Monday, September 29, 2014

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Road to BQ: Marathon Training Weeks 7-8

Two weeks in one post! Lucky day! Lucky you! Lucky me!

My marathon is less than two weeks away.  Wow.  That happened really fast.  The past two weeks have been great and encouraging and make me feel like I might actually do this.  There's no doubt I'm getting stronger and faster.  

Week 7: 4:45:38 hours

Swam:  0 minutes or yards
Biked:  0 minutes or miles
Ran:  4:45:38 hours (32.9 miles)

Workouts:

Monday: 30 minute easy run
Tuesday:  35 minute easy run
Wednesday:  Aqua jog Rest Day
Thursday:  Speedwork
Friday: 20 minute easy run
Saturday:  Aqua jog Rest Day
Sunday:  Race! Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon with 5 mile easy warm-up

My Monday and Tuesday runs were fine.  I was coming off of a long run the Sunday before, so for both runs, I wore my compression sleeves.



Some people love compression socks or sleeves for long runs.  I do not.  I always feel they are way too "compression-y" once I get past the half marathon mark. But I love them for recovery runs.  I'm a big fan of the sleeves vs. the socks.  The sleeves are like leg warmers, and I can use my regular socks.  My feet are far too finicky.

If not already obvious above and below, I have gone rogue and bagged any of the aqua jogs.  I can't.  Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to miss the workouts: back to school night or too much going on with the kids. But sometimes, I just can't.

My Thursday speedwork this week was *terrible*. The workout says to do it on a track.  Instead, I went to a park near the kids' school that has a one mile loop. I thought it would be fine. It wasn't.  First, I hate running here.  I really do.  Second, it's not a track - there are hills (and while they're not bad hills, they are hills).  Third, it was hot.  The combination meant I bagged the workout early.  I was so mad.  And demoralized.

But the week ended strong! I had a great PR at the Philly Rock & Roll Half Marathon with an easy, super easy 5 mile warm up.  And ... quite possibly the worst/best race photo ever.


In my defense: here is what happened.  This was mile 2 and I was feeling ah-maz-ing.  I saw the photographer and decided to smile and as soon as I did it and passed him and saw that he snapped the shot I was like "rut roh.  that may have been a bit too much.  it's either going to be a great race photo or ... not."  But hey, I was having fun.  Obviously.  Note: i have stalked the racer next to me to make sure I am not in his race photos.  thankfully I am not.  

Week 8: 8:26:37 hours

Swam:  0 minutes or yards
Biked:  3:17:59 hours (46.1 miles)
Ran:  5:08:38 hours (36.2 miles)

Workouts:

Monday: 30 minute easy run
Tuesday:  Aqua jog Rest Day
Wednesday:  Speedwork
Thursday:  35 minute easy run
Friday: Aqua jog Rest Day
Saturday:  Easy bike - MS City to Shore Bike Ride (45 mile route)
Sunday:  Long run: 21.5 miles

Week 8 was much better than Week 7.  Now, again, I skipped my aqua jogs.  My coach told me I could take a rest day on Monday, but I was feeling good, so I ran on Monday and swapped my rest day to Tuesday, which just so happened to accidentally on purpose be an aqua jog day.

Wednesday.  Speedwork.  Time to get it.  This time, I went to the track and I did it.  I ran hard and I did the workout, which was 20 minute endurance + 2 x 2 miles at 7:30-7:45 pace + 2 minute endurance recovery + 10 minute endurance.  I am happy to report I did the workout and hit my paces and felt great.  This is my "yeah speedwork, I am your boss!" look.


Thursday was an easy run, but it was a rainy morning. The good and bad thing about doing Ironman in the lightning and monsoon is I have zero excuse to not do a workout on account of rain now.  So I got all big and bad and put on my rain gear and ran.


Oh and the light up singlet is back too.  So that's good.  This run was eventful in that some dude did a rolling stop and I yelled at him to watch it and he kind of skidded and stopped.  I maintained my composure and did not yell any obscenities or make any inappropriate gestures.  

Saturday was the MS City to Shore bike ride.  I am my Firm's team captain, so I was on board.  My coach was not thrilled with my decision to ride, but he understood. So we agreed I would do the 45 mile course (instead of my planned 75 mile course) and stop at every rest stop and take it super easy - like well below my endurance power zone.  Mission accomplished.  I averaged 14 miles per hour (I did about 15 mph at IMLP ... in the mountains ... for 112 miles), and my power was 72 watts (my usual endurance power is about 100-110).  So, yeah.  It was a fun day and even I had fun on the bike.


