Tuesday, February 27, 2018

January-February Cravings Post

Since I published December's "What I'm Craving This Month" post so late, I decided to skip January, but the second half of January can be summed up by:
It was bad; I ate 7 months worth of desserts in 2 weeks!
Overall, I've been craving carbs and sugar like a madwoman this winter.  I think this is a combination of an adaptive response and a major mood slump.  I am currently 7 lbs heavier than I was when I ran CIM, and I am no longer freezing cold all the time like I was before I gained this weight.  I kept saying I was going to gain 5 lbs after my marathons because I was tired of being so cold, and then I over-achieved, haha!  Once I started gaining weight it was like my body sure wanted to pack it on.  The +5 lb goal was because I think I race best when I'm in a certain 5 lb range, and I was racing at the bottom of that range last season, so a 5 lb gain would put me at the top of the range, while presumably making me not freezing constantly.  For those following the math here, that means I am now a couple of pounds over my preferred range, but I imagine I'll be back within it before any important races.  Weight is a tricky discussion with running, because it's so important to be healthy and well-fueled, but at the same time it's basic science that you won't race as fast if you are carrying extra weight for your body (which is not the same build as anyone else's body).

I was really excited to try this whole grain naan and beet hummus when I saw them at the store, and they did not disappoint.  I like beets, but if you don't like them this hummus is not for you (if you are trying to like them, start putting just a few slices in your smoothies and you won't even notice).  I used to make my own hummus and bean dips often, and need to get back to that.

It would have been better to get a photo of the actual wrap, but I woofed it down and it was amazing.  I don't think I've ever had anything Amy's brand that I didn't like, but I wish it was cheaper.

Chicken curry from our favorite nearby Chinese restaurant.  Their portions are so big I got two meals out of this, which is rare and really saying something.

Fish tacos on a work trip.  I need to make these at home so I can make them healthier with whole wheat tortillas and brown rice, but for a restaurant meal this wasn't the worst.

Salmon is always winning (see also butternut squash and fresh green beans).

Date rolls with almonds and coconut are really great when I crave sweets, which is all of the time currently.

Baked potatoes are always a staple in my diet, and I like to experiment with different toppings.  This one has black olives, parsley, and nutritional yeast (immunity boost!).  I once read that a white potato has more potassium than a banana so they are really good for runners.

This isn't a craving, but I wanted to include it because I think these have been instrumental in keeping me healthy through the winter cold and flu season.

These are fantastic tea flavors.  I add a splash of almond milk.  These are both caffeinated, but at work they stocked a de-caf cinnamon variety that got me through my caffeine tapers before CIM and Houston.

Until March!

Thursday, February 15, 2018


As of 1/1/18, I was officially 4 years into my workout streak!  I nearly forgot about it when I unintentionally got caught up in my first ever running streak from 6/20/17 to 1/14/18, and Facebook memories gave me the reminder that I forget about it every year until sometime in February!  Funny, I am still more proud of my not-quite 7 month running streak than I am of this 4 year workout streak.

I began the streak on 1/1/14 when was struggling with an injury and couldn't run, to help me be consistent with cross-training.  I made my own rules, which simply require a minimum of 10 minutes per day of exercise to "count".  It's rare that I only exercise for 10 minutes, but that leniency came in handy when I was suffering through cryptosporidium, when I had whatever intense virus I had 11 days before the Prairie Fire Marathon in 2016, during tapers, and in the first couple of days after marathons.  Plus, when I started the streak and couldn't run, on days that I dreaded cross-training it was easy to think, "Just 10 minutes and I can stop", which would get me started on the spin bike or whatever, and once I got going I'd go for a longer duration.  Let's face it, 10 minutes of anything isn't worth the laundry so you might as well get in a decent chunk of time!

It's been very easy for me to maintain this streak, because even before I started it I pretty much always exercised 6-7 days a week...this just made it more official!  I looked back at my training log, and although I technically started counting the streak on 1/1/14 to make it easy, the last day I took off was 12/27/13.  So as of today the total streak is 1511 days - 12/28/13 through 2/15/18! 

I don't really think this is significant in any way, but I also don't think I'll be letting it go!  Hopefully I can be a 90-year-old lady still plugging away at this crazy meaningless streak.  If I make it until I leave this world, someone note my total streak days in my eulogy, please!
Happy Valentine's Day, one day late!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Recovery, not Resolutions: January in Review

January 2018 in review...Happy New Year!

Total mileage for the month:  207 - This should be my lowest mileage month of 2018!  Towards the end of the month, I did the math to see if I was going to make it over 200, concluded that I wasn't, and made peace with that (after an initial urge to add mileage) -- but I think I forgot to include Jan. 31 in the calculation, and that was the difference.

