Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I was Scared, so I did it

This week, when Helly wrote about her 1600s, I responded with this:
This is such a great example of how fellow runners and bloggers really inspire each other!
My speed work consists of 400s, 800s, and bridge repeats. Once in awhile I'll throw in a tempo run, but I have avoided 1600 repeats because they freak me out. The idea of holding a really fast pace for a full mile again and again is just daunting!

But Tuesday was gray and drizzly, and I had that blog post and my comment bouncing around in my head, and I just decided that's it. I know I can hold a good, fast pace in a 5k because I did it not too long ago, so why do 1600s scare me so much?

I decided to finally try them out.
I told Elizabeth we'd aim for a 9:00 pace; I wanted to be conservative because I had no idea what to expect.
I was thrilled with the outcome! They weren't the fastest - in fact, they felt a little easy and I know now that I could have pushed harder; I never know what my limit is going to be when I try new speed work - but I felt so strong for conquering my fear and trying a new workout!
Next time I'll aim for a more consistent <8:40 pace the entire time.
Of course, now this means we'll have to repeat it at some point; I've opened a can of worms. But I was reminded of how invincible a good, successful, challenging workout can make you feel!
Also, our park added a sign demarcating it various routes and their distances, which is a nice little addition!
The breezy, rainy weather definitely helped, but I'm feeling a little better every day about crushing this 10k no matter the weather. My body just feels stronger and more capable than it has in a long time, and I'm excited to see my hard work pay off. Hopefully it pays off in the long run for longer distances, too.

Tell me about a workout you crushed that raised your spirits!
What's your favorite distance for repeats?
Who has inspired you lately?


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Weekly Workouts 8/22-8/28

Monday: Elizabeth and I christened my "gym" with a nice pilates workout. After our 8-miler the night before, deep stretching and strengthening was just what we needed.
Tuesday: We did a bridge workout that felt particularly hard, maybe because the heat index was 102. I don't have much to say on this one except that it was tough and I was glad when it was over!
Even the sunset and sky look hot!
Wednesday: We tried a new workout video that I ended up really liking! This cardio boxing video kept our heart rates up and really felt like good work. We were both surprised by how much we liked this video, and I was totally satisfied at the end!
Thursday: The weather gave us a little break for our first easy run of the week. We tried a couple new paths on the golf course and kept a nice, steady pace in the mid-9s. It was overcast and very windy - there's a hurricane of some kind brewing out in the ocean and we're starting to see some effects of it already - so I think that helped.
Average pace: 9:37.
I'm always secretly worried we'll get in trouble for running on the course, but Thursday we finally seemed to get the "okay" from one of the groundskeepers. We had paused briefly for water at the driving range when he drove by and offered us cups (every evening they take away the paper cups at the drinking stations). He was super friendly and didn't tell us not to use the course or its amenities, so I feel like now we have tacit approval.

Friday: Unplanned rest due to storms.

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: I had a headache all afternoon, so I wasn't feeling up for a run or anything really bouncy. I did some easy, low-impact exercises - squats, pushups, tricep dips, lunges - and called it a day.

I'm unhappy with how this week ended. My runs were good but I only got two in. But I'm trying to remember that it's all about consistency over time, and one mediocre week isn't going to kill me!


Friday, August 26, 2016

Runfessions: Cleavage Sweat & Secret Gloating

Today I'm linking up with Marcia for Runfessions!
#1: Let's start with something weird. A long time ago I read a "catwalk secret" about using deodorant in odd places to prevent sweating when you're trying to look nice. Since then, I've made it a habit to put deodorant on my chest where my bra band sits; it seems to prevent chafing and control my cleavage sweat a little bit!

#2: I am so damn happy that I'm not marathon training this year. Every time I see a long-run post I think, "Glad that's not me!" I was worried I'd feel left out or grumpy about it, but I'm actually over here gloating that I get to sleep in on weekends and most of my runs these days are done in under two hours.
Short runs, I love you!
(You can call me on this next time I decide to run a marathon.)

#3: Earlier this week I was cooking a very healthy dinner of spaghetti squash and shrimp when Matt texted that he wanted burgers. It took me all of 10 seconds to abandon our healthy dinner plan. Sometimes you need a little junk in your life.
Gluten free Philly burger and a banana foster milkshake? Squash and shrimp didn't stand a chance.
#4: Despite posting some really awesome songs last week, I've gotten a little bored of my usual GooglePlay stations and have been totally rocking out to embarrassing music on the "90s Crowd-Pleasing Hits" station this week.
I used to think "Bitch" was the coolest song ever.
#5: I'm actually really glad the Olympics are over. I loved watching them, but I was getting oversaturated! True story: I'm already sick of seeing people post about them - can we just move on?!

