Monday, November 26, 2012

Cleaning up the Diet

Is anyone else as perplexed as myself by the fact that we are going to be in December this weekend? Where has 2012 gone?

This year has been pretty kick ass for me I must say. I guess time really does fly when you are having fun. I have focused on and hit major goals in both my professional and personal life and could not be more thrilled.

With that being said though, one aspect that has fallen off a little lately is my diet. Now, nothing crazy, but I have added back about 2 pounds in the last month. That is nothing I can pretty much lose that in a week. The problem is that I was making unhealthy choices and pretty much eating out of boredom. That, is not okay. That is a habit I worked long and hard to break. I am also finding myself ashamed and not even wanting to log those calories in myfitnesspal app. 

Also, I am now 8 weeks out from my marathon. I would like to toe the line in Miami about 10 pounds lighter than I am now. 

It is time to get back on track 100%. I have been a little surprised with my racing and running success with my diet being less than stellar at times lately. But that is a testament to my training being on par (I am nuts about hitting my workouts that is something that never gets compromised).

So here is the plan of action effective immediately (well, more like as of last Friday but just now writing about it, happy to report; so far so good).

  • Food prep – I am really good about this but lately I have been getting a little bored with my choices so I need more variety
  • Almond Butter ban – this is a big one – nut butter is probably my biggest downfall. Spoon to jar situation – I am giving it up through the end of the year since I lack control
  • Portioning out all food servings – again I get in trouble when I take a container/box/bag of something and eat – meausure/weigh everything – portioning is king
  • Keep temptations out of the house – along the nut butter lines – certain foods I know I lack control over – even good foods (i.e. nuts) can be eaten in too large a quantity and be detrimental
  • Be cognizant of macros – on days I am famished it is because things are out of wack. Time to get back to basics and make sure they are balanced
  • Drink water! I am SO bad with this. I just do not get thirsty and am perpetually in a state of dehydration – also really bad when you are running a crap load.
  • Only eat my post dinner “treat” if I am actually hungry – all too often I am eating again out of habit so need to pay better attention to body cues

So there you have it. Plan of attack. Right now I am eating well over 2,000 calories per day a lot of days I am probably around 2,500. I like to eat. Granted a lot of it is healthy stuff and I also burn off a crap ton of calories with how much I work out; but, I can train effectively by netting 1,500 and it is only beneficial to myself to make sure everything is quality that is going into my body. I think the number one thing is to eat when hungry and eat intuitively. 

While I don’t think there are many people out there who don’t want to “drop a few” this really is more performance based than vanity driven. The lighter I am the faster I will run. And it will be more beneficial to my body/joints to be marathon training at a lighter weight. It’s a lot of stress on the body. I never understood why anyone would advise someone overweight to do a marathon (I am by no means overweight nor think I am for the record).

Anyways. So here we go. Operation drop pounds for the Marathon and stop binging on crap is on. Let’s get this party started!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Longest Run Yet!!

(I guess that this post title can be used a few more times in the next couple months...points for originality!)

Sunday Runday was a HUGE success today!

3 loops of Central Park.

18 miles paced at 9:45.

Minus the fact that I stopped to buy a water around mile 6 and didn't realize until 2 miles later that I had forgotten to restart my Garmin.

That, makes me sad. As if I can't validate those 2 miles. Sigh.

Overall if I am honest with myself, that run was TOUGH (an hour after the run though after a coffee I was all "oh I could totally run more RIGHT NOW" pfffttt oh how we forget the struggle).

Anyways. Up with the sun this morning and in the park, ready to run around 8:45 - a brisk day, high 30's with some awesome wind gusts. Mmmm perfect conditions. Or not.

For "breakfast" I ate a full pack of the Gu Chomps, Peach Tea since they seemed to work so well yesterday. 2x the caffeine is a fantastic way to start the day! Should also note that I barely drank anything and forgot to bring a bottle of water for the commute in. Rookie mistake. I mean hydrate for 18 miles? Why would that be important?

I got off at Columbus Circle and another mistake off the bat was deciding that I didn't need to stop in the rest room. Instead I set my Garmin and was off. Stupid excitement to run.

I tried to settle in a comfortable pace not too fast and was feeling good but had a feeling that it was going to be a tough day. My legs were not fresh and oh yeah I worked out on my rest day Friday...I swear from now on I am paying attention to that rest day. It is clearly built in for a reason. It wasn't hard persay from the start but I knew that I would have no problem backing off on pace (as opposed to last week when I did my 15 at 9:14 and felt fresh as a daisy for some reason).

I pretty much started to zone out. I knew I had some serious mileage to conquer and just aimed to be comfortable. After about 4 miles though, I realized, that I should have definitely used the bathroom before starting. My goal now was to get through those next 2 to return to that restroom. Those 2 miles involved a lot of "clenching" and just saying a prayer to make it.

