Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's Eve, Runners!

Oh my gosh, y'all! Where does the time go around the holidays? Hot damn have I been busy! I have tons and tons of updates coming soon to a google reader near you . . . but for now, I just wanted to say Happy New Year before it gets too late (a la Christmas)! Be safe tonight, kiddies! May 2009 bring you all kinds of running goodness (and may it also somehow bring me more hours in the day!) :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tricky, Tricky

Last night I had a speed session on the schedule that almost didn't happen . . . in more ways than one. You see, this week has been busy, busy, busy at work. Throughout the work-day yesterday, I debated back and forth about whether I really had time to squeeze the session in or not. Ultimately, though, I decided I was getting that speed session in . . . even if it meant having to stay at work until 3 a.m. (which it practically did).

Around 9 p.m., I finally got to a good stopping point in the project I was working on and headed over to the gym. I quickly changed and then took a look at my trusty schedule as I approached the 'mill . . . 10-minute warm-up + 1600m + 1600m + 800m + 800m + 10-minute cool-down (with 400m rest intervals). I took the first 1600 at an 8:00/mile pace. I finished it (barely) and suddenly became very cognizant of the fact that I was BEYOND exhausted. I slowed to a walk and silently wondered how the hell I was going to get through the rest of the workout without dying. A huge mental battle ensued.

As the 400m rest interval sped by, I tried bargaining with myself. These bargains, of course, all involved cutting the workout short, considering I'd definitively made up my mind that it would be "impossible" to finish. 400m of rest turned into 800m before I knew it--oops!--and at that point, I knew I had a decision to make. I could call it quits and get back to work, or I could crank the speed up on the 'mill and attempt another interval of some sort. I ultimately decided that if I did one more 1600 at a slightly more relaxed 8:13 pace, I could be done for the day. I pushed myself through that 1600 and smiled triumphantly. I was done!

But can you believe it? I soon found out that my tricky ass had actually fooled me! It was going to make me do one of the 800m intervals before I could quit. Luckily, I was promised that that would be it. The 400m rest interval came and went, and it was time to tackle that first (and last, I assumed) 800m. I finished it in 3:57 and was again happy to be DONE! But was I? Nope. My super mean inner coach was all like, "Um, that was pretty easy, no? After this 400m of rest, you are doing another one . . . only this time, you're going to finish it in 3:54." How could I argue with that? As the rest period drew to a close, my attitude about that last 800m suddenly changed . . . I was--gasp!--actually excited about it! That's when I knew I had finally lost my mind. But nonetheless, I pumped that treadmill up to 7.7 and kicked that 800's bootay. 'Cuz that? That is how I roll!

Before I knew it, the 800m interval had ended and it was time to cool down. I dropped my pace back down and thought for a moment about how impossible finishing the workout had seemed not so very long ago . . . and how I ended up finishing it feeling really strong. Interesting. So perhaps all these times I've been telling myself "I can't", I really could have, eh? It was a very big moment for me, I think. I am SO glad I finished that workout. Here's to a small but significant increase in mental toughness! Go me :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Last Week . . . In Review

First off, I have to congratulate my college buddy, Jon, on a recent accomplishment. He is on a quest to eventually BQ, and he just ran a 1:32:32 half-marathon out in L.A. this past weekend. Not only is that a ridiculously speedy time, BUT it's a 23-MINUTE PR for him!!! Think about that for a second . . . a 23-minute PR for the half-marathon--how amazing is that? I am REALLY proud of him, and I think it's safe to say he is well on his way to getting that BQ. You're a rock star, Jonny Boy!! Keep up the good work :)

Next, I'm going to recap my running/training over the past week. It went something like this:

Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 8 x 400 at 7:19 pace with 1:30 rest intervals, core work
Wednesday: 2-miles easy (10:09) + 30 minutes elliptical
Thursday: 40 minutes elliptical
Friday: 1-mile easy (10:09 pace) + 1-mile mid-tempo (8:34 pace) + 1-mile easy + 1-mile MT + 1-mile easy
Saturday: 3.5 hours of pick-up soccer in Prospect Park
Sunday: Too sore to move = no long run

Let me tell you, I was SERIOUSLY hurting on Sunday after all that cold-weather soccer on Saturday. But? It was worth it. I'd forgotten how fun soccer is. And how good it makes me feel about myself. For whatever reason, I've just always felt really confident in my soccer-playing abilities. Despite the fact that I was one of just two girls playing in our pick-up games on Saturday, I was not at all intimidated. I love that I can feel like I'm just one of the guys when I'm playing, and I really hope that one day I can get to that same place with my running. Since suffering through the Los Angeles Marathon, I feel like I almost expect to fail when I tackle a race. Not this time. There are no excuses. The Austin Half-Marathon is mine. I can feel it. This will be the race that turns everything around for me. 2 months, 6 days and counting . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

11/30 Long Run Report and 12/2 Speed training

The short version? Mission: Fail. But considering I've left some loose ends untied, I suppose I should back-track and explain a little more about my shoulder/elbow/arm situation. Well, I never made it back to the doctor . . . I know, I know . . . Bad Irish! But I was just too busy in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, and since then, it's actually been feeling better enough that I think it might just be healing. I'm still in pain, but mostly just after strenuous physical activity (including running--awesome). . . but even that is much more tolerable these days. So, being the genius I am, I've decided to throw myself into half-marathon training mode. Wilson seems dead set on running the Austin Marathon in February despite my "oops, I fell down the stairs" set-back, and while I'm realistic enough to realize I'll never get into good enough shape to do the same, I figured it might just be the perfect opportunity to improve upon my lousy half-marathon PR.

