Sunday, April 17, 2011

13.1 Miles

First half-marathon down, woohoo!

My Saturday began with a nice little alarm at 5:30am and the sound of rain outside my window. I was expecting a downpour when I looked outside, and it was exactly what I anticipated, if not worse.

I woke up Justin with a feeling of defeat from the rain. I was sad about the thought of not running because it was raining so hard, but at 5:30 in the morning, I was also really wanting to go back to bed. Justin gave me quite the good pep talk and reminded me how much I've been looking forward to this run and assured me that he'd be by my side the whole time if this is what I wanted to do - and what I should do.

So off we went to South Park in Charlotte! I figured we'd be the only crazy ones to show up other than the actual serious runners, but it seemed like almost everyone did come out. By the time we got there the rain died down to a tolerable state and we hid under a small tent constructed by the local radio station. It was meant to keep their stereo equipment dry but ended up being a shelter for the anxious runners : )

There were moments during the run when the rain was coming down hard, but it felt very invigorating. It mainly drizzled the whole time, which was actually really nice. The course was very hilly, just like the description said it would be. Thankfully, I was well prepared after training on the hills of Chapel Hill and they didn't bother me at all.

I felt very strong during the whole run, which was awesome! My strategy for the first 5 miles was to run a 10 minute pace. This only happened in the first mile because of the congestion of runners at the starting line. We actually ended up running an average pace of 9:26! It's funny to me how much I underestimate my capabilities at times. I haven't had one long distance training run where I averaged that speed. To me it's awesome to know I can run a 9:26 pace during a long run, and of course I can't wait to continuously improve in the future!


Overall, it was an awesome race, and it was so much fun running it together with Justin. I really love the distance of a half-marathon and definitely want to push myself to run harder the next time I do it.

Here are some fun photos from the race.

Good morning! It's 7am and we're not so wide-eyed and bushy-tailed...


And after the race...just a tiny bit soaked.


Can't help but be all smiles :)


Also, now I know why girls braid their hair for races or long runs because check out that little birds nest behind my neck. Definitely not too cute, but I guess it's hard to be after running 13 miles ;)

Now I'm resting for a day and can't wait to get back to running on Monday!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tomorrow!

So tomorrow is finally going to happen!

It's been a fun 9 weeks of training, but I'm ready to get this show on the road. Unfortunately, Mother Nature is not so excited for me.

Exhibit A:


Darn you rain and then thunderstorms at 10am!!! If it starts lightening during the time of the race, they will cut the race from a half-marathon to a 10k. Grrrrr!

At least it's supposed to be around 58* so hopefully I won't be too chilly running. Plus, I'll have Justin by my side to keep me company.

We're packing our bags tonight and heading to Charlotte for the expo! Since we can't control the weather, at least we can control how we prepare before the race.

Must have breakfast before the race:


I love cookie dough, but I'm not sure how much I'm going to be craving it at 6 am.

Next up, Clif Energy Bloks.


I tried these for the first time during the Tar Heel 10 miler last weekend and they were delicious!! They gave me that extra boost after mile 5 to finish. I highly recommend these!
And last up, a super cool pouch to put it all in :)


Now I'm off to Charlotte for my rainy half-marathon! I'm still excited and think it's going to actually be fun in the rain. Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rise and Shine!

I think I'm finally becoming a morning runner/workout person. Yay!

It's taken some baby steps, but I've completed a couple successful morning workouts per week over the last month, which proves it is possible to change old routines and habits.

For the longest time (basically until last month) I thought it was impossible to wake up before 6am for anything other than work or studying. I also didn't think it was necessary. Why work out in the morning when I could just run after work? Well it's true what morning worker outers say, it's the best way to just get it over with and then have the evening free. Plus you don't have to give the excuse that you're exhausted from work and "don't feel like it" or have to turn down evening social plans. This proves you CAN have your cake (workout) and eat it too (have a a social life).

When I work out in the mornings, it feels like days since I worked out by the afternoon. Honestly, I'm craving another workout, but either dinner plans, social plans or the heat get in the way.

My secret to waking up early has taken some fine tuning and trickiness over the past couple months.