That's all I've got! What are you runfessing this week?


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Knew I Wasn't Crazy!

This past spring, I dedicated myself to keeping my training up because usually, I start to slack off around April and May. Warmer weather and the intensity of the end of the school year takes a lot out of me, and I start to slide.
Comparing my spring/summer mileage from 2015 and 2016 really puts into perspective how hard I worked to keep my fitness up this summer.
But this year, I wanted to keep my fitness level up so summer running wouldn't be as hard. I was more consistent than I've ever been! So why has running seemed so hard?

The answer came to me in this article:
Click here to read it.
That's right; I'm not crazy. We've actually had a more brutally hot summer this year than ever before, and our winter last year was sadly mild and very short. I don't think the temperatures dropped into the 40s even once.

I'm not going to preach about global warming here, although I think it's absolutely real and absolutely accelerated by human impact. No, instead I just want to take a moment to bask in the fact that I wasn't a whiny baby for nothing this summer, and neither were you guys.
But let's take a minute to acknowledge that global warming is freaking bad and we should all be concerned about it for more reasons than just the effect it has on the quality of our runs.
The heat has been real and its effects can be dangerous. It impacts our breathing, our stamina, our heart rate, the rate of sweat evaporation (when we're dealing with humidity), and our recovery. The mild winter meant many allergens never completely disappeared, so allergy season was longer and nastier this spring, too, causing those of us with asthma and allergies to suffer more than usual. 

So if you've been feeling less than peppy on your runs lately, know that your complaints are legitimate and your effort will pay off when it cools down again!...If you're lucky enough to live somewhere that cools down.

Because now I have to cross my fingers and hope it ever really does cool down, because Florida is starting to look like maybe we won't have an actual winter again for a long time.

Have you depended on the treadmill due to heat this summer?
Would you rather run in heat or cold?
What's your #1 tip for running in the heat?


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekly Workouts 8/15-8/21

Monday: OMG. Elizabeth and I put together an upper-and-lower body workout and it was brutal. It looks easy enough, but we were shaking by the end. I highly recommend it! What a great way to start the week!
Complete each exercise for 30 seconds, and rest for 30 before repeating. Repeat 4-5 times.
Tuesday: We did our first set of repeats in weeks and it went much better than expected! Our paces were a little more conservative and not as consistent, but I was actually really pleased!
8x.33 repeats with an average pace of 8:44.
Wednesday: My calves had been hurting for days, but the speed work session seemed to help stretch them out. On our full-body day, I wanted to incorporate stretching. We pretty much forgot about that, but we did a lower impact circuit that still felt effective and well-rounded, and my calves felt much better afterward. We're getting pretty good at constructing these workouts!
Thursday: Having realized that running faster was better for my calves, I decided to push the pace on our Thursday run. It definitely wasn't the easy run I had planned! I was surprised that we were able to hold a fast pace the entire time, and it really boosted my confidence for October's 10k! I guess I've gotten myself comfortable with slow paces and now it's time to get familiar with discomfort again. This was a good reminder that to get faster, sometimes you just have to buckle down and do it.
Our paces were between 8:40 and 9:20 for most of the run - not at all steady, but that's the nature of running on the golf course.
If I can run four miles at this pace with just one brief water break, I think my chances are good for 6.22 miles by mid-October.

Friday: We had five actually easy miles planned - I thought keeping our pace around 10:10 would be a good easy pace - but it started raining 1.5 miles in. We turned back early in case the rain really picked up, and I'm glad we did because as soon as we reached the car it began storming pretty hard and the lightning was intense. We called it early for safety.
Safe in the car, watching the storm roll in.
I was disappointed to have to stop early, but because Thursday's run had been such a good workout, in the end I was okay with it.