I finished the first loop, stopped for the bathroom real quick and a bottle of water so that I could take a gu and took off again. This is where I forgot to restart my Garmin. A couple miles later oh my lord I felt nauseous. I definitely thought that I was going to throw up. And as I looked down to check where my pace was out I realized, I forgot to start my Garmin again. Total sad pants moment.

I'm not sure if it was the gu, the water, the combination of the two or what, but my stomach did not agree. It also could have been the fact that I hadn't had any "real" food since about 8pm the previous night but whatever it was, it sucked.

Going up the east side was a relief. Cat Hill definitely is not that bad anymore. I actually smile every time going by the cat. However, going up the west side was torture. As you rounded to the west side going down hill the wind started gusting at you and did not stop the entire time going up Harlem Hill. Which, really isn't a hill, more like a never ending mountain. At least when your legs are tired. It is basically...okay you are going up...oh look you are almost there just get around the bend...oh s**t it doesn't stop around the bend...still going up...will stop around that one...or not...and so on for what seems like forever (at least when you are looping the park multiple times!). What an awful experience that must be for newbies. At least I know that it isn't ending but if you aren't familiar with it, then it must be such a tease thinking it is over but in reality having like another mile of going uphill. I can appreciate it for the fact that those hills make you stronger than straightaways and flats; but my buns were feeling the burn!

Around mile 14 or so things got interesting. It was at this point that mentally I was falling apart. I wanted to quit the run. I was tired, and nauseous again after another gu. I had given myself a mental high five when I passed the half marathon point but that joy was short lived.

I was feeling aches in random places, my knees hurt, the soles of my feet ached, my shoulders were stiff, my hands were frozen (even in gloves), my legs were numb (I was wearing a running skirt) and I convinced myself that I was a moron for deciding that I needed to do a marathon, that my body was going to fall apart before I even had the chance to run it. I am pretty sure that I kind of yelled at myself out loud a couple times to pull it together. And then I wanted to yell at others that I was marathon training and that was why I probably looked like death. (seriously when you are doing a distance run I wish there was a flashing sign you could wear that announces your mileage in case you look like you are struggling!).

I was convinced that I was running 12 minute miles. My legs felt like lead and as though I was shuffling along, not running. I refused to look at my Garmin for a while because of this.

Dramatic? Perhaps. But also this internal debate got me through the next couple of miles and before I knew it I had less than 2 miles left. And now my thought process turned to - oh only 2 miles, you can do this in your sleep! Whoever thinks 2 miles is a challenge is an idiot.

Haha, yes. My train of thought was awesome. But, I got through it. I told myself to just continue to run. It's a training run just run, who cares what your pace is? (clearly, I do, and I need to stop trying to "race" these runs...that they are to be run slower for a reason).

As soon as I finished all I could think of was just HOW BADLY I wanted coffee. I wasn't even that excited that I did 18 I was more excited to hydrate and warm up. My body was aching and I wanted to get home to a piping hot shower. I am eternally thankful for the Starbucks at Columbus Circle.

I got caffeinated, ate a banana, chugged a bottle of water and felt like a new person by the time I got home. A few hours later, I am definitely not as still as I was feeling last week, which is good! I thought with how achey I was feeling during the run that I was going to be hit hard with stiffness.

Overall today I learned a few things:

- I still have a long way to go to figure out the optimal fueling strategy for me for this marathon

- Never skip the pre-run bathroom break

- The marathon will most likely get pretty mental; I need to keep remembering that after the fact I always feel as though I could have run more

- Trust the training plan. Rest day Friday is there for a reason. Saturday's run sets you up for your legs to be a little tired on Sunday's run. If you decide to ignore rest day then you are going to want to kill yourself on Sunday. Stop feeling guilty about a rest day.

- That I genuinely love this. The training, the mental toughness required, the sense of accomplishment I have after each and every workout I conquer. I am legitimately proud of myself.

Bring on ING Miami. 2 months. I've got this.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cold Weather Wimp

The first thing I did when I woke this morning was roll over and check the temperature on my weather app on my phone.

40 degrees. Sigh. With 20-25 mph wind gusts. Just peachy.

In the past I have typically retreated to the confines of the gym and treadmill when the weather gets cold. During the week I do a couple of my runs on the treadmill but those are usually 4-6 milers and today I was "planning" on 7 or so.

And I am well aware that 40 is not really cold and we probably haven't really even seen cold just yet, but whatever. It is more that I am really not a fan of having to bundle myself up. I am adverse to coats, gloves, hats in real life and running life.

So anyways getting back to train of thought was something like this: I'm so cozy...I need to run...I'm pretty hungry...those few drinks last night left me a slight stomach feels "weird"...I kind of want to lay in bed all day...

Oh how nice it would have been to just be lazy in bed. But then I realized:

1) I want a Starbucks coffee (I end my runs at SB which meant, I had to run if I wanted coffee)
2) I have a bunch of fun new gear to try out (nothing gets me giddy to run like new stuff)
3) I'm running a marathon in 2 months, these run are you know, just a LITTLE bit important

My attitude about going for a run first thing took a quick 180 and I jumped out of bed ready to get the show on the road.