The worst part? My butt!  It has been 2 months without riding and I've already lost the ability to spend hours in the saddle without discomfort.  Oh, the second worst part is I didn't wear sunscreen and am rocking the Worst Farmer's Burn Ever on my arms.

Sunday.  Oh Sunday's long run.  It was terrific.  So good. So good in every single way.  The plan was thus: 4 miles endurance pace + 8 x 1 mile 8:20 pace & 1 mile endurance pace + 1.5 miles endurance pace.  That's 21.5 miles.  Now, I have run a bunch of marathons at this point and I have never done more than a 20 mile long run for my longest run.  So this was uncharted territory.  I was also a little worried about my stomach after the week before and Rock & Roll.  First of all, my tummy was fine.  My coach made me eat the blandest breakfast ever (plain oatmeal to which I added some mashed banana thank God per the advice of my friend Heather and a plain bagel - nothing on it).  And it worked. NO tummy issues. Yay.

Second of all, LOOK AT THIS WATCH:


First, I know.  1978 calories burned.  Yeah!  But more than that ... 8:36 average pace for 21.5 miles.  That's just 3 seconds per mile slower than I need for a BQ.  And I felt great.  And I could have kept on going.  I was able to hit all of my paces and only ventured into the 9:00 miles at the very end when I had to climb a hill for 1/4 mile.  The weirdest thing on this run was around mile 20 - I was running and saw a man and woman with a baby stroller.  I passed it and a dog barked loudly.  They were pushing their dog.  In a stroller.  I ... speechless.  I screamed and then was afraid I was having a heart attack and then I laughed and shook my head.  It was insane.

When I saw my stats, I totally geeked out and high fived myself in the parking lot.  It's possible. I did it.  I didn't care.  Here I am stretching out my hamstrings and looking a lot fiercer than I actually am.


Because on the inside, I felt like this:


So there you go.  2 more weeks in the books and only 2 to go.  Holy moly cow! 

See you swoon,

Friday, September 26, 2014

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What I Wore {post 51}

Happy Friday! I am ready for the weekend, which is a busy one.  I have the MS City to Shore Bike Ride tomorrow (doing the 45 miles this year because ...) then a 21.5 mile long run on Sunday.  Plus I'm hoping to get to a couple of lingering tiny projects around the house.  

Onto the outfits!  


* Turquoise Buttondown & White Skirt *

As I look at this skirt, which I've had for 11 years, I think it needs to be shortened just a bit.  I love the fit, so it's a mainstay in my closet.  The top is a clearance buy from Banana Republic and the skirt is also Banana, but super duper old.  This was a cool September morning, and was right after a long run, so I wore my printed flats from Boden.  Easy outfit.


* Printed Blouse & Grey Pants & Red Heels *

Molly actually helped a lot with this outfit.  I pulled out the top, and she helped with the pants.  She also decided the red patent heels would look really good.  She was right!  I love this blouse: it's super comfortable and super chic and just pretty (from Ann Taylor outlet last Winter ... in fact, the entire outfit - pants, blouse, shoes - is from the Ann Taylor outlet).  I've worn the blouse before with a coral pencil skirt, and I like it just as much with a more subdued look.


* Coral Wrap Shirt & Taupe Pencil Skirt *

This is an oldie but goodie: I got this coral faux wrap shirt from NY & Co. a couple of years ago and the pencil skirt from The Limited.  I wore my fun peep toe patent taupe heels with it.  I need more pencil skirts in my life.  Lucky for me, Jamie and I are talking about a trip to Lancaster very soon.


Have a wonderful Fall weekend! See you back here on Monday with a recap of the last two weeks of training.  Yay!

See you swoon,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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Tackling the Storage Spaces {post 2 of 2}: the front outdoor closet & downstairs patio closet

I am a woman on fire with organizing!  It all started the day I got home from Lake Placid ... I took one look at my fridge and decided then and there that it needed a deep clean.  Out everything came and I cleaned all of the shelves and bins.  That small project made me feel like I was regaining control of my life and settling back to normal ... or as normal as I can be anyway.   So I've been peppering in some organizing and smaller projects (that have huge impacts) with the larger work I'm doing at my house.

Up today, on the heels of the organization of my huge basement storage room, are the two other storage closets that I have: (1) the front outdoor closet and (2) the downstairs patio closet.  These took no time at all.

