 started off with a spin class at the studio I NOW WORK AT. Yesss. Dream fulfilled. I got part time job #2 at a Boston-Based spin/bootcamp studio with three locations in Boston. Before you start scoffing at me for adding more things on to my plate that I had the intentions of cleaning up, I will basically be working 10ish hours per week behind the front desk/managing the studio, at this point all in the PM (my other job generally has morning hours and I’d been working more than I was supposed to there anyway), and my primary location is located a 5 minute walk from my grad school and my other job. SO I’m basically going to be living in the South End of Boston for a while (fine with me… they are putting in a sweetgreen). All of this perfection + I get free spin classes. Hooray for budget friendly training, finally!

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Tuesday – Runfellow run (3.3 miles) Took it pretty easy and ran solidly in the middle of the pack of the huge group of runners through Cambridge. Didn’t stay for a drink afterward because I knew what was coming for me the next AM… plus I wanted to get home to watch episode #3 of Bachelor in Paradise… (I hate myself too).

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Not only did I get a great haircut, I also had my first photoshoot ;P

Other Tuesday happenings –> Chopped off 8 inches of my hair! Thanks to the fabulous Patrick at Clementine Hair Salon who did a bomb job giving me an adorable above-the-shoulders bob. As my dad would say, marathon runner hair and who am I to argue? Now I get a cute little nub in the back and sort of look like a boy when I pass myself in window reflections – great! All 8 inches soon to be donated to Pantene… for now they are still sitting in my room until I can get my ish together and get them mailed off. –>

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Veggies Front and Center — Homemade (yes I handled ground Turkey!) Turkey Burger hidden under tomatoes, mustard and cheese. Eaten in romaine “buns” with a steamed New Potato on the side. Plus lots of barbecue sauce because it’s SUMMER TIME and I love me some Hickory goodness.

Wednesday – 800 m Repeats at Harvard Stadium I was not necessarily looking forward to this one, but thankfully the Olympics were still inspiring me so I just decided that I’d pretend I was a track star and going for the gold. Unfortunately Wednesday was annoying and had high humidity right in the morning which burned off with wind throughout the rest of the day. So despite my best efforts to beat the heat in the AM, I was stuck running endless speed laps around the track under beating sun and relentless humidity. Because of all the sweat, my lap function on my watch decided to stop working so I wasn’t able to get very much meaningful data from this workout. Warmed up with 20 minutes of jogging and plyometrics around the track and then did 6 repeats of 800 meters, resting for about 90 seconds between each. I remember feeling like I started off really strong and fast, got tired/slow in the middle, and then used the second lap to build back up and finish with a sprint. I enjoy the speedwork for mixing things up and kicking my ass, but these are definitely not confidence boosting laps yet. Afterward while I was stretching I definitely noticed my right hip feeling very tight. I didn’t feel it at all during the impact of running, just when I would lift it open or stretch it out. I had a pit in my stomach thinking “this is where it all begins” and the last thing I want is another hip issue. Told my coach about it and she gave me a few physical therapy-esque movements to add in to my bodyweight exercises to target weak areas that might be responsible for the tightness.

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Thursday – Yoga for Athletes + Bodyweight Work Took another yoga for athletes class at Wellness in Motion and was again very satisfied. The instructor knows just what areas to target and I was able to work a bit on my hip/core/alignment. Glad I bought a package here because I can tell it’s making a big difference in how good I feel after the harder runs. Did some bodyweight core work back at home as well as the targeted moves for my hip.

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Working lunch at Panera — Half Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken Salad with no dressing + Summer Corn Chowder and of course bread as the side. Brought my own apple to munch on for dessert.

Friday – Easy 45 minute Run + Bonus Spin Class Planned on just running in between working at the research center, getting some writing done at Panera, and my shift at Turnstyle, but found out that I had the opportunity to take a class during my evening shift from one of my favorite instructors and how could I turn that down? Ran easy through the South End streets, and tried to take the 45 minute spin class on the lighter side knowing I had my long run in the morning – but taking Britt’s class easy is almost a joke. Working up a sweat is an understatement and I definitely felt that booty burn afterwards. But so thankful I work in a place where it’s totally cool to spin and then head right back to the job. It was another instructor’s first night, so I ended the shift with a few sips of sparkling rose because life is short.

