Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Well...I wasn't really sure what I was going to do tonight, but I ended up running. Hal Higdon's plan gives me the option to run a short distance or cross train on Wednesdays...and today, overachiever that I am, I did a little bit of each! It was pretty late by the time I had a chance to lace up my running shoes, so I headed over to the gym for a treadmill workout. I am fortunate in having a gym that is literally a two minute drive from my house, and which has the latest cardio equipment, AND enough equipment so that I hardly ever have to wait in line for anything...all things I appreciate!
I set the 'mill up for a 5K program, which I haven't done in quite a while. It's still totally crazy to me that a 5K is a "short" run, now that most of my runs (even midweek ones) are significantly longer! I spent weeks working up to this distance during Couch to 5K, and I still remember how amazing it felt to run it for the very first time, and now it's something my body is comfortable doing. SUCH a blessing that I have the good health and fitness to accomplish such an amazing thing so often! As I warmed up, I looked for something to watch on the treadmill TV and landed on Bobby Flay's Throwdown on Food Network. How again is it that I so often end up watching the Food Network while I work out? And it didn't help matters that Bobby and a cafe owner in Boston were making STICKY BUNS. OMGawrsh, seeing the pastry and caramel-y "goo" and nuts all rolled together in one warm, sticky, heavenly bun was almost too much for me to take! I'm not sure which is worse, seeing something like this or Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. No matter how healthy my diet is, there's always that part of me that LOVES grease and sugar and bad-for-you yummies. Just can't help but crave that stuff sometimes...I guess as long as I'm not constantly giving into it. Thankfully tonight's sticky buns were just on the TV, and there was nowhere within a reasonable drive where I could have gone to get something quite that yummy! Whew!
As for the run itself, it was very comfortable. I wanted to push the speed a bit more, so settled on 2:30 / 0:30 intervals with running in the 6.1-6.4 mph range and walking at 4.1 mph. Again, the pace felt conversational and breezy, and I could have probably pushed it a tad faster had I wanted to. I finished the 5K circuit in 31:46 for a 10:15/mile average pace, and walked for five minutes to cool down. I had a lot more steam to burn off after that, so I hit the Expresso bike for 6.44 miles and did a bit of core strength training. All in all, a successful evening!
Since I am up to two training runs for the week, I have two more to go, my LSD (long slow distance) and the Crazylegs Classic. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to schedule them, and depending on how the week continues, I may replace the LSD with a shorter run to keep my weekly mileage from getting excessive. We'll see.
Oh, and tonight's addition to my playlist? "The Motions" by Matthew West :) A couple of you have expressed interest in seeing my complete playlist. When I have a few extra minutes I'll post it on my SparkPage and update it as it grows! Stay tuned!
Have a great rest of the week!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I've been posting a half marathon training journal on BlogSpot, but thought it would also be fun to share it here with my Spark Friends! I'm officially halfway through Hal Higdon's beginner's half marathon plan, in preparation for the Madison Half Marathon on May 30, two days before my 32nd birthday! The plan is twelve weeks, and I run 3-4 days a week, typically Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday. (The rest of the days, I cross train and allow for one day completely off.) To add an extra element of "fun" to my training, with every run I complete, I add one song to my Madison Half Marathon iPod playlist. By the end, I'll have an upbeat playlist that should propel me from the starting line to 13.1 miles! In my journal entries, I typically keep track of my overall time and pace, the intervals I use (since I am a Galloway runner), and speeds/inclines if it's on the treadmill...and just general, random thoughts I have as I go along. I tend to be a little too lazy to track splits and heart rates, just tend to go on how I'm feeling...I know, NOT very scientific for a Ph.D. in chemistry! If you're ever bored and want to see my older entries, they're on christinak-ww.blogspot.com with the Madison Half Marathon tag. Here's what I wrote about my run last night...
