Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jammed Finger

Jammed my finger yesterday at volleyball trying to jump and hit a ball that was over my head. Turns out I jumped just high enough to jam my finger into the bottom of the ball.

Jammed finger. Havent had one of these seen middle school bball
Check out that swelling

Now I have a beautifully swollen finger that hurts to bend.

I haven't had one of these bad boys since my middle school basketball days.

The swelling will go down eventually. Until then, I'm off to find some frozen peas.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

EmpowHER BodyMedia FITness Challenge: Week Four

Four weeks down, two to go! I can hardly believe we're in the second half of the BodyMedia FITness challenge already!

Worn bodymedia fit band

Previous Weeks:

Week One
Week Two
Week Three

This Week:

One of the questions I've been getting from a lot of people about the BodyMedia FITness challenge is whether or not wearing the armband is causing me to change my normal habits or behavior.

The answer is yes and no.

Yes, in the sense that I am a million times more conscious of what I'm eating.

Mixing things up an working from Starbucks today. Nice change of pace.
Like my very rare chai tea latte indulgences

Writing down everything I eat is not something I normally do, and usually it drives me nuts. For this challenge, writing things down hasn't been that much of a problem, but it does make me pay attention to what I'm eating, and I definitely think twice before eating snacks and sweets. I'm sure my chocolate intake is drastically lower than it normally is.

I'm also making an extra effort to work in more fruits, vegetables and protein. I wouldn't be paying close attention to any of that if it weren't for this challenge, having to record everything I eat and seeing the break down of my nutrition intake in the daily and weekly charts.

week 4 food
This week's food stats (note, more on the low numbers below)

In the workout aspect, I don't think the challenge has caused me to drastically change any of my behavior. I've always been a pretty active person and I would be sticking to my training plan for my upcoming 10 miler and triathlons whether or not I was using the BodyMedia Fit armband.


Sure, there have been a couple times where I've walked the 11 flights of stairs to my office at work just to sneak in a little more activity during my more sedentary days, but other than that, my activity level has stayed about the same. Side note: Walking 11 flights of steps is no joke.

This Week's Stats:

week 4 stats

I should point out first off that these stats aren't perfectly accurate because I didn't record my food all weekend. (Update: Victoria just reminded me in the comments that I forgot to record Friday's dinner too. So the first three rows of that chart and pretty inaccurate.)

On Saturday I was busy and ate every single meal out of the house. Sunday was much of the same. I had no idea how many calories were in half of the things I ate, so I didn't even bother guesstimating.

Although, I'm thinking that plate of nachos I ate while watching the Terps basketball game probably had more calories in it than I eat in a typical day.

After falling off the food-recording wagon over the weekend, I plan to get back on track today.

How I'm Doing on My Goals So Far:

Seven-eight hours of sleep each night: Fail! I didn't pretty well during the work week, but this weekend I was out late with friends and up early to run, which really threw off my sleep numbers.

Track my food: I was doing awesome with this until the weekend, then things got a little crazy.

Lose five pounds: Doing OK here. Despite my crappy weekend nutrition, I still managed to lose 1.4 pounds this week, bringing me to a total of 2.6 pounds lost for the challenge.

If you're interested in learning more about the BodyMedia FITness challenge, check out the details on EmpowHER.

About the BodyMedia Fit Band:
BodyMedia FIT automatically tracks the calories burned during your daily activities — from pumping iron to using an iron — and monitors the quality of your sleep, an important factor in weight loss. Add in the easy-to-use food log and you have the information you need to improve your weight loss. The 3 part system includes:
1. An Armband that automatically captures data
2. An optional Display device or free downloadable mobile apps that give you up-to-the-minute readings throughout the day
3. An online Activity Manager* that analyzes raw data, allows you to log food and presents info in an easy-to-understand way (*subscription required)

Standard Legal Disclaimer:
Device and accompanying online Activity Manager subscription was provided by BodyMedia via EmpowHER. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of BodyMedia or EmpowHER.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tri Training Week Two

It's funny to me that after thoroughly disliking cross-training for as long as I've been running, I've come to love it so much as part of training for my first tri.

I think it's because the cross-training finally feels like it's serving a purpose other than just being a break from running.

Week Two was another solid week of training.

tri training week two
Week two numbers

Monday: 4 miles

Nothing too special here, just a quick and easy four miler to start the week.