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How’s that for a work perk?

Saturday – Long Run, 2.5 hours WELL I definitely felt that spin class during my long run this morning. I was a little intimidated by this one as it was the longest one that had been scheduled so far, and based on my previous times with long runs expected that I’d probably end up with close to 15 miles. Intervals worked out to be 1 hour warm up, 30 minutes HR 160-165, 30 minutes HR 165-170, 15 minutes half marathon effort, 15 minute cool down. My legs were tired before the end of the hour long warm up. The 160-165 section wasn’t that hard to maintain listening to music and running along the river, but of course I had just been listening to a podcast all about runner safety and why we SHOULDN’T wear headphones while running… I’m just so conflicted. I know it’s not the safest practice and eventually I would love to be able to run without music but at this point it’s still so motivating for helping me push past the sluggish feeling with burning legs. I also feel pretty safe running in Boston because the areas I run are heavily populated with other runners/bikers/walkers and I generally feel very safe where I choose to run. That said, I definitely have been trying to be more conscious of my surroundings and not running in deserted areas if I’m going to be alone.

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Delicious dinner I credit with powering me through a lot of this run –> Quinoa Pasta with Pinch of Yum Corn Sauce, Baked Salmon, Pan Seared Summer Squash + Feta and Pepitas

Paces ended up like:

  • 1 hour warm up – 10:01/mi
  • HR 160-165: 9:14/mi
  • HR 165-170: 9:08 (note I really was only able to sustain my HR around 167 for most of this)
  • Half marathon effort: 9:18/mi (definitely feeling tired and 100% done with this run at this point… HR average was 169)
  • 15 minute cool down: 12:32/mi jogging/walking

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Fuel-wise, I felt pretty good waking up around 5 after having some delicious quinoa pasta with sweetcorn sauce, zucchini and salmon for dinner the previous night (still salivating over this meal, really — you NEED to make this sauce). Had two rice cakes with nut butter and a banana + 1 tsp or so of honey for good measure about 1.5 hours before heading out. The temps were definitely more moderate Saturday morning and I wasn’t as worried about melting, but the sun was out in full force so I definitely felt the heat toward the end of the 2 hours and was glad I brought the extra sodium chews with me. I ate 3 of the clif chews during the higher-intensity intervals, and also experimented with some more food-based fuel. I brought one of the KIND Pressed bars I had been sent and it ended up working really well as a supplement! I was a little worried about the fiber content (3g per bar), but that didn’t end up being much of an issue as I only had about 1/3 of the bar each time I dipped into it, and the pineapple coconut flavor went really well with my pineapple skratch labs drink mix 🙂 I ate the last 1/3 of the bar when I got home during my stretchout which was a nice treat.

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Ended with 15.3 total miles and very tired legs

Sunday – Active Rest Day Walked a whole bunch. Enjoyed the sun and stopped to try a new (adorable) restaurant with a friend. –> Saltie Girl

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Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad with Puffed Quinoa and Amaranth, Thai Basil and Balsamic Glaze

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Saltie Girl’s THING is tinned fish (love that) and fresh seafood so we split some East Coast Lobsters and some sardines in olive oil and lemon.

Total Weekly Mileage = 27.6 miles

My hip is already feeling MUCH better with the additional exercises and TLC. Fingers crossed I am able to stay on top of other such niggles for the next 2+ months.

Other NEWS –> I made a dedicated food and running Instagram so I can post as often and annoyingly as I want about all the things that make me happy and filled with life. Follow me @abalancedpace ! Annoyingly, I am blocked from following people on that account until Wednesday because apparently it’s frowned upon in Instagram land to follow more than 150 people in one day…? Don’t ask.

