Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Run, Interrupted

There's a saying in Illinois:  If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes.

As far as I'm concerned, this has never been more true than this week.  The weather forecast is positively insane.  This post on Facebook tickled me & really says it all.

I'm not in Chicago but the forecast is the same for our area so this was just perfect to sum up the situation.

So here's how this played out with respect to last night's planned 3.2-mile group run through the neighborhood:

It was raining in the morning, cleared up in the afternoon while I was at work, then started sprinkling again at 4:30pm, just in time for me to head home to change and get to the 5:30pm run.  Meh, a little rain never killed anyone, I can run in the rain - the dog doesn't like it much but she'll put up with a lot for her Daily Constitutional.

JUST as I reached to pick up my windbreaker (I mean, literally, the moment I reached for it!), I heard the first clap of thunder.  THUNDER in January??? What the hell??  Ah well, wait 5 minutes, it might not be a big deal.  Sure enough, the rain lightened up a bit while we waited for the other runners to arrive at our starting point, and we headed out with the group right on time.  Coty was a bit nervous (she really really hates water and that goes double for lightning) but gamely trucking along.  We got about 8 minutes in before the raining turned to POURING rain.  Another couple of minutes and we paired that up with some lightning.  Coty pretty much gave up all hope of survival at that point and started sprinting, running toward random houses (presumably to request asylum and adoption with a new family) and wrapping her leash occasionally around trees & light-posts.  We said our hurried goodbyes and got back to the starting point and the car as quickly as possible.

Terrible photo, but:  The creepy eyes are Coty.  Those lines are rain pouring down.  Coty says "This is the STUPIDEST idea you have EVER had!"
Don't know if you can read this, but I thought it ironic:  my socks (SOPPING wet by the end of this little excursion) say "Duo Dry."
 Thus ended my 1.25-mile run for January 29, 2013.  16 minutes.  Ugh.  Today will be a gym/ strength-training day (tomorrow too) which is nice, because it's going to be in the teens again with a low of 1 on Thursday.  Maybe Friday I'll be able to go for a run in beautiful 40-degree weather??

Just wait 5 minutes, you never know what's coming up next.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Caution: Bragging Ahead

Well I'd say I've had a pretty decent week since my last post.

Quick layout of the week's activities:  Wednesday night was belatedly declared a Rest Day (remember how I've said it was dangerous for me to go home to change my clothes for a workout?).  Thursday I had a right-proper training session at the gym and I tried something new.  All the bikes were taken when I arrived so I hopped on the Stair-Climber thingy.  I would call it a StairMaster but I'm pretty sure that's a brand-name and I don't know that's which brand it was but I digress...) AAAAnyway, it's not the old-style pedal type of stair-climber but more like a mini-escalator.  I've never used one before but I've seen them on The Biggest Loser.  I took it easy, slow, level 2 I think.  Though my hip started telling me to get the hell off at the 12-minute mark, I pushed on for another 3 minutes. Then I did a pretty standard full-body strength training session, about 45 minutes.

Friday really was a rest day - it was freezing out but I took the dog for a quick walk before heading out for a few Friday-night adult beverages with my man.

I had a group-run planned for Saturday morning, 9am sharp.  Managed to get there on time (wonders never cease!) and had a pretty decent but not outstanding run / walk of around 5 miles.  I made a couple of classic mistakes:  1) I did not have a specific plan of how long I was going to run, either distance-wise or time-wise.  2) I hadn't planned a route (partly a result of not having a specific distance or time goal for the day.  and 3) I forgot to turn my watch off when we got back to the car, so the Garmin seems to think I did the last 1.5 miles in 8 minutes!!  Too funny.  I think it ended up finishing 5.2 miles in about 70 minutes or so.  It wasn't awesome, but it cured my mild hangover within 10 minutes of the start and was a GREAT start for my day.  Headed home, laundry, etc... and to Peoria in the evening to see a friend's band play!  Stayed up WAY too late but had an absolute blast listening to Draft Culture original songs!!

A couple of pics from the Saturday night show:
Thanks to Jim Gardner for the photos!  
Thanks to Jim Gardner for the photos!  
Thanks to Jim Gardner for the photos!  

But the REAL action was on Sunday:  my weekly weigh-in put me 1.8 pounds down!  Yay, me!  The weather was uncooperative and we had freezing rain all day, wind, cold, blah-blah-blah and let's face it I was feeling a bit lazy... did not get any exercise.  I just enjoyed my rainy day at home.