  • Jan. 1-7:  55.4 - taper
  • Jan. 8-14:  58.3 - marathon week
  • Jan. 15-21: 20.5 - recovery week (4 days off running)
  • Jan. 22-28: 48.2 - more recovery (1 day off running)
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 4: 57 (back to 7 days of running, but lacking pep)
January is cold
  • Jan. 14:  Chevron Houston Marathon in 2:54:06.  Although this was a far-cry from the time I went to Houston to chase, I was content with it.  I knew running this one was a risk, and I am glad I took the risk even though I didn't reap The Big Reward.  I learned a lot that I will carry forward, and it felt good to run my third fastest marathon and 5th consecutive sub-3:00 with joy.
  • Jan. 3:  3 x 2 mile tempos with 0.5 recoveries (2.3 warm-up, 2 cool-down), with splits of 6:06/6:03, 6:00/6:01, 6:05/6:04.  My goal pace ranges were progressively faster for each one at 6:05-6:10, 5:55-6:02, and 5:50-6:00, so my first two reps were right on and my last one was 5+ seconds/mile slow; however, considering the weather I thought this was solid.  It was 28*/feels like 14* with an 18 mph north wind.  The temperature was actually balmy compared to my other runs around this time and I don't think it hurt me one bit, but the wind ate me up.  I ran a loop course that is mostly north and south, and it's a fast course that I do most of my tempo and road speed workouts on, but it has zero wind block and going north was tough.  I fought to hit my splits on the first two reps, but because the effort was more than the pace showed I didn't have sub-6:00 in me at the end.  The last time I ran this workout on October 31, my first two reps were almost identical to what I did in this one, and the last rep was faster, but thanks to Gamin Connect showing weather data I looked back to see that the wind was 3 mph that day, so I am calling this one a win! 
  • Jan. 9:  2 mile tempo in 6:13/5:58, 0.5 recovery, 0.5 mile tempo in 2:51 (3 warm up, 2 cool down).  This was the same final tune-up workout I did the week of CIM on November 28, and have also done plenty of times before.  My goal paces were 6:10-6:15 for the 2 mile and 5:50 for the half mile.  Actual paces were almost identical to what I ran 6 weeks before, on the exact same course, so cheers to consistency.
  • Jan. 27 - 2 mile tempo in 11:39 via 5:49.8/5:49.7 (3.3 warm up, 3 cool down).  I included the tenths of a second on my splits because I was very happy with my even-ness!  This was done during my no training schedule recovery time, because I was dying to run something faster.  I rationalized this with wanting to try out a pair of new racing shoes while they were still in the return window.  I am almost embarrassed to admit that I bought a pair of Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%s - but I am not above trying them out for the purported performance benefit!  After this run I will say that either they really do give a performance benefit, or I was just rested, because I expected I would be more like 6:10 pace because of post-marathon de-training, post-marathon sugar binge weight gain, and the day's powerful wind.  Shoe review to be continued...
  • Jan. 30 - 5 x 3' on/3' fartlek (2.1 warm-up, 2 cool-down, 4.24 covered in the fartlek portion).  There was definitely a reason that my coach made this one short and effort-based, and it was nice to run a workout even though I still had some "out of gas" feeling going on and it was 16 degrees.  My paces for the ons were 6:01, 5:44, 5:55, 5:53, 5:54, which I was overall good with all-considering, but clearly I should have run a little faster on the first rep to keep them all sub-6:00 -- or really just warmed up better, because 2 miles easy is not sufficient at 15* (actually at any temperature some strides and drills sure help!).
  • No doubles - sadness, but it's not the time for them and I also know I would have struggled going out twice on the stupid cold days!
  • Strides on Jan. 3 (pre-workout), 8, 12, and 13.
  • Full body strength workouts on Jan. 1, 22, 28, and 31.  I did quite a bit of maintenance work (core, glutes, calves, etc.), nearly daily aside from right before and right after the marathon.  I've committed to strength training on my hard running days during this cycle, typically Wednesday and Saturdays, which is recommended but more difficult than what I've been doing with my life schedule.  I started on Jan. 28 with a strength workout on my long run day (it's much easier when the long run is only 12 miles) and continued on Jan. 31 on my midweek long run day (a little harder because running 10 miles + 45 minutes of strength work before work is a lot).  I know I won't be perfect on this every week, but if I can get at least one full workout of the strength routine my coach gave me every week (along with a little maintenance most days right before or after running), I will be happy.
  • Favorite workout:  Since the 3 x 2 mile split tempo was the only full-length workout, it wins by default!
Long Runs:
