Monday, October 31, 2011

You Run Better Than Metro

Marine Corp Marathon weekend is hands down one of my favorite weekends to be in D.C. The energy surrounding the race is amazing and there's no place I'd rather be the last Sunday in October than cheering on friends.

Megan drove down to my house so we could hop on the metro bright and early to get to my all time favorite cheering spot.

MCM sign on metro

After scoping out a lot of different cheering locations last year, I felt like a spectating pro this year and picked out a great spot where we could easily see our friends running and they could easily see us.

We set up camp early. When we got there a few wheel chair races were passing through and not long after them the lead male runners went flying by.

Wheel chair racers

Male leads

Slowly but surely the packs of runners passing us were getting bigger and bigger.

Runners

We were keeping our eyes peeled for lots of blog friends (we saw Heather, Leslie and Kandi) and I was on the look out for a ton of friends from high school, work and college.

Our sign made us extra easy to spot and it was a definite crowd pleaser.

Meg, Jess, sign
Zach did all the hard work making this.

(For the non-D.C. folks, Metro is our public transportation system, and it is pretty terrible. It breaks a lot, there is constant maintenance that slows things down, and it's horribly expensive for the level of service you get. But it is a necessary evil if you want to get around the city. I'm grateful it exists so I don't have to drive, but I absolutely hate how unreliable it is.)

Tons of people (both spectators and runners) stopped us to ask if they could take a picture of us with the sign. Runners were cracking up and laughing to their friends and shouting to us that it was so true. I was really happy Megan and I were able to provide a bit of entertainment and comic relief in the middle of the marathon.

DSC_0496

If it weren't for the sign, I wouldn't have spotted my friend Marisa, my high school teacher or my coworker.

After we saw Zach, his sister Jess and her fiance Ryan and my other friend Peter run past, Megan and I were ready to pack it in and head home. Megan had to run 22 miles, but as we were walking back to the Metro, I wanted to stop at mile 20 to wait for everyone to pass through again. Megan headed back home to knock out her run and I watched and cheered some more.

After Zach and Peter ran past again I told them I'd meet them at the finish, and I high-tailed it to the Metro to beat them there.

It is a long, long walk from the Metro to the finish line, but I scrambled through the crowds and made it into the grand stand with plenty of time to spare. I was scanning the runners looking for familiar faces and after not too long I saw Zach, Jess and Ryan heading up the hill. It was Jess and Ryan's first marathon and all three of them were smiling and looking awesome. The race finishes on an uphill (kind of cruel if you ask me), but they were moving at a good pace and looking great.

DSC06465
Me, Zach and the world's most popular race sign

I hung out for a while at the finish line looking for Peter. He hadn't been too far behind Zach's crew for most of the race, but after waiting for a while, I was afraid I'd missed him. I wandered back to the finish area, hoping I'd somehow magically be able to find everyone (this is a very poor plan), but luckily I spotted Zach's younger sister and the rest of his family and we headed over to baggage claim to meet up with all the runners.

DSC06464
Me and Peter after his very first marathon!

Huge congratulations to everyone who ran MCM yesterday! I hope you all had as much fun running as I did spectating.

(If you saw me on the course with my ridiculous sign, please leave a comment! So many people stopped and said hi or asked about the sign and I barely got three seconds to say hi as you were running by!)


*Lots of these pictures came from Megan's camera because it's nicer than mine!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Financial Friday: Savings Buckets

One of the things my friends tease me most about are my savings "buckets." When I save for a goal, no matter how short or long term it is, I create a "bucket" for it.


A bucket is just a separate savings account that I put money into each month, so it earns interest and is earmarked specifically for that one purpose.

I have buckets for things like a new car, a down payment on a house and I think I might be adding one soon for a road bike. (Perhaps triathlons are in my future after all.)

Buckets are a really easy way to save toward a certain goal and they are actually extremely easy to set up and use.

How to Set Up Buckets:

The easiest way to set up buckets is to create separate savings accounts for each item you are saving for.

Some banks make this easier to do than others. I manage all my savings accounts through ING because they make it dead simple to start sub-accounts that you can nickname based on your goal. It takes about two minutes to set up a sub-account through their online banking platform.