Tuesday: 45 minutes cycling

A friend of mine warned me that riding on a trainer would be more boring than running on a treadmill. I'm starting to think he's right. Trainer rides aren't the most exciting thing ever, but at least I'm able to prop my laptop near the bike so I can watch Hulu while I ride. Makes the time go a little bit faster.

Wednesday: 5 miles

It was another gorgeous day for running and I got to wear shorts again in February.

Just another run in shorts in Feb. #fitfluential

I knocked out my five miles on one of the trails near my house. I'm having fun exploring new running routes this training cycle and I think that's really helping to keep things fresh.

Thursday: Swim 2,000 yards

This was one of the best swims I've had in a long time. I felt like the correct form was starting to feel natural and I moved through the water so smoothly. Swim like this one made me want to find time to get in the pool again over the weekend. Unfortunately I just ran out of time and that didn't happen.

Friday: Rest!

Saturday: 6 miles

It was freezing cold, windy and snowing when I started this run. But the flurries quickly disappeared and the sun eventually came out. The wind never stopped though and it felt like I was running into a head wind the whole time, even though this route was an out and back.

Sunday: Active rest!

I was hoping to get in a swim at some point, but I just didn't have time. It was a busy weekend and Sunday was the only time I had to catch up on all the fun and exciting parts of life, like grocery shopping and cleaning my house. I know, I know, I live such an exciting life, I'm sure you're all jealous. At least cleaning is a sort of decent workout.

I'm really happy with how all the workouts went this week. It was definitely a solid week of training. 

Football Update:

In fantastically good Monday news, rumor has it the ACC football schedules are finally going to be released today after many, many weeks of delays. That means I can finally start planning my fall race schedule around Terps games and tailgate weekends. Yes, I am beyond excited.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Short and Sweet Swim Workout

One of the things I know is really important for me when it comes to swimming is having a set workout for when I get in the pool.

I have no idea how some people can just decide on a certain distance and swim until they reach it. Staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool for that long makes me want to blow my brains out.

I much prefer a workout that's broken down into sets, where each set has a goal.

Yesterday, I was on the way to the pool and realized I hadn't put together a workout yet. I hate not having a plan, so I whipped up a workout off the top of my head, and it actually ended up being a lot of fun.

swim workout 2:23

That's pretty self explanatory. I got in the water and took it nice and easy for these 500 yards. I always try to focus on good form in the warm up. I find that if I start a swim with poor form, it usually doesn't improve as I go.

Main Set:
5x50 on 1:00 - For these, I focused on speed by getting through the water efficiently. I worked on long strokes, keeping my gaze down, and breathing every three strokes. The time interval is adjustable based on your fitness. One minute intervals gives me anywhere from six to ten seconds of rest between 50's.

3x300 with 30 seconds rest between - The purpose of these 300's was to focus on maintaining good form after I was fatigued from some speedier intervals. I know in triathlons I'm going to get tired during the swim and I want to make sure I still maintain good form. I've learned you lose so much efficiency in the water if you start to let your form suffer so that's something I'm paying very close attention to in all of my pool workouts.

5x50 on 1:00 - Same as the first set. I like swimming shorter distances because I don't get as bored, so I threw another set of speedier intervals in at the end of the workout.

There's nothing like a nice easy cool down after a good workout. I mixed freestyle and breast stroke during the cool-down because sometimes when I swim just freestyle, I end up pushing harder than I mean to. Breast stroke forces me to slow down and take it easy.

It took me right around 45 minutes to finish this workout and it was pretty much the perfect way to wrap up a busy day.

Swimmers out there, do you prefer to do your workouts broken into sets or do you pick a distance and just keep swimming until you reach it?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chlorine-Damaged Hair

One of the things I hate most about swimming is the damage the chlorine does to my hair.

Case in point, I went for a long overdue hair cut on Monday, and the stylish practically shrank back in horror when she saw what the chlorine was doing to my hair.

To be fair, I didn't put much effort making my hair look nice before the appointment, so I went in with it looking like this.

Before haircut
Oh man can't believe I just posted that picture on the Interwebz.

After she got over her horror, the stylist offered me a couple of suggestions to help counter the effects of the chlorine.

First she suggested I wear a swim cap, but I already do that.

I also told her I use a special shampoo to help remove the chlorine after every swim.

photo (24)

She recommended that I use one of one those super hydrating hair conditioning masks and leave it in my hair for about 15 minutes before rinsing.

She also suggested that I use a very light-weight oil to add some moisture and softness back to my chlorine-dried hair.

