Sunday, September 30, 2018

What I'm Craving/What I Ate This Month for September

Another month of eating like I'm running 70-80 miles per week is behind me!  As activity increases, it's really easy to get into eating less quality because crap food is often more calorically dense and you need the calories, but at that time nutrient-density is even more important (upcoming post about how a stomach bug that resulted in poor fueling put the nail in the coffin in my recent injury).  It's definitely a balance!  I have continued to eat an overall clean diet this summer and early fall, but I have paid more attention to ensure I'm getting enough food.  Most days this means nut butters, full fat dairy, and avocados, but once in awhile this means frosting.  In general I feel best when I avoid processed foods (particularly refined sugar and white flour), so I've been trying some healthier replacements such as oat bars made with coconut oil and honey.

This was my dinner from the Cracker Barrel right next to our hotel the night before the Run for a Child 10K:  rainbow trout, broccoli, green beans, and pinto beans.  I wanted a baked potato instead of the beans but it was an upcharge!  I also had two biscuits that I didn't get in the photo.

And this was my brunch after the Run for a Child 10K from Dennys:  veggie omelet, grits, and fresh fruit.  Jon had a Cracker Barrel breakfast for dinner the night before that came with grits (also known as Cream of Wheat) and I'd forgotten how much I liked them so had to order them the next day!

This was my post-race lunch after the Plaza 10K (too far after because I went into work right after, which was not my smartest life decision), from a restaurant called Succatash in Kansas City.  The bread was some type of whole grain and very healthy/hearty tasting; the omelet had several veggies inside.
All the fruit, all the time.  Did you know you can eat the skin on kiwis?  As with most fruits and veggies, it's the most nutritious part.  Albani won' do it, but I've embraced it.

A nutrition power-house plate here:  roasted tilapia, roasted yellow potatoes, roasted tomatoes, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and a few kale chips.  I seasoned each item a little differently, including minced garlic/lemon juice, garlic salt/chives, olive oil/garlic salt/Italian seasoning, garlic salt/nutritional yeast, cinnamon, and olive oil/garlic salt, in that order.  Can you tell I like garlic salt?  We buy one variety that comes with parsley in it and I use that a lot.

The following pictures are from a meal prep Sunday I did.  I have some very busy weeks so try to dedicate a couple of hours to Sunday food prep so I don't have to do anything but reheat during the week.  Albani heats up her own dinners from what I prepare on evenings I'm teaching or at work late (so does Jon but I find that less impressive, hah).  This one is garlic roasted tilapia.

Sliced up cantaloupe from meal prep Sunday.

Jon actually made these (beets grown in our garden) on meal prep Sunday.

Roasted bell peppers (grown in our garden) from meal prep Sunday.

We go through fruit like crazy.

Roasted yellow potatoes from meal prep Sunday.

Roasted tomatoes (from our garden) from meal prep Sunday.

Roasted butternut squash (from our garden) from meal prep Sunday.

Roasted spaghetti squash (from the Reed's garden) from meal prep Sunday.

I always make hard boiled eggs, and 12 used to suffice but Jon's been eating them a lot so now we are boiling 18/week on meal prep Sundays.

Omelets made ahead of time are so nice after morning runs during the week, from meal prep Sunday.

Baked sweet potatoes from meal prep Sunday.

Red lentil curry (red lentils, onions, kale, tomatoes, carrots, coconut milk, curry powder, ginger, garlic, garlic salt, gelatin for tendon strength) from meal prep Sunday.

Oat bars from meal prep Sunday.  I try a slightly different recipe on these every week, and Jon and Albani help me refine it.  Albani usually tells me they need sugar, haha!

Jon picked all of this from our garden in one day!

I've been craving sweet potatoes with Greek yogurt after some of my long runs.  Omelets used to be my post-long run thing, but recently this has been winning!  I also put cinnamon on them, and adding peanut butter or almond butter is good; if I'm really ambitious I'll also mix in some spinach or broccoli.

Another plate I was proud of:  baked sweet potato topped with coconut oil and cinnamon, roasted garden peppers, garlic roasted tilapia, and fresh garden tomatoes.

Mexican veggies with chicken, with sides of Mexican rice and guacamole.