Once you have your accounts set up, you need to figure out how you're going to put money into your buckets. You can:

  • Send money directly from your paycheck
  • Set up a direct transfer from a checking account
  • Move the money manually

For me the easiest thing was to set up an automatic transfer through ING. Each month, I have the bank transfer a set amount from my checking account into each of my buckets. That way I can set it and forget it. Once my system is in place, the less I have to mess with it, the better.

Finally you need to decide how much you are going to put into each bucket.

How Much Should You Save?

Well that depends on what your goal is and how fast you want to get there.

I have a bucket for a house down payment, but I don't plan to buy a house any time soon, so I put a pathetically small amount of money into the bucket each month. But I know I will need a car within the next few years, so I contribute a larger sum to the car bucket.

One of the easiest ways to figure out how much you should save toward a goal is to play around with Mint's Goal tool. I'm a huge fan of this tool because it lets you plug in a goal amount and determine how long you want to be saving for the goal and calculates the amount of money you need to set aside each month.

mint goals

You can experiment with different timelines and different amounts to find a number that is reasonable for you. That's how I figured out how much I should be saving each month for my future car.

Once you set up a goal in Mint, you can link it to the savings account for that specific bucket and Mint will track your savings progress over time. Because I am a huge nerd, I really love seeing my savings progress tracked on the little graph and it motivates me  to be more frugal so I can add a little extra to my buckets each month.

mint goals 2

I've been using the buckets savings method for about two years now and it's made it a million times easier to save money when I have specific goals I'm working toward.

In the New Year I'll be re-evaluating my buckets and setting up some new ones for other expenses like vacations, a road bike and maybe some design work on the old blog.

What are you saving for right now? Anything fun and exciting?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bored With Training

We've officially reached that point in my training for the Philly half marathon where I am so ready for training to be over and the race to just be here.

The newness and excitement of training have long since worn off, and I'm easily distracted by new and more fun fitness challenges.

I'm already looking past race day to see what's next. I'm thinking about my fitness plans for the winter and spring and I'm trying to figure out what will keep my entertained on the fitness front.

I've kicked around the idea of picking up a gym membership so I can use a pool. I've toyed with the idea of focusing on strength training this winter and I've also decided that I want to focus my running on shorter distances again to work on speed.

I'm so eager to start all these new things that sometimes plain old, boring training doesn't hold my interest anymore. And that's making it harder for me to find the motivation to do my runs. My training has been going well. I've hit most of my key works and I'm just ready for the race to be here so I can stop "being in training."

Do you ever start to get bored with you training as the race gets closer? How do you push past the boredom and stay engaged with your training plan?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training Week Seven

One of the things I'm starting to realize as I get deeper into my training plan is that I can't handle six days of running per week with only one day of rest. When I was sticking to that formula, my legs were constantly heavy and fatigued. I struggled to hit my speeds on quality workouts and my easy runs never felt easy, no matter how slow I was going. So I've been experimenting with adding in an extra day of rest and I definitely think my legs are responding well to the change.

Training So Far:
Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Week Six

Week Seven:

Monday: 3x1600

This was my first time ever running mile repeats and I have to say, I wasn't a huge fan. I like shorter intervals where I feel like I can push it harder since my recovery time comes more quickly. But I know longer intervals are more important when you're training for longer races.

Tuesday: 3 miles easy

Wednesday: Rest Day

This was my experimental rest day this week, mainly because I had a ton of work to get done before I could get ready for my big work gala.

Thursday: Rest Day

Sheer exhaustion after being up late at the gala. I bumped this run to Friday instead.

Friday: 3 miles tempo

This was a hard workout and by the time I was finished I was sucking wind. As per my usual with tempo runs, I started out way, way too fast and burnt out well before the finish. I still think tempo runs suck. Give me intervals any day of the week over a tempo run.

Saturday: 1:45 long run

Maryland had an away game this week, which left my Saturday wide open to fit in my long run. It was a gorgeous day outside and my legs felt pretty good for the majority of this run. Unfortunately I bonked a little bit toward the end because I only had one Gu left in my house and I probably didn't eat enough before I started. I still managed to finish 11.16 miles in 1:45 flat, which was faster than last week's 11 miles in 1:46, so I'm not really complaining.


Sunday: Football Doubleheader

I actually think my football doubleheader might have been the toughest workout I did this week. We had just enough girls to field a team, so there were no subs. In our league, a game is two 25 minute halves with a five minute half time. Two of those back to back with no real rest was brutal. By the time I finished my entire body hurt. Hamstrings, butt, back...everything. And the muscle soreness persisted all day yesterday too. I was getting in and out of my office chair like an old lady.