Here are the steps I have to take if I'm going to work out in the morning (aka wake up at 5:15 am)

1. Lay out my workout clothes the night before (ie. shoes, socks, shirt, shorts, watch, iPod, etc.)
2. If I'm planning on going to the gym and then to work, I pack a gym bag with my toiletries and work clothes.
3. I make my lunch the night before, set up the coffee maker so I can just press "start", and put what I want to eat for breakfast on the counter.
4. I write a sticky note on my door with all the things I need to have before I walk out the door if I'm headed to the gym.
5. I drink lots of water the night before. This usually makes me get out of bed asap after my alarm goes off because of well you know (too much information?).
6. I plan to go to bed around 10:30pm and hopefully asleep by 11pm.
7. I set my alarm 10 minutes before I want to get out of bed so I can hit the snooze button once.
8. When my alarm goes off at 5:15am, I tell myself it's really 6:15am so that I don't think I'm crazy for actually being up at that time.
9. Jump out of bed, get dressed in 10 minutes, and I'm out the door.

And that's my plan! Quite a lot of little steps, but it works for me so that I don't have to think in the morning because that's just not possible. It usually takes me about 45 minutes the night before to get everything prepped and ready.

Tip #8 - "telling myself it's 6:15am when it's really 5:15am" was the golden ticket for me when I first started getting up early. Before when my alarm would go off that early, I would repeat in my head "You're CRAZY for getting up this early. Go back to bed!" And so I did just that. The first few times I was successful at waking up early was when I had a morning workout class at the gym that I already paid for and was committed to attending. This made me feel like I had to go because (1) I paid for it and (2) I believe my instructor is counting on me to be there.

So far this week my morning workouts have been a 5 mile run yesterday and a cycling class at HEAT today. Yay!

This left me with plenty of free time tonight to be social with the ladies at Shiki Sushi!


Do you have trouble waking up early to work out? If not, what are your tips?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tar Heel 10 Miler

Last week was the first week in my training where I slacked off and didn't stick to it.

I'm blaming this on a change in my routine. I don't really deal with change well, even though my current change in jobs and routine has been for the best and exactly what I want it to be. I think I just had a hard time balancing life and my training. Prior to my new job, I would work until 6:30ish or 7 and then run asap afterward. Now that I have more time in my day, I get distracted with errands or other opportunities that take away from running.

This week I will do much better! And from here on out! I guess we all have lapses in our training, and I'm glad I realized it and am back on track :)

This past Saturday I ran the Tar Heel 10 Miler in Chapel Hill with my running buddy Stacey. It was sooooo much fun! Such a great course, the event was put together perfectly, I had my lucky running charm to chit chat with, and it was in Chapel Hill, my stomping grounds :)

Stacey and I car pooled and made it to the starting line a little after 7am. The race was to begin at 7:30am. Once we settled into our pace group at the starting line, I noticed I forgot my iPod in the car! I honestly didn't even care. The excitement of the event and entertainment of runners helped alleviate what would be silence and kept me quite occupied. Stacey and I also chit-chatted during the first 8 miles so I was fine! I almost preferred it that way. It was so nice to be running the last 2 miles and be completely in tune with my body, listening to my breathing pattern and feet hitting the pavement. It was an empowering feeling.

Mile 8.5ish had the biggest hill. It was called the "Laurel Hill Challenge" because it was so steep and meant to be quite the challenge. Stacey and I did a great job pacing ourselves throughout the race, plus we're used to running these hills in Chapel Hill all the time that we were cruising past a few other racers as they walked up the hill.

Once Laurel Hill was over, we booked it to the finish line. This is my favorite part about long runs. I love pacing myself and saving energy for those last 2 miles where I can give it all I have at the end. It felt great to be flying down Stadium Drive to the finish line!

The event itself was sooooo much fun! Everyone received medals after they crossed the finish line, lots of Gatorade and refreshments were waiting for us, which we couldn't even fathom putting into our body after crossing the finish line. Thank goodness I felt a lot better once we made it to the pancake party and I devoured my portion. Yuummmmm!!!

I highly recommend you guys give this race a try next year! It was so much fun!

See how much fun I had???


One too many endorphins going on in the above pic!


Sup bib...



