Friday, March 30, 2012

Recommitting to Lifting

I have a very, very love/hate relationship with lifting weights.


There are times when I think it's the most boring thing in the world and I'd rather blow my brains out then spend time in the gym lifting.

Then there are times when I think lifting is the best thing ever, when I crave the next-day soreness after a good lifting session.

I'm in the latter phase right now.

I've gotten to the point where I have these really strong legs from running (and now cycling too), but my upper body isn't on par. I have skinny little spaghetti noodle arms in comparison.

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Please note the lack of definition in my arms

I don't know if it's because summer is on the horizon and I'll be wearing tank tops more or if with tri training I just want to be more balanced all over, but I've decided to recommit to my lifting.

Luckily, my coworker Emily is in the same boat. So we've decided to lift together during our lunch breaks at work again like we did last year.

Opposites attract at the work gym with @ejcan! #proof #fitfluential
Locker room shot. We are matching in reverse

Having a gym buddy definitely makes it easier to stick with a plan.

When I lift, I'm all about high weights, low reps. I usually do three sets until I max out and can't really lift the weight anymore.

I hit all the major upper body muscles groups, then moved on to core work.

And because I had some extra time, I rounded the session out with a little bit of the leg work I used to do in physical therapy to help stabilize my knee.

Holy Moses are my arms feeling it today, but it's that good kind of I-just-kicked-my-butt sore. I am super excited to be mixing in lifting on a regular basis again. Strong arms and a strong core will pay off big time in my races.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Running Is Better With Friends

One of the things I love about running is sharing it with other people. I love running races with friends, I love answering their training questions and I was practically giddy when Tracy and Jason and Emily all started training for their first long distance races.

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Runners on the bridge, Runners on the Tidal Basin Bridge

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I love sharing shorter distance races with friends too, and I get so excited when people ask me to run their first race with them.

9/11 Memorial 5K

So imagine my excitement last Friday at happy hour when two of my friends decided to run their race in June and asked me to help them put together a training plan. (Yes I am that person who suckers her friends into athletic endeavors after they've had a few drinks, don't judge.)

Without furter ado, I'd like to introduce you to Lauren and Hadass, who will both be running the Lawyers Have Heart 10K in June. (Ladies, I shamelessly stole these pictures from Facebook).

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Lauren's on the right

Lauren is a friend of mine from middle school and high school, who now lives in D.C. and is going to law school.

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Hadass is a friend of mine from college who lives in D.C. and is a working lawyer.

Lawyers Have Heart seemed like an appropriate race.

The race is just about 10 weeks away, which is the perfect amount of time to train and get ready.

On my end, I've been looking at training plans with three days of running per week and a couple days of optional cross training mixed in. Given their busy lawyerly schedules, they both need a plan with lots of flexibility that wasn't too demanding, but would still get them across the finish line (hopefully with a smile on their faces.)

Training will officially start for them next Monday and I promise to share periodic updates on how things are going!

I am thrilled to have converted two more friends to the awesomeness that is running. If anyone else in the D.C. area is interested in joining us for the race on June 9, shoot me an email or leave me a comment, we'd be happy to have you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ten Hours of Sleep!

Lately I have been running myself into the ground.

  • I've been training and working out hard.
  • I've been going out and staying out late with friends.
  • I've been busting my butt at work on some new projects.

I've been trying to do it all and to do it all well, but I've been majorly sacrificing my sleep through the whole thing.

Some of it is my fault, I stay up too late and wake up too early. But then some of it is just poor quality sleep thanks to some not so awesome anxiety dreams.

It was all bound to catch up to me eventually.

And last night it finally did.

I was in bed reading and the last time I remember looking at the clock was 8:30 or so.

Imagine my surprise when my phone beeped around 9:15, apparently waking me up, and I realized I had passed out on top of my book and my laptop with all the lights still on.

I got up, turned off the lights and crawled right back into bed.

Ten hours later I feel like a new person.

Getting enough sleep is a wonderful feeling.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tri Training Week Six

I had a minor set back in training this week with the onset of my mysterious knee problems on Thursday. It caused me to skip my long run this weekend and going into Week 7, I'm still taking it easy so I don't cause a flare up.

I'm a little nervous for my 10 mile race that's coming up at the end of April. My runs have felt significantly more challenging lately and I've just felt sort of flat on the running front.