Total Mileage: 22.16

I can't believe the race is only a few weeks away now. I only have one more really long run left!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Carving Fun

This weekend we had some amazing fall weather in D.C. It was perfect for getting in a nice long run on Saturday morning and for playing a football doubleheader on Sunday. (We won both games! Whoo!)

It was also perfect pumpkin carving weather.

photo(7)

Right after football, Emily and I picked up Anne and some pumpkin carving supplies and headed over to Jason's house to get started.

I'm usually a pretty traditional pumpkin carver -- you know, smiley jack-o-lantern face with triangle eyes. But Emily and Jason were hard at work on these super creative pumpkins that I felt I needed to step up my pumpkin carving game a little bit.

pumpkin carving
Why yes, Jason did use a hammer and an egg beater to work on his pumpkin

I decided to go all school spirit with my pumpkin.

pumpkin2

I carved Terps on one side and UMD on the other. The Terps side looked a little deformed though.

UMD pumpkin

When we all finished we decided to leave our pumpkins at Jason's house since he actually gets trick-or-treaters and has a nice front stoop to display them.

pumpkin carving


It's been years since I've carved a pumpkin and I had such a blast yesterday! And as a bonus, Anne took home all the pumpkin seeds to roast them. (That's probably the best part of pumpkin carving!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Financial Friday: Budgeting

Last week we talked about tracking your spending so you have a better idea of where your money is going. The main reason for doing that is so you can set up a budget that works.

I know when most people hear the word budget, they cringe. To some setting a budget is like going on a super restrictive diet where all of a sudden chocolate and bread and all the good foods of the world are suddenly off-limits.

But just like we all know crazy diets don't work in the long run, neither do overly ambitious or unrealistic budgets.

Setting Up A Budget That Works:

1. Figure out how much money you bring in each month. This includes paychecks from your full-time job and any money you make on the side. If you have a freelance gig include that. If you make any money from your blog (ad revenue, sponsorships, etc.) include that too.

Once you have that figured out, add everything up and you'll have the total amount of money you bring in each month.

If you're self-employed and don't bring in the same amount each month, this will be trickier. Take a look at the last several months to see how much money you've brought in on average. You'll need to take a bigger look at the year as a whole and identify any slow times where your revenue stream is smaller than normal so you can plan accordingly.

2. Once you know how much money you bring in, calculate your necessary expenses. Necessary expenses include things like rent and mortgage, groceries, the cost of transportation (car insurance, car payments, gas), utilities, etc. Basically it's the money you have to spend every month to stay alive and employed.

3. Subtract your necessary expenses from your income and the number you have left over is your flex spending money each month.

Flex Spending Money:

It's up to you to decide what to do with this left over money every month. Flex spending money is the money you put toward things like savings, retirement, paying off debt and having fun.

Yes, it would be unrealistic to think you're going to all of a sudden give up every happy hour or fun social event as part of your budget. And it's completely OK to still spend money on fun things or things that are important to you (like a gym membership), as long as you have the money for it.

Here's how I treat my flex spending money:

  • Each month I put a small percentage toward an immediate savings goal. (My car is probably on its last leg and I know I will need a new one soon).
  • I put another small percentage toward retirement savings.
  • I put a very small percentage into an emergency fund.
  • I use what's leftover as my "fun money" for football tickets, race entry fees, etc.

*I'm lucky enough to not have any debt right now. If I did, I would also be putting a percentage of my flex money toward paying that off as quickly as possible.

A note about fun money: When it's gone, it's gone. I'm not allowed to go into credit card debt to do something fun. So if I have several pricey events at the beginning of the month, I'm most likely skipping happy hour at the end of the month.

Homework:

Take some time this weekend to flesh out a budget. It doesn't have to be perfect. Consider it a first draft.

Figure out how much money you have coming in and what you absolutely have to pay each month to survive.

From there you'll have to decide what your financial goals are to figure out how to spend your flex money. This can be a bit of trial and error over the next several months. Experiment with different percentages and see what works for you.

Do you stick to a budget each month?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

GCN Awards Gala

Last night I got to attend a work event that I think can safely be called the government's version of the Oscars. I mean there was no red carpet, but lots of the best and the brightest in government donned their tuxes and fancy dresses for dinner and an awards ceremony recognizing great work in the government IT field.