Originally I had planned on breakfast and then waiting an hour or two to run but now I wanted to get out the door immediately (seriously, my attitude changed pretty quickly!).

Instead I ate a sample size pack of Peach Tea flavored Gu Chomps that I had been given from Fleet Feet when I went yesterday to stock up on some cold weather gear and also packed a Cherry Lime Roctane in my spibelt to try out. I really want to figure out what my best fueling options are going to be for the marathon in January.

The flavor of the Peach Tea Chomps was alright. Not a favorite, but it has 2x the caffeine, which gave a little pep in my step as I started my run (seriously, about 2 minutes into my run I looked down and saw I was sub 8 min miles. I reeled that pace in veeeery quickly).

I had so many new things to try out today: a new running skirt, compression socks, headband, and gloves. New stuff yayyy!!!

As much as I am adverse to the cold I can handle my legs being a little cold so will tough it out in a skirt/shorts and compression socks on my runs for as long as I can. What I am more concerned about is my constantly cold hands. So I had these new guys to try out:

These Brooks gloves are really comfortable. I decided not to get a pair that was too heavily lined because as much as I had having my fingers freeze I also hate when my hands are all sweaty. They are pretty unique though: there is a little pouch on the back of the hand and what comes out is what you can see in the second picture: it turns it into a mitten and also is supposed to protect against the wind! A little windbreaker for your hands. Adorbs. Oh and functional. Right function is what we are going for!

Todays run was pretty calming. I started out pretty speedy but tried to stay conscious of that and checked every few minutes to try and keep a slower pace. The purpose training wise of todays run is to tire the legs out a bit before going long tomorrow.

The wind was absolutely a pain at some times but I think I am getting more used to it running on the water. It didn't affect me too much. It was definitely chilly but once I was moving it wasn't unbearable. I can handle temps in the 40's I am more scared for when it dips to 30 and lower.

I was losing myself in my run when I realized...I was 4 miles out. Oops. I suppose when you are on an out and back you should pay attention to how far out you are going. So, I turned around and headed on back. Around mile 5 I decided to rip into that Cherry Lime Roctane...and oh dear lord, I was NOT a fan of that flavor. I choked down about half, attempted to get the other half down but literally spit it out. Trial and error is what it is all about and that flavor just does not do it for me apparently.

On my way back I would up missing a turn and wound up having to back track when a portion of the pier was closed and I had to retreat to the road but other than that, it was pretty uneventful. Legs were feeling pretty good and now I just REALLY wanted coffee. My hands were cold (yes with the gloves, argh) but the next thing I knew I was done. Just a little bit off my mark:

7 miles...or just shy of 9. Whatever, same thing.

Overall, yes it was windy and cold but happy I got out of bed and did it first thing. Lately my "fear of cold" (which has never turned out to be actually bad yet) has left me with runs hanging over my head all day long. Time to get back to just getting up and getting out there. Now I can be lazy in bed for as long as I want to today and that sounds just fantastic to me.

And, you know the views weren't too bad either ;-)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Prospect Park Track Club 5M Turkey Trot: Recap

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am still in a slight state of shock that it is nearing the end of the year. I feel like just yesterday I was saying that I was in shock that summer had come to an end.

I am so not prepared for the cold and winter though. Big UGH. And for some reason I do not think that we are going to luck out with such a mild winter as last year.

Anyways. This week (and it was a short week at that) was bananas. After the high of my long training run on Sunday; Monday was off with a bang.

Work was full of meetings, on top of which, I was heading to Baltimore in the afternoon for meetings all Tuesday with our consulting firm. Penn Station the week of Thanksgiving is just a nightmare. But traveling by the Acela is always welcome. My time down there was limited as I was back home by 7pm on Tuesday. I have a feeling trips like this are going to become more of the norm for me. But the good news was that work being so busy meant that Wednesday flew by and a 5 day weekend was upon me (you know, with bringing work home, but whatevs, at least I don't have to go to the office and can work at my leisure as needed!).

While most everyone woke up this morning with thoughts of eating ungodly amounts of food; I woke up this morning to this:

Muahaha I crack myself up. Waking up at the crack of dawn on a day off? Nothing unusual about that. We had signed up for the NYC Runs / PPTC 5 Mile Turkey Trot run in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

Now it was exciting to be running in unfamiliar territory since so many races are NYRR and run in Central Park; but seriously, logistically not the WISEST choice for Thanksgiving morning.

Meant had to be out the door and on a bus by 7am to ensure that we arrived with enough time to pick up our race numbers and get situated. And, oh yeah, miss all that craziness associated with the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Minor detail.

Thankfully it was actually pretty easy and uneventful albeit longish. I left home at 6:45 and we arrived in Prospect Park at a 8:15 or so. A miracle for us since we tend to arrive to races as they are starting. It's always more fun to add the frenzy of missing the race start to the actual race.