What happened to those easy runs from the first several weeks of training? I miss them and want them to come back!

Previous Weeks:

Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five

This Week:

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Week six numbers

Monday: 8 miles

Because I had been so busy over the weekend, I pushed my long run to Monday. It was super hot outside and I thought I'd experiment with a new trail. Turns out that trail is kind of crappy and mostly just goes on sidewalks in the city where there is no shade. I finished my water way too early on this run. But I was running downtown to meet Emily for lunch, so at least I had something to look forward to at the end.

Tuesday: 50 minutes on the trainer

Trainer rides seriously kick my butt and this one was no different. There was a pool of sweat sitting on the floor when I was finished. I'm pretty sure my roommate totally love me for that.

Wednesday: 5 miles

It was another hot lunch time run. My legs were tired from the trainer ride, but I pushed through and manage to run for the whole five miles even though I was baking in the sun.


Thursday: Knee injury

Well that run didn't go as planned. Thank goodness for @arcticease

Thursday was a planned swim day, but it was so absolutely gorgeous outside that the thought of going to a pool and missing out on the sunshine was killing me. I decided to bump my swim to the weekend and run instead. Except my knee wasn't such a fan of that plan. I made it less than half a mile before the pain got really sharp. So I turned around, went home and iced.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Rest


Sunday: Swim 3200 yards

I had a lot of pent up energy from taking so many rest days to baby my knee. So I hit the pool hard on Sunday. It was a great workout and I felt that happy exhausted feeling afterward.

I'm cautiously optimistic that my knee will bounce back just fine, but I am trying to take it nice and slow and easy on the running front. I'm not sure where this knee thing came from, but I'd like to make it go away as fast as humanly possible.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Forced Rest Makes Me Cranky

Does it ever seem like the whole world is out for a run whenever you're injured and can't be running?

That's sort of what I felt like yesterday. I've been resting and icing my knee ever since I experienced that sharp pain during my run on Thursday and ended up at home like this:

Well that run didn't go as planned. Thank goodness for @arcticease

I took Friday and Saturday as straight rest days, and by Sunday I was so antsy to do something that I figured I'd head to the pool.

As I was driving there, it seemed like every single D.C. resident had decided to go for a nice Sunday morning run even though it was kind of gloomy and overcast.

I was bitter. I was cranky. I wanted to pull my car over and join them on their runs.

Instead, I got in the pool and swam 3200 yards.

It was a bit more than I need to be swimming for my tris, but after two days of sitting around with lots of pent up energy, I needed to blow off some steam.

I plan to ice my knee some more at work today and then go out for a short run when I get home to see how it feels. Fingers crossed!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Houston We Have a (Knee) Problem

Last night, I couldn't bear the thought of spending such a gorgeous evening inside a gym swimming.

I'm a runner at heart and all I wanted to do was be outside.

So I decided to tweak my training plan a bit. Shift my swim to this weekend, and do an easy run instead.

Unfortunately, my knee had different plans.

Well that run didn't go as planned. Thank goodness for @arcticease
Chilling on the back porch with my knee wrapped in Arctic Ease

A few steps into my run, I could tell my legs were extremely fatigued and tight from my trainer ride on Tuesday and my run on Wednesday.

Then I noticed a sharp, biting pain in my right knee.

I stopped for a little bit to stretch, thinking loosening up my legs would help with the knee problems.

No dice.

I ran a few blocks further before I did an immediate about face and walked/limped back home.

I have absolutely no idea where this pain is coming from.

Yes, it is the knee I landed on when I crashed my bike a few weeks ago, but the bruise is almost completely gone, and this is the first time I'm experiencing the pain.

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Right knee after bike crash

I assume if it was tied to the bike crash, my knee would have hurt every time I'd gone running since then.

Ugh frustrating.

Luckily, today is a rest day, so I plan to ice my knee like crazy. I'm hoping with some rest and ice that whatever this pain is will clear up and I'll still be able to do my six miler this weekend. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What's Your Favorite Smoothie Recipe

There's a new big health-related initiative going on in my office and as a result, one of my coworkers brought in a blender for people to use to make smoothies!

I envision lots of these for breakfast in the future:

Blender in the office is the best thing ever. Protein smoothies for breakfast!