GCN
Sorry for the crappy quality. The lighting was terrible

Award winners included individuals and teams across government who had used technology to improve work processes internally or to greatly improve the public's experience interacting with the government. The winners also included a group of 25 people being recognized for doing awesome work in the IT space in the first third of their government careers.

That's why I was there.

Earlier this summer, I was selected as one of those 25 people for the work I do in social media. Talk about a huge honor. I got to attend a big fancy awards ceremony and got a little blurb written about me in one of the government IT magazines.

GCN2
Me and my boss

I spent the night sipping wine, eating a pretty good dinner (so glad I asked for a vegetarian dish) and listening to some of the other award winners give speeches.

I won't lie, the dessert bar was probably my favorite part of the whole night. I managed to restrain myself though, and only had a few cream puffs.

It was a fun night, but it left me quite exhausted, so needless to say I slept in this morning and definitely skipped my run. So worth it in my book though.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday Birthday Edition

Yesterday we celebrated all the office birthdays for the quarter, including mine, even though it was back in August. Our party committee did a nice job of picking out some fall treats to share at staff meeting.

pie
Mmm pumpkin pie and apple cider

And if you're in the mood for a laugh this morning, check out this animated graphic from the Washington Post on working out at work. My coworker shared it with me and you can go vote on just how humiliating it would be to do a a variety of exercises at your desk.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training Week Six

After struggling in week five to find motivation to do my runs, I rebounded in week six. My motivation was higher and I nailed almost all of my runs, including a really successful long run in the rain.

Training So Far:
Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five

Week Six:

Monday: 4 x 800

Treadmill intervals
Mileage here doesn't include my warm-up

Because last Monday was Columbus Day, I was off from work and I always find I really struggle with my motivation on the days when I'm off and don't have to be anywhere. There's nothing forcing me to get out of bed early to make sure I get my run done, so it's easy to sleep in and then keep pushing my run off. I definitely struggled with that on Monday. I was enjoying a relaxing day off and had a really hard time getting myself to put on workout clothes. Around 3:30 or so I finally made my way to the fitness center to knock out my intervals. Nothing too special here, I got them done and that's what matters.

Tuesday: 3 miles easy

Wednesday: Unplanned Rest

I had a tempo run on the schedule, but between my hatred of tempo runs, my busy work schedule and my overall laziness, this run just didn't happen.

Thursday: 4 miles easy

Last Thursday was one of those days were I needed sleep and there was no way a 4:30 a.m. wake up call was happening. I promised myself I'd do my run when I got home from work and I'm proud to report that I actually did. I am so bad at running after work because I'm usually so tired, but I was just determined to make it happen.


Friday: 1:45 long run

Garmin long run

I debated for a long time whether to do this run on Friday or Saturday. It was rainy and disgusting Friday and since our tailgate didn't start until later on Saturday I knew I'd have time to do the run Saturday morning if I wanted. But ultimately I really wanted to get this run out of the way before the weekend started. So I put on my big girl pants and knocked out 11 miles in the rain. There were times it was pouring and water and sweat were dripping into my eyes and burning and there were times when it was just drizzling lightly and I barely noticed it. I was soaked from head to toe by the time I got home, but I was so happy to have this run finished.

Saturday: Rest and tailgate

Hands down one of the best tailgates of the year. Unfortunately the football team I was drafted onto only won one of the three games we played.

Sunday: Flag Football

Sadly our team didn't have enough girls show up, so we ended up forfeiting and just playing pick up with the other team. I had a nice catch over the middle and picked up some nice yardage because I outran my defender. And then I got to play QB for one play and succeeded in getting us positive yards! Go me!

Total Miles: 20ish

I was super happy with this week of training. I got in most of my runs and they all went fairly well for the most part.

I can't believe I only have four more long runs left before the race! It's going to be here before I know it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Very Bloggy Homecoming

This past weekend was Maryland's homecoming game against Clemson. Homecoming is one of my favorite tailgates of the year because friends from out of town come in and we tend to go all out with the food at the tailgate.

Homecoming 1
Definitely the best picture from the whole tailgate

This year was no exception. The tailgate theme was "Southern-style" and the food spread was impressive. Pork and baked beans, mac and cheese, peach cobbler, etc. (Of course because I'm a bad blogger I don't have a single picture of the food. Just imagine a lot of deliciousness.)