As I got in the car to head over to Gold's Gym tonight, I realized that I am now crossing the halfway point in my half marathon training. I've been working towards the Madison Half Marathon for exactly six weeks, and there are now six weeks (actually a couple of days less...) until the big day. I've run almost 100 miles in the last six weeks, 95.66 to be exact, and will run over 100 more before I even set foot on the race course. Again, it hit me hard this evening that this is truly a journey, and the Madison Half Marathon is not just about race day, but also the 36-48 runs, the good, the bad, and the truly disgusting (refer to week 5) leading up to it. As my Madison Half Marathon iPod playlist grows, my collection of memories and my physical strength continue to grow too. And I feel excited and proud to be a runner working towards the big 13.1.
Anyway, I was quite happy to work out at the gym tonight since Tuesday nights are Biggest Loser, which you know I've gotten sucked into this season, and Parenthood. I arrived right at eight o' clock, stationed myself on one of the TV treadmills, and programmed it for sixty minutes, 1% incline. 24 intervals of run 2 minutes / walk 30 seconds, with running at an easy 6.0-6.2 mph pace. The workout really did go by in a flash, and it felt comfortable the whole time. I can say with certainty that it was the "conversational" pace "they" talk about in running books and articles, and I felt no pain, even from the ankle I was worried about. I finished 5.67 miles in 60:00, for a pace of 10:35/mile. I'm fine with that, especially knowing that my treadmill pace is typically significantly slower than my outdoor running pace! I figure it will be a while before I can consistently see sub-10:00/mile on the treadmill, especially given that I don't plan on any speedwork until at least after August's race. Possibly October's. I just want my body to be good and ready for it before I try any. After my run, I cooled down with a 0.24 mile / 5:00 walk...slow and steady and calming. I was almost reluctant to leave because I enjoyed myself a lot more than I expected!
And of course, another workout is another song for the playlist...this time "Give Me Your Eyes" by Brandon Heath! And with that, until next time! I'm thinking that my schedule will be shuffled a bit this week so I don't overdo anything. I would normally run again on Thu/Sun and (optionally) another day of my choice, but since I have the Crazylegs Classic 8K on Saturday, I'm thinking I may do my LSD (7 miles) on Thursday and save the rest of my running energy for Saturday. Maybe? Hmmmm.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Today Hal Higdon's half marathon training plan suggested that I run a 5K race and, as it turned out, it was perfect running weather and the UW Arboretum was holding its Spring Sprint for the Arb 5K! Well, OK, I actually registered last month after I saw a brochure at the Shamrock Shuffle, knowing full well that it might be rainy or too cold or yucky...so the good weather was just a well-timed blessing!
Even though the race wasn't until ten o' clock I set my alarm for six o' clock, figuring that it would give me plenty of time to get dressed, eat a light breakfast, drive over to the Arboretum, park, pick up my race materials, and warm up. The thermometer indicated that it was 42 degrees, too cold to wear a running skirt, so I dressed in capris, a short sleeved tech shirt, and a light jacket, which I figure I'd probably take off before the race. I wasn't feeling overly hungry, but new that not eating would be a mistake, so grabbed a piece of cheese and some crackers before I headed out.
I got to the Arboretum around seven thirty and parked in a lot just outside the gates, next to the Henry Vilas Zoo. I was feeling thirsty, and since I had plenty of time to burn, walked to a nearby gas station for something to drink. It was probably about a mile each way, and 38 minutes of walking in total. Worth it though, and I took my time and enjoyed the crisp, slightly chilly morning air and sunshine. There were already a lot of joggers and bikers taking advantage of the picture-perfect weather! I sat by Lake Wingra for a while, and then walked around the park a bit, and then began the trek through the Arboretum to the Visitor's Center, the race headquarters. It was probably about two or two and a half miles to walk, but really it didn't feel all that long. I was just enjoying being outside and away from the stresses of work and family life for a little bit...kind of like a mini-vacation.