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Anything exciting happen in your week? I would love to hear about it!

Do you prefer long or short hair? I am currently loving how cool this short hair cut is keeping me and don’t know why I didn’t take the plunge earlier

New here? Pour yourself a cup of coffee and play catch up:

Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 & Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 & Week 4 | Week 3 

Please take a minute to read about the charity I am running NYC for this year and donate if you would like to support me and my effort to fundraise for Action for Healthy Kids. I need to raise $1,500 by September 1st!

 

Week 10 NYC Marathon Training + Life Update + Bonus Recipe

 

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Here we are — 10 weeks in, 11 to go. Almost half way! I’ve been feeling super motivated (and also very much in awe) watching all the insanely athletic olympians kick ass in Rio. Sportz!

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Rio-Inspired Breakfast Scramble

This heat. Needs. To. Go. Away. I’m so tired of constantly sweating and sticking to furniture, not being able to breathe, etc. etc. On Friday my thermostat in my apartment read 94 degrees. Inside. WHAT. Needless to say there has been a lot of non-cooking going on, lots of fruit, salads, ice cream, and literally anything that takes no heat to make. Even pantry snacks like nuts seemed too hot to eat sometimes. So far, my mileage hasn’t been that crazy so my appetite has been pretty much where I started at baseline (besides my long run days where I feel like I could literally eat all day), though this past week I’ve had more than a few bottomless pit episodes…runger here I come. You can bet it’s gonna be out in full force once the cool air of fall hits…. (If it ever comes… please come back, fall!)

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Training Recap (Credit to Heather for the Plan)

Monday: Spin Class + Core Work 

Took my workout back to Turnstyle for a morning spin class that was full of leg-burning hills and perfectly high energy. I always leave these classes on some kind of high. I love it. Followed up with a 30 minute core workout at home.

Tuesday: Group Run + Yoga

Nope. Got stuck at work on a phone call that kept me downtown until 7:15pm and the run was all the way up in Cambridge at 7:30pm. No-can-do. I had planned to leave work just before 7 and hop on the T to make it in time, but ended up feeling pretty burnt out by the end of the day anyway. Thought about just running on my own back at home, but figured I’d be in better shape if I just took the day off and saved my legs for tomorrow’s hills. Did a lovely Yoga With Adrienne stretching routine for Sore Legs which was perfect.

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Uh oh, I bought some crack at the grocery store…. Vanilla Life were $1.99 and yes, they are very tasty

Wednesday: Hill Repeats

Luckily my neighborhood is known for its hills, so finding a good one was not such a hard task. Started with a 20 minute jog to warm up and completed 6 runs up a residential hill, with light jogging/walking down it between each set. The Hill was about 1/4 mile long and each round up I focused on engaging my core, legs, and glutes to push me ahead with strong strides. Even though it was tough work, it was one of those workouts that felt super rewarding. Each round up was short – about 2-3 minutes, so I was able to push myself hard with comfort in the fat that I would have an easy jog back down. I felt like the training I had already done, spinning and strength and running over moderate hills during all of my runs, definitely prepared me here and I actually enjoyed the burn. Felt fine all day but damn when I woke up the next morning my booty was definitely feeling sore.

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Another fav. Made a batch of tuna with just a few tablespoons of this dressing mixed in and it added some bomb flavor. Delicious on crackers, with pepper slices, or in a pita pocket!

Thursday: Crosstraining

Did 45 minutes of easy cardio on the elliptical, increasing resistance from 11-15 over the course and pedaling to the beat of the music while watching the olympics!

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The perfect no-heat recipe: Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Cilantro and Green Pepper on a bed or crisp romaine lettuce. With corn chips on the side for scooping!

Friday: Easy 45

Took this one inside to the treadmill because remember what I said about it being 94 degrees INSIDE? yeah, apparently on Friday the heat index was upwards of 110 degrees with all the humidity so there was no way I was wasting energy and life slowly dying for an easy run. Ended up being a pretty solid decision because it’s a lot easier for me to control my heart rate on the treadmill and keeping it under 155 was no problem. I also was able to watch most of the Women’s Olympic Soccer match between USA and Sweden before the tragic ending – so this one was a win!