Today headed back to work until 3pm, then the dentist for a cleaning, got a couple of errands done, and home by 4:30 for a run with Coty.  Lesson from Saturday learned:  I made a plan.  I decided to do a Test Mile tonight, which means brisk walk / jog a little to warm up about a mile to the track, run a mile on the track, easy walk / run home.  The weather was BEAUTIFUL!! 54 degrees!  (Yes, it's Illinois, we go from 1 degrees last Tuesday to freezing rain on Sunday to 54 degrees on Monday.  It's insanity here.)  I wore my short-pants and a light shirt!  NO windbreaker and only one pair of socks!

I was feeling pretty fleet-footed tonight.   It was foggy and misty, a little wind but not raining, and like I said - it was warm.  My last Test Mile was 10:22 and you remember how happy I was about that. The track was a wee-bit creepy in the fog but also sort of cool.  I was once again kicking myself for not bringing my camera.  I would love to have taken a pic of the creepy-track at dusk with this fog!

OK so I'm dying to tell you:  my Test Mile was 9:50!!!  This is HUGE for me.  I never thought I'd get there so quickly.  A Test Mile under 10:00 was a long-term goal for 2013 - something I thought would take MONTHs to get to!  I am definitely going to have to come up with a replacement goal for 2013 on that one.  Clearly, I underestimated myself... 3 weeks ago.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Feels like: 1 degree

OK I don't want to harp on this all the time but seriously, it's COLD again.

No one else was available to walk the dog so I put my big-girl panties on and got the job done.  In addition to the big-girl panties, I put on a pair of long cotton yoga pants, an old pair of jeans (which are now thankfully too big for me so they fit over the yoga pants), three shirts, a sweatshirt, one of my husband's giant coats for working outside, a hat, scarf, and gloves.  It must have taken about 20 minutes to get into all that gear.  I looked perfectly ridiculous, so obviously my first instinct was to snap a photo.

You know you love it.

Clearly, this was not going to be a night for a great workout.  I walked the dog for about 25 minutes in the frigid air & got home to warm up and make dinner.

That's all I have for tonight.  Brrrr!!  

CPAGrrrl, out.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quickest Workout Ever!

I'm a slave to my routine, but my workout schedule is highly dependent on my dog, and on the weather.  Today is a perfect example of how that all works together on the good days.

Monday is a run day so the routine dictates I work till 5 or so and rush home to change and take Coty out.  The temps today and tomorrow are completely insane.  I mean, ridiculous!  Wind chills below zero - we're looking at negative 15 tomorrow afternoon. That's Fahrenheit.  Crazy cold.  By Wednesday all will be right with the world again, but for today, I took one look at that nonsense and texted my husband, who had the day off for the holiday, asking him to take Coty on her daily walk for me. I figured if I planned to walk her, I'd only give her the quick one-miler again, and after this weekend's indiscretions I really needed a proper workout.  Jason could walk her during the day when it was, well, as warm as possible, and I could hit the gym where it's warm.

The plan worked perfectly.  I got out of the office just before 5pm, rushed home and changed my clothes, confirmed the dog was all taken care of, and out the door I went.  (That's also a dangerous proposition, coming home to change is an incredibly easy way to talk myself out of going to the gym, but I was determined today so it was fine.)

Took a while to find a parking spot at the gym, which would be surprising, but it is still January, and let's face it, I'm pretty much one of the New Year's Resolutioners myself this year, so who am I to complain.  What I love about my gym is that even when the lot is packed, there are plenty of machines open once you get in the door.

My knee is still feeling pretty stiff so the treadmill was not on the menu.  I hit the stationary bike for 40 minutes.  I'm not a veteran user of the stationary bike, still figuring out what the right resistance level and other settings are.  I tried out the Interval Training setting, Level 5.  It was pretty challenging, seems like a good place to start for next time.  I got 10.2 miles in 40 minutes, even got to read a bit of my book (on my phone), and bolted for the door by 6:30pm knowing I got a solid workout done.  I could hardly believe I got done so quickly!

Jason made chili while I was gone and when I got home I made the cornbread to go with it so we got a reasonably healthy, home-made, high-protein meal to finish the day.  Great stuff!  I do love chili & corn bread, and it's the perfect meal for this weather.

I'm not sure what the plan will be for tomorrow but if the temps are as low as predicted, I don't think I'll be going on my Tuesday night group run!!  We'll see what I can figure out.  For today, I'm glad I found a way to change up my routine and make it work around a little obstacle that Mother Nature threw into the mix.