When I got to the visitor's center, it was around nine fifteen, and people were starting to arrive for the race. It wasn't a huge crowd, maybe a couple of hundred tops, but I was actually pleased that it would be more of a small, intimate race. I'm sure I'll have my share of crowds with next week's Crazylegs Classic! I picked up my race bib and long-sleeved T-shirt and then realized that I would have to figure out what to do with the shirt during the race. I didn't have the time to walk it back to my car! I also figured if I actually wore it, I'd overheat (and it was a cotton shirt, and I don't really like working out in cotton so much...) I ended up tying it tightly around my waist. It was green and did clash horribly with my light blue tech shirt...but it was a nice shirt! Once I figured out what I was doing with my shirt, I pinned on my race number and found a place to sit and rest in the Visitor's Center until ten o' clock. I noticed that a lot of people were wearing their race shirts, which is generally somewhat taboo, but they probably couldn't quite figure out what to do with their shirts either (since a lot of them biked in or parked far away like me...)
At nine-fifty, there was a mass exodus to the start line, and the DJ/MC entertained us in the ten minutes leading up to the race. And then we were counting down from ten, and the gun went off, and we were off! There was not any chip timing with this race, so I was careful to make sure I started my Garmin right as I crossed the start line. I was hoping to come in under 33:00...and didn't really expect a PR since the Royal Family 5K went so smoothly...and I didn't have Disney magic on my side this time!
Carried along by the wave of other runners, I ran for four solid, fast minutes and realized that perhaps I was making the rookie mistake of starting out a little too fast. I took a quick walking break to calm my pulse and breathing down a bit, and then ran another four, walked a bit more, and ran another couple. The paved path was partially shaded by a canopy of trees, and a light breeze was blowing. I didn't feel overheated or uncomfortable, and I was just enjoying the experience. Before I knew it, we were crossing the one mile marker, and I peeked at my Garmin. 9:25. WHAT!? And on we went, and I completed another run / walk interval and started running some more. We passed a water station about halfway in, and I realized I was starting to feel pretty tired already. I briefly wondered how on earth I had run 13.1 miles last month?! And then the course started looking pretty hilly. I had run through this part of the Arb once before but had conveniently forgotten about those darned hills. That's the point where my interval running kind of fell apart. To conserve energy, I walked up many of the hills (and I probably couldn't have run them much faster anyway), and I ran the rest. No walking break was longer than 30 seconds...and I still did my fair share of running, but the running intervals varied a lot in length. I felt super disorganized, but the important thing is that I enjoyed my surroundings and I kept on trucking. I wasn't super aware of how fast I was running either. I reached the two mile marker at around 19:00, so apparently my pace was still pretty good...better than it felt! The third mile was bordering on exhausting, mainly due to the hills and the fast-paced first two miles, so it just felt a push to the finish. I groaned every time I had to deal with another hill...even though, let's face it, they really weren't that big and had nothing on Bascom Hill.
I was super relieved when I realized we were getting close to the Visitor's Center and that the hills were BEHIND me! And then I saw a three-mile marker manned by a volunteer who cheered us on and assured us that we were almost there. (I think it's kind of funny when race volunteers tell you you're almost there when you still have a long way to go...but in this case, we really were almost there!) I didn't look at my watch to see my three mile split, but then we spotted the photographers, and then, the finish line right up ahead! I noticed the race clock in the distance, which said 29:40. Could it be? I hadn't even really expected to PR at this race, but would I beat my PR by a whole minute and reach my personal goal of a sub-thirty minute 5K? (I had started my Garmin sometime between 15-30 seconds after the gun...sooo...maybe?)