Because we were lazy bums throughout most of the Thanksgiving weekend, Wilson and I didn't get around to tackling our respective long runs until Sunday . . . when, of course, it was raining some sort of freezing rain/wintery mix crap. Awesome. Wilson had 12-miles on the schedule, and I figured I would try to tackle 10 of those miles with him. I started the run as that annoying hyper-active running partner--I was dancing and singing along to my ipod--just generally being obnoxious. I swear, Wilson must have wanted to kill me! We continued on, and all was going well until about mile-6, when all of a sudden, it felt like a) a wave of exhaustion had just overcome me, and b) my lungs were under siege. I ended up capping my run at 7 miles and walking part of that last mile. Boo hiss. But oh well, at least I got a long-ish run in, I suppose . . . I still have ten weeks to go until race day, so I figure I should be fine by then if I keep increasing my long runs.

In related news, yesterday was a speed-training session full of lessons. Lesson 1: Do not stuff your gut with swedish fish (curse you, you delicious little beasts!) shortly before attempting speed training. Lesson 2: Do not try to be lazy when doing speed-work . . . it will likely come back to bite you. Case in point . . . I brought my dorky little McMillan calculator print-out to the gym with me yesterday so I could be sure to time my 400s just right. I attempted to run 8 x 400m at the slower end of my time range as prescribed by McMillan . . . hehe, I felt lazy, whatever! Thinking I was taking it easy, I was shocked to discover that finishing my intervals was a HUGE challenge! I kept thinking to myself as I gasped for air, "Why on earth does this seem so difficult?" I decided to gut it out, figuring that my extended absence from speed work was to blame. As I ran my last 400, I started to think my legs might give out and shoot me off the back of the treadmill for all the ellipticallers behind me to witness. I thought about cutting the interval short, but instead decided to fight through to the end.

When it was finally over, I slowed to a walk, and tried my hardest to a) keep my swedish fish down, b) keep my footing despite my all-but-dead legs and c) settle my breathing and heart-rate down. I finished out a mile long cool-down and then stepped off of the treadmill triumphantly. I picked up my McMillan timetable and, upon taking a quick glance at it, realized that I had just run the "middle-distance runner" time instead of the "long-distance runner" time. Now, I don't expect everyone to have studied that thing as diligently as I have, so what that means is that I actually took each of my intervals 5 seconds faster than I was supposed to! 5 seconds may not seem like much of a difference, but if you do the math, it's actually 20 seconds per mile faster--quite an increase in pace!! Oops! As dumb as I felt, I was excited to know that I had completed an extra difficult work-out . . . 8 x 400 at a 7:18 pace. Hooray! To celebrate, I grabbed an exercise ball and attempted to kill my abs. It was fantastic!

In fact, this work-out was so amazing, I woke up at 5:30 this morning to find Wilson getting ready to head out for some speed training of his own, and I became seriously envious! I was still high on endorphins from the night before, so I asked him if I could run with him to the track and then just run easy laps while he did his speed training. Sadly, he wasn't headed to the track, but was doing a run that had him running timed intervals--I never would have been able to keep up with him. Boo. I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I was actually really disappointed! Oh well, I'll get my easy run in tonight after work. It feels so good to be back in training, I can't even tell you . . . my shoulder hurt a bit last night after my work-out, but it was a lot better by this morning. I'll take a little pain if it means I get to train :)

Now, if only I could get someone to take these horrible, awful, sweet, delicious swedish fish away from me! Hope you are all having happy hump days!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Turkey Day Report!!

Did everyone have as delicious and blissful a Thanksgiving as I did? Mmm . . . I am drooling all over myself just thinking about it! Wilson and I decided to pass on the stress of travelling to see either of our families this year and instead stayed home in Brooklyn for Thanksgiving. I think it was a very wise decision (although our families probably wouldn't agree--sorry, guys!).

Wednesday night I carried on the three-year tradition of being the absolute last person at my firm to leave the office. It wasn't too late--around 7:00 p.m.--but when everyone else had left at 2, it sure as hell seemed late!! I rushed home to find Wilson working on the brine for the turkey with a pot of mulled cider warming up in the crock pot. YUMMY. We mixed in a little
applejack and our holiday was underway.