  • Jan. 6: 12 easy (7:22).  It was terribly windy for this one with Missy and Rebecca.  I love running farm roads, but our typical routes have no wind block, and after a few miles we all agreed that we should have run this one in town!  We went out against the wind for 6 miles, running around 7:40 pace.  Missy said, "This sure feels like 7:00 pace" and I agreed.  When we turned around, we were running 7:00 pace at the same effort.  We know our "feels like" paces!  It was also "feels like" 4* and my face froze for the first half of the run.
  • Jan. 21: 9.5 easy (7:15).  Eh, I'm counting it!  This was my first day of feeling more normal after the marathon, and I joined some of my favorite girls (Missy, Jessi, and Danielle) for part of their long runs.  I thought I was joining for 8 miles, but the loop I did was a little longer than expected.  I ran 1 mile later in the day with Albani, so split I made it to double digit miles for the day, haha!
  • Jan. 28: 12.2 easy (7:26).  This was one of those runs that just flew by with good company!  I was glad Jessi wanted to take it easy pace-wise along with me, because although I felt about as good as I could expect to post-Houston, my body wasn't ready for a fast long run yet.
  • Favorite long run:  I'm struggling with this because I can't classify any of these as actual long runs, but I felt the best on Jan. 28!
  • This month I did a lot of record-setting in regards to the coldest conditions I'd ever run in.  New Years Day I tackled 3*/feels like -11* (in daylight) and on January 2 I ran in -1*/feels like -8* before dawn.  At the end of December I set some similar records, with a 10 mile hill repeat workout in feels like -3* on December 27 (my first time running double digit mileage at below 0 real feel), a 21 miler in feels like 6* on December 30 (my coldest long run ever) and a recovery run on December 31 in feels like -6* (my coldest run ever until I bettered it on January 2).  These are the kind of PRs I could do without ever improving on.  I used to not run outside if it felt like below 0*, so I've been proud of myself!  I hope February isn't terrible, though.
  • I am slower in the extreme cold.  It's easy for me to forget that the cold effects pace physiologically, as heat also does.  I run my easy runs by feel, and they were around 30 sec/mile slower when it was very cold - some of this is probably from wearing 15 lbs of clothing.
  • I heard my second mention on Lindsey Hein's I'll Have Another Podcast.  I'm a new listener, but it's safe to say I'm addicted to this podcast now.  I was listening to the Christmas special (late, clearly), and they talked a little about CIM.  The gist of my mention was on the topic of PRs at CIM, and something like "That Sara girl we met at Indy ran a 2:47...and she only ran a 1:20 half at Indy."  Hah.  I'll give them a much better "only" with my 5K PR!  2:47 and 1:20 are actually pretty equivalent performances, per the Jack Daniels calculator, but a lot of people can't pull off a marathon equivalent to what their half predicts.  I am the opposite and can't pull off the short distance times my marathon predicts.  The podcast I'm mentioned in is here.
  • I proactively ended my running streak on 1/15/18.  I ran every day from 6/20/17 to 1/14/18.  I never planned to streak, but I began running 7 days a week in my CIM build and it just happened.  It then became pretty hard for my obsessive personality to stop to stop streaking (I ran for 10 minutes/1.1 miles the day after CIM to maintain it), but I knew I needed to stop it both physically and mentally, and to stop it while I was healthy.  After all, I have to get prepared to build for a 2:45 attempt at Grandma's Marathon in June! 
  • Speaking on Grandma's Marathon...I applied for and was accepted as an elite!  I'll get have my own fluid bottles placed on the course which I am super excited about.  My official training schedule for it began Jan. 29 (although the first few weeks will be lighter), and if all goes as planned I will have another streak from Jan. 27 through race day on June 16.
  • Albani ran her first 5K!
  • Albani and my mom attended the OMRR (our local running club) banquet while I was in Houston!
Non-running life events:
  • We welcomed the New Year at home, with family game and movie time.  I tried to fall asleep during a movie around 10:00 p.m., but Jon and Albani were being loud and kept me awake until around 10:45 p.m.  At that point Jon sent Albani to bed, but then she came back downstairs at midnight to wish us happy New Year.  I only halfway awoke for that!  I love being old, haha!
  • We got some extra time with my parents after the Houston Marathon.  My mom stayed with Albani while my dad went with Jon and I to Houston.  We returned from Houston late Sunday night, and my parents were planning to leave on Monday morning, but due to bad weather they ended up staying with us until Wednesday!  Albani was also out of school due to the snow on Monday through Wednesday (then had a late start Thursday), and everyone had a great time.  I had to work but I also don't do well with not leaving the house for days on end, so it was alright. 
Our wild New Years

I imagine I made a similar face when I went
outside in this temperature!

Being spoiled by Grandma