However, I am far from the most creative smoothie recipe person, so please share your favorite smoothie recipes in the comments! I'm game to try just about anything!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Triathlon Nightmares


The Good News:

On Saturday, I finally pulled the trigger and signed up for the Philadelphia Olympic Distance Triathlon to replace the cancelled DC Tri. I realized I needed to register ASAP when I was still telling friends that I was training for two tris, a sprint in May and an Oly in June. So after soaking in a little endurance sport motivation while marathon spectating, I hopped online and registered.

The Bad News:

Ever since then, I have been having the weirdest triathlon nightmares.

The dreams have nothing to do with running or swimming, they all relate right back to biking, my weakest of the three sports.

Apparently I'm so nervous about figuring out all the bike stuff for my tris it's started to seep into my subconscious.

Dream One: In one nightmare, I dreamed my bike got stolen. Not out of transition or anything, just from my friend's house. In the dream, I went from being super sad, to super pissed, to super panicked that I'd have to buy a new bike and get used to it before the race.

Dream Two: The next dream was a little more detailed. I dreamed I parked my bike in the lobby of my friend's apartment building while I ran upstairs to see her real quick. When I came back, my bike had been completely dismantled. The gears and the shifters and the pedals had been stolen. The rear tire was gone. It looked like my bike had been to the chop shop. All I was left with was the frame and the front tire.

The funny thing is, I'm not at all worried about the sprint race. It's a TriRock event, put on by Competitor group just like the Rock N Roll races, and I know they are very beginner friendly.

Philly just seems so intense. I've read tons of race reports about people picking up penalties on the bike, or people who swam on top of other people in the swim. (I have no problem with getting kicked and punched a bit in the swim. It happens. But if someone tries to swim over me, I will probably have a panic attack.)

It doesn't seem like a beginner friendly race and I'm worried I'm going to finish last, or accidentally break a rule and get a penalty or crash on one of the many hairpin turns on the bike course. I'm also worried that I'm going stand my newbie-ness is going to be ridiculously evident.

In More Good News:

I had an awesome ride on the trainer last night and I practiced some one-handed riding -- hand positioning mostly -- since I knew I couldn't fall over. As a result of the awesome ride, I didn't have a single bad triathlon dream last night.

Perhaps the answer to my bike nightmares is even more time in the saddle.

Update: Emily, who ran the marathon on Saturday, just informed me she had a dream about my tri last night. (Weird!) and in it I kicked butt and made a sweet video for the blog. I like her dreams much better than my own!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tri Training Week Week Five

Last week was kind of an off-week of training for me. Between the bike crash on Sunday and then finding out my A-race was cancelled on Wednesday, it's safe to say I was not in a good place mentally for training last week.

week 5 training
Week 5 numbers

I still managed to fit in a few of my workouts, but after the announcement about the DC Tri being cancelled, all motivation went right out the window and the rest of the weekend was a wash.

Previous Weeks:

Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four

This Week:

Monday: Rest

After crashing my bike on Sunday my knee and shoulder were extremely sore and I thought it was smart to take Monday as a rest day to heal.

Tuesday: 30 minute bike outside

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I knew after the crash it was important to get right back on the bike or else I'd be too scared to do it later. Tuesday the weather was gorgeous and I decided to brave riding outside in traffic for the first time ever. This was pretty much an epic fail. I was too scared to ride in the drops, the road was too narrow and I was terrified the entire time. Not to self: no more riding in traffic for a while.

Wednesday: 6 mile run

You know how the first hot run of the season really kicks your butt? Well that was Wednesday's run. I finished all six miles, but they were at a slow and ridiculously hot crawl. I took many, many walk breaks during this run and polished off all the water I had carried with me. There was no shade to be found anywhere, which certainly didn't help things.

Thursday: Rest

And here is where the motivation backslide started. I was still mourning the loss of my A race and decided I'd rather sit on my butt and watch basketball all afternoon than do my pool workout. Plus my shoulder was still sore from the bike crash, and I legitimately wasn't sure if swimming would be a good idea. I could have subbed another workout though, but I just wasn't feeling it.


Friday: Rest

This is my scheduled rest day. I debated doing a run here since I knew Saturday would be hectic, but again, no motivation. Also, there was lots of basketball on.

Saturday: Marathon spectating.

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I will always believe that marathon spectating is a killer workout. You're on your feet all day and running from point to point to cheer on your friends.