At my hair appointment, my stylish worked her magic with both a hair mask and some oil and by the time I was all finished, my hair looked healthy and soft again.

After haircut

Now let's hope I can keep it this way for the rest of triathlon training.

Swimmers out there, what do you do to keep your hair from getting completely destroyed by the chlorine?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

EmpowHER BodyMedia FITness Challenge: Week Three

Three weeks down and my poor little BodyMedia Fit armband is starting to look a little worn.

Worn bodymedia fit band

Can you tell I wear this thing pretty much nonstop (except for when I'm in the shower; the device can't get wet)?

Previous Weeks:

Week One
Week Two

This Week:

Week Three has been an interesting one because it's the first full week I've been in training for my triathlon.

The increased workouts have been majorly increasing my appetite, and the BodyMedia Fit armband has been really helpful in figuring out how many extra calories I should be eating each day to replenish what I burn.

Typically when training starts and my appetite increases, I overestimate how much I've burned and I eat too much in an attempt to keep my hunger in check. Since the armband tells me exactly how many calories I burn throughout the day, I can make more informed choices about my extra snacks.

Here's hoping this is the first training cycle where I don't pack on a couple of extra training pounds.

Now onto the stats!

Week three stats
Week three stats

What I learned this week:

Indulgent meals are OK:
Friday night I enjoyed dinner at Season's 52, one of my favorite restaurants, and I decided to not stress about what I was eating. I wanted to enjoy the food and the wine and especially the dessert. I still recorded everything I ate, but I didn't have a panic attack when the online dashboard showed I had a calorie surplus for the day. I had a long run scheduled for the next day and knew everything would balance out by the end of the weekend.

Cleaning the house burns a lot of calories:
I spent a large portion of my day off yesterday cleaning the house. I vacuumed, dusted, swept floors, and did many, many loads of laundry. I would say in total I cleaned for about three hours. When I plugged my armband into my computer afterward I was stunned to see how many calories I had burned just doing basic house cleaning.

I'm sort of confused by the food charts:
week three food

Looking at just the number of grams, I ate about the same amount of fat and protein, but if you look at the pie chart or the bar chart, that's not the picture they paint. Maybe this is a dumb question, but shouldn't the protein and fat sections be the same size? When I did the math I got very different numbers: 54+155+53=262 total grams of macronutrients. 155/262=59. So 59% carbs, and 20% fat and protein. Right about where I want to be, but not what the charts show. Did I do something really wrong with my math?

How I'm Doing on My Goals So Far:

Average seven to eight hours of sleep each night: Better than last week. This week my average is right around seven!

Track my food: I'm still doing well here, but sometimes I find it hard to guesstimate my portion sizes. In those cases I tend to overestimate so I'm not undercounting my calories.

Lose five pounds: So far so good. I'm down .2 pounds this week, which brings me to 1.2 total for the challenge.

If you're interested in learning more about the BodyMedia FITness challenge, check out the details on EmpowHER.

About the BodyMedia Fit Band:
BodyMedia FIT automatically tracks the calories burned during your daily activities — from pumping iron to using an iron — and monitors the quality of your sleep, an important factor in weight loss. Add in the easy-to-use food log and you have the information you need to improve your weight loss. The 3 part system includes:
1. An Armband that automatically captures data
2. An optional Display device or free downloadable mobile apps that give you up-to-the-minute readings throughout the day
3. An online Activity Manager* that analyzes raw data, allows you to log food and presents info in an easy-to-understand way (*subscription required)

Standard Legal Disclaimer:
Device and accompanying online Activity Manager subscription was provided by BodyMedia via EmpowHER. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of BodyMedia or EmpowHER.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tri Training Week One

Happy Presidents' Day! I hope lots of you are getting to enjoy the day off!

Before I dive into my training review for this week, I wanted to say a quick thank you for all the awesome breakfast ideas you shared with me on Friday's post. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who struggles with the breakfast dilemma. I plan to experiment with a lot of your suggestions over the next couple of weeks to see what works for me!

Training Week One:

As for my first week of training, it's been an interesting one so far.

You might remember that my training plan is a little bit complicated since it incorporates training for a 10 mile race in April, a sprint tri in May and a Olympic-distance tri in June. The first several weeks are very running focused with fewer swim and bike workouts, but that will change in mid-March as I begin to focus more heavily on tri-specific training.

Tri training week 1
Week one by the numbers

I struggled to fit in a couple of my tri-specific workouts, once because I stayed up too late and once because the pool was closed for a swim meet. But I did manage to hit all of my runs as scheduled.