Always a winning snack - peanut butter stuffed banana.

Be still my heart; one local grocery has an occasional Indian hot food bar!  I really tried to limit how much I got but this was still $10.88 (I'd have gotten at least twice as much at a buffet!).
Fresh ginger that I made into ginger tea, in a desperate attempt to reduce muscle inflammation before the Indy Women's Half.  The tea was interesting, but I like fresh ginger in curries and such.

I ate part of this before remembering to take a photo, but I made slow cooker bean soup and baked potatoes as part of a meal prep, and Jon had the idea to top the potatoes with the bean soup, which turned out really well.

Post-race refueling at Texas Roadhouse with salmon, green beans, and a baked sweet potato (not pictured:  rolls with sweet butter and in-shell peanuts before the main meal).  I was extra dedicated to inflammation reduction here, and it's hard to beat salmon for that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Gill Family Fall Festival 5K Run

Although I didn't race this race, I decided to write a re-cap anyway - mainly so I could share this family photo!
Reverse numerical order...
My husband had been planning our family's trip to the Gill Family Fall Festival ALS fundraiser since the day he heard about the event.  The brother of one of his closest friends was diagnosed with ALS and this was a way for the community in Southeast Kansas that they all grew up in to support him.  The festival was an all-day affair with numerous events, and we planned to help however we could.

Initially when Jon told me about the 5K I said I didn't want to run it, because I would have a long run that day and however I did the race it would mess up that up.  I don't like stopping my long runs, even for a moment, and anytime you stick a race into one you're going to have to stop at least a few minutes before the start, and then particularly if I win I feel bad if I don't stop briefly after finishing (and also if I make Jon pick up my award because I'm still running).  I also knew I didn't want to race it, because my September was already race-heavy and I suspected it would not be competitive so it would be a time-trial vs. a race.

As the event drew closer, I started feeling bad about not supporting the race, since everyone knows I run and race often, and non-runners don't understand key long runs, goal races, why I wouldn't run it when I run every day, etc.  I worried people would think I was being snobby by not running this race, especially after Albani decided she'd like to run it.  Since I knew I'd be tired on Saturday morning after a 3-hour drive to SE Kansas after work on Friday, I started thinking about switching my Friday and Saturday runs, meaning I'd run my long run before work on Friday and then do my "rest day" 4 miler on Saturday morning.  That would allow me to get in my quality long run, not stress about traveling/sleeping/fueling on Friday evening, and then do a mile warm up plus the 5K.  I suspected it would be small and I would probably be able to win overall female running a recovery pace.

Jon wasn't planning on running, but race morning he enthusiastically announced that he was going to run with Albani!  We arrived at the race a mere 15 minutes before the start (I'm there 45-60 minutes before when I'm racing, and I warm up a good 3 miles before a normal 5K), grabbed our numbers, and I went out for a 1 mile warm up.  Then we were off!

It quickly became clear that my prediction was right and I would be able to win first female running 7:30 pace, but you know 6:45 pace feels about like 7:30 pace when you're in a race, and that's what I ended up running for a 21:01 (I think the course was pretty much exactly accurate, too).  I won overall person, passing the first man about halfway.  It was an out and back course so I got to see, cheer for, and high-5 Albani and Jon as I went back.  I then grabbed my phone out of the car and went back on the course to take pictures and videos of Jon and Albani running in.  Jon "let" her out-kick him.
Running happy
The race did two awards categories:  16 and under, and over 16.  They didn't separate males and females, so Albani got a second place medal but she was really first female in 16 and under (the male on the left beat her).  I won the over 16 category, haha!  Albani ran the entire way and sure got a confidence boost from beating Jon.  She was the 3rd overall female too.  She wore her medal around for the entire day as usual.
16 & under
Sometimes marathon training makes me selfish; I get inflexible about my training schedule and unwilling to change my workouts around.  For the most part, this structure is a very good thing, but while it's important to have routine to training, I was proud of myself for being a little flexible, and also for getting into a race and not running hard (it's easier said than done!).  I was proud of Albani and Jon for running the whole 5K.  We then enjoyed a full day of fall festing, complete with a corn hole tournament, bounce houses, a car show, food, and friend time.  Then went spent some time on Grandpa Ibbetson's farm!
Inflatables = always winning
Cornhole tournament round 1
Cornhole tournament round 1
It's serious when one pant leg gets rolled up
(third and final round)
But have you ever bottle fed a calf while wearing your race