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Drinking this stuff like it’s going out of style. Heat and humidity life saver if you like bubbles like I do.

Saturday: Long Run, 2 hours 15 minutes

This was a first for me – ran with a running buddy! Somehow, after Friday’s oppressive heat, the heavens opened up and graced the city of Boston with temps in the low 70s. I was almost shocked leaving my house, which was still about 20 degrees warmer than outside, in a tank top. Couldn’t have asked for better weather for this run, really. It was a little humid but definitely a small price to pay for being able to run a little later in the morning (read: not at 5am) and not melt in scorching heat. I met my running buddy, who happens to be moving down to Knoxville, TN TODAY, in Harvard Square and we headed north to one of my new favorite paths — super shaded and woodsy for most of the whole way. Of course, he is a good FOOT taller than me so I felt kinda bad dragging him along (lol Will if you’re reading this, hey!) at my slow warm up pace, and definitely could tell that I was running a little faster than I would have if I were solo. Tried soo hard to slow down and keep my HR under 155 like I was supposed to, but stayed right between 155 and 160 for most of this leg. He was great enough to stick with my pace basically the whole way and it was awesome to be able to spend a sweaty couple hours getting a good run in for his send-off from New England. BUT I don’t think I’ll be running many of these long runs with a partner again because it’s just too hard for me to truly check in with my body and respond. I felt more burnt out from this run in my legs than any of my previous long runs which weren’t all that different, and I think it’s because I ran too hard during the first hour. After that first hour, we did 3 x 15 minutes of half-marathon effort, which I think I again overshot – especially the first one. Finished up with 20 minutes of cool down by the Charles where I really started to feel the lactic acid in my legs. I had a 30 minute walk home from saying goodbye which helped loosen up some of the tightness — motion is lotion, as they say. Got home and rolled out some of the tough spots right away. I had a pint of Arctic Zero in my freezer (going back to the dark side here but so far so good…) that was calling my name. It ended up being the purrrrfect refueling immediately post run – super cold, super refreshing, and full of a decent balance of carbs and protein. Definitely not the most wholesome post run option but it did the trick and honestly felt amazing.

For fueling during the run, I brought along my usual 20 oz water bottle with a full scoop of Skratch and brought a packet of the high sodium clif chews since I figured I’d probably be sweating buckets in the humidity. I ate one every 30 minutes up until the cool down, 3 total. Before leaving, I made sure to get a bit more energy in me than last weekend and toasted up a slice of whole grain bread with some homemade cashew butter and half a banana and ate it about 1.5 hours before the run.

I am feeling inspired to try my hand at maybe making some running fuel to bring with me on runs? Something along the lines of energy balls or easy-to-chew dried fruit snacks, instead of leaning on all this refined sugar every Saturday. Hopefully with this much time left before race day I can come up with something my body likes and that also keeps my blood sugar from going to whacko.

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I prefer salads the size of my head, please and thanks. This one had fresh romaine, watermelon, feta and mint with raspberry vinegar drizzled on top. Super satisfying and hydrating. (Clothing is obviously optional in my apartment these days)

Sunday: 45 minute Jog/Walk

I ended up walking all of this because after the first 10 minutes of walking my heart rate was already at 150. What?! I was so confused, and thought maybe my watch was going on the fritz – since it’s already having trouble with my manual laps. But it’s possible there’s a physiological reason here too — maybe I was still dehydrated from yesterday, though I didn’t feel thirsty and made sure to drink lots of fluids on Saturday. Maybe since my run was particularly hard, my body was still under stress and was trying to recover and my heart rate reflected that. Whatever the case, I did not run and kept my HR right around 150-160 which it did on its own while I walked at an easy pace. CRAZY. and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad sign but we’ll see how it looks tomorrow.