Front Storage Closet

The front storage closet was probably the easiest space of all three.  Here's the before:


Not terrible. Just not terribly functional.  I took everything out and analyzed the space.  I knew I needed to keep my trash can and recycle bins in there, my snow shovel and ice melter, bike helmets, and kids' scooters.  I also wanted to add a broom so I could sweep my front porch.  All I did was clean out the space (it needed a good sweeping) and put back the trash and recycle stuff.  I used another Ikea cheap trashcan to hold the ice melter bag.  I brought in a plastic bin for the helmets and stacked the kids' scooters on the top shelf.  And I bought some hooks for the snow shovel and broom.  Boom. Done.




Downstairs Patio Closet

This closet was just a mess.  Unlike the other two storage spaces, I didn't use it that often, but I knew it was there and I knew it was in disarray and it made me crazy.  


Just as with the other storage spaces, I pulled everything out and swept the floor clean.


Then I looked at what I needed to put back in.  I put the bucket of deck cleaner on the bricks that were stacked in the back.  I brought in the little curb alert table that had previously lived on my upstairs deck and used that to store my gardening tools and gloves. I want to get one of those cute gardening caddies to hold them at some point.  Under the table, I have a galvanized bin that has the pruning shears and my big dustpan.  I brought in the kids' outdoor toys and sleds and hung Molly's hula hoop on the existing nails on the one wall.  And I used those extra inexpensive hooks from the Target Dollar Spot from a few years ago (that I blogged about in my storage room project) to hang my shovel and broom.




AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.  I cannot tell you how much better I feel with these three spaces organized and neat and tidy!  It took a weekend to do, but it was well worth it.  Now I can turn to my other home projects!  Up next:  finishing up my stairwell and a bunch of little projects that I've been meaning to get to.

See you swoon,

Monday, September 22, 2014

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Race Recap: 2014 Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon

Hello and happy Monday!

Yesterday I raced the 2014 Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon.  I loooove this race and have done it a bunch, including last year.  This year, I managed a PR.  A PR!  Who doesn't love a PR?  My time was 1:49:33 (about 20 seconds faster than the Love Run), which is an average 8:21/mile pace.  I was 2,183 of 15,537 racers overall (male and female); 111 of 1,559 in my age group; and 653 of 9,401 in my gender.  Hello.  I don't do math, but 2/3 of those are better than top 10%.  Yes!  That deserves a big woo hoo!


But woo hoos and yays aside, this sucker was hard fought and *should* have been about a minute faster but something bad happened on mile 7-8 (more below) so it wasn't.  Ahh ... coulda woulda shoulda.  While the weather was, thankfully, overcast with no sun at all, the humidity was about 90% and the air temp was about 66 at the start.  Anyone who runs knows that a humidity level + air temperature combo like that is brutal.  But you can't control race day weather, so race we did! 


The issue with running this race this year is my big race, Steamtown Marathon, is just three weeks away.  So a 13.1 mile run, even a race, isn't ideal right now since I need to be running longer.  Thankfully, my coach solved the problem by having me run a super easy 5 miles before the race, and then racing the actual race.  The race plan was as follows:
  • 5 mile warm up: keep pace around 10:00/mile.  Try to finish about 15-20 minutes before the race starts
  • Half marathon plan
    • Miles 1-3:  8:20/mile
    • Miles 4-10: 8:10-8:15/mile
    • Miles 11-13:  go by feel - either ramp up or stick at current pace
The warm up was good.  I ran on Kelly Drive, which is right on the river and was well patrolled with police.  I snapped this picture on my first mile -- love that view.


And I followed the plan! Look at that pace.  #discipline


I got to the start and had about 40 minutes to kill.  I found Amy and my friend Heather and we hung out for a bit.  I was kinda excited.



Before I knew it, it was time to get in the corral and start racing!  It took about 3 minutes for me to hit the starting mat and then ... off I went!

Miles 1-3


Mile 1: 8:19
Mile 2: 7:59
Mile 3: 8:16

A little faster than the 8:20 that my coach wanted, but close.  Except for mile 2, where I evidently lost my mind.  These miles were good.  I felt good and strong here.  I also tried hard to keep close to the 8:20 pace.  These miles are really fun too.  You run up the Ben Franklin Parkway to City Hall, then up JFK to 20th Street, to Market Street, alllllll the way down to 4th Street, where you cross over onto Arch.  From Arch, you head back to the Parkway.  Lots of people are around this area, which is a blast. 