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Strength & Agility Routine

When I began my training cycle for Grandma's Marathon in early 2018, I asked my coach for a strength training workout to best supplement my running.  I'd been going to a bootcamp class that I enjoyed for over 3 years (a major strength training record for me - and I wrote about it here), but as my mileage was increasing and my weekly training structure was changing, I was finding it increasingly difficult to get the classes in, both logistically and physically.  I'd also been reading more about how bootcamp/HIIT classes don't optimize strength training for endurance athletes, and that lifting on easy running days like I was doing wasn't ideal because it makes them into harder days instead of a recovery days.  My coach confirmed that I should lift on hard running days, which was initially intimidating, but I decided to give it a shot.

While I liked the bootcamp class and at first really missed having a scheduled class time and other people to lift with, once I got used to lifting on my own on my hard running days, I grew to like it and believe it's made me stronger.  Now that I am running more mileage, recovery is really important on easy days.  Sometimes it's tricky to get the strength work in, since the entire workout takes about an hour to get through, but I've found some good systems with how I can split it up and ensure that I get through the exercises twice a week.  

Usually I do the full workout all at once on Saturdays, either immediately following my long run or later in the day.  This was really challenging when I first started it, but soon it became normal/not a big deal.  I think when I do it right after my long run I get endurance benefits, and if I do it later in the day I also get recovery benefits (due to increased blood flow).  On Wednesdays I always have to split it up somehow; the best case scenario is that I do about half of it after my morning hard workout and the other half after my second run, but I also have days where I run before work and at lunch, then strength train after work, effectively making it a third workout.  I don't necessarily recommend this though (keep in mind I am also working 8-9 hours on Wednesdays, and often picking up Albani from after school care and driving her to Awana).  Sometimes I complete part of it on Tuesdays to "get ahead" and other times I have to carry part of it over to Thursdays, and sometimes both.  When I do any of these I make sure it's the arm, core, and/or agility stuff that I move, so that my leg strength work is all done on workout Wednesday.  I am guilty of rushing through the routine to get it done sometimes (especially if I'm hungry for a full meal after my run!), but even then I assume something is better than nothing.

Here are the exercises that I do!  I mix up weights, reps, and hold times for variation.

Glutes and core:
Front plank & variations
Side plank & variations
Diagonal sit
Running man
Glute bridges with foam roller roll out
Bird dogs
Dead bug

Side shuffles
Monster walks
Standing side kicks

Lower Body
Weighted squats & variations
Lunge variations (I alternate weighted and body weight on different days)
Eccentric calf raises
Weighted step ups
Hip dips
Weighted dead lifts
Wall sits

Upper Body
Push ups
Tricep dips
Lat pulls

Agility Ladder:
One step
Two step
Iggy shuffle
Single leg suffle
River dance
Cross overs
*You can find videos of all of these on YouTube; I had to watch and practice multiple times when I began this routine because I'd never done anything like this before.

I really struggled to get a good action shot for this post using
my phone's timer, then I gave up...this shows glute bridges
on the foam roller
Although I'm used to this strength routine, if I go even a little overboard on the weighed moves (especially squats, deadlifts, and lunges), I can make myself quite sore.  It always blows my mind how I can get more sore from 5 minutes of squats than from running a marathon!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Plaza 10K: "I'm either going to have a huge PR or a huge blow up"