My puppy is taken care of, and so am I.  All is right with the world.

Sunday, Lazy Sunday

Saturday night, Jason and I went out to dinner, celebrating... my new job!  Yes, last week was pretty stressful as I was offered, and accepted, a new position and gave notice at my current job.  I've got two short weeks left to transition my responsibilities to my temporary replacement.  It is NOT going to be easy.

photo credit: smartblue via photopin cc
So anyway, we had a gift card for Outback Steakhouse so we headed there for dinner and a few drinks to celebrate the beginning of another new beginning.  I had a sirloin & salad, and splurged on the lobster mac & cheese, but only ate about 1/2 of it - too much cheese for me, it was a little overwhelming.  (I know, "too much cheese" - is there really such a thing?  Turns out, yes.)  We skipped the appetizer & dessert in favor of a second round of drinks (Ketel One Citron & water for me).  Not too bad calorie-wise for a dinner out, but I didn't stop there... once home, we broke out some sparkling wine, and boom, there's the killer for the day... That's another 500 to 700 calories!

Well that's that... had a great food & exercise week but my calorie-count was blown for the whole week in one night.  But it was a great night, well worth it.

Sunday's weigh in was a disappointment - no change at all.  I suppose it was to be expected, but I really had it in my head that I'd be down a pound or so for the week.  I spent the day having a little pity-party, or maybe I was just hungover.  In either case, I was (still am) pretty achy and stiff and sore in a hundred places which I'm attributing primarily to the header I took Saturday at the Lake.  Plus it was really cold out so I wasn't much prepared to go for another run.  I did take Coty for a quick one-mile walk but I wouldn't call it "exercise."

Monday will be a new day, and a new week begins again.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chilly Chili Fun Run 01-19-2013

Saturday was the Chilly Chili Fun Run out at Lake Bloomington with the Lake Run Club folks.  This is not a timed race, but there is an organized water-stop and free food & beer afterward.  It's also a very low-key event and they have no objection to running with dogs, so it was just what the doctor ordered for me.  The weather was warm-ish (in the 40s) and not too windy so I was looking forward to another nice 4.37-mile run with Coty.  It was a stressful week and I needed an antidote.

After some debate about whether or not to wear my windbreaker, I got there right on time (I know, totally out of character, right?) and had enough time to get my registration turned in, get my gear on, and chat with some other runners and friends from the Heat Wave and Catch the Wave groups before our run.  I was really bugging out about running with just my tech tee on and the belt.  It feels... lumpy.  In the end it seemed smarter and more comfortable to skip the windbreaker with the temps so warm, but the belt is a whole new wrinkle that makes me more self-conscious.  It's a great tool, though, so I better get over it!

I'm never sure how well Coty will respond in a crowd like that, especially before she gets some exercise, but she was really well-behaved, even with several other dogs around who were acting pretty weird & nervous.  There was a beautiful German Shepherd who we've seen before, and who's not really crazy about other dogs, and a Doberman we've also met previously, who's REALLY not crazy about other dogs.  Then there was an ENORMOUS St. Bernard (is that redundant?  Aren't they all enormous?) who was completely new to me.  He ALSO didn't seem to be great with other dogs.  It's a miracle Coty was so calm before the run started.

I know, I know - enough about the dogs already... but there's a reason I bring it up.

So the run starts off, I stayed way at the back of the pack to make sure Coty didn't trip any of the other runners.  The German Shepherd & Dobie were fast and got ahead of us quickly, but it turns out the St. Bernard wasn't running - he was a spectator, standing to the left of the road and barking and lunging at everyone as they went by.  I was focused on just moving forward and calmly staying on our path (a good general rule I learned for controlling my dog, which I got from the Dog Whisperer years ago), but the St. Bernard lunged right toward Coty as we passed. Coty bolted to the right, directly into my right leg, which was moving forward (um, cuz I was running!) and I went down like a sack of potatoes.

I know I yelled out something on the way down, and I'm pretty sure there was at least one four-letter word, but whatever it was, I can assure you it was NOT "oops!"

An anonymous stranger helped me up.  I did a little physical inventory and assured I hadn't broken or sprained anything, and got going (again).  I had a little road rash on my knee and the palms of my hands but no mortal wounds.  I took a couple pics once I got home.