I ran the race in 1:36:05 with an average pace of 9:37. Not too shabby! The race chip did a separate split for the Laurel Hill Challenge, which I ran at an 8:16 pace. Yay!!

Overall, it was a great weekend! Can't wait for the half-marathon next weekend!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coooooooooooookies

I'm forcing myself to write this post because I'm so disappointed that I don't have any running updates to share :(

This would be because I've been resting since Sunday's run when I hurt my ankle and pulled my hamstring. My ankle felt fine when the weight was on the center of it, but if I did any lateral movement it hurt so bad. I even woke up at 4-something AM on Tuesday because it hurt on its side.

I know I'm crazy, but I still went to my HEAT Beach Body workout Tuesday morning at 6am. The instructor recommended I warm it up on the treadmill to make sure it was ok because the class involved a lot of lateral movement. Surprising this warm up did help me, and I felt fine throughout the class. I felt a little twinge maybe once or twice, but other than that I was good!

My hamstring was really tight and hurt pretty bad so I made a judgment call to take Tuesday and Wednesday off from running to ensure I'm in tip top shape for my 10 mile race this weekend and then the half-marathon next weekend!!

Most people stock up on carbs on purpose....I stock up all the time just because I love them. For some reason when I work out, I feel like I eat less. When I don't work out, I eat wayyyyyyyyyyy more. Why?!?!?

I finally succumbed to my cravings, and made cookies!!!


I have this crazy thing for cookies. I loovvvveeeee to have two warm cookies. This would explain the soft tissue around my body. But I don't give in to these cravings now that I've been running. It's only when my body knows I'm not working out that it thinks "Hmmm...since you're not working out...I guess you should be eating." I wonder if it's because I'm one of those people who feel like they have to always be doing something. So if I'm not working out...I'm eating? Hmmm...I'm going to have to fix this or it's going to be an issue.

Well now that I'm all healed up, I'm definitely going to hit the pavement and get some miles on these legs before the big day on Saturday. I'm thinking 4 miles tomorrow and then 2.5 on Friday. This should keep me rested, but mobile for my race.

Other than the excitement of the race itself, we get free pancakes afterward too!!! Ahhhh HEAVEN. I love pancakes! Yay!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Heart.

“The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart.”
- Bill Bowerman, Nike co-founder

I read this quote yesterday right before my long run, and it was the best thought to have fresh on my mind before the run. It set the tone and reminded me not to focus on the pace or anything else, but to just focus on pushing my limits.

The meaning of this quote is what inspired me to take running more seriously in the first place. I wanted to run not to be in shape, but to push my body to be the best it could be. I want to be more than a runner or gym rat, I want to be the best I can be today.

It's so easy for me to get caught up in wanting to run more miles or run faster, but hearing these words reminds me that I will get there someday. I just need to push my current limits to get to my heart's next set of limits.

I repeated this thought over and over in my head during my run. My usual mantra I use if the run feels hard is to repeat to myself - "Just keep running. Just keep running. Just keep running." I do this over and over and over again. And it seems to work for me!

I guess it did because I had a great run on Sunday according to my splits, but it sure didn't feel that great during it. My body felt kind of tired and then during the middle of mile 5, I fell to the ground like a splattered mess after missing the dip in the sidewalk. It was painful!

This nice mom and her daughter waved me down to ask for directions, so I kindly stopped (but jogging in place as they walked) and totally didn't notice how the sidewalk dipped into the road as I fell flat onto the ground. I let out a little "f***!" as I tumbled to the pavement and in my mind I was blaming them for this awful predicament, which probably meant I had a sprained ankle. Like the well-mannered lady I am (or aspire to be), I said "I'm sorry for that little outburst!" and tried to hold back the tears as my ankle was in agony. They looked terrified of me. The mom apologized and they went on their way.

I walked around in circles for a few minutes and my ankle miraculously went back to normal. CRAZY! I was so happy that I could finish my long run. So on I went to finish my 8 miles for the day!!

My overall strategy for my runs is to always start out slow and finish fast. I knew I wanted to do the first four or five miles in the upper 9s to 10:05 pace at the slowest. I should have run a little bit slower, but I'm glad to see that I kept a consistent pace for the first 5 miles - eh kinda. And then of course picked it up on the last 3, which is always so fun!