The short:
When I saw my mile 1 split, the 5K course clock, and my mile 4 split during the Plaza 10K, a thought kept popping into my head:  "I'm either going to have a huge PR or a huge blow up".  God blessed me with the former; I ran a PR of 36:34, nearly a minute under my previous road PR from the 2017 Plaza 10K and even under my track PR of 37:09 (I also broke 18:00 for the 5K for the first time during the process).  I thought races like this only happened to other people, and I may never beat this time, so I am going to ride this post-race high so hard!
Working on my season goal of smiling in my
finishing photos
The long:
I thought I'd worked my PRs down low enough (in relation to my capability) that I'd be lucky anytime I could shave off a few seconds.  It's always blown my mind to see experienced runners with already fast bests drop a lot of time off of a PR, especially when they remark afterwards that they got out there and felt fantastic running faster than they'd expected, so they just kept going and ran a time beyond what they'd dreamed.  I've had some break-through races like this years ago before I was running to my potential (the 2015 Waddell and Reed half was the most memorable one, when I hoped for 1:26:59 and ran 1:24:33), but I thought I was to the point where my margins were slim enough that dropping even 2-3 seconds/mile would be a really good day.  In fact, I went into the Plaza 10K thinking that if I had a really good day I might be able to rival my track PR of 37:09.  I thought if a miracle happened I might hit 36:59 and my big dream goal of breaking 37, but that would be a stretch.

Since I ran this race last year, I knew the course and logistics, which is always helpful.  I also had a planned pace partner, my friend Jessi who I trained with as often as I could while she was running for Missouri State (she now lives in Kansas City).  I seemed to always nail workouts when I ran with her, so I was optimistic that she and I could pull each other through to stronger performances than we'd have alone.  I felt good coming off my performance 6 days previously at the Run for a Child 10K, and I also felt completely recovered from that, despite being in a 73 mile week (I did have 2 short days prior to the race, which helped!).  I knew the women's field as a whole would be very competitive, and when race morning gave us 56 degree temperatures, fast times looked promising.
The start seemed much more crowded than this!
At the gun, a lot of women took out fast, Jessi included.  I quickly realized that she was used to cross-country and track racing where it's important to establish position early.  I wanted to be with her so we could work together as planned, but I knew that it wasn't smart for me to go out any faster than 6:00 (6:05+ was actually my plan - after Run for a Child especially I wasn't afraid of a slow first mile).  I settled into pace hoping that I would reel her back in before too long.  My first mile was still faster than I'd wanted at 5:57, but the effort felt appropriate so I tried to push any worry out of my mind.  I was moving up in position towards the end of the first mile and the beginning of the second, although at no point during the race did I know or care what place I was in.

I pulled up with Jessi towards the end of mile 2, and settled in stride with her.  I didn't look at my second mile split because I felt like I was running exactly as I should be for a 6.2 mile race.  I didn't want to get discouraged if the pace was slower than I wanted, and I didn't want to get scared if it was faster than I'd expected.  Mile 2 was 5:48 so I'm glad I didn't look because I would have been worried I was going too fast too early.  I have learned to trust that I race best when I race by effort, and I've learned to let go of thinking I need to micro-manage every single split, especially when I'm in a competitive field.

Jessi and I said a few words of encouragement to each other and pressed on side-by-side.  Janell was also right in front of us (I mentioned her in my post about Rock the Parkway, where we ran nearly the whole race together before she out-kicked me - she is also training for a 2:45 at CIM and working with the same coach as me!).  We all passed the 5K clock together, and it read 18:08ish, although based on my splits it should have been more like 18:20, which doesn't surprise me because every course mile marker was slightly wrong, mostly coming too soon.  I hadn't looked at my mile 3 Garmin split, and I didn't do the math on our pace, but did tell Jessi, "Well, I just ran a 5K PR".  I felt like I was running within myself, and I felt like I could run that pace for that distance again (often I don't at the 5K mark of a 10K!)....but at the same time I thought, "This is either going to go really well or really poorly!"  I also kept thinking, "58 degrees is like a performance-enhancing drug!"
Jessi & I synchronized running right
behind Janell on the Plaza
Mile 4 has a lot of decline in it, so I expected it would be my fastest mile.  I didn't make any conscious moves at any point during this race, because my goal was to get the best 10K time I could out of myself and not worry about what anyone else was doing, but Jessi and I gapped Janell slightly at some point after the 5K, and I started pulling away from Jessi as I accelerated down the decline.  I encouraged her to stick on me, but we separated at that point.  It was almost like Run for a Child was a preview for this race in regards to how I felt; I felt like I kept gaining momentum as the race progressed and I just felt so good.  I also kept reflecting on how much better I felt at every point on the course than I had in 2017!  I looked at my mile 4 split mainly because I figured it would be a confidence boost with the decline, and it was 5:38.  I felt like I had a solid 2.2 more miles in me, but at the same time kept thinking, "I'm either going to get a huge PR or huge blow up!"  Also I didn't even know I could run a mile in 5:38!
Around mile 4
Mile 5 goes back up most of the elevation that drops in mile 4, so I expected it to be my slowest mile, although it wasn't.  I was pulling in a couple of men so I focused on them and maintaining my turnover.  I looked at my mile 5 split because I wanted to get some gauge on where I was at overall, and it was 5:52, which was a pleasant surprise because I expected over 6:00.  Strava grade-adjusted it to 5:40 on flat ground.  I also realized that I still didn't have a great gauge on where I was since I hadn't looked at my mile 2 and 3 splits and I wasn't smart enough to look at my total elapsed time, but I felt ready to pound it in with all I had and to see what that got me!
It's a nice course, but it's not a track!
Mile 6 also has some uphill before some decline to the finish, and I remembered how very long that mile felt the previous year.  I felt strong this time, but also pretty spent, and in hindsight I may have pushed up the incline in mile 5 a little too much.  However, I was also in no man's land during the final mile - I was not going to catch anyone and no one was going to catch me.  I think if I'd been with someone I could have closed at 5:40-5:45, but I pushed as much as I could solo, which was another 5:52 (I didn't look at that split during the race).