I guess it's not real surprise that the runs came easiest for me. That is my strongest sport after all. Plus it requires the fewest logistics.

Here's a break down of what the week looked like:

Monday: 3 miles

This run felt much, much harder than it should have because my legs were still tired from the 5K I ran the day before. It always amazes me how one day three miles can feel like a piece of cake and the next it can feel like a huge struggle. I finished these three miles almost three minutes slower than I ran the 5K the day before.

Tuesday: Bike on trainer + volleyball game

Talking team strategy!

I was planning to do my bike ride in the morning before work since I had my volleyball game at night, but I stayed up really late Monday night catching up with a friend and there was just no way I could drag myself out of bed on four hours of sleep. I skipped the ride, but rocked it during our volleyball game. It was a good night for team That's What She Sets. We went 3-1 on the night and delivered the only previously undefeated team in the league their first loss of the season!

Wednesday: 4 miles

My plan was to take this run nice and easy, but I guess I started to feel really good after the first mile because I ended up negative splitting the heck out of this run:

Mile 1: 9:45
Mile 2: 9:30
Mile 3: 9:28
Mile 4: 9:05

Thursday: Swim

I was so excited to get back in the pool after more than a month off, but a swim meet at the pool meant it wasn't open to the public all weekend long. I was so, so disappointed.

Friday: Rest Day!

Saturday: 6 miles

Way overdressed for my long run. The weather was much warmer than expected.
Way overdressed for my run!

Saturday was another one of those freakishly nice days in DC this winter and it was perfect for running. I did a six-mile out and back along a nice flat stretch of road. My goal was to go nice and easy since I have a tendency to run my long runs too fast. I managed to do an OK job and finished the six miles in just under 58 minutes.

Sunday: Optional swim, bike or rest

Depending how I'm feeling, I've left Sundays as an optional day to swim, bike or rest. Since I had so been looking forward to swimming on Thursday, I decided to get a nice swim in on Sunday instead. I spent a good deal of time looking for a pool that wasn't hosting a swim meet (who knew it was such a popular weekend for meets?) and I eventually found one that wasn't too far of a drive away. I did a pretty short workout and really tried to focus on my form and breathing.

Warm-up: 500 yds.
Pre-set: 5x50 with focus on alternating breathing
Main set: 2x300, maintaing form
5x50, quicker with good form
Cool down: Flip turn practice for fun
Total yardage: 1,600

After my first week of training I've found that I enjoy running three days a week and mixing in some more cross training. I never used to be a cross training fan at all, but now that I feel like it has a purpose -- my upcoming tri -- I'm enjoying it much more. I'm hoping mixing in the other sports leaves me a more balanced and less burnt out runner. If it's a pattern that works through the spring, it's definitely something I'll be keeping around when it's time to start training for fall marathons.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Great Breakfast Dilemma

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day.

I love cereal, oatmeal, pancakes and omelets. On the weekends and days I work from home, I like to make big delicious breakfasts.

But on days when I'm in the office, I have no idea what to do for breakfast.

In the past several years, I have been unable to find something that is easy to transport and prepare at my desk and keeps me full for more than a few hours.

I have tried everything you could imagine:
  • Oatmeal that I heat up in the microwave
  • Frozen breakfast sandwiches
  • Greek yogurt and fruit
  • Hard boiled eggs
Nothing seems to keep me full for longer than a few hours.

Yesterday was the absolute worst. I ate my Greek yogurt and my apple around 7:15 a.m. An hour later my stomach was growling uncontrollably and I cracked into my lunch early.

For all you working folk out there, what do you do for breakfast at the office? I'm open to any idea that's easy to transport and won't leave me starving a few hours later!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spinning at Revolve DC

Last Thursday I got invited to attend a spin class at Revolve DC, a new cycling studio in Arlington, VA.

I was pretty excited to check out the class. It's been ages since I've been to a spin class, even though it's one of my favorite indoor workouts.

When I went online to reserve a class, I had the choice of three different styles:

  • Real Ride - A spin class designed to mimic outdoor cycling conditions
  • Complete Body Ride - Heavy on the cardio with strength and flexibility work added in
  • Barre Ride - 30 minutes of spin followed by 30 minutes of barre-based exercises

I thought the Barre Ride sounded really cool, but I opted for the Real Ride since I was looking for something more cardio intensive to fit in with my tri training.