Overall, it was a nice fun/relaxing weekend! Justin and I got a lot of cooking in at home and just had fun together :) Now I'm off to stock up on carbs at Kanki (a Japanese steakhouse) for my lovely roomie's birthday dinner! I'm looking forward to all the rice to get me through tomorrow's HEAT Beach Body class at 6am and then the 5 mile run tomorrow night! Eeeee!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Something New

Out with the old and in with the new because spring cleaning is here!

Since I don't have my own house or lots of space to clean, I'm spring cleaning my life. This is all starting with a new routine, a new lifestyle, and new job to let me do it.

Yes - a new job. It was a bitter-sweet decision, but I knew I needed more balance in my life to pursue my goals outside of work. I was presented with a new opportunity that will allow me to spend more time doing the things I love and learning the things I want to.

I recently added the song "Something More" by Sugarland to my running playlist and it fits my feelings to leaving my job perfectly.

Monday, hard to wake up
Fill my coffee cup, I'm out the door
Yeah, the freeway's standing still today
It's gonna make me late, and thats for sure
I'm running out of gas and out of time
Never gonna make it there by nine

There's gotta be something more
Gotta be more than this
I need a little less hard time
I need a little more bliss

I'm gonna take my chances
Taking a chance I might
Find what I'm looking for
There's gotta be something more

Five years and there's no doubt
That I'm burnt out, I've had enough
So now boss man, here's my two weeks
I'll make it short and sweet, so listen up
I could work my life away, but why?
I got things to do before I die


Some believe in destiny, and some believe in fate
I believe that happiness is something we create
You best believe that I'm not gonna wait
'Cause there's gotta be something more

I get home 7:30 the house is dirty, but it can wait
Yeah, 'cause right now I need some downtime
To drink some red wine and celebrate
Armageddon could be knocking at my door
But I ain't gonna answer that's for sure.
There's gotta be something more!

Cheesy? Maybe. But yesterday was my last day at my old job, and I'm excited to start living for something more!

To celebrate my new found freedom, Justin and I made a delicious dinner! I was supposed to make it for him, but I'm not that quick at prep work and needed an extra hand to help chop up the veggies and pound the meat.

We made Chicken Cutlets with Orange and Arugula. It was sooooo yummy! I again saw this recipe on Rachael Ray's show and just had to make it.

Ingredients:


* 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
* 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
* A little fresh grated nutmeg
* A handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
* 1 orange, zested
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 3 eggs, beaten
* 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying
* 2 seedless oranges
* 2 yellow or orange tomatoes, seeded and diced
* 1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves finely chopped, optional
* 1/2 small red onion or 2 to 3 scallions, chopped
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 4 cups baby arugula leaves

Directions:

Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, nutmeg, parsley, and orange zest in a shallow bowl. Put the flour in another bowl and the eggs in a third bowl.

Cut the chicken breasts horizontally being sure not to cut all the way through to the other side so it will open like a book. Once the chicken is butterflied, lightly pound the chicken between waxed paper, parchment or plastic wrap into 4 large, very thin cutlets. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper and coat with the flour, then the egg and then the bread crumbs.

Heat a 1/2-inch of frying oil in very large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the cutlets 1 or 2 at a time, depending on the size of the pan. As cutlets are done, transfer to a baking rack to drain. Cutlets may be served room temperature but you want them to remain crisp.

While the cutlets cook, working next to the stove, peel and section the oranges and dice. Add them to a large bowl along with the tomatoes, oregano, if using, onion, extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Toss and when ready to serve fold in the arugula leaves.

Transfer the cutlets to serving plates and top with mounds of orange and arugula salad before serving.

---

Here's some fun pics from our festive Friday night:

Our assembly line. Flour...eggs...then breadcrumbs mix...


Once the butterflied and pounded chicken went through the above process, we added it to the frying pan...


While the chicken was frying, we diced the oranges, tomatoes and onions for the arugula salad.




Once the chicken was cooked, we topped it with the arugula salad. How pretty!


We toasted the evening with a delicious red wine that we found at Southern Seasons. It was perfect.


Nothing like good food, good wine, GREAT company, and a great conversation to start off the weekend.

Now we're looking forward to our 3 mile Saturday run!