Anywho, it was a brisk morning but clear and gorgeous. I had forgotten just how nice Prospect Park is. We arrived and walked to pick up our race bibs, and also received embroidered fleece convertible neck warmers/headbands/hats which I thought were a nice giveaway! Shirts can get old. I have so many (note to self time to donate). We had plenty of time to pin our bibs, walk to bag drop, use the bathrooms and head to the start with time to spare.

We are not the only ones ready to Trot!
Happy Runners!!!

We placed ourselves as close to the front as we thought was good considering neither of us planned to run all out, but there were about 2,500 runners registered and no pacing groups so we really just had to wing it. And oh yeah, this is supposed to be a "fun run" a "turkey trot" right, sure, I will try to not be competitive, duly noted.

There was no fanfare (no National Anthem - I thought kind of random on a National Holiday?) just the shot gun start and we were off!

As we started I was feeling a little lethargic. I should also start learning to warm up to run instead of using the beginning of the race as a warmup. I think that is an alright approach for a half marathon and distance; but these 4/5 Mile and 10K's I should probably work on doing some strides etc.

I still hadn't decided what my race strategy old 5 Mile time is pretty awful something like just under 50 minutes so I knew I would most likely PR regardless of how I decided to run it.

Then I finished my first mile in 8:53 and I decided; game on. Let's do this. And I started racing. The course was pretty nice, the park is scenic and I was enjoying myself. My stomach was feeling okay as well which is always a welcome change! I was keeping up a good pace then enter the hill I think around mile 2.5 or so; maybe sooner. That sucker definitely slowed me down. But it was just a 5 miler, no reason to not push with shorter races I am trying to take the mentality of push push push; the worst that happens is you bonk out and slow down. Not like I won't finish.

My mile 3 split was exactly 9 minutes darn hill. But after that hill it was smooth sailing. I decided once it was over to pick up the pace and after settling in to something mildly uncomfortable to check my gps and try to keep that.

Mile 4 was run in 8:07 and then Mile 5 in 8:13! I was trucking along and man it felt GOOD! I am getting there, I am getting speedier!

I don't have the "official" results but this is according to my handy Garmin:

Stupid hill. Messing up my pace. Argh.
PR! Yay. Kind of angry I didn't decide to race from the beginning but I also went in with no strategy so cannot be upset with the end result. Or with the sweet medal. Medals make every holiday awesome!

Will run for medals.
Overall, I think every holiday should be celebrated with a race. But that is just my humble opinion ;-)

Today I am thankful not only for an amazing family and to be blessed with such success this year; but also for PR's and friends who are just as crazy as myself as to get up at the crack of dawn to travel for over an hour to go run 5 miles on a holiday.

This year has been absolutely amazing to me. I have worked my ass off and today I am reminded that hard work, goals and taking your happiness into your own hands will come with generous rewards; both professionally and personally (obviously speaking in relation to my running success I have found).

I have big aspirations for myself and know that if I continue to work hard that only good can continue to come my way.

I absolutely love my life and wouldn't change any of it for the world. Here is hoping that the next year only brings continued love and success.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Going Long

Today was everything I imagine it would be and then some.

I woke up at 5 (okay, my alarm went off at 5 I snoozed til ohhh perhaps 6 or so). I had for the first time in a long time actually laid out everything I needed for today:

- bib and safety pins
- D tag on my shoes
- running skirt, compression socks, t-shirt and tech long sleeved 1/4 zip up was todays outfit
- 3 gu's for while running
- powerbar bursts for my breakfast/prerun
- water bottle with nuun
- spibelt, garmin, heart rate strap
- bus tickets and metrocard

I was prepared and golden this morning. Really makes getting out the door a lot easier when you are prepared. Especially when not checking a bag, a lot less anxiety.

I was out the door around 6:40 and ready to go. With the PATH still not running it was frustrating that literally the only option for getting in was the 7:00 bus - there was nothing earlier and then next wouldn't have been until 8:00 thus would miss the start of the race.

But it all worked out. I was at the SW entrance to Central Park at 7:40 and turned on my Garmin and just started running. The race time was at 8:30 so my goal was to just get in what I could by then.

I started heading up east at an easy pace in the low 9's. My goal for the day was to just keep it 9:30 or under but not to go too fast and be under 9. So I went up the east side to the reservoir, did a lap and headed back down to the start. I got to the corrals a few minutes before the gun and having finished about 4.25 miles.

Before I knew it the gun went off and we were off. Race to Deliver! It was just 4 miles. I kept it pretty steady and did not race by any means. My quad was still tight so figured better to just maintain my pace than push it. Funny, a man came up to me around mile 3 huffing and puffing and I was just happy as a clam enjoying my run and he says "are you even trying?". Oops. But the answer is, no, no I was not "trying". I wound up finishing around 36 minutes at around 9 min/mile. Pretty much what I was going for.