Homecoming is also one of my favorite tailgates because it means Susan comes back to visit!

It's become a sort of yearly tradition for her to make a brief pit-stop at my tailgate before circulating around to see all her other friends.

Jess and Susan
Me and Susan this year.

Jess and Susan '10
Me and Susan last year.

MD Day
Me and Susan at Maryland day a few years back.

Susan and I both went to UMD and we were there at the same time, but unfortunately we didn't meet each other until after we had both graduated and started our blogs.

I was also excited because Megan was stopping by for her first Maryland tailgate ever.

Me and Meg
Bloggers everywhere!

Of course when you get a bunch of runners together we all geek out and start talking about races and training and PRs. My "real-life" friends appreciate this so I don't yap their ears off about running nonstop.

bloggers at homecoming

The tailgate was a smashing success and we all had a blast. I can't say the same for the football game though. Somehow Maryland blew an 18 point lead and let Clemson put up something like 39 points in the second half. We ultimately lost the game 45 to 56.

I have to say, Clemson fans are a classy bunch and didn't rub it in our faces, even though they easily could have. Lindsay texted me a bunch during the game, laughing about the state of our teams, but it was all in good fun. And the fans at the stadium who traveled up for the game celebrated their victory, but never got nasty about it. Must be that Southern hospitality and charm.

Absolutely choking like that though is not the best way to end an otherwise awesome day, but it's pretty much par for the course for Maryland football these days.

That's why it's essential for us to have an awesome tailgate...it takes away some of the sting when Maryland chokes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Financial Friday: Tracking Spending

Back in August at the Healthy Living Summit, I attended a session on budgeting for a healthy lifestyle. It's no secret that gym memberships, race entry fees, workout gear and healthy food can all be pricey. The session offered some interesting tips on ways to make room for a healthy lifestyle in your budget.

Because I grew up with a mom who was an accountant, I have always been a little OCD about money. I always knew budgeting was important, but I never knew how to set one up. So instead I would just stress out, put every penny into savings, and panic when I had to pay for something big like a car repair.

car repair
How I feel about car repairs

Since that's not really the best way to handle your finances, in the last few years, I have taught myself a ton about managing money effectively, mainly so I can afford to run races, buy insane amounts of Under Armour and still be able to pay my bills.

running jacket
The new UA running jacket I bought myself...because I could

After the HLS session, I was chatting with some friends about the ways we all budget (or don't budget) for different things, and they asked me to share some of the things I've learned on the blog.

I'm no expert, but I've read and experimented with a lot, and I've found a few things that work for me.

So I decided to start this series to share some of the things I've learned. If you have questions, or topics you'd specifically like me to cover, please let me know by shooting me an email or leaving it in the comments.

Tracking Your Spending:

Since this post is already getting a big lengthy, I'm going to share the one thing that seriously changed my life when it comes to managing money: tracking my spending.

Just like people on a diet track what they eat, tracking every dollar you spend will give you a good idea of where your money is going. It might sound tedious, but I promise it is worth it and there are tools that make it easier.

Personally I keep a spreadsheet, where I track things like bills and rent, groceries, gas, and other "fun" expenses.

I also use Mint.com, which you link to your bank and credit card accounts. Mint tracks your transactions and breaks them into categories so you can see how much you spend on things like fast food, groceries, etc.

Mint screen grab

LearnVest just released a similar money-tracking tool, which, like Mint links to your accounts. I haven't tried it, but it's received some great reviews.

learnvest screen grab

The important thing is that you find a tracking system that works for you. Mint and LearnVest make it easy because they automate everything, but I personally prefer the spreadsheet because it's more hands on and forces me to pay closer attention to where my money is going.

Homework:

Your homework for this weekend is to pick a money-tracking system that works for you and get it set up. Whether that means creating a Mint account or building a spreadsheet, take a few minutes to get your system in place this weekend. Then begin tracking what you spend.

Do you already have a tracking system in place? If so what do you use?

Questions or ideas about what you'd like to see in upcoming Financial Friday posts? Just let me know!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Three Things Thursday

Well since it's Thursday and it's been way, way to long since I've done a Three Things Thursday post, I thought I'd bring it back this week, so I can give you guys some quick updates on what's going on in my life!

Here we go!