I dug in my heels and concentrated on getting to the finish line in one piece. A man who looked old enough to be my grandfather suddenly passed me at a full-on sprint. Seriously, I don't think I have the juice to run as fast as he was running! Even at the beginning of a race! He earned a "Whoa...look at him go!" comment from the DJ as he crossed the finish just seconds ahead of me. Yes, a man almost old enough to be my grandfather beat me. (Hopefully when I'm that old, I'll be passing some thirty-one year old whippersnapper at a 5k!) As I passed under the inflatable finish line I pressed the stop button on my Garmin but didn't look down at it right away...just in case someone was trying to take my picture! I tore off the bottom part of my bib and handed it to a race volunteer (that's how they were keeping track of our rankings, I think, since we didn't have official times). Then I checked my Garmin time. 29:45.91...I couldn't help but smile and let out a "Yesssssss." After five 5K races and many more treadmill and training 5Ks, I had finally crossed that elusive thirty minute mark! I can finally check the sub-30-minute 5K off of my life's to-do list!
I got in line for refreshments and treated myself to two Oreo-like cookies (which were actually an organic brand that probably didn't have any trans fats), an apple, and cheese. My only minor beef with the refreshments was that the cups the water came in were tiny little Dixie cups. Bottles or bigger cups would have been nice, but I got around it by refilling mine several times. I did appreciate the Arb's efforts to have a "green" race. There weren't any race packets, they had minimal refreshment-related waste (hence the paper cups instead of bottles), and they encouraged racers to bike/carpool to the event. I'll also comment that the packet pickup and the race itself were very well-organized, and the course was well-designed. Overall, I give this race experience two thumbs up, and I'd run it again!
The walk back to my car was fairly long, but satisfying. I enjoyed the weather and my iPod playlist, and the thirty-five minute hike back really passed by quickly. Between the 5K and all the walking I did today, I got 150+ minutes of exercise and 10+ miles of foot travel done! Not bad for a Saturday morning...
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Wow, I can't believe March is now behind us! It was quite an eventful month, and since we are starting a new month, I'm doing my usual thing of reflecting on my accomplishments, as well as my opportunities for improvement and growth. I'm proud of so many of the things I have done this month, but know I have work to do in April.
I ran my first half marathon in 2:17:44 and had the time of my life!
I ran my first 10K in 1:03:33
I stayed consistent with my strength training
I did lots of running and biking
I started training for my next half marathon
I journaled just about every day to keep myself accountable and reflect on my journey
In April I'd like to...
Really focus on nutrition as I've been too lax on that lately
Count Weight Watchers points every day, as well as calories...even if the tally is so high that it makes me sick to my stomach! I NEED to be accountable!
Eat 5+ servings of fruits/veggies each day
Drink 8+ cups of water each day
Continue half marathon and strength training, as well as my biking
Run the Spring Sprint for the Arb 5K and Crazylegs Classic 8K
Be an active participant in the Partying Penguins April challenge
Have a great month!!
Here's to a new month, new goals, and new opportunities! Have a good one!!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Wednesday night...my son is having surgery in two days and I'm looking for a distraction from the pre-hospital jitters. It's "just" a tonsillectomy but I'm still a NERVOUS Mommy! Anyway, this healthy lifestyle survey thingie has been circulating around Spark People for a bit now, and I thought it would be fun to recap how my Spark lifestyle has been going. Take a peek at my lifestyle...the healthy, the not-so-healthy, and the downright junky :)
1. What did you eat for breakfast?
My breakfasts are fairly monotonous. The typical is fresh fruit, yogurt or cheese, and either cereal, a VitaMuffin, bagel thin, or English muffin. Today was a bagel thin, light string cheese, an apple, and some blueberries.
2. How much water do you drink a day?
I aim for 8 cups a day, but often get 10-12 depending on how active I am.
3. What is your least favorite "healthy" food?
Hmmm...I really (intensely) dislike some fruits, like bananas and peaches. It's a texture thing.
4. What is your favorite fruit?
5. What is your favorite vegetable?
6. How many calories do you burn a week?
A good amount, usually it's in the 2000-2500 range. It depends what kind of race I'm training for. Now I'm kind of at a low point with my half just behind me and no big races for at least a couple of months.
7. How many calories do you eat a day?
It varies. Average seems to be around 1800, though.