Saturday: So. Much. Rest. I woke up early with my eyes swollen nearly shut. I took two Prednisone and went back to bed with an ice pack on my face. When I woke up again, my left eye was better but I still couldn't open my right. I ate lunch and took two Benadryl, which knocked me out. I took a three hour nap. When I got up, both eyes could open, but the swelling was still obvious.
I usually have an attack after drinking wine (particularly red, but sometimes white, too) and when I'm over-tired, but otherwise we haven't found any specific triggers.
I wish we know what caused my angioedema attacks, but the very nature of it means we simply don't know. (I am allergic to tons of environmental factors, but my doctors have ruled out any relationship between those allergies and my attacks, so I've been diagnosed with idiopathic angioedema.) Clearly overheating is a concern, but I can't stop my workouts just because I'm worried about a little facial swelling!
At least they're both open now, but you can tell the right eye is still quite swollen.
Once the swelling is all gone, my eyelids and undereyes will be sensitive, red, and scaly for a few days, so I have that to look forward to. (I tend to get a lot of "You look tired. Are you sick?" comment after an attack.) It makes working out painful because sweat hurts my face, but I just carry on as best I can.

Sunday: We pushed our run to the evening so I'd have some extra time to get over my swollen face. We meant to run 7 miles but I chose a route I forgot was 8, so we did 8. They weren't stellar - it was really humid and hot, but we got them done!
And the sunset almost made the struggle worth it!
It was our first long run in a month or more, so I'm actually pretty happy with it despite how uncomfortable it was.

Did you have a good week?


Friday, August 19, 2016

My New Gym

One of my goals this summer was to clean out one of our guest rooms and turn it into a little at-home "gym."

I came home from work on Tuesday weirdly motivated to finally roll up my sleeves and get to work. I wish I'd taken a before picture, but all you get is this after shot:
I'm not sure if I'll keep the rug in there; it may slip around during certain exercises. We'll see how it goes!
My running quote-a-day calendar is right in front of the TV, so I can stay focused and motivated while also being entertained. I've also decorated the room with the sign my mom made me for my first marathon, a 26.2 magnet my sister got me, and the motivational quote block Megan got me when we met in December!

I also put a pile of fitness magazines in there. I've been planning to go through them and tear out the workouts that look interesting and make a binder of them, so that's my next project.

We originally had two beds in this room; one was an inflatable. I deflated it and was momentarily sidetracked when I discovered a dead snake under it! You know, finding lizard mummies in the house isn't unusual, and they don't gross me out much, and I like live snakes quite a bit, but this little guy freaked me out! He was just unexpected.
I wasn't sure how to get rid of it, so I took a break and watched some Real Housewives until Matt suggested I sweep it up with the broom. He's so smart.
Here's some of the equipment I have at my disposal:
1: Yoga ball. 2: Resistance band loop. 3: Various resistance bands with handles. 4: Weighted medicine ball. 5: Various recovery items. 6: Kettlebells and weights. Not pictured: the pull up bar in the doorway.
The next additions on my list are a yoga mat (I've been storing mine in Elizabeth's classroom and want a second for home) and a workout bench. There are so many ways to use them, and I know we can find a good one without spending too much.

I do most of my non-running workouts at school, but there are days I can't, and that's when my nice little workout room will come in handy! Just having it in the house is motivating me to use it!

Now the question is...once I get the bench, can I convince Matt that we need a treadmill, too?

Do you have a designated workout spot at home?
What equipment would you put in your dream at-home-gym?


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

5 Songs & a Podcast

Lately I've been lazy with my playlists. Rather than downloading songs I like and crafting the perfect musical background for my runs, I've been letting GooglePlay do the work. With a race on the horizon, I think it's time to delete my old-and-never-used running playlist. I want to start from scratch and put together something that makes me want to run, just so I have a chance to listen to it!

Lately, there's a podcast that has that effect on me. When Elizabeth isn't around to motivate me, fake conversation in the form of podcasts is a good second. Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to Witch, Please, a podcast led by two professors who deconstruct, critique, and analyze Harry Potter through various social and political lenses. Obviously, this is a podcast tailor-made with me in mind.
Besides Witch, Please, which obviously can't go on a racing playlist, here are some songs making my ears and mind happy while I run:

Too Far Gone by Sir Sly. I actually like every song on their album, but this one is a favorite because of its steady, catchy tempo. I like starting a run with this song because it reminds me to ease into it and not go out too fast.
Color by Finish Ticket is super catchy and fun. The song feels earnest and hopeful, which is just how I like to feel when I'm reaching for a PR on race day.
Colors by Halsey. I've noticed that the themes of color and ghosts are pretty popular in alternative music right now, but I'm not complaining! This may seem like an odd choice of song to run to, but again, I like the earnest tone and the feeling of reaching toward something.
Sweet Disaster by Dreamers. This song is catchy and fun! I could listen to this one on repeat for an entire run if Elizabeth would let me! It really captures the free, frivolous feeling a hard run can light inside me.
Life Itself by Glass Animals. I pretty much love everything they come out with, but this one especially has a fun tempo for running. This song is upbeat and the chorus especially motivates me to pound the pavement and just run my heart out.
I know some people prefer really upbeat, pop-style songs for running, but I don't usually like that. I have a weird habit of running to the same music I like to listen to while I drive/relax/read...I don't have a different taste or genre preference when I'm trying to get energized. I just like music I can genuinely enjoy and that makes me feel powerful and strong!