After the race, I took in a gu and was off and running with 7 more miles to go! I was, a little annoyed though. I finished the race and my Garmin was flashing low battery. Not amused at all. I thought it had a full charge. So either something is wrong with it, or I messed up. We will find out next time around how long it holds a full charge (it is only 2 months old so it should not lose charge that quick).

I decided to once again head up the East Drive to the Reservoir. I got up there and proceeded to truck along. I was still feeling really good. Quad was a little tight still but it was not affecting my pace. More annoying going up/down stairs. Must start to integrate stretching. Especially after tough workouts.

Every time I looked down at my Garmin I was surprised that I was sticking to a pace in the low 9's. After my second time around I stopped quick for another gu and some water and then was off for one final lap.

After my third time around I headed back down the east side to finish up. And then, low and behold my stupid Garmin crapped out on me at 14.1 miles. Thankfully I had been waiting for that to happen and caught it as it turned off on me and was able to resume my run using my GPS on my phone. I headed down and around and finished up at the N, R, Q at 59th.

Overall, my first "official marathon training run" completed in 2:21:08 for a total of 15.26 miles at a 9:14 pace. BOOM.

I was so happy the entire time. All I could think of was how amazing it is going to be to run the marathon in January. How much I totally love running. How far I have come, and just proud and amazed that 15 miles felt like nothing.

I've got this. I cannot explain the joy and satisfaction that I get from running distance.

I ate another gu when I finished since I had to get home and wanted to refuel with something. I stretched out while I waited for the subway and it helped. Once I got home I took a divine hot shower, slathered up my legs with tiger balm and stuffed my face with pumpkin oatmeal pancakes.

I am now relaxing in bed, watching some football and joyfully awaiting my next run.

Happy little Sunday indeed.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Commence Marathon Training!

With the Trenton Half marathon finished and the Verrazano Festival Half cancelled, halfs for fall are officially over, and bring on the marathon training plan!

I am so excited.

Every time I think about running the marathon I cannot explain the feeling of joy and elation that overcomes me.

Yes, I am also just a little warped.

I am beyond thrilled at the prospect of getting to tackle 26.2 miles for the first time. I am sure that it is going to be difficult and challenging; but that is the way I like things in life. The easy is for the weak.

Okay perhaps I am just a LITTLE wound up and should tone it down.

So this week was insanely busy in general with work. After being out due to Sandy I was feeling slightly stressed as it was. Then, sadly, my Grandma passed away on Saturday morning (my mom waited until after my race to tell me) so I worked a half day Monday and from home on Tuesday. The rest of the week was spent attempting to finish as much as possible and regain some sanity.

Because, of course, I am traveling for work this coming week, and then Thanksgiving which puts me in the office only on Monday. Sheesh. BUSY!

However, nothing stands between myself and my training, and here is how the week shook out with workouts:

Sunday: 5+ miles
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 4.1 miles morning/5 miles evening
Wednesday: 7 miles
Thursday: 4 miles - intervals plus leg strength workout
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 7.5 miles

(can we have a moment for those TWO rest days in there thank you very much)

And that brings us to tomorrow: 15 mile is on the schedule. I have a 4 mile race in Central Park: NYRR Race to Deliver. My plan of attack for the day is to arrive in CP early to get some mileage in before the race, hopefully a good 5-6 race and then wind it down after. Probably not attempting to break any records tomorrow but we will see.

My quad is feeling a little "sore". I am not sure if it is a slight pull or soreness from the squat/lunge awesomeness that took place after speed work on Thursday. But I will say I paced the 7.5 today at 9:11 and was really holding back, so I think it is fine. But, I do want to make sure I am not being stupid: i.e. attempting to "race" if I am not 100%.

I am also excited because for the first time today I ran in a skirt! My work gave me some new gear on Friday and today I ran in it, and LOVED it.

So excited.

So now, with a 5am wake up in order for tomorrow, I am off to hit the hay (or watch a movie, either or) as I feel like it is Christmas tomorrow with 15 miles on the horizon, that are "official" marathon training miles!

10 weeks out baby!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


When I walked in to the office Monday morning the first thing that was said to me was: "How did your race go this weekend?" I. Love. It.

I work for a professional sports league and, many of the people that I work with played sports on the collegiate and professional level. Now, I am just an average runner, with high aspirations for this thing that I am obsessed with, but they GET it. For them it may have been their actual job at one point, where this is just a hobby for me, but to me training is pretty much non negotiable if I want to get to the next level. Of course I have days where it feels like a job but I get out there and I do the work.

The more involved I have become with racing the more my mentality and approach has shifted over the years. The first half marathon that I did, was due to my sister. I had been increasing my mileage to up my weight loss (I really need to post on how this all began and where I have come from...) and she mentioned she was going to be doing a half marathon in about 3 months and since I was already running 6 or 7 miles at a time I should run it with her. A challenge? I like challenges. And so it began. I ran my first half and then was hooked. I knew that I would do it again.

This year was when I really took the whole racing thing to a new level. And with that I found that my social life took a major hit.