Total Miles = 27.3

So far still so good! My legs are still holding up, feet feeling tired after long runs but better with rest. My glutes and lower back always seem to tighten up so I am continuing to focus on these areas with foam rolling and yoga, and strengthening my core and glute muscles with crosstraining. Thanks to my glorious A/C unit that I finally installed in my window, sleep has been no problemo.. though I am really looking forward to the nights where I can leave the window open and let the fresh air lull me to sleep…

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So excited to make some of these delicious recipes!! Some really great ideas in here (full review coming soon!)

Life Update!

Wait, I do things besides run? Haha. Sometimes. I forgot to mention this a few weeks back (and shoot this is also running related…) but I ended up registering last minute for the BAA Half entry lottery and got in! So I have that to look forward to on my calendar on October 9th – just about one month before my marathon. I’m probably not going to PR in this one as I’m going to use it to practice my marathon pacing, and will most definitely be running slower than my previous races. But it will be great to have a day to practice pre-race and during-race fueling, pacing, music vs. no music… all that jazz. Plus, the BAA Half is lots of fun and they have a great medal and shirts so I’m glad it worked out! I wanted to try to get into a half that I hadn’t already done, but it was so hard to find one at a good time that wouldn’t require a bunch of travel and lodging arrangements. Even though the bib price of the BAA half is higher than a lot of other races, I’ll end up saving a bunch of money not having to pay for somewhere to sleep, a car rental for a full weekend, and a lot of stress associated with all of the above.

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Haha I WISH I was eating gelato for breakfast at work. I had fun pretending with this batch of oats and chia soaked in milk with a half scoop of protein powder – Kept me full for hourssss which is always nice when talking about the weird and delicious food people ate all day at work.

I also have some random news… I am now an ordained minister! Anyone want to get married? I can do that for you! My best friend from college recently got engaged and is planning a small ceremony at the end of the month with her Fiance, and they asked me if I would officiate the ceremony with one of the groom’s best friends. Before this summer, the thought of getting ordained seemed way out there – but my friends who got married earlier this summer had the groom’s dad get ordained to officiate their ceremony, and my cousin is having her brother get ordained to officiate her ceremony next year. Hopping on the new trend, I guess! But I am SO excited, and so honored to have such a major role in the start of their life together ❤ I’ll be flying out to Chicago and Madison at the end of the month for a last minute vacation before school starts up again in the fall and am so grateful I’ll get to see all my most special friends again!! I miss them out in Boston every single day. My official ordination materials are apparently in the mail, and now I have to start figuring out what I’m going to actually say during the ceremony…. EEP

Bonus Recipe!

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I have always loved sweet potatoes, and normally just steam them up in the microwave to cook them, cut em open and stuff them full of lots of goodies like black beans, other veg, greek yogurt, apples, berries, peanut butter…. all the things. Sweet potatoes are a great vehicle for many flavor combos. But recently I started seeing these sweet potato breakfast bowls popping up – almost like oatmeal. I knew I wanted to give it a try because hello sweet potatoes are BOMB and the idea of having a starchy veg be the base of a breakfast meal is something I can definitely get behind. Well, it ended up being a major success. Definitely adding this to my breakfast repertoire and breaking it out frequently during cooler mornings. I’m sure you could make this ahead of time and stick it in the fridge and eat it cold like an overnight oats deal – that is going to be the next thing I test. This is another recipe that literally comes together in minutes, but I think you’ll get the best success if you take the time to fully bake the potatoes in the oven so they get nice and soft inside and the skin is easier to remove. I like to wrap my potatoes in foil and stick them in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Bake a full batch and you have breakfast ready to go for the whole week!