What are you working out to lately?
Do you listen to the same genre of music no matter your activity?
What kind of podcasts do you like?


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Weekly Workouts 8/8-8/14

Monday: Our teaching convention in Orlando all day, and a 3+ hour drive home? Yeah, rest day.

Tuesday: We ran the bridge for our first speed work session in weeks. It was brutal! My watch glitched out on us, but I think we did ~4 miles in about 41 minutes.
Sweaty and covered in gnats!
Wednesday: Lower body! We did a core and leg circuit five times, and it felt good. My inner thighs definitely felt it the next day.
We did each exercise for 30 seconds, rested for 30s between circuits, and completed it 5 times.
Thursday: Four easy miles. Although the pace was overall faster than on Tuesday, the effort felt easier and the run felt better in general.

Friday: We had a run planned, but because Matt and I were traveling to Sarasota for his Nana's memorial service, we didn't have time.

It was nice to be in Sarasota. My mom has had some health issues this week. She had a routine procedure done early in the week, developed appendicitis, and then got an e. coli infection! Needless to say, seeing her after all that was worth not getting my run in.

Saturday: Matt and I spent all day with family for Nana's memorial; when we got home, I was hungry and tired. Matt went to SUP and I thought I might just relax...But when Dad came in from walking the dog, he said there was no humidity and it was beautiful out. So I had to run.
It was later than usual, and my calves and shins were a bit stiff, but I felt like the run was quality - easy, but faster than my weekday runs lately, and with just the right amount of effort - and it was so nice to run in mid-70s! I saw some deer out there, which put me in a good mood.

Sunday: We didn't get back to Fort Myers until close to 8pm, so Elizabeth and I just barely squeezed in a run. It drizzled on us, but was uncomfortably humid. It's funny how much harder Sunday's run felt compared to Saturday's.
I'm still feeling a bit worried about where my speed and stamina has gone, but I think exhaustion from work and the summer weather is just impacting me the way it usually does, and I need to be patient and put the work in to see the results I want.

My runs are averaging in the upper 10s right now, and I'm just not happy with that.

I'm trying not to feel discouraged, but after all the progress I made in spring, it just kind of stinks to be struggling so much right now.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

I have a Radio so I'm basically a Secret Service agent now

Today I'm thinking out loud with Amanda from Running with Spoons!

1. Despite being completely difficult, sluggish, and electronically glitchy, Tuesday's run felt amazing! Elizabeth and I ran the bridge and when we got to our usual 2-mile mark my watch clocked a single mile. I know the route well enough that I wasn't concerned about adjusting it afterward, but losing the data and our splits was frustrating.
I mean...what do I even say? The run was actually 4 miles, only 3 recorded, and the paces are clearly totally wrong.
The weather was overcast and the pre-storm humidity that so epitomizes the tropics in summertime was in overdrive. Basically we slogged through a run we couldn't even properly track...and yet it was awesome.

Of course, it rained as soon as we finished and got in the car to go home!

2. Kids are officially back to school! I spent my first day putting together teacher resource binders and helping with drop off and pick up; it felt really weird not to have students of my own. I love fostering personal relationships with students and I think that's the way to get kids to care about education, but I still think I'll be able to make a difference and feel fulfilled in this new position, too.
Check out my awesome secret service earpiece!
3. Last year, Kristin introduced me to these amazing gluten free "thin mint" cookies, but I could never find them anywhere. Then, they appeared at my parents' house and I happily helped myself, only to go through withdrawal once they were gone. I'm so glad my Publix is finally carrying them!
I honestly don't remember what real Thin Mints taste like, but I think these are softer, fudgier, and a little more plush than the originals with just the perfect hint of mint.

4. This year our school is doing a book study on The Happiness Advantage. I don't really care to wax on about the book itself, but it got me thinking: can we all afford to be more positive, or should we just accept who we are instead of forcing ourselves to change our personalities?