None of my close friends are into running. Nor to be honest are many of them really into a fitness oriented lifestyle. That makes maintaining some of those relationships kind of difficult. Over the past couple of years the friendships that were based solely on the social aspect have drifted to the wayside. Those that I have a connection with and it wasn't based on just going out to the bars and drinking have been maintained. But it is still hard for any of them to really get it. I have had to fight for why I will not go out until 3am Friday or Saturday night. Why bar crawls do not have any place in my life. Why if I go out I want to be home by 11/12 o'clock. It gets exhausting and has caused me to actually just avoid those people versus having to explain for the umpteenth time just why I will not be going out.

I love it. I enjoy getting up and going after it early in the morning. Being more productive by 10 am on the weekends than most of them will be all day. This is my lifestyle. Perhaps at one point began as a diet but it is who I am now.

I am also well aware that my love for running and training makes me talk about said topics quite often. I blog about it, I instagram about it, I facebook about it. So sue me. But I can understand how it consumes me and others may not want to talk about it either. Enter finding some really good running and racing buddies. As I have evolved with this, I have slowly but surely begun to meet some running friends. I will be running my first marathon with one of the best in January. I am thirsty for a running community. I am jealous of those who have a group that go to races together. I think it is high time I joined one or two of the local running clubs. I have forever thought that I wasn't good enough - I actually still quite shockingly realize that yes, I am indeed a runner - and it startles me.

My family as well in general thinks I am kind of nuts. My one sister who got me into this in the first place has not run another since. My other is actually a trainer and we just ran two races together but she has given me grief for how much I run. Then there are my parents who just think I am nuts. My dad was an athlete so his is mostly out of fatherly concern as he just had a total hip replacement and is still in need of a new knee which he is stubbornly putting off. He is just worried for me and does not want that in my future. When I mention another half marathon or more recently casually mentioned I am running a full in January he just laughs and says "Oh, Gianna". I don't think they will be making signs and showing up on the course any time soon! But I do think he is proud of the accomplishments. Recently when I explained that I had paced my half at an 8:38 pace I think there was a little bit of awe and appreciation in his voice, which made me happy. Because who doesn't look for parental approval?

Which brings me back to work. I love my job, and more importantly I love the people that I work with. On the weekends I get emails wishing me luck in my races and following up asking for results. During they week, they will stop by my desk and ask what my running is like for that day. Post race, good or bad, I am happy to have that support there when it is lacking from a lot of other sources. And of course who doesn't like to brag about a new PR to people who get how much work you put in to get it?  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Trenton Half: Recap

Spoiler alert: NEW PR!!!!

Thank you very much Trenton Half!!!

Okay let's start from the beginning.

Woke up to my first alarm at 5:00am. I promptly downed a bottle of water and snoozed until my next alarm at 5:30 repeat procedure to 6:00 when I finally rolled myself out of bed (okay maybe I snoozed just a LITTLE bit more until 6:15 but same thing).

I had decided already that I was not going to eat anything before the race. I didn't want to chance it so I planned to just take one of the double caffeine gu's about 20 minutes before race time and take it from there.

Pretty uneventful getting ready as I had laid everything out the night before. I went down to the lobby around 6:45 with a water bottle of nuun to wait for the shuttle. The shuttle arrived around 7:00 and it was a short drive to the Trenton Thunder stadium where the race would begin and end.

This was the inaugural year for this half marathon (also a 10K and kids race - quite the ambitious undertaking!). I thought that they did a pretty good job considering. The half was capped at 2,500 and sold out. Not 100% sure on the numbers for the 10K but there were a lot of bodies there.

I had plenty of time when I arrived to find myself a nice spot and then just chill out, pin my bib, slap some body glide on eat a gu etc. the usual pre-race fun. Also was super exciting because a couple of IG followers were at the race and we met up! Hi guys!!! I love when blog/IG world collide with real life. And I LOVE the running community. Happiness.

So we met up, went to bag check and headed to corrals. At this time it was the proposed start time of 7:45 but it was clear from bathroom and bag check lines that there would be delays.

And delays there were...did I mention it was really COLD! I was wearing underarmour cold gear tights and a short sleeve NIKE tech shirt. I knew it was supposed to get to the low 50's today and I HATE being too warm. Well problem was that the race didn't start until almost 8:30. Which meant that I froze my behind off until then. My fingers and toes were going numb. It also meant that those 45 extra minutes or so which I had calculated I would be running and now delayed...I started the race having to go to the bathroom. So typical.

Run ALL the miles. I loved this sign and it appeared multiple times on the course.
While the delay was definitely annoying and a little bit frustrating, they had a DJ to keep the crowds pumped up and the announcer was amusing. The poor man kept thinking the race would be starting shortly and you could tell that eventually even he was like wellllll I SWEAR it will start. Soon. But when all was said and done, the time passed relatively fast, they had to close a hundred plus intersections (how nuts is that!) and for the first year for the race, they get some leeway on all of it.