Without further ado, here is how I pulled this beaut together:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium or 2 small sweet potatoes, baked and skins removed (feel free to save the skin for something else, don’t waste all those nutrients!
  • 1/2 scoop (15g) protein powder of choice* – I used PEScience Select Protein Blondie flavor
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice – I used 1% dairy milk
  • Cinnamon
  • Toppings of choice: Banana, berries, apple, peach, chia seeds, cacao nibs, dark chocolate, coconut, nuts, nut butters, coconut oil; the base of this is primarily starchy carbohydrates and protein so feel free to add some healthy fats here

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Directions:

  • In a bowl, mash baked sweet potato into a mush.
  • Add protein powder and milk, and stir until completely combined
  • Microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring every minute or so
  • Top with cinnamon, toppings of choice and enjoy!

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*If you don’t have protein powder at home, you could easily sub in one egg white here – just make sure you really stir to combine so the egg is completely mixed in and you don’t end up with bits of egg white scramble mixed in with your potato bowl!

Not a fan of bananas and nut butter? (Who are you!?) Here are a few other flavor combos that sound absolutely delicious

Pumpkin Pie: Pumpkin pie spice + Pecans + Apples (try microwaving them with cinnamon for 30 seconds before adding to the mix!) + Vanilla yogurt

Tropical Vaca: Coconut Flakes (unsweetened) + Mango slices + Cashews + Coconut milk

Mexi-Cali: Make it savory and omit the flavored protein powder. Add black beans + avocado + sautéed peppers + greek yogurt + chili powder and lime juice

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I’m so excited just to have this day to lounge around and watch the olympics, make some food for the week and reset.

Have you guys been watching Rio? What has been your favorite event to watch? Anything you guys are still looking forward to?

Do you tend to prefer sweet or savory for breakfast? I tend to prefer sweet but there are definitely days when nothing but savory will do. Luckily, sweet potatoes fit both of the bills!

HELP ME REACH $1,500 BY SEPTEMBER 1ST!

 

Week 9 NYC Marathon Training

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Woop woop! 9 weeks down, 12 to go, I think? Tried to keep this short and sweet but ended up writing a short novel. Insert eye roll emoji. This week was more yoga, bodyweight training, and tempo runs with one 2 hour and 15 minute long run on Saturday. My original plan got switched around a bit because I heard about this free running event on Sunday hosted by the city of Somerville Arts Council that was a partnership between a local running club and strength training studio. Originally, I was mapped out to have a day of walking on Sunday to shake out my long run, but instead we switched that day to Friday and my coach made some adjustments to the structure of the long run with Sunday’s 3.1 mile run in the works.

Weather wise, this week was not so bad! Really some ideal summer weather for the most part, and we FINALLY got some rain out here in Boston – the grass in some places is so dry you can hardly call it grass anymore. I hate seeing that. But the heat came back with a vengeance, just in time for the weekend.

Week 9 Training Plan

Monday : Cross Training + Body Weight Exercises

Took this cross training workout to the gym since I had used up my last spin class from my package the previous week. I was feeling pretty lackluster late in the afternoon and did 45 minutes on the elliptical with a routine I used to do all the time in college (throwback!): 7 minutes with moderate resistance (10-12) followed by 3 minutes of heavy resistance (17-20) pedaling backward, repeated for 45 minutes. Helps to make the time go by faster to split up the workout with intervals.

Body weight workout (2 Sets)

  • 15 air squats
  • 1 min forearm plank hold
  • 15 lunges (each leg)
  • 1 min forearm plank hold
  • 15 side lunges (each side)
  • 1 min forearm plank hold

Tuesday : Yoga for Runners + Fun Group Run

It was my last week with Wellness in Motion‘s introductory week! So I knew I had to get to a yoga for runners class. This one was an hour of really chill stretching and hip opening. Wasn’t much of a work out or core-burner, but I was fine with that given my run afterward. Shout out to Brittany for leading a great class.