I'm naturally a realist. I border on pessimistic sometimes. I think I can afford to be more positive sometimes, but I also don't think there's anything wrong with the way I am!

5. Speaking of books, I pre-ordered Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and it arrived last Friday. I read it all that night! I plan to reread it to pick up on some nuance, but it was a nice way to end my usual rereading of the series. It's been eight years since I read a new HP book!
I will say that this is not a novel. It's a play; it's meant to be a play. I like reading plays and I think the stage directions in this one are just whimsical enough to give it a little extra literary flair. I liked the storyline but also felt, at times, that it seemed Rowling had listened too intently to fan theories when crafting it.
The wisdom of the Harry Potter world lives on in this installment.
I won't spoil anything major here, of course. But I enjoyed the added maturity that was sometimes missing when our protagonist was a teenage boy, and I'm considering this an enjoyable companion piece to what I will always consider the "original" series. I loved catching up with my favorite characters again and seeing what their lives are like now, 19+ years down the road.

Yes, I'm talking about them like they're real. Deal with it.

6. I've been thoroughly enjoying the Olympics! I can never sleep the first week of school, so I haven't minded staying up late to watch the events. As usual, I'm obsessed with our gymnastics team (and watch with the same intensity as Aly Raisman's parents) and I'm completely loving Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky's continued domination in the pool.
I think some of my motivation to get back on track this week is coming from watching the events in Rio!

Have you been watching the Olympics?
Do you plan to read the newest Harry Potter?
What is your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Are you an optimist, pessimist, or realist?


Monday, August 8, 2016


There's nothing quite like the panic, stress, and overdrive of a new school year to remind you that you're only human.
New office, new job, familiar faces. These first weeks back were BUSY.
I was so consistent with my speed work and workout schedule from March until July, but over the last two weeks, I've struggled. And once you give in to the struggle, it's hard to get back at it.

Monday, on the drive home from Orlando after a rousing back-to-school conference, Elizabeth and I sketched out what this fall's workout schedule will look like. We have a 10k in October to train for, and I'm playing with the idea of running a half in December or January - I can't believe my "year of short distance" is almost over already! - so it's time to get serious again.

This week's workouts included two morning runs and one treadmill run (because we were traveling). I was impressed that we got up early to run before work this week! It's been storming so badly in the evenings that we really had to.
We got up at 6am Sunday to run before we drove to Orlando; we were dressed and ready to go when we realized it was storming and there was tons of lightning. So we settled for treadmills later that day.
We also did an ab workout Monday.

Starting this week, our plan is to add a fourth day of running to our schedule. We needed to move around cross-training days to accommodate this. Our usual plan as looked like this:
Consistent, but fairly easy.
Now, it will look more like this:
Friday's easy run will be moderate distance, hence the +.
Although summer is only going to get hotter and more humid in the next few weeks, we both know we have to get back into consistent training. I'm disappointed in myself for allowing myself to slack off a bit over the last couple weeks, and I'm worried that some of the major progress I've made with speed will have regressed a bit, but I really needed the time to adjust to being back at work.

I'm also going to try to get back into my blog-reading schedule. I've missed catching up with all of you!

How was your week?
Are you preparing for race season?
How do you balance running and cross-training?


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Just Quickly

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts on my last post. Obviously last week I took a step back from blogging. Matt's Nana's passed Monday morning, and I went back to work full time last week. Needless to say, I didn't have much energy to spare. I didn't run or workout at all; I just let myself coast for a little bit.

Nana was the matriarch of Matt's family. She kept everyone in line and held everyone together. When Matt's parents divorced, she moved in with Matt's dad and helped raise him and Scott.
Matt's favorite picture - him, Scott, and Nana at school.
She's always been a pillar of strength and love for them. She was unconditionally loving; I never felt scrutinized or sized-up when I came into Matt's life, and she made me feel like part of the family with no strings attached.

She was simply a great woman.
Christmas 2015.
So last week was hard and I took it easy.

This week I'm slowly getting back into a routine. I've run in the mornings before work and have been settling into my new job. I'm really enjoying it! I feel ridiculously busy right now but I like that, and I also feel really useful, which is what I was hoping for.

Tonight we have open house, so I'll be at work until 8:30pm, and students start back on August 10. I'm hoping that as the school year gets underway, I'm able to continue a solid running/cross-training/writing routine.

What are you thinking about?