Revolve requires that you use clipless shoes when you take their classes, and they allow you to rent them for $2, which is perfect for newbies like me who have never touched clipless shoes.

Wearing my first pair of clipless shoes at @revolvedc
First time in clipless shoes!

I couldn't believe how much of a difference clipless shoes made in the class. Now I understand why real cyclists are so into them. My movement felt really smooth on the bike and I got the benefit of pushing down on the pedal as well as pulling up.

The people at Revolve were great about walking around the studio in the beginning to make sure everyone could get set up on their bikes and get clipped in without a problem.

Revolve cycle

Surprisingly I had zero trouble clipping in to the bike. (It helped that I knew the bike wasn't going to fall over.)

However unclipping at the end of class was a different story. I was able to get my left foot out without a problem, but for the life of me couldn't get my right foot out. I ended up having to take my foot out of the shoe and then yank the shoe off the bike with my hands.

The class itself was pretty stellar.

The instructor led us through a solid warm up before taking us through some really challenging drills. We did high intensity sprints, long slow climbs and plenty of quick riding on flat roads.

More Revolve spinning
It's hard to take pictures while spinning!

She played great music, and she dimmed the lights, which is something I always appreciate in a spin class.

I actually couldn't believe how quickly the 45-minute class flew by.

If you're in the Arlington-area I definitely recommend that you check out a class at Revolve. I really can't say enough good things about my experience. I just wish the studio was a little bit closer to me because it's tough for me to get out to Arlington on a regular basis. (Although rumor has it they may be looking in to adding additional locations in the future!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

EmpowHER BodyMedia FITness Challenge: Week Two

I can't believe the second week of BodyMedia FITness challenge is already over! I'm loving wearing the BodyMedia Fit armband and checking out/mildly obsessing over all the stats it captures.

I probably plug the armband in to my computer way more often than I should to see how many calories I've burned doing really mundane things like typing at my computer or driving my car.

Here's a peek at my stats from this week:

week two stats

What I Learned This Week:

Even with my regular workouts, I'm not really burning that many calories:
A lot of this is probably because I sit on my butt at a desk for a large portion of the day. Sure I get up to fill my water bottle and go to the bathroom and stuff, but other than that I don't get a lot of movement during the day. I'm lucky that I at least have a short walking commute each day so I get to sneak in a little bit of extra movement. I need to find some creative ways to sneak in a little bit more movement to burn some more calories outside of my regular workouts.

Tracking my food makes me really, really conscious of what I eat:
I'm a snacker by nature. When I'm in the kitchen packing my lunch or making dinner, I'm always munching on some of the ingredients, but ever since I started writing down everything I'm eating I've stopped doing that. It's too hard to figure out how much of a food I've eaten while I munch so I can get it recorded properly. For the most part though, writing everything down is forcing me to make pretty solid food choices.

I eat a pathetically small amount of protein:
I mean check out the breakdown in the charts here.

week two calories

Only 17 percent of my daily calories on average come from protein. That's definitely something I need to work on.

Alcohol has a lot of calories:
Ok, I know that's sort of a giant "duh", but I just never paid attention because I never had to write it down. I don't drink very often, maybe a drink or two when I'm out with friends at happy hour, but man, having to record the few drinks I had over the weekend killed me. I tend to drown the taste of alcohol in deliciously fruity concoctions (like Malibu bay breezes...don't judge) and I thought it was going to be the fruit juice that killed me here, but no, it was definitely the rum.

How I'm Doing on My Goals So Far:

Last week I set three goals for the remainder of the challenge. Here's a look at how I'm doing.

Average 8 hours of sleep each night: Epic fail. I only averaged 6:24 of sleep this week. I'm going to dial this goal back and make it my goal to get 7 hours of sleep each night.

Track my food: I'm doing awesome on this front!

Lose five pounds: So far so good. I'm down a pound.

If you're curious to learn more about the BodyMedia FITness challenge, you can check out the details on EmpowHER.

About the BodyMedia Fit Band:
BodyMedia FIT automatically tracks the calories burned during your daily activities — from pumping iron to using an iron — and monitors the quality of your sleep, an important factor in weight loss. Add in the easy-to-use food log and you have the information you need to improve your weight loss. The 3 part system includes: 
1. An Armband that automatically captures data 
2. An optional Display device or free downloadable mobile apps that give you up-to-the-minute readings throughout the day 
3. An online Activity Manager* that analyzes raw data, allows you to log food and presents info in an easy-to-understand way (*subscription required)

Standard Legal Disclaimer:
Device and accompanying online Activity Manager subscription was provided by BodyMedia via EmpowHER. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of BodyMedia or EmpowHER.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love the Run Your With 5K Recap

Nothing quite like signing up to run a race on the coldest day of the winter.

cold race
Picture from Emily

With temperatures in the low 20's and wind chills bringing that down to the low teens, I'm pretty sure it's the coldest weather I have ever run in.