1. I feel super honored to be nominated as one of Shape Magazine's Top Fitness Bloggers. I am in some great company with some fantastic other bloggers, but I'd love if you could take just a second to go vote for me. (The vote button is in the right side bar...it took me a while to find it.)

shape pic

2. I have been sleeping terribly lately. I'm super exhausted all day long and then when I'm ready for bed I don't feel tired anymore. What gives? The last two days when my alarm has gone off, I haven't been able to get up and I've hit snooze or just completely re-set my alarm. This morning I skipped my run, although I am definitely going to do it after work, because I literally couldn't open my eyes. It has been dreary and rainy lately and the days are getting shorter. I wonder if the lack of sunlight is throwing off my circadian rhythm or something. I should also probably start decompressing and unplugging earlier so I can wind down and get to sleep earlier.

3. My iPhone case came in the mail yesterday and this morning I woke up to an email from Verizon saying my phone has shipped. I'm excited for the new phone to get here so I can finally join the world of smartphone users. I won't lie, a huge part of the reason I upgraded to a smartphone is so that when I race I can carry just my iPhone and not a phone and a separate camera. There's only so much room in my iFitness belt and I'd rather save the extra space for gels. So yes, I wanted an iPhone because it would make race-day logistics easier. Is that sad?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Getting My Vitamins and Minerals

When it comes to training and nutrition, I try to be good about eating my fruits and veggies and making sure I'm getting all the nutrition I need from my food.

But I know I'm not great at it and I know there are probably big holes in my nutrition (mainly iron and calcium).

I should be taking a daily multi-vitamin and a calcium supplement. My doctors have been telling me this forever.

Vitamins!
(Source)

But I stink at remembering to take them.

There have been multiple times where I have gone for a few weeks and religiously remembered to take my multivitamin and calcium supplements. But then I fall off the wagon. I have the half used bottles of vitamins in my bedroom and at the office to prove it.

So when I got a sample pack of Adora calcium supplements in my Healthy Living Summit swag bag, I was excited to try them. Adora discs are basically little chocolate circles infused with calcium.

Adora-Calcium-Supplement

I love chocolate and calcium is good for me so this sounded kind of like a win-win situation. I mean how hard could it be to remember to eat chocolate every day?

Turns out, not hard at all.

In fact, I had the opposite problem. The Adora discs were so good, that I wanted to eat more than I was supposed to in a given day.

(Yes, I have a chocolate problem.)

So for now, I have my calcium situation under control. The Adora discs are delicious (I tried both the milk chocolate and the dark chocolate varieties.) and I almost never forget to take them.

Now I just need to find a way to remember to take my multivitamin.

In the past I've gone the Flintstones chewables route, I've swallowed the grown-up pills, but nothing has really been fun and exciting. So it hasn't stuck. I wish Adora made chocolate multi-vitamins. I'd be all over those.

Do you take a multi-vitamin? If so, what kind? And how do you remember to take it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training Week Five

This week of training was a real struggle for me on the motivation front. Coming off a great half marathon, physically I needed a day or two of rest before I my legs were ready to dive back into training, and mentally, I felt like I owed myself a week of easy running.

I tried to combat the desire to do nothing but sit on my butt and catch up on TV, but week five was definitely not the most successful week of training for me. In fact, I was pretty much a huge slacker.


Training So Far:
Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four

Week Five:

Monday: Rest

Though I wasn't super sore Sunday after I finished the race, by Monday my calves were aching and my quads didn't like the steps very much. Rest it was.

Tuesday: Rest

Things were starting to loosen up in my legs, but I still had a lot of tightness, so I opted for another rest day. Sleeping in until 6 a.m. was such a nice treat.

Wednesday: 3 miles

My legs were finally starting to feel OK, so I went out for a three miler to see how things held up. I started slow to let everything loosen up and I was happy I was able to push the pace a little bit at the end.

Thursday: Rest

Now I'm just being lazy. I wanted to sleep in and I couldn't convince myself to do the run when I got home from work.

Friday: Swapped my rest day with Saturday

Normally Fridays are my long run days, but since the Terps were away and I wasn't tailgating on Saturday, I decided I wanted to do my long run then, so I swapped these two days in my plan.

Saturday: 10K

This was a cut back week on the long run front and I was pretty glad that it was. Mentally, my mind wasn't really into running this week at all. While I enjoyed the 10K mainly because the weather was beautiful, I was wishing I was still curled up in bed.

