Training: Recovering and a 5k

My training last week went decently.  As I wrap up the last week of March, I have reflected a lot about my training in the last few months.  By now, I hoped I would have progressed to faster times that I’m currently running.

The short notes version is I’ve been stuck in a plateau for the last 6 months.  While yes, running an 18:32 5k last weekend is a great time.  In fact, two years ago I would be amazed by that time. It’s not where I had hoped or wanted to be at this point.  I’ve been consistently training, logging speed workouts, and logging injury free miles.  Hopefully, soon I’ll be able to break out of that plateau.

Training last week:

Monday: 45 mins easy
Tuesday: Workout: 2X15 mins/5X200s
Wednesday: 60 mins easy
Thursday: OFF
Friday: 65 mins easy
Saturday: Phillies 5k (18:32)
Sunday: 90 minutes easy
Total: 52 miles

Workout:
2X15 minutes (6:41,  6:51)
5X200 (6:00)

This workout was supposed to be much faster (6:23 per/mile).  As I mentioned last training post, I didn’t recover from Shamrock well at all, and it took me almost 2 weeks to feel normal.  During the workout, I didn’t feel fresh, and it was both cold and windy.  I got the workout done and moved on.

Phillies 5k: (18:32)
As most people know from Instagram, I won the Phillies 5k again this year.  While it was a different course, my time was 5 seconds slower than last year.  Last year’s conditions were ideal. However, this year it was windier than anticipated (14 MPH along the water).  Either way, it wasn’t raining which means it was the best weather I’ve had for racing in months.

The race itself went moderately well.  I ran for the course for the conditions.  My splits were 6:00, 5:49 and 6:06 which is based on the wind as well as small hill at the beginning of mile 3.  I left the race bittersweet.  Was I happy with a win?  Of course.  Was I glad to still be in the 18:30-18:40 bubble that I’ve been in since October?  No.

I’m excited to run a few more 5ks in the next few weeks to get my speed back.  To be honest, I’ve missed running them!

Posts from the week:
Hoka Bondi 5 Shoe Review
How Alternating Shoes Can Benefit Your Running

Questions for you:
Have you ever been stuck in a plateau? I’ve been stuck in a few.  A few years ago on my quest to get back to my PR (for about 3 years my 5k PR was 18:35), I was stuck running 19-19:10.
What was your best workout last week?

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Seven Years of Running

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you might know that March is my “runnaversery.”  My running journey started March of 2010 around St. Patricks Day.

For the last 7 years, St. Patricks day has held a much more sentimental meaning to me than drinking beer, wearing green and holiday spirit. Although I still do all three!  For the past several years, I have celebrated by running Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.

Seven years ago, I ran a road race in college that would change my life.

Forever.

Yay college

It’s funny how half an hour altered my entire path.  As someone who loathed running previously, the fact that I enjoyed the sport was a whole new experience.

You can read my entire running story here or in the tab above.

So how did it all begin?

In 2010, I saw a bulletin board at my college gym stating if you completed the annual campus 5k you would get a free long sleeve t-shirt.

As a college student, you can never have enough things to stuff in your dorm room.  Going to college in the arctic tundra, I had plenty of short sleeve shirts but long sleeves were something I was always looking for.  “All” I had to do is sign up for a 5k and complete it?

Okay, sign me up. 

By that, I signed up and I didn’t run a single time before the race. 

YAY swimming…

I swam through high school and college and that was my thing.  I liked it, I was decent at it and all my friends did it.  With the exception of my freshman year roommate, Kierstin, I had no friends that ran.  People don’t run outside when it’s -30 in the winter.

Keep in mind my running history previous to March of 2010 is lackluster.  I failed the mile test countless times in middle and high school.  If I passed (yes IF), it was by mere seconds (passing was 12:30 and my mile PR was 12:12).

Incase you wondered, I didn’t tell a single soul I was doing this race.  They would never believe it, and I didn’t want anyone to know.   My dad was an accomplished marathon runner, and at the time both brothers ran cross country and track. My brother, Matt, could run 2 miles faster than I could run one.

The only two times I ran in college was to “impress” upperclassman on the swim team.  It wasn’t impressive, and I made a goober out of myself both times.

Upon contemplation of my first ever cross country race. Am I real runner now?

During the off season from swimming, I went to the gym and used the elliptical or lifted weights.  It was nice to keep cardio and strength when I wasn’t swimming.  Long story short I had no idea what I was getting myself into but the phrase “if it’s free, it’s for me” comes to mind with this race.