The morning got off to an interesting start when I was woken up by a phone call from Megan saying the fire alarm in her building had gone off and she was wondering if she could come over early to get ready for the race.

In my exhaustion what I heard was "I'm at your door, come let me in."

I was ready to roll out of bed and run downstairs to let her in, until she assured me that she in fact was not at my front door yet.

Megan eventually made her way over to my house, we bundled up in a million layers and headed off to Virginia for the race.

Luckily we were allowed to wait in the restaurant that was hosting packet pick up until minutes before the start of the race. So we grabbed a table and waited for the rest of our friends to arrive.

Megan spotted Emily, who joined our little group.

Emily, Jess, Megan
Emily, me, Megan

And Ryan and Abe made it to the start after a less-than fun morning on the metro.

Ryan, me, Abe

Waiting in the cold even for a few minutes at the start of the race was miserable. I was shivering and couldn't feel my fingers.

The race eventually got underway and I was so happy to be moving, even though after the first turn I found myself running up a massively steep uphill.

The course was a straight out and back so I knew I'd get to run back down that hill right at the end of the race. I settled in to my pace and focused on warming up.

One thing I love about out and back races is that you can look for your friends on the course. I saw my friend Zach fly past in a small group of super speedy people, and after I hit the turn around, I saw Ryan and Abe weren't far behind me and they were looking good.

The back half of the course was nothing too memorable. I hit that big downhill and just let loose around the final turn. I may have kicked it a bit too hard because I sort of felt like I was about to puke, but I crossed the finish line in 26:74, only a few seconds off my 5K PR.

Not too shabby.

Ryan and Abe finished a minute behind me in 27:47. That's almost a three-minute PR for Ryan and an awesome debut race for Abe.

Our group of finishers: Abe, Ryan, Megan, Emily, me and Zach

After regrouping inside and taking a minute to warm up, we piled into cars and headed over to brunch.

Belgian waffles and omelets have never tasted so warm and satisfying.

Congrats to everyone else who braved the cold weather and ran the race yesterday. It was a fun and well organized event, despite the freezing temps. Apparently there were even two proposals at the finish line.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Excited to Race This Weekend

It's been a long time since I've run a race. I'm pretty sure my last time racing was the Hot Chocolate 15K back in the beginning of December.

Back when longer distances felt easy

Since then I've been enjoying the off-season, taking it easy on my runs and mixing things up with cycling and swimming.

But this weekend I'm signed up to do a 5K with some of my friends and I'm super pumped about it.

It's a Valentine's themed race, so my original plan was to wear every bit of pink running gear that I owned.


But then I checked the temperature and realized the real feel temp at the start of the race is only going to be 10 degrees. (Thanks for that, wind chill factor.)

So my plan to dress like Cupid puked pink on me is going out the window in an attempt to dress warm enough so that I don't suffer hypothermia while waiting for the race to start.

I honestly don't think I've ever run in weather quite that cold so figuring out what to wear is going to be a fun experiment.

As far as time goals, I have none.

I know I'm not going to PR and I'm totally OK with that.

I just want to go out and have fun with my friends.

I'm pretty sure it's my friend Abe's first race ever and the last time I ran with Ryan was way back at the 9/11 Memorial 5K in September. I think Ryan will probably destroy his time from our last race this weekend.

9/11 Memorial 5K
I miss running in shorts and tanks

And after the race we're going to warm up and celebrate Ryan's new PR with a delicious brunch. I really can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Book Club: The Art of Racing in the Rain

On Friday, I had a chance to get together with some of my favorite DC blogger ladies for our first book club meeting.

Gretchen and Claire thought it would be a fun idea to get us together to discuss books while eating delicious food and drinking wine.

Claire and Gretchen, who graciously hosted us

Turns out food bloggers make some really delicious food.

For our first meeting we read the Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I had heard mixed reviews on the book going in, but I actually ended up really enjoying it.


The story is about a race car driver and his family told from the perspective of his dog. The first half of the book deals with Denny's wife's struggle with brain cancer. The second half looks at how Denny's life is literally turned upside down after she dies (not a spoiler, the dog tells you she dies on page one of the book).