Sunday: Rest

My football league was cancelled this week and instead of going out to run an easy three miler, I sat on the sofa and watched the Eagles' season implode.

Total mileage: 9.2

For whatever reason, I really struggled mentally last week. I just wasn't in the mood to run, at all. Normally, that's something I can pretty easily work around and I can get myself out of the door eventually, but last week it just wasn't happening. Part of it is definitely because I felt I "deserved" time off after the race, and the other part was just pure and simple laziness.

My main goal for week six is to get back on the bandwagon. I've rested plenty, it's time to get back to the grind. Weekly mileage that low is not going to help me set any new PRs in Philly.

I can't undo a week of slacker training, but I can improve from here on out.

Onward and upward.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Terps Away Weekends

During football season, my Saturdays are spent in College Park tailgating and watching the Terps games, and my Sundays are spent either at home or at a bar watching the Eagles. (It's been a lot of watching at home lately, I'm too embarrassed to wear my Eagles jersey in public.)

Football is pretty much my built in social calendar all fall.

So what do I do when the Terps are away and there's no tailgate?

The answer: Do all the things I love to do that I don't normally have time for.

Since the Terps were on the road this Saturday, I was able to sleep in a little bit, then leisurely get up and do my long run.

It's been ages since I've done a long run on a Saturday, and I enjoyed taking my time and not feeling rushed.

When I got home, I headed to the farmer's market. I've been dying for some fresh honeycrisp apples - the ones in the grocery store just aren't cutting it - but since the farmer's market is on Saturdays, I usually miss it.

I spent some time roaming around the stalls before hitting up my favorite farm for a haul of apples and apple butter.

The other things I like to do when the Terps are away is catch up with my non-football loving friends. (aka the friends I don't see every weekend at tailgates.)

Saturday I had plans to head downtown to meet up with some friends who were in D.C. to go to the Caps game and then later at night, I went to hang out with my best friend.

Though it was a pretty awesome weekend, full of lots of good times with great friends, I'm glad the Terps are in town this coming weekend. It just doesn't seem like a complete weekend without a tailgate and football.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training Week Four

This week of training was a little bit different and I definitely didn't follow the schedule since I had a half marathon at the end of the week. In order to make sure I was ready to go for the race, I took a few extra rest days and moved the days of certain workouts around. In the end whatever I did worked because I ended up having a really great race.

My Training So Far:

Week One
Week Two
Week Three

Week Four:

Monday: 8 x hills

I'm really starting to value the hill training I've been doing. It paid off big time in the half marathon. The first half the course was rolling and there were some serious hills toward the end of the course that didn't feel that bad to me, and I can only credit that to the hill work I've been doing.

Tuesday: Unplanned Rest Day

My legs were insanely tight and sore and were pretty much begging for a rest day.

Wednesday: Quasi-planned Rest Day

I debated for a while if I wanted to run on Wednesday or not. My legs were still really sore, but I felt guilty for taking another rest day when I was supposed to be training. In the end though, I pushed the guilt aside and spent some time stretching and foam rolling to help loosen things up.

Thursday: 3 miles

I could tell my legs appreciated the rest days. They were still a bit tight, but started to loosen up about half way through the run.

Friday: Planned Rest Day

Normally Fridays are my long run day, but since I had the race coming up, I bumped my long run to Sunday.

Saturday: Tailgate and then sick on the sofa

I got sick Friday night with a fever and a headache. I was a miserable shivering mess buried under about 15 blankets in my bed and still couldn't get warm. By Saturday morning I felt a little better, so I went to the tailgate to hang out with my friends, but skipped the football game to come home and spend the rest of the day in sweats on the sofa eating the chicken noodle soup one of my friends brought over.


Sunday: Half Marathon and Football

DSC_0421

Despite getting over sickness and not being trained for this race at all, I completely kicked butt and smoked my PR. I'm hoping this means great things for Philly if I stay on top of my training. Playing football an hour after crossing the finish line of a half marathon was actually easier than I thought it would be. My legs were tight and sore, but I felt really good after the race and I think moving around playing football helped flush some of the lactic acid out.

Total Mileage: 18.1-ish. I never remember to calculate the mileage on my hill workouts.


Goals for Week Five:
  • Recover well from the race
  • Attack the rest of training with a renewed vigor.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Another Reason I Love Fall

So excited to have this back in my life!

edyspumpkinicecream

Sure I'm not thrilled that a little thing of ice cream costs almost $6, but it was a grocery store splurge this week that was worth every penny.