The race itself is a blur.  I don’t remember much other than I didn’t really hate it.

I finished the 5k is around 24 minutes.  I don’t remember the exact time, but I remember not dying and also texting my dad (who was shocked) and then picking up my t-shirt and wearing it proudly.

I wore that t-shirt all around the following day.  I was going to wear my badge of honor.

After the race, it wasn’t as if I magically became engrossed in running.  I ran 20 miles off and on weekly for the rest of the spring.

When it was sunny, I would run the same 5k loop around campus. 

An early photo (2011) warming up for a race with dad.

When it wasn’t nice out, I wouldn’t run.  I would just go to the gym.

I mark St. Patrick’s Day as the official day I got my running start because after that point I considered myself “a runner”.

I didn’t run every day.
I didn’t run fast.
I didn’t log my mileage.
I didn’t run when it was the cold, windy or not perfect weather.
I had no desires to run with anyone or at a particular time…
I didn’t run anymore races until July.

But I ran…and when I did I enjoyed it.  

Since then, I’ve run off and on through my life.  I joined my college cross country team and ran for a couple of seasons.  I’ve run 30+ half marathons and 2 full marathons.  I’ve met countless friends as well as met my husband through running as well.

My brothers, dad and I all ran a half marathon before my college graduation.

Running isn’t the only part of my life, but it has been a huge influence for me throughout adulthood!

RnR VA Beach 2015 with my husband

You can read an extended version of my running story with progression to where I am now here.

Questions for you:
When did you get your (workout) start?
What are you up to this St. Patricks Day?

Training: Feeling Stale

Last week on Instagram I posted that I’ve been struggling both mentally and physically with running.  In March my goal is to get back to enjoying it. To be honest, I don’t think it’s so much of “I don’t like running,” I think my life is chaotic outside of it.  Between my husband’s job as well as my personal life, I’ve had a lot more than usual going on.

Last week, my coach, and I decided to skip a workout this week and focus on mental and physical recovery.  The week before, I had a frustrating workout.  My tempo was 40 seconds slower than the goal pace, and it felt difficult.  This week, we decided to back off, and I needed it.

I’ve also had a lot of personal life that has kept me busy.  Since coming back to New Jersey, my personal running has taken the backburner. I’ve had other priorities.  I realized that I was burning the candle at both ends and putting far too much pressure on myself!  Which is silly since friends

There isn’t much to say about my week.  I enjoyed a lot of easy and watchless runs.  I ran with my husband for several of them.

On Wednesday evening, I got a two-hour deep tissue massage which helped release knots in my IT band.  I don’t have any major issues, but my legs have felt stiff for the last several weeks.

Race: Grilled Cheese 4 Miler 24:13

Last year I ran and won the race.  It was the perfect race, and I felt great.  This year, going into that, I knew it wouldn’t be as great.  My body was still recovering from my deep tissue massage, I didn’t feel “great”, and it was 15 degrees. It’s always hard to enter a perfect race knowing you did well the previous year.

Even though it was significantly colder and my body felt as though it was still recovering, I was able to run 24:13 which I’m happy with.  I negative split the entire race and felt decent.

Plans for Next Week:

I plan to continue to relax and focus on myself.  With Shamrock in two weeks, I want to relax and regroup now versus feeling stale at the race.  Shamrock isn’t a “goal race” for me, but granted the weather isn’t like last year, I would like to see where my fitness is.

Posts from the week:
February Training Log
Thoughts While Working at a Running Store

Questions for you:
How do you regroup and refocus when things feel stale?
What was your best workout last week?

Living Minimally

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in New Jersey for 10 days.  It’s been an adjustment to life, weather and just getting back into my regular routine.

I didn’t have to stay 6 weeks in Montgomery.  I did have to go down, but I could have driven back solo while my husband finished his course.  I could have driven down, did what I needed and drove back to New Jersey (driving close to 4000 miles in 6 weeks). Instead, I chose to drive down once, stay there during the quiet weeks and drive home together.  That way, we could drive one car, stay together and it would be more enjoyable that way.

When we moved to Alabama, I packed everything I would need in two suitcases.  We weren’t sure the exact time frame, but you can live out of a suitcase for 2 months.

To be completely honest, I was nervous to go down there.  As I mentioned, I left my job for 6 weeks.  I didn’t know anyone in Alabama.  While I had things to do, it definitely was not as much as living back in New Jersey.