At this point I was way behind everyone, my adrenaline was pumping like crazy and I felt I needed to refocus and calm down a bit, so I decided to do a slow jog for a half-mile to test things out, then walk a half-mile to make sure I'm really well warmed up, then run as much as possible for the remainder, similar to last week.  That worked out pretty well, and since we were so far behind, I let Coty off her leash for about two miles along the route.

Right after the first mile-marker, when I really got going, a van drove past, stopped and rolled down the window as if to ask something.  I slowed down to talk to them and they said, "No, we were just stopping to look at the deer."  Huh?  What deer?  This area is at the edge of a LARGE field and there was a sizable herd of deer (maybe 10-12 of them) bounding through, a little more than a quarter of a mile away from us near the edge of the wooded area.  I stopped and soaked that in. So glad they pointed it out to me! Coty couldn't figure out what the hell was going on, they were too far away.

As we followed the road left about a half-mile after that, another deer!  This one all by himself, really big guy, running parallel to the road and towards / past us.  That one Coty saw... very exciting.

There was, in fact, a water stop complete with SPAM(r) soup and a whole lot of Peeps - you know those Easter marshmallow candies?  I skipped all of it, but hung out and chatted for a few minutes with the folks manning the station.  Wish I'd had my camera - there was a guy serving stew with this totally awesome Spam hat that my dad would love!

Along the way I also ran into Dan - I got to know him a little this year when he was organizing the We Care Twin Cities Half Marathon.  He's awesome, and he had run over 28 miles before starting the Fun Run today.  He is a MADMAN and an inspiration!!  Holy cow!!

Anyway, yadda-yadda-yadda I finished the run, nothing too exciting pace-wise... Felt good.

Here's the stats - total time 57 minutes, time running 54 minutes & change, and the splits.  Not bad, really, especially considering a walked about a half-mile of it.

I'm hoping they will post some pictures on the LRC web site so I can share some of the love.

I headed in for my free post-run beer but never made it.  I stopped to ask a group of folks to take a photo of me (after running to the car & rescuing my phone).  They did, and offered me a beer from the cooler in the back seat!  I ended up chatting with them for about 45 minutes and taking a couple more pics.

Not as lumpy as I thought!

Bill, Doug, Joe and Tracy (John not pictur
Not as lumpy as I thought with the belt & leash and everything... pictures are sometimes helpful in figuring out what "reality" is.

I gotta go to bed, so I guess I'll fill you in on my lovely evening out and today's weigh-in... tomorrow.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Is "Restraint" a 4-Letter Word?

Hi all - we had a great start to our weekend last night.

I took a half-day at work and headed home around 1pm.  I couched for a while, when decided not to waste the entire afternoon on Facebook and cleaned the bathrooms and the stove.  There.  Got something done.  We had a birthday party to attend in Peoria, so once Jason got home from work, we got all cleaned up and spiffy and headed out with the teenager in tow!

The party was at a pizza place - DANGER, Will Robinson! - which specializes in Chicago-style pizza.  You know the stuff, in my opinion it's the best kind of pizza if you're a crust fan - pan crust basically fried in butter in the pizza oven... but it's likely the worst king of pizza if your trying to (lose weight) make healthy choices.  The party started at 7pm but since Jason works till 6pm and the restaurant is about 45 minutes drive, we didn't arrive until about 7:30 and there were already several pizzas and appetizers out and being passed around.  I didn't really know what the story was in terms of how we would all split the bill or if I could order a salad or whatever, and let's face it, it was past my normal dinner-time, there was yummy hot pizza waiting for us when we arrived... and I didn't spend a lot of energy asking questions.  I dug in.

I had one slice and some "Italian nachos" and relaxed for a while chatting with the other guests, drinking a beer & pondering whether I was still hungry or not.  By the time the next round of pizza came out, I decided I was still hungry enough for another slice, and ate maybe 2/3 of it.  It was delicious, I didn't end up feeling overly full, and I stuck with just the one beer - go figure.  All things considered, I managed a modicum of restraint while indulging in some seriously dangerous food.  And while we were there, we ran into some old friends and meet a bunch of new people!  It was a good night.

Jason had to work this morning, so we headed back to Normal about 9:30pm.  Once there Jason and I wound down with a short glass of bourbon and some Comedy Central before bed.

I got a great quote from the Community Boards on the LoseIt! web site last week:  "You cannot outrun the fork."  I wasn't consciously using that as a mantra last night, but I've been giving it a lot of thought since I read it - it's funny, because it's true... Maybe that helped me control myself, I'm not sure.  I'm just glad I did. I get to feel good today and I'm not kicking myself for a self-imposed sabotage.