I have a feeling the container will be gone by the end of the week. It's just that good.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon Race Recap

Bear with me everyone, this race recap is just a bit lengthy!

The race this weekend was a huge success!

I went in planning to treat it like a long run taking it nice and easy and I finished with a 6 minute PR!

Let's start at the beginning:

When my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. I could hear rain outside. Not good.

It was already supposed to be a chilly day, I didn't need cold rain on top of it, especially since I had been battling a fever since Friday night.

For about two seconds I contemplated just going back to sleep, but I eventually dragged myself out of bed and went through the normal pre-race routine:
  • Get dressed
  • Force contacts into tired eyes
  • Make PBJ for the road
When I got to the race site I had to sit in quite a long line of traffic before I got a parking space, but the line moved and the traffic directors did a good job of keeping things organized.

Since the race was a point to point race, my plan was to meet up with my co-worker Emily in the parking lot and take the shuttle to the start line together.

On the shuttle
Sorry for the bad coloring...Blackberry pic

The shuttle dropped us off at Mt. Vernon where the race was going to start.

Mount Vernon-20111002-00041

We met up with Zach and hung out for a while before heading to the start line.

At start

Katie spotted me as I was walking to my corral, so I stopped and wished her lots of luck. (She ended up kicking some major booty in this race!)

Once the race started I was telling myself to take it nice and easy. I had no idea what my pace was since Garmin was having technical difficulties and wouldn't turn on even though it had a full battery. Talk about frustrating.

For someone who obsessively checks her pace to make sure she's not starting to fast, this was a major issues for me.

I tried to forget about it and focus on the course, which was absolutely beautiful. I kept repeating the phrase "Relax and roll."

The first half of the course was full of rolling hills, but all my hill training seemed to pay off because none of them were that bad.

Mile 5 was the first mile that had a clock and when I passed in 47 minutes and change, I was really surprised because I felt like I was moving so slowly.

Somewhere past mile 7 my left hip and IT band started to tighten badly, so I stopped to stretch it out. Best. decision. ever.

I felt a million times better after that and could tell I was starting to pick up speed.

By the time I got to the incline on the bridge around mile 9, I was feel awesome. I was in the zone and everything felt great. The hill on the bridge didn't bother me at all.

The view from the bridge was breathtaking. I wanted to pull out my phone and take pictures, but I didn't want to stop running, so I just kept looking from side to side and took it all in.

I saw planes landing at National airport. I saw the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building in the distance.

And I saw the state line markers on the bridge. I crossed from Virginia, into D.C. and then into Maryland. This was the first race I've done that spanned two states and the District.

I enjoyed the nice downhill coming off the bridge and saw another clock at the mile 10 marker: 1:34 and change.

I was feeling amazing. I couldn't believe how quickly I was running and how well my legs were holding up.

There was a steep uphill near mile 11, but even that didn't bother me. At this point I was in familiar territory. I recognized the last two miles from the 5K I did at National Harbor last year and I knew the finish line wasn't too far away.

I let myself fly down the last big hill and knew exactly where I'd hit the gravel path that I hated so much in the 5K, but at least I was expecting it this time.

I smiled at the photographers, soaked in the cheers from the spectators and gave a final hard push around the last corner to the finish line.

When I saw the clock said 2:02, I almost cried.

I have been chasing a sub-2 hour half for more than a year now, and the closest I had ever gotten was 2:07:45. And here I come in to a race, expecting to treat it like a long run and I finish with an official time of 2:01:53.

A 6 minute PR!

I have never experienced such an incredible runner's high.

Zach tracked me down pretty quickly after I crossed the finish line and we found Emily not long afterward.

Turns out it was a stellar day for PRs.

Emily smashed her previous PR and finished in 1:49 and Zach killed his too and finished in 1:38.

Finish line

Seriously I have fast friends.

I was on cloud 9 all day yesterday. I took advantage of my awesome runners high and played a pretty stellar game of football after the race too. Unfortunately my team lost, but I made a nice catch and sacked the QB, all on legs that had just run 13.1 miles.

The only thing that could have made yesterday any better was if the Eagles and the Phillies had not both choked.

I couldn't be happier with the way this race went. I wasn't trained for it. I planned to treat it like a long run and somehow my legs were ready to PR.