So then, we were finally off and running. Late but ready to rock and roll. I knew from the start I was gunning to PR. I was running with my new friend who was looking to sub 2 hours. So she was going to pace with me. I started pretty much off the bat under 9 min miles. And pretty quickly hit my stride between 8:30-8:45 which just felt comfortable. I tried not to pay too much attention to my Garmin, I have learned that it can be your worst enemy. It stresses me out to look at it too much but I also appreciate having it.

There were also not mile markers at every mile (or if there were I did not notice them) nor time clocks so I didn't 100% know just how fast had gone out until at mile 4 I got my split and was at 34 minutes. Pretty much on track. Problem was, by mile 2 I was already struggling mentally with needing a pit stop because my tummy was NOT feeling great.

My first chance for a pit stop was at mile 5, but funny enough it had settled down and subsided and I thought I would be okay. Low and behold about a half mile past it the rumbling started again. At this time I knew I could PR and wanted to bank some time so that if and when I stopped I would still be able to beat my previous (1:54:57).

I should also mention that this half starts off in Trenton and crosses into Pennsylvania which was pretty neat! There is a lot of running on the highway in NJ but when we crossed over it was residential which was really nice. We had families out and kids high fiving, I liked the casual feeling of the race appreciated the new scenery and support.

The next few miles flew by. I was in a groove. I had somewhere along the line lost my running buddy but knew I was keeping a higher pace than she had planned so was not too surprised we split up. I was still feeling really good. Around mile 6 I wasn't breathing hard and started to push it a bit more. Mile 8 or so brought us into the park. This was where things started to go south. There were some up hills and on those, when I am pushing is when my stomach would start to kill. We get in and I see more port-o-potties but of course decided I do not want to stop because they are all full. This, was a mistake. We looped around and on the way out I literally had to stop short and focus as so not to have an "accident" (TMI but whatever if you are a runner, you KNOW the feeling most likely!).

After about 20 seconds or so got it under control and took off again. We hit flat road once again on the highway and things seemed to be going great again. We then hit mile 10 and I know I have not been pushing enough and start to open up my stride a bit more. At this point I want to race and get to the point where I am uncomfortable running. Well, this also coincidentally caused the point of no return for my stomach. Shortly before mile 11 hit I was forced to stop yet again to get things under control. Once I did and started up I KNEW I would need to stop. Low and behold like Christmas at the mile 11 rest stop there were bathrooms!! I literally sprinted up the on ramp and threw myself in one attempting to use it in record time. Overall I don't think that I lost too much time but still getting spandex on and off takes a little bit of work especially when sweaty!

I was out the door and now I was racing. The volunteers were trying to give me gatorade (I was not doing any gatorade/water/gu during the race) but I was all business now. 2 miles left. I was going for it. I got my pace to the low 8's and was now feeling like I was racing. Those final miles blurred together. The next thing I knew we were entering the stadium and rounding the field to the finish line. As I am approaching the finish I see the time turning to 1:54 and was trying to sprint. I knew I had a PR it would just be a matter of how much of one dependent on the time I crossed the start.

And just like that...we have this:

Minute and a half PR WITH a bathroom stop!
Definitely happy! But on the other hand...kind of sad. According to my Garmin my actual "moving" time is 1:51 - between the two dead stops I took and bathroom I lost a couple of minutes. Sigh. I need to be happy but of course I am my own worst critic. I could have pushed earlier, could have stopped for the bathroom earlier...but hind sight is always 20/20 as they say. I need to give myself credit where credit is due.

Overall, I have to say - it was a good race. Not just because I set a PR but I thought for being an inaugural year, the logistical nightmare that it was with road closures etc. that they did a great job. Swag bag was fantastic. Friendly volunteers. Water and gatorade stations were bountiful and well organized. And what a finish. As long as this fits in my race schedule next year, I will be returning. Bravo to everyone involved. And the moment of silence for all those effected by Sandy. I thought that was very classy. And appropriate.

Finish inside the stadium how fun!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ready to Rock!!!

This post comes to you from my lovely hotel room in Trenton. Also being blogged from my phone do forgive formatting and pictures since I know they come out funky until I am on my computer.

I left work a little early today to hop on a train from the city down to Trenton. Turned out to be a whole lot easier than I anticipated. I got to take a little nap, it was not crowded at all and a few dollars for a cab later was at my hotel. The hotel however was not ready for my arrival - I didn't give them a hard time. They asked for an hour (they were at capacity) so it was plenty of time to leave them with my bags, and head over to the New Jersey State Museum to pick up my bib and swag bag.

It was a nice 10 minute stroll or so from the hotel which was nice to stretch out my legs. I arrived to no lines and decently organized stations to pick up your bib, bag and a couple expo tables. I spent the majority of time chatting with fellow runners. I love being immersed with runners. People that do not race just don't get it. It's hard to explain how you are excited to wake up at the crack of dawn and run more miles in one shot than many people run in a week. Oh and you pay to do it. Can't stop, won't stop though. I love it.