But I wanted a risk, new adventure, and challenge.  I told myself: if I had lived in the middle of nowhere, Texas, I could make it Alabama.  Thinking out loud and truth be told, despite the constant tornados, I liked Alabama.

Living in Alabama taught me a lot how to live minimally.  I learned I have far too much clutter here in New Jersey.

Essentially, I lived out of a suitcase in a two room hotel for 6 weeks.  In the hotel, we had a kitchenette but no oven.  It wasn’t bad, and we were able to eat healthy and make do without it.

So how did we go from too much stuff to a suitcase full? 

Lucky for my husband, he has two work uniforms.  Then he needed about 2 regular clothing outfits. Since he was running and training for his marathon, he brought more shoes than I did. Realistically, he could have probably lived out of a backpack…As an over packer myself, I could not.

Downgrade:

Do you really need 5 pairs of black leggings? Sure, the material might be slightly different or the pattern but is it necessary?  I brought exactly 10 outfits that could be paired differently.  Different tops and different pants.  I brought three pairs of leggings and did laundry every few days.  I grew to love that clothing enough that I won’t be wearing any of it for a few weeks now that I’m home.

When I got home, I had even forgotten I owned certain leggings.  At that point, I realized I had too much stuff.

We Learned New Simple and Basic Recipes:

We didn’t have an oven.  So we were forced to cook the majority of foods from a pan or the microwave.  For example, one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables is by roasting them.  Roasted beets are delicious!  Instead of forgoing beets at all, we decided to try something new and boil them.  It worked out just as well and honestly it’s something I’ll do back in NJ too.

So while living in a 2 room hotel for a while wasn’t ideal, it did teach me a lot.

When I got home, it took me about a week, but I downsized and donated a lot.  What were some questions I asked myself:

  • Race Tshirts: Does the shirt have meaning to me?  Did I PR? Do I like the shirt, if it wasn’t my favorite, it was donated.
  • When was the last time I wore an item?  If it wasn’t in the last full calendar year, it was donated.
  • Do I have multiple of the same thing?  Base layers are great, but do you need 4 pairs of nearly identical black leggings?  I couldn’t even remember all of the similar styles I had.
  • Running Shoes: As someone who works in running retail, I had over 20 pairs of shoes.  I’m actively running in 3 pairs right now! I kept one model of each brand, and donated 13 pairs.  It feels like a fresh hair cut.

I’m happy to be back and I don’t regret staying down in Alabama for the full six weeks.  I learned a lot about myself and what was truly important to me.

Questions for you:
How do you figure out what to keep or donate?
What are some tips you have to live with less clutter?

 

Life in Alabama

As most people know, I lived in Montgomery for just over 5 weeks.  It wasn’t long, and it went by quickly.  While I missed friends back in New Jersey, I had an enjoyable time in Alabama.

alabama sunset

Alabama Sunset

I kept busy, so I wasn’t doing “tourist” stuff every single day.  Both my husband and I were able to get out, and we visited a few different cities, including Birmingham, Atlanta, and Pensacola.

John's City Diner Birmingham Fancy

Even though we were busy, we managed to travel on the weekends and went to quite a few places.  We wanted to make the best of the month and who knows when (or if) we will be back.

Here are a few highlights of what we did do.

We visited the Wright Brothers replica.  There is a full-scale replica of the first plane the Wright Brothers flew right off the highway.

It was great to see that as well as all of the planes on display at the Maxwell Air Force Base.  planes montgomery

When we went to Atlanta a few weeks ago, we relaxed and hung out with personal friend Laura.  Laura has been a friend of mine for years, and it was so great to see her again.

laura-s-and-i

In Pensacola, we chose to visit the Naval Aviation Museum.  Can you tell we can never get away from planes?  My husband was more fascinated with the engines of planes.

naval aviation museum pensacola

One of my favorite parts we saw were visiting the Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, Alabama. It’s a large cave with a lot of different rock formations.  Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

The opening of the cave measures of 25 feet high and 126 feet wide!

Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

There are some of the most beautiful formations ever created including one of the biggest stalagmites in the world.