The book is an extremely fast read. I tore through it one weekend in between watching football playoffs.

It was a lot of fun to hear everyone's perspectives on the book, what characters people loved and who they hated. What they thought of a story being told from the perspective of a dog and what people thought of the ending of the book.

Apparently I was sharing my thoughts with the ceiling

Not to give too much away, but the general consensus seemed to be:

  • No one liked the wife and we weren't even that sad when she died.
  • The dog's point of view was interesting, but sometimes seemed to be a little too all-knowing.
  • And there were completely mixed feelings about the ending. I thought the book could have done without the Epilogue.

The last time I really analyzed a book like that was probably back in one of my college English classes, so it was really fun to read a book with such a critical eye, for more than just enjoyment.

Next month we're going to be reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I'm kind of loving that book club is introducing me to books I don't think I would have picked up to read on my own.

Major thanks to Gretchen for hosting us (and for sharing all her photos with me!). I'm really looking forward to next month!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

EmpowHER BodyMedia FITness Challenge: Week 1

Earlier this month, I was chosen as one of six bloggers to take part in the EmpowHER BodyMedia FITness challenge. The challenge will track six bloggers over a six week period as we try to reach our fitness goals.

If you were paying really close attention, you might remember back around the holidays when I included the BodyMedia Fit band in my gift guide.


The BodyMedia Fit band is a really cool tool that captures all sorts of information about your fitness like calories burned, number of steps taken each day and how much deep sleep you're getting each night.

Here's a look, straight from the source, at what the BodyMedia Fit bands can do:

BodyMedia FIT automatically tracks the calories burned during your daily activities — from pumping iron to using an iron — and monitors the quality of your sleep, an important factor in weight loss. Add in the easy-to-use food log and you have the information you need to improve your weight loss. The 3 part system includes:
1. An Armband that automatically captures data
2. An optional Display device or free downloadable mobile apps that give you up-to-the-minute readings throughout the day
3. An online Activity Manager* that analyzes raw data, allows you to log food and presents info in an easy-to-understand way (*subscription required)

As a fitness metrics nerd, I'm really excited to take part in this challenge and get a better idea of how much I actually move and burn throughout the day. This challenge is six weeks long and I'll be updating you on my progress once each week.

I've been wearing the armband for just about a week now doing my normal activities, and I have some baseline metrics to work with.

wearing armband
Might have been wearing the armband just a bit too tight there
Also I need to clean that mirror

On an average day:
  • I get about 7 hours and ten minutes of sleep
  • I burn about 1879 calories
  • I take 5590 steps
Based on what I've learned this week, I've decided to set some mini-goals for the remainder of this challenge.

Track what I eat each day: Yes I'm absolutely terrible about tracking food and I despise doing it, but for the sake of this challenge, I think it will be really enlightening. Plus the BodyMedia Fit system actually makes it pretty easy to do, so we'll see if I stick with it.

Stay on top of my sleep: Averaging around 7 hours and ten minutes of sleep each night is great, but I'd love to be able to bump that to a solid 8 hours each night during the work week. During the weekend, all bets are off.

Drop five pounds: Yep, I put on a little bit of weight during the off-season, and by the end of this six week challenge, I'd like to be back to my normal racing/training weight. With training starting up again and tracking what I'm eating, I'm hoping this won't be too much of a problem.

I'm really excited about this challenge and I think it will be a ton of fun. I can't wait to see the kinds of numbers my armband gives me once training is happening in full force.

If you're curious you can check out the other bloggers participating in the challenge and read about their experiences. If you want to get involved and take the challenge with us you can find out more from BodyMedia.

And per the FTC regulations, here's the standard legal language about how I got my armband for free:

Disclosure: Device and accompanying online Activity Manager subscription was provided by BodyMedia via EmpowHER. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of BodyMedia or EmpowHER.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Ultimate Spectator Plan for the Rock N Roll USA Marathon

The Rock N Roll USA Marathon released its course map today and since I have several friends running this race, I spent the evening putting together an awesome spectator plan.

My goal with this plan was to make sure I could see my friends in as many places as possible.

Assuming the metro cooperates this plan lets me see them at five spots on the course and again at the finish line.

I thought I'd share my awesome spectator plan in case anyone else is looking for an easy way to see your runners at a lot of different places.