Miles 4-7

Mile 4: 8:05
Mile 5: 8:12
Mile 6: 8:06
Mile 7: 8:06

Strong and consistent as hell.  I felt fantastic in these miles.  The course at this point is Arch Street to the Ben Franklin Parkway and then onto Kelly Drive.  This part of the course always has a lot of spectators as well.  Unfortunately, at mile 5, my iPod died.  Just went out.  No more music. Over and out.  I was brought back to my running roots (I only started running with an iPod in 2012) and finished the race with just me and my thoughts and the sounds around me.  A very surprising number of people sing out loud when they run.  So I got some glimpses into other people's playlists.  

Mile 8

Mile 8: 8:48

So, when I hit mile 7 or so, my stomach was not feeling quite right.  I started to think I might need to stop and use the bathroom.  I tried some mind over matter stuff but the matter was really stronger than my mind.  So at the aid station around mile 7.5, I saw a porta potty and decided to go there (which is to say I turned into a wild rabid beast and ran toward those porta potties with their glorious green vacant signs like they were some kind of prey).  The running to, actually using, and running from the porta potty likely cost me a minute or so (or judging by my other paces, maybe just 40 seconds).  Still.  Boo.  But that trip was absolutely necessary.  Unfortunately, the break in momentum screwed up the next mile, too.

Miles 9-10

Mile 9: 8:27
Mile 10: 8:14

I am proud of the way I rallied after my pit stop.  I could have easily been demoralized and upset, but I was like "hell no, you keep on running. You are still on track to beat your old PR.  Your legs are fine.  Race."  So I did.  Mile 9 is right after you cross the Falls Bridge from Kelly and move onto Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.  At that point, you know you're headed back to the finish, which is great.  I tried a Mandarin Orange flavored Gu at this point (the race handed it out -- I thought I was grabbing a vanilla one).  It was delicious.  Sold! Another flavor!

Miles 11-13

Mile 11: 8:21
Mile 12: 8:25
Mile 13: 8:16

Well, needless to say, I did not put the hammer down in the final three miles. I was hoping I could do it and get paces in the high 7s or super low 8s, but it didn't happen.  I can't really pinpoint why either: my legs felt good and I had the energy.  Still ... I could tell by my total time and knowing the course like I do that if I maintained my current effort, I would PR.  No matter how many times I do this race, I forget how absolutely brutal the last 1/2 mile of this race is!  Basically all uphill, including a really steep one from MLK to the Art Museum finish.  I gutted it out and pushed hard (that's what she said) and got my PR!  And then I snapped a selfie!  You can tell how beat I was! That is a really bad picture and fake smile!  But it's all I have! 


So, especially in light of the conditions and the fact that I did a little 5 mile appetizer before the race, I am super pleased with this one.  The bathroom stop is a little concerning with the marathon so close, so I am going to deal with that in the next few weeks and see how I can avoid having that happen again.  

I'll do a training recap for last week and this current week next week.  I figure this post is enough sweat related posts for this week!  Happy Fall, ya'll! 

See you swoon,

Friday, September 19, 2014

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What I Wore {post 50}

Who wants some late Summer outfits?


* Dark Grey Top & Pink Pants *

Pants and a shell. Easy peasy. Oh and heels!  Heels!! Yay!  I am back on heels a couple times per week.  I've had both these pieces for awhile, but never wore them together.  The pants are super old - circa 2004 and from the The Limited.  The top is from the Ann Taylor outlet from a year or two ago.  It was crazy hot this day, so the bare shoulders was a must.  I love the detail on this shirt because it's a satiny sort of cowl neck. 



* Yellow & White Polkadot Top & Printed Green Skirt *

I bought this top at Target a few years ago.  This was yet another super hot recent day and I wanted to keep my outfit easy, breezy and light.  I grabbed the skirt first, because it's elastic waist and cool cotton, and then looked through my tops and thought maybe the polka dot might be a fun way to mix prints.  It was.  This was a bit different than the looks I usually go for, but it was fun.  And my yellow flats topped it off. 



* Striped Top & Bootcut Jeans *

Jeans Friday at work!  Yay.  I wore my favorite jeans (American Eagle ... I know ... I'm 15) and a striped top from Loft.  I love the blue + red combo so I wore my favorite red flats.  


Outfits galore!  I haven't been in the mood to shop for a really long time ... at first it was Ironman training, which took over everything, including my desire to shop for anything other than tri kits. Now it's the Summer weather.  I don't want to buy any Summer clothes, but I'm not ready for (and cannot handle the idea of) Fall clothes just yet.    

See you swoon,

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