Cathedral Caverns Woodville Alabama

Finally, we also made a quick stop to the wildlife preserve: Tigers for Tomorrow in Dekalb, Alabama.  It’s a nonprofit wildlife preserve which cares for over 160 rare and exotic animals.  Many people don’t know, but back through high school, I had an interest in wildlife conservation and looked at colleges focusing on zoology.  My interests changed, but it’s still important to me. Tigers for Tomorrow Dekalb Alabama

The trip was no vacation but it was a breath of fresh air from New Jersey.  We saw new places and tried new things. Of course, we ran races too:

Races Run While South:
MLK Drum Run 5k (18:40) (Birmingham)
Polar Bear 5k (18:42) (Atlanta)
Pensacola Double Bridge Run (58:41) (Florida)
Mercedes Half Marathon (1:27.01) and my husband’s marathon recap (Birmingham)

In summary, it was a great few weeks, and it was fun to see a different part of the country.

Questions for you:
Have you ever lived somewhere temporarily? 
Have you been to Alabama before?

 

A Look Back at 2016 Running

The year, 2016, brought several PRs but is also brought one serious injury.

As I close out 2016 with my running, I thought it would be fun to reflect upon the year.  Plus there are plenty of new readers as well.  Thinking out loud, I also never expect you to read remember what happened on LOLZ blog.  Reflecting allows me to look back on the year too.

January: 

In 2016, January was probably the best month running wise for me.  I PRed in both of my favorite distances, the 5k and half marathon.

Starting the year off, on January 1st, I ran the Resolution Run 5k (18:22) and PRed in a prom dress. Resolution Run

Then we went on vacation to Carlsbad and I PRed at the Carlsbad Half Marathon (1:22.57).

carlsbad half

The rest of January was relatively quiet.  It is definitely hard to top a PR in my two favorite distances.

February:

February brought a better PR in the 5k and I PRed in the Flower Show 5k (18:13).  They threw flower petals at the start and you can clearly tell I was amused.flower show cannon

After that, I raced a few races but nothing of note.

March:

The biggest race in March was not my best race.  In fact for all of 2016, Shamrock Half Marathon was my most miserable and unenjoyable race (The Philly half is so very close).

I love the Shamrock Race series, but 10 minutes before the start, it started to downpour.  It was 40 degrees,  downpouring and windy.  Long story short, I paid the price and went from 7th place overall to 14th in the final mile.

My favorite race of March was the Phillies Charity 5k (18:27)  I ran an 18:27 and surprisingly won the race for females.  I received an autographed bat which was one of my favorite awards to date.

via Phillies facebook

April:

My most memorable race was running the April Fools Half Marathon.  While it wasn’t a PR, I did run a great race and surprised myself.  The theme of my 2016 racing season became bad weather and we had wind gusts of 50 MPH.

April Fools half

Another race my husband and I did in April was the Totally Awesome 80s run.  We attempted to dress the part and win the “best dressed” but there were many other couples dressed far better.

80s Attire

totally awesome 80s run

In April, I also ran the Broad Street 10 miler.  This was one of a few very good 2016 races for me.  Even though the weather was awful (what a trend), I ran a 10 mile best of 61:58.  I learned a lot from racing in Shamrock the month before and I ran the race in my Gortex jacket.  Bulky but I wasn’t defeated by the weather.

broad street 10 miler 1

May-August

May began a series of runs that felt like garbage.  I knew something was off and even with rest I didn’t feel good.  Later I found out I had a small break in my ankle and had a very rare form of food poisoning.  Honestly, it gave me plenty of time off and I didn’t miss running.

I spent most of the summer resting and then slowly easing back.  The summer of 2016 was my down period.

September:

In September I jumped into RnR Virginia Beach and ran a 1:31.  It was my first official race in a few months and I had no idea how it would go.  A hurricane had just blown through and conditions weren’t ideal, but I finished as fifth women overall.

Roll Virginia Beach results

In September, I also won the Flying Fish 5k which gave me one of my all time favorite race photos.Flying Fish 5k

Finally in late September, I ran RnR Philadephia and ran a 1:27.37.  It was extremely hot day and I was pleased with my improvement.

As you can tell, September was a great month, running wise for me.  I began to feel motivated that I was coming back from my injury strong.

October:

As great as September was, October was better!

I had an incredible time at the Runners World 5k and half marathon.  I attended my first November Project, ran an 18:41 5k and then the next day a 1:24.17 half marathon.  It was one of my best weekend performances of 2016.

Runners World half marathon photos me runnning

The following weekend, I ran the Base Half Marathon.  Even though it was close after Runners World, the race itself was important to me.  My husband was deployed at the time.  It poured rain but I ended up running negative splits (1:25.30) and was second overall (including men and women).