Jess' Ultimate Spectator Plan for the Rock N Roll USA Marathon:

Cheer Point #1: Farragut West Metro Station between miles 5 and 6

From there walk to Farragut North Metro Station. Take the Red line in the direction of Glenmont. Metro to Union Station, walk quickly to cheer point #2 (about a 15 minute walk)

Cheer Point #2: Intersection of K and North Capitol Sts. NW between miles 10 and 11

Walk back to Union Station very, very fast (again about a 15 minute walk)

Optional Cheer Point #1: Union Station near mile 14 (This will depend on if the metro is majorly delayed and how fast the runners are going. If there are major delays on metro or your runners are moving fast, skip this cheer point and immediately move to either optional cheer point #2 or cheer point #3)

Take the Red line in the direction of Shady Grove from Union Station to Gallery Place. Switch to Green line in the direction of Branch Avenue. Metro to Waterfront- SEU. Walk to either Optional Cheer Point #2 (5 min walk) or Cheer Point #3 (10 min walk)

Optional Cheer Point #2: M and Maine Sts. SW. between miles 16 and 17 (This again depends on how fast the runners are going and how fast metro is going. If there's time for this cheer point, simply walk very quickly from here to cheer point three - 15 min walk)

Cheer Point #3: M and Sout Capitol Sts SE near mile 19

Walk to Waterfront-SEU metro station (10 min walk) or Navy Yard metro station (5 min walk). Take Green line in the direction of Greenbelt to L'Enfant Plaza. Transfer to Orange or Blue lines in the direction of New Carrollton or Largo to Stadium Armory. Walk to finish line. (15 min walk)

And just like that you will have had a chance to see your runners at a lot of different places and get back to the finish line in time to meet up with them.

If you're running the Rock N Roll USA Marathon or Half Marathon feel free to share this spectating plan with your friends and family. Trust me, they'll appreciate not having to put their own plan together.

And if you're running keep an eye out for me. I'll be at all the places listed here (except maybe the optional ones, though I'm going to try), and I'll be bringing back the "You Run Better Than Metro" sign that was such a hit at the Marine Corp Marathon!


Thursday, February 02, 2012

Booty Shorts and T-Shirt in February

Winter is being a tease throwing us some beautiful spring-like days at the beginning of February. I know eventually we'll get yanked back into normal winter temperatures, but for now I'm taking advantage of the gorgeous weather to get in some great runs.

booty shorts in Feb
Booty shirts and a t-shirt in February, why yes, I think I will.

I was lucky enough to be working from home yesterday, so I used my lunch break to get a nice hour long run in.

I had planned to just do a short three miler, but the weather was so nice, I wasn't ready to go back home yet.

I felt great until mile 4 and then my body remembered it hadn't run more than four miles in a long, long time.

I took it easy for parts of mile five and mixed in some walk breaks, which must have been just the break I needed because mile six was awesome.

In total, I knocked out six miles in 58 minutes or so. Certainly not record speeds, but yesterday, I wasn't focused on speed. I just wanted to be out there running and enjoying the weather.

I do wish I would have carried some water with me though. I couldn't believe how hot I got after just a few miles.

My face hasn't been this red after a run in a long time.

Here's hoping the groundhog sees his shadow  doesn't see his shadow (I always get confused. Thanks for the catch Mom!) and these spring-like temperatures stick around for good!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Appreciating the Run

I'm always amazed at just how much I want to run when I physically can't.

Like last week, when I was sick and laid up in bed, all I wanted to do was be outside doing something active. I was dying to put on my sneakers and go for a run or take advantage of the beautiful weather and get in a bike ride.

The fact that I was stuck in the house made me cranky and irritable.

But when I'm perfectly healthy and could physically tackle a bike ride or a run without a problem, I don't have that burning desire to get outside.

All of a sudden it's too easy for me to fill my schedule with other things, stay up too late and make myself too exhausted to function, and just in general take for granted the fact that I could running.

Why is that?

Why can't I have that same burning desire to run when I'm feeling healthy. Why, when everything is going well and I should be hitting my workouts without a problem, does my motivation tank?

I finally got out for my first run in a while this week and boy did it feel good. The run wasn't fast and it was only a three miler, but I appreciated that my body was up and moving. And the endorphins kept pumping long after I got home.

It felt awesome to be moving again.

I need to try harder to remember that feeling and I need to keep reminding myself to take advantage of the days when I'm healthy to do something I love. There will come a time when I'm sick or injured and can't workout, so I need to remember to embrace the days when I can.

As winter winds down and my training plan is about to start up, I'm hoping it will be easier to do that.