I made the promise to myself that I would FINALLY make it to a Runfellow run this week since they were starting out of a brewery really close to my apartment (the same one I actually hosted my fundraiser at that last Friday, who I now love and share true loyalty) and I happened to have to voucher for a free drink sooooo it made the decision a lot easier. I am so glad I went! I had a ton of fun, there were WAY more people there than I expected, but after talking with some of the regulars that seems to be pretty normal for the summer. This group runs out of Somerville/Cambridge every Tuesday, and out of Boston every Thursday. They start and end at various restaurants/bars and are always followed by optional food/drinks and a fun social hour. Their motto is “I Like Your Pace,” and everyone is encouraged to run at their own personal pace. Everyone stands in a high-five funnel as every runner finishes, so each and every person gets cheered into the group. It really was such a great vibe. I’ll definitely be trying to be more regular with this group because I’ve already met quite a few awesome people!

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Can you find me? 🙂

Despite the “I Like Your Pace” motto, I started off running in a pack of runners that were really pushing it out of the gates. I tried to run at a comfortable pace, but my heart rate wasn’t having it. I was up in the 170s off the bat, and got down to the low 160s eventually. I let people pass me, and chatted with some of the runners who were running at my pace. It helped to stop at stoplights along the way when I felt like I was going too fast. It’s hard to listen to your body when you’re running with fast runners! Overall the run felt great and I feel like I eventually was able to pace myself nicely, and push a bit towards the end because who doesn’t like sprinting to a finish? 🙂 Next time I’ll definitely try to pay more mind to my pace, and try to put the race mentality out of my head running in a group.

There were so many people there that the crowd at the bar at the end was insane! I ended up sticking around for some watermelon and pizza, but decided not to stick around for the beer – plenty of other opportunities to use the voucher I’m sure 🙂 Total = 3.84 miles

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Wednesday : 1 Hour Tempo Run

15 min warm-up (HR under 155)
25 min @ 10k effort
10 min cool-down

This run felt amazing – it was a gloriously cool morning and I was excited to again be able to run a bit faster than usual. Started off listening to a podcast to keep my pace and HR down, and switched to my running playlist that is a treat to listen to now-a-days for the 10k effort leg. I tried not to pay attention to my heart rate during this portion and just push myself to run by feel. I wasn’t really paying attention to any particular pace either, just running to the music and enjoying the weightless feeling and cooler air. I was kind of surprised to see the 8:08 pace average (probably wouldn’t run a whole 10k at that speed) but I’ll take it! Got my heart rate down without walking too much at the end of this run which was awesome to see. Ended up walking the last 5 minutes. Total = 5.55 miles

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Thursday : Yoga + Core Exercises

Got in my last class at WIM over the lunch hour, with a Yoga for Athletes that was super intense. Not in a hard workout way, but our instructor had us twisting and balancing a lot and holding the poses for a long time. I could tell she knew what she was doing and the poses were all very targeted toward the hips, spine, and core. I had a super weird experience and got the sensation of being really cold all throughout my body during one of the deeper balancing twists. I asked the instructor about this afterward and she said she thought I might have activated my parasympathetic nervous system somehow and initiated a cooling response? Crazy! I do have pretty low blood pressure at baseline and it could also have been related to that since we were doing a lot of inversions as well. Whatever it was, it certainly didn’t feel normal.

Came home and rolled out my yoga mat at home for the rest of the core work I had to do. Completed 3 sets and finally started to feel like I could get through the 50 second mountain climber section without collapsing. Literally killer.

Was nice to know I didn’t have a run the next morning so you can bet I enjoyed this delicious cider after dinner.

Friday : Walk it Out!

Used today to walk a bunch, to work, to the park, back home, etc. – had about 20,000 steps by bedtime. Beautiful day!

Saturday : Long Run!

THE PLAN:

90 min easy (HR under 155)
20 min @ 8:45-9:00
5 min recovery
5 min @ 10K effort
15 min cool-down

THE RUN:

I was underprepared for this run in a few ways. First, I was expecting it to feel a lot easier than it did – definitely underestimated how tired my legs would feel after 90 minutes of easy running. Second, I forgot to pick up more honey stingers so I only had the half of a pack left over from my run last weekend, which was shorter. I was up on the later side Friday night watching the opening ceremonies and had been snacking until around 9:30 or so, so I didn’t wake up terribly hungry at 5am. I decided to try one of these bars I found at my fav. local grocery store recently, and was so happily surprised with how tasty it was. The ingredients are Dates, butter, sugar, wheat flour, cranberries, egg, water, corn starch, vanilla flavor and salt — kind of like a little cookie. For 140 calories, 6g fat, 19g carbs (2g fiber and 14g sugar) and 2g of protein, they provide a nice boost of energy. The company is from New Zealand so they’re automatically winners.