Base half marathon me running

November:

Similar to March, my noteworthy race was not because of a positive experience.  I felt terrible at the Philadelphia half marathon and ran a 1:27.  I was in shape to run faster but like anything bad races happen.  I crossed the finish line and didn’t think too much about it.

Five days after the Philadelphia half marathon, I ran a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k and ran an 18:30.  It restored the motivation I had lost in myself.  Plus I was race number 1, which was probably my greatest achievement of the year.medford-lakes-turkey-trot

December:

December is obviously the most fresh in my mind, and I only raced once.  The Dallas Half Marathon was my only race but also my favorite race.  I ended my half marathon racing with a 1:23.44 which was close to where I started in January (1:22.57 at Carlsbad).  bmw dallas half marathon me running

I also announced that I was being coached by James Mckirdy.

Favorite Races of 2016:

Phillies 5k (18:27)

Flower Show 5k (18:13) PR

Broad Street 10 miler (61:59) PR

Carlsbad Half Marathon (1:22.57) PR

April Fools Half Marathon (1:24.04)

Base Half Marathon (1:25.28)

Dallas Half Marathon (1:23.44)

You can see all of my races here.

So what’s next for 2017?

That is a can of worms post that deserves it’s own day.  I have a lot of goals but honestly running healthy and injury free is still the first priority.  Like any runner I would like to continue to PR. I have no plans on marathoning soon and I’m happy racing shorter.

Questions for you:

How was your year of running?

Vacationing to Dallas

Last week I went to Dallas, Texas.  The race was less than 90 minutes, but we did plenty of other things that weren’t racing too. Together with my husband as well as my inlaws, we discovered several fun and exciting things to do.

So first, Why Dallas?

The December time frame (weather wise) is a typically good in Texas.  As long-term readers know, I lived in Texas for a while. Although last week was much colder than anticipated New Jersey received it’s first snowfall, so it’s hard to complain.

Second, both my husband and I like BMWs.  He drives a 1980s BMW, while I drive a 3 series.  Since this is BMWs first title-US race, it seemed like an awesome idea to run.  The weather, timing, and title sponsor all suited us!

So with that, we arrived the Friday before the race.  Here are some of the things we did and ate.  All of which I would recommend.

We stayed in the Magnolia hotel which was beautiful and close to the race start.  We didn’t mean to find a hotel within walking distance but lady luck was on our side (this has never happened and probably never will again).

magnolia hotel view

Some of my Favorite Food:

Whiskey Cake at the Whiskey Cake

I heard this was one of the best cakes in all of Texas! It’s a rich cake made with Whiskey.  The cake itself did not disappoint and the homemade whipped cream on top was perfect. If you’re looking for a nice place to hang out, grab a drink or meal Whiskey Cake is delicious.

whiskey cake plano

 

Campisi:

If you are ever in Dallas for a race or just like Italian, Campisi is great.  They were initially opened in 1946.  For a business to still be here, means they are doing something right.  It was exactly what I wanted before a race.

What we Did:

Expo:

The BMW Dallas Marathon expo was a lot of fun.  There were plenty of activities to do including test driving an I3.  Of course, I wish they let you test drive an I8 but apparently they don’t put 100k+ cars out for testing.  I don’t get into real “fancy” cars but this would be my dream car if I had one..

BMW i8 half marathon dallas

My father in law, myself and Tim all signed the runner wall and got a nice photo next to it.

signing bmw dallas wall

img_2312

And we wouldn’t be there without my mother in law, Greta, so we needed a photo with her too. bmw dallas half marathon

Museums

I hadn’t thought about it, but I didn’t realize JFK had been assassinated in Dallas.  We walked though the Sixth Floor Museum which was a great (but lengthy) museum.  They give you a headset, and you feel like you are there.

Hiking:

hiking dallas texas

As most people know, my husband and I do enjoy our fair share of hikes.  We found a short Mountain Bike area to hike around.  All of a sudden, we found ourselves surrounded by various bike pieces and road signs in trees.  It was the most random and bizarre part of the trip.

hiking dallas texas

And of course, plenty of relaxation!  The problem with going to a destination race is you want to explore and “do everything, ” but before the race, you need to rest your legs and after a race you just want to nap.  We had a great time doing a little bit of everything.

Dallas is a fun city, nd I would love to go back sometime.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to Dallas?

What is something fun to do in your hometown?