Like Laura, I had a detailed chart dictating my every cullinary move (hooray for being nerdy!). Wednesday night called for baking sour cream biscuits and pumpkin pie, making homemade cranberry sauce and preparing the corn casserole so that I could simply pop it in the oven the next day. I gleefully got to work and continued to do so until every last item on that list had been checked off. It was after 10:00 p.m. before Wilson and I realized that with all the excitement surrounding prepping/cooking/baking our first Thanksgiving meal, we'd failed to grab anything to make for dinner! What were we to do? Luckily, we are runners . . . meaning, we always have pasta on stand-by. We cooked up some gnocchi, did the dishes and called it a night.

Thanksgiving itself actually turned out nearly perfect, if I do say so myself. As a result of getting shut-out of our local 5-mile Turkey Trot (geez, Brooklyn! Didn't you hear that the entire point of Thanksgiving is laziness and gluttony?), we got to sleep in until 9 AM, which was a nice treat for sure. We got up and Wilson started with the turkey, while I went to town making my homemade egg noodles from scratch. I don't get why more people don't do this . . . it's so easy! Oh wait . . . maybe it's the fact that it takes like three centuries to make the damn things! Riiiight. But the deliciousness more than makes up for it, I promise! I got those suckers made up and hung them out to dry, all while taking in a bit of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the boob-tube and drinking coffee with a splash of eggnog. Pure bliss!

With my first task accomplished, I relaxed and watched some shitty football for a while (seriously, Lions . . . just forfeit the rest of the season and save yourselves the embarrassment!) and ate a delicious but light lunch of cabbage soup, leftover from earlier in the week. I also squeezed in a little online shopping and a nice, long shower. Then around 3:00, it was time to get serious! I got the gravy/sauce/soup concoction that I cook my noodles in ready and cranked up the crock-pot . . . then I peeled and cooked some potatoes. While the potatoes were boiling, I started making my delicious cranberry-apple-sausage stuffing . . . toasted the bread and cooked up some sausage and onions. I then took a well-deserved Budweiser tall-boy break while I forced Wilson to chop up the remaining ingredients for the stuffing.

I threw the collard greens on the stove--ham-hocks and all--just in the nick of time (or so I thought!) . . . then mashed my potatoes up with butter, sour cream and cream cheese (SO good!!). I mixed all of the ingredients for my stuffing together, looked at the clock and realized I was RIGHT ON SCHEDULE! You know what they say . . . there's a first for everything! And my hard work and dedication were rewarded with . . . a delinquent a-hole of a turkey. That stubborn bird just didn't seem to want to cook (or perhaps conversely our $30 smoker didn't want to smoke)! So I waited . . . and I waited . . . and I waited. Everything besides the turkey was ready to go; I just had to wait for the go-ahead from Wilson. He promised he'd give me 45 minutes warning so I could throw the potatoes, stuffing and corn casserole in the oven.

Wouldn't you know, we ended up watching the entire first season of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" before that bird heated up enough for us to safely devour him (hilarious show, by the way! I highly recommend it!)! Finally, around 9:00 p.m., we had our Thanksgiving feast laid out on the table. Doesn't it look heavenly?

And because I'm super proud of my masterpiece side-dishes/pie (and Wilson's yummy smoked turkey too!) . . . I am going to force you to look at close-ups of all of our trimmings!

Collard Greens (pre-ham-hock removal--it looks cooler that way!)

Corn casserole.

Baked mashed potatoes.

Cran-apple-sausage stuffing.

Sour cream biscuits.

Cranberry sauce.

Smoked turkey.

Pumpkin pie!

And finally, a photo of my loaded plate . . . please note the big fluffy homemeade noodles on top of the mashed potatoes . . . apparently I forgot to take a picture of them to post above. They are SO good.

After seeing our delicious spread, the cat was not so happy about her own Thanksgiving dinner. I gloated all night about how the tables had turned and my cat was finally jealous of ME (but we were nice and gave her a little turkey anyway). Here she is, trying to figure out why her meal sucks so much:

I can't believe I'm about to post this, but I took the following self-portrait after Thanksgiving dinner in an attempt to express just how stuffed I was . . . sadly, Wilson and I were unable to bounce back from our glutton-fest before passing out, and thus, the pumpkin pie went untouched . . . (until Friday, that is)! Here is my "I'm stuffed and possibly about to vomit" face:

And this next photo is my "I am the Thanksgiving champion!" pose (can I just mention how damned hot it is in our apartment now that the heat has come on? HOT. I've never heard of anyone having that problem in a NYC apartment, but whatever. On a related note, please don't think that I ALWAYS wear crap like that . . . I had on a very cute dressy outfit before our apartment spontaneously turned into a broiler, I promise!)

Here is poor Wilson, taking care of dish duty for the umpteenth time that day:

And finally, the cat (Nico) was seriously tuckered out by Thanksgiving (damn tryptophan!) . . . and, I think, possibly affected by some sort of heat illness. This was the result:

Hope you all had wonderful Turkey Days! I'll be back soon with a long run report for this weekend.