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I ended up having this an hour before leaving though, which was too long to wait. By the time I was 15 minutes in to the run I was already feeling hungry. And I only had a half pack of honey stingers that I had to hoard for later on in the run when I would really ned them. Not good. Thankfully I had a full scoop of skratch labs drink mix in my water bottle which has some decent carbs in it that kept me going. I ended up making it without bonking or anything, and the 6 honey stinger chews I had left kept me going with energy to spare, but I definitely learned an important lesson in making sure I have enough fuel in me before heading out on longer runs because that feeling of hunger is not something that I want to be experiencing 15 miles into a marathon. As my coach said in her feedback, “if you’re hungry on a run (this probably goes without saying), you’re under-fueled for the task at hand. Marathon training digs a big energy hole that can be hard to climb out of if you don’t catch it early.” Good to note, Heather!!

Physically I felt OK on this run. Definitely tired (and it was humid AF) for the most of it and the faster paces were tough, but I got through them! By the end, I could feel a little nagging in my right knee (this pretty much went away right afterward and hasn’t bothered me since). Just guessing that this could possibly be related to my running form during the 90 minutes easy at the beginning, where I often feel like I’m literally dragging my feet to keep my heart rate down, compared to my faster paced sections where I feel lighter on my feet. Will be paying more attention to running form/cadence at the lower heart rate moving forward.

My watch did a dumb thing (or I did a dumb thing) and ended the workout while I was trying to change the display from pace back to heart rate. So I don’t have a pretty picture of all my splits to show you. Boo hoo. Total = 13.4 miles

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When I got home I made sure I refueled right away! I put a 1/2 scoop of my PEScience  Blondie protein (so good, and I think it’s still on sale) in with some 1% milk and had that with about a cup of Trader Joe’s Cheerios. After about an hour and a half, when I was feeling hungry again, I made myself a huge egg scramble “toast” with chard, summer squash and onion, and had it with a banana (pictured in yesterday’s post as well). Yum yum yum x3

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Sunday : Fun Run

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The local run ended up being just under a 5k at 11am in the hot hot heat and included a killer hill at the end. There were about 12 people who participated, and we all did an active warm-up together led by one of the trainers from The Training Room. Prior to the run, he presented about the importance of incorporating a strength training routine into a running training program, something I can definitely get behind! It was nice to get a few new active warm up moves into my repertoire – they all focused on activating the core and getting the legs nice and loose and ready to go. Afterward I laid around by the river, snacked on an RX Bar (This one was so good) and took it nice and easy watching the Olympics for the rest of the night.

Highs

  1. Having a blast at my first Runfellow run, meeting the founder, and getting a slice of delicious free pizza! (Free pizza for president)
  2. Two really deep yoga sequences that left me feeling mucho rejuvenated and flexy flexy.
  3. Watching the Olympics!! The TV has pretty much been on 24/7 while we are home and I’m so excited to watch all of the events as the happen the next few weeks. So far the swimming and gymnastics have been obvious highlights, but I also really enjoyed watching rugby, volleyball and the Men’s bike racing — wasn’t able to watch the Women’s race which was probably a good thing…

Lows

  1. HEAT WAVE IS BACK. Again. I’m ready for fall.
  2. Under-fueling that long run on Saturday was kinda a bummer, but not a disaster. Thank God.
  3. Don’t know if this counts but I think I definitely had one alcoholic drink every day this week… Just one of those weeks where it felt right, ya know? Actually this definitely counts as a low because now I’m out of that delicious cider.

Bonus Jam: Old Guitar – BUNT