I'll be running from about 1 - 2pm.  Windy but WARM!
So now it's Saturday morning, I've got the house to myself (well, the teenager is here but he's still asleep and I expect him to stay that way for a while :-))  I'll take Coty out to the Lake around noon-ish for the Chilly Chili run - perfect weather for it today (well, as "perfect" as can be for January in Illinois anyway) - and maybe do some more housekeeping.

And a BIG THANK YOU to Michelle from Diary of an Aspiring Loser Maintainer for her help this week - she taught me a new trick for getting screen shots into my blog posts and I am super excited about it!  I've been trying to figure out how to do this for quite some time and she kindly called me up and walked me through it.  Thanks, Michelle!

The plan for this evening includes a celebratory dinner out with my hubby and probably a few drinks at our regular hangout.  Think we'll go to Outback Steakhouse - my dad gave us a gift card for Christmas and I could definitely go for some cedar-plank salmon or lean steak tonight!  And tomorrow is my weekly weigh-in.  I've had a pretty solid week with my routine for food & exercise, so I'm hoping for a positive result.  (Or a negative one, as it were.)

Enjoy your weekend.  I'm enjoying mine, that's for sure!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weekend Training Rundown

I had such a rough last few runs I was wondering if I had gotten myself into some sort of "running slump."  Saturday's run erased all my concern - YAY!

I planned to go on a group run Saturday morning out at the Sugar Grove Nature Center with the LRC group.    I've been out there with them before and it's beautiful scenery, they have a well-marked course with several options for distance - 3 miles, 4, 7, etc... and of course it's a wooded area and in this weather, there wouldn't be too much traffic so I'd be able to let Coty off her leash for at least a good portion of the time, which allows me to do more running without walk-breaks.  Win-win!

They were meeting a 9am and the location is about a 1/2 hour drive from my house, so I needed to be IN the car WITH the dog by 8:30am.  No problem.  EXCEPT... I was experiencing some... uh, mild intestinal distress in the morning which delayed my departure.  By the time I was a situated with my running gear (windbreaker, Garmin, hydration belt, gloves, headband to cover my ears, iPod... I think that's it) and got the dog into the car, it was close to 8:50 and I knew I'd never make it.  I was all up for a little drive and a scenic run, so I decided instead of showing up late to the group run (and not knowing the route), I'd head out to the Lake again for the 4.37-mile course.  That's three weeks in a row out at the Lake but it's fun and I know the route without having other runners to follow.  Plus, Coty loves it!

A little back-story:  I did some reading this week on about "Speed Workouts" for beginners.  (Read the article that got me started here.)  One of the things I read about was the "easy run".  Now, I gotta tell ya, there was a time I thought that this "easy run" concept was a myth, a misnomer, an oxymoron, or maybe even an outright lie.  I think it's basically what I've been doing on most of my runs, but I haven't been doing it with purpose.  ON purpose.  Saturday, I wanted to test this out.

Out at the lake, I walked about a 1/2-mile to warm up, then ran the remainder of the first mile before taking a couple-minutes break.  Then I started out on my "easy run" - I wanted to run 2 miles or more without a break, so I tried not to look at the Garmin too much, and I wasn't worrying about speed, just going at a "comfortable" pace that I felt I could maintain for 2-3 miles.  Whenever I did look at the watch I seemed to be staying right in the neighborhood of a 12-minute mile, so not fast but a solid pace for me.  Not "race pace." just an "easy run."  Simple, right??

In a word, YES.

I finished the first mile, feeling great.  Kept going, finished the second mile, felt like I had slowed down a little but it's not Race Pace, it's an Easy Run, you're not focused on speed, you're just focused on moving, steady, comfortable pace.  I kept going, decided I should go for three.  Finished the third mile, which incidentally ends about a quarter-mile AFTER you reach the top of That Damn Hill I've complained about before, and I still felt pretty great.  I took a mental inventory, knowing the end of the course was less than half a mile away, and decided to keep jogging until I reached the (imaginary) Finish Line.

I'm going to try and post the stats from my Garmin for this run.  I am still trying to figure out how to do this, so bear with me!

EVEN BETTER:  Sunday, I took Coty out in the FREEZING temperatures and decided to do another Test Mile and got myself a new PR:  10:22!  That's a 15-second improvement on my last test mile.  I'm edging toward being able to run a 10-minute mile - a major milestone for me!  And like I keep saying... if I can do one at that pace, sooner or later I'll be able to do two.  :-)