8. What are your favorite healthy snacks?
Hmmmm...lots of things! I love light string cheese, fruit (apples and berries, mainly), lowfat yogurt, cereal, whole wheat crackers with cheese, I could go on!
9. What do you usually eat for lunch?
I mix it up a lot because I get bored VERY easily with lunches (odd how it doesn't happen so much for breakfast). My usual is leftovers or a Lean Cuisine type meal or soup with veggies and/or salad. For dessert, usually some fruit or a "naughty" little snack like a mini chocolate bar or cookie.
10. What is usually for dinner?
It depends what I feel like cooking! Usually a lean protein (with chicken, flank steak, and pork tenderloin being favorites) with a starchy side (whole grain in many cases) and vegetables.
11. What is your favorite body part to strength train?
My legs! I actually like doing squats and calf raises, how crazy is that?!
12. What is your least favorite body part to strength train?
13. What is your least favorite exercise?
There are lots of exercises I HATE. The elliptical is my least favorite cardio. It bores me to tears! I also don't really like exercises that involve a lot of coordinated movement (like complicated dancing) or tons of jumping (like some kinds of circuit training). I don't enjoy core strength training either. Or really strength training in general...
14. What is your favorite exercise?
15. What is your "bad" food cravings?
Hahaha, what isn't? My top three "red light" foods (as in ones I constantly crave, and if I get within 10 miles of them I'll eat them with NO restraint) are pizza, fresh baked goods, and jelly beans.
16. What is your go to workout song?
Don't really have one. I generally like to listen to fun, uplifting music, and some of my favorite artists (currently) are Matt Maher, Chris Tomlin, and Bebo Norman.
17. Do you take vitamins or supplements?
Yes, just a basic multivitamin!
18. How often do you eat out?
Once a week. I do enjoy splurging and getting out of the house for a family meal.
19. Do you eat fast food?
Yes, I like it and eat it in small amounts.
20. How do you stay motivated?
Feeling good and looking good and knowing that I'm healthier are great motivators! I also love the challenge of working towards new fitness goals, like when I trained for a half marathon or working towards a new racing PR.
21. Who is your biggest supporter?
My family has been great!
22. How much weight have you lost?
I started Weight Watchers last year at 173. I have lost about 45 pounds since then and am now at my goal.
23. How did you determine your goal weight?
I wanted to get to my pre-pregnancy weight (at least) and when I got there, worked to lose a couple of more pounds. I'm happy where I am now.
24. Do you have a gym membership?
Yes, I got a GREAT deal on a Gold's Gym membership! It's nice to have for days when the weather is bad or it's too late to exercise outdoors. I also love to take the occasional class or use different cardio machines, like the bikes, or the pool.
25. How often do you work out?
Most days I do something. I run 3-4 days a week, cross train 1-2 days a week, and do a little strength training and/or stretching each day.
26. How did you find Spark?
One of my friends had a link to her Spark Page from her blog. I looked at it and thought this Spark People thing looked pretty fun. Tried it out and never looked back!
27. How much sleep do you get a night?
Normally around seven hours.
28. Are you a morning or night workout person?
Night owl 100%! If I could work nights I would!
29. Do you have a "cheat" day?
Not really a planned cheat day, but I do allow cheats, like fast food or eating a dessert.
30. Do you drink soda?
Yes, it's my one major vice...
31. Do you drink alcohol? How much?
Not really, I may have one drink a year, maybe.
32. What is your favorite thing about Spark?
My Spark Friends!!!
33. What do you not like about your body? What do you love about your body?
The jiggle in the lower abdominal area. I have a feeling it's loose skin leftover from pregnancy which will never completely go away :( I do like how strong my legs are getting though!
34. Do you have a workout buddy?
No, I tend to fly solo. It is nice to workout with friends occasionally for a change of pace, though.
35. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to this Healthy Lifestyle?
My level of confidence has gone way up. Having conquered some pretty tough challenges, like losing my baby weight and becoming a runner, have made me realize that I can face difficult tasks in other parts of my life, like my career and parenting.
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