Once I was close enough to read the finishing clock, it read 36:12, and I knew I was going to be way under 37:00.  I kicked it in with all I had left, which gave me a 5:25 pace final 0.28 on my Garmin and a bright shiny new PR of 36:34, chip time!  One of my season goals is to smile for my finishing pictures, but I think I'd have been glowing in this one even without that game plan.  My previous road PR was 37:30, which I ran last year at this same race, and my track PR is 37:09 so I beat that as well.
Finishing with joy
As I walked through the finish chute and then enjoyed an 8 mile cool down with great friends (Jessi, Janell, and Michelle from left to right below), it all felt surreal.  I thought 36:59 would be a big stretch, but I certainly never expected to run in the mid-36's - at this 10K or ever!  I also forgot what it was like to run in 58 degrees after a sweltering summer, but I quickly remembered that I like it!
I love how we can all race each other while supporting each other 100%
This course was certified so it was 6.22 miles, but my watch read 6.28 (at Run for a Child, which is also certified, it said 6.15).  It was more difficult to run the tangents in this one, though, due to a more crowded field.  I've decided if I had to choose I'd rather have a Garmin reading that's a little long than one that's a little short, because I want to know I for sure ran the distance (but right on would still be most preferred).  Can you tell I like data?
Garmin splits
Because when your Garmin says 5:49, you
take a picture!
As a whole, GAP was -2/mile on average pace
per Strava
I am riding the post-PR high for all that it's worth!  Like Run for a Child, this was a really nice checkpoint and confidence boost for me.  I'm running pretty much all of the same races this fall that I ran in 2017, so I can see how my fitness compares, and so far so good on my progress!  Being able to maintain the pace I did in this race really shocked me, because I haven't done any real speed work; my training has been strength-focused (tempos, long runs with some fast finishes/pick ups, and mileage).  Really all that I've run at 5:49 pace has been strides and fartleks (and sometimes not even those!).  So add this to my data indicating that speed work is worthless, haha!  Especially because I also ran a 5K PR during this race, with my fastest 5K coming in at 17:55 on my Garmin.  I won't count it as an official PR, but it shows me that I can do it.  My actual 5K PR is 18:18, and 18:17 + 18:17 = 36:34, so this race was a faster pace as a whole as well.
I will probably never beat this

This would also be my fastest 2 mile
since high school track!
Official results are here.  I was 6th overall female and 1st in age group 35-39.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. - Proverbs 16:3
The more I give my running to God, the better I feel about it.  That doesn't mean I perform any better or see linear progress - and early 2018 is sure proof of that - but that I know I'm going to be just fine no matter how races and workouts go.  I'm sure thankful for this one, and also for the opportunity to continue to pursue my running dreams.  Next up is the Indy Women's Half Marathon on September 29!