After an hour or so I headed back to the hotel where they were thankfully ready for my arrival. Quick check in later (and free room thank you Marriott rewards!) and I was settled in my room and ready to order a quick dinner. I decided on pizza but have to admit I couldn't really eat it. It was alright but I just never really eat pizza anymore. I literally cannot remember the last time. I wound up eating mostly just the crust and sauce. No need for too much cheese to mess with my stomach!

So here I am now all cozy in bed watching Transformers. Random I know. My clothes are laid out for tomorrow. Alarms are set. Water is being consumed.

Ever since the Verazzano Festival Half was cancelled I have started taking tomorrows race seriously. I gave myself a rest day, didn't do too much mileage so far this week - at 21 so far, I think I have a good chance to PR tomorrow. My plan is to go all out. I would like to beat my Newport time and end my half season on a high note.

I figure the worst that happens; I don't PR. I've had bad races recently with multiple bathroom stops and if I am honest with myself I know it is because I have just been winging it. So here I am race tomorrow and I have kept my foods to very boring the past few days. Let's hope that combined with an easy running schedule this week work in my favor!

Time for my lame and excited butt to go to sleep. I don't think this racing thing will ever get old!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Change in Plans

So here I am! 

Safe and sound and back home. The flight from Miami to Newark was as uneventful as can be, which I was thankful for considering just how many times it was changed and how ready I was to be home. I wound up having an entire row to myself and slept the majority of the flight.

When the cab got in to Hoboken though, it was immediately evident that the town had been through an awful time. The streets downtown by me are lined with peoples ruined furniture and belongings waiting for garbage collection. There is a distinct moldy stank in the air. It is heartbreaking to think of how many people not only lost their homes but all of their possessions. I do not know what I would do if that was me. 

I knew that our building had been filled with water on the first floor (I live on the second) and had witnessed firsthand last year through Irene just how bad the flooding could be. By the time I returned they were already in the process of pulling up tile, redoing the walls, carpeting etc. Last year they waited and the next think you knew there was mold everywhere and mushrooms growing out of the walls. Not a safe or pretty sight.

The firs t thing I did was throw my bags in my room and run out the door to rock my vote! I know that my state is a blue state but that does NOT discourage me from submitting my vote. I knew Romney would not win my state but I have a lot of pride in the right to vote and will never miss voting in any election. (and that is as political as I will get!)

The next thing I did was head to the gym to run. I needed to loosen up after the plane ride and get some miles in. For some reason I was barely breaking a sweat, and took it relatively easy but it felt so good. 

I had grandiose hopes of stocking up on some food after the gym, but low and behold the stores pretty much have nothing. But that doesn’t mean that I am not going to be resourceful. I am just going to be eating simple. Dinner has been brown rice, black beans, chicken sausage and salsa bowls. They are delicious! Basics for breakfast, pumpkin mixed with oats, and lunches of greek yogurt, soup and protein bars. And for snacks I have plenty of almonds, meal bars and fruit. Obviously can’t wait to stock up on fresh produce but all in due time. I am quite sad I definitely lost hundreds of dollars of food but if that is my biggest loss, I am not in a position to complain about it.

Wednesday I was prepared for an awful commute into the city but looks like I missed the worst of it or people just really went earlier to the office because I was in, in record time. Not going to complain. Work was a whirlwind of trying to make heads and tails of what needed to be done and prioritize. 

After a crazy day during which is started snowing (really? Thanks mother nature for the nor’easter – going from Miami Tuesday to snow Wednesday was special) I figured I would hit the treadmill at work and got in another few easy miles. Again these felt super easy to me. 

And this is what I returned home to. Sigh NOT ready for winter!
Which leads me to this email that I received:

I am not 100% sure how I feel about this. On one hand I am relieved. Two half marathons in one weekend? Who do I think that I am? 

On the other I am really disappointed. I mean come on how awesome of an accomplishment would that be, and I would feel ready to really rock the marathon training if I could put my legs through that punishment back to back. So now my weekend’s plans have changed. 

I will be running the Trenton Half on Saturday and seriously my weekend strategy for running was “survival” just make it through both of them without wanting to kill myself (dramatic I know especially since this was self imposed predicament).

I have taken a look at the geography of the course and I think I am going to aim for a PR for this one. Unless the Verrazano FestivalHalf is rescheduled, this will be my final half of the fall and final distance race (I have a 15K in December but the rest are baby races 4-5mile mostly) until the ING Miami Marathon in January.

Figure go big or go home? So instead of going into this one with a who cares attitude, that I will just run for feel, if my body continues to feel as great as it does now and has all week running I am going to be gunning to beat the PR I got at Newport in September! 

I can’t wait – I haven’t been really “trying” for anything in any races lately; and this has potential to line up perfectly. The weather is set to be sunny and in the 50’s and the course mostly flat, a couple inclines but overall…I think I can do this. As long as my stomach cooperates as it has really been my main obstacle the past few races. 

Yay for goals!