Sunday: 9 mile bike ride

It was a nice day out and Beach Drive was closed to traffic, so I figured I should take the bike out. It took me a little while, but I did manage to get into the drops, though it was the most awkward transition ever. I am still extremely nervous taking my hands off the handle bars, especially since that's what caused my crash. I know I need to practice this more or else I'm going to be SOL when it comes to fueling during an actual race.

Cyclists out there, do you have any tips on how I can practice riding one-handed without crashing my bike?

All-in-all it wasn't a great week of training, but it wasn't an awful one either.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spectating Success: RnR USA Marathon Spectating Report

Saturday I was so thrilled to spectate the Rock N Roll USA Marathon and Half Marathon in DC.

Not only was it a chance for me to bust out the world's best marathon sign:

you run better than metro sign
You Run Better Than Metro

But it was also my good friend Emily's first marathon ever, and I was thrilled to cheer for her, my friend Jason, and the million other people I knew that were running the race.

Weeks ago, I had put together a pretty intense spectating plan that let me see all my friends twice in the first 13.1 miles and three times in the last 13.1 miles.

My friends Zach and Emily made up the rest of my cheering squad (and all the pictures in those post are courtesy of Zach).

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Me and Emily waiting for the metro

(I know this post could get confusing with two Emilys so from here on out Emily C. is the Emily who ran the race and Emily Y. is the Emily who spectated.)

Zach, Emily Y. and I met at at our first cheer point just past mile five a little after 8 a.m. At this point it was just us and a few other spectators, but it wasn't long before we saw the lead car come through followed by the front runners.

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Not far behind the elites was my friend Dan, who is wicked, wicked fast. (To give you an idea of his speediness, he finished the half in 1:22, and had a really off day.)

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After Dan passed, I knew we had a while to wait for the rest of my friends who were seeded in corrals farther back.

While we waited, I was busy screaming my head off for the rest of the runners and soaking in their reactions to my sign.

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It was a fan favorite at MCM last year, and the runners seemed to love it at this race too.

Soon enough, tons of my friends were passing by.

Emily spotted me first (OMG that's three Emilys in this post!)

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Followed by Tina, Theodora and Megan.

Then my friends Hannah and Meredith.

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Then Jason.

Still no sign of Emily C.

I was signed up for text updates for Emily C. and I was getting nervous that with all the people I would miss her.

I was scanning the crowd her when Ashley screamed my name and cruised by looking awesome.

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And who was behind her?

Emily C. looking fantastic! She cut through all the people, gave me a sweaty hug and took off.

And with that our merry band of spectators packed up and headed to Metro to cheer point #2 at mile 10.5.

There were fewer spectators here and the runners had thinned out a bit so it was much easier to pick people out.

It was here that my coworker Darryl spotted me and not long after that I heard someone yell, "Jess, I love your blog!"

I wish I would have seen who it was! Mystery runner, please leave me a comment so I can say a proper thank you! I am so flattered!!!

Emily C. and Jason were still looking great at this point. They were in high spirits and staying on pace.

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Cheer point #3 was near mile 16. It was also the first point on the course where we handed Emily C. and Jason bottles of water as they ran by. It was a scorcher out yesterday and the heat was getting to a lot of runners.

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I couldn't believe how much Emily C. was still smiling. Every time she ran past us she had a huge smile on her face.

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The only time I saw that smile waver was after mile 19 when she told me she didn't feel like she had anything left.

I ran along side her for a bit giving her the best pep talk I could. I told her this was the final push, that she could do it. Stay strong and just push through.

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The faster you finish, the sooner you can have a beer

After that I left her and headed to the finish line to wait.

And wait...and wait...

We got the finish line not long after I got the text saying Emily C. was at mile 20. I knew we had a while to go, but as time ticked by I was getting more and more anxious. Emily's goal was to break 4 hours, and I knew she had it in her to do it.

She was on pace for it when she hit mile 20, but I know how brutal those last six miles can be.

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When I saw her coming around the final turn, I went bananas and probably scared all the people spectating near me. I screamed and yelled and jumped up and down. I was checking the time and realized she was going to break 4 hours. I was so, so happy for her, I started crying.

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Finishing strong

Her final finishing time was 3:57:20. How bout that for a debut marathon time!

Not long after Emily C. passed, Jason came trucking up the final hill.

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He finished in 4:17, shaving more than 40 minutes off his last marathon time! Go Jason!

As Emily C. said after the race, it's like I was a proud mama bear. And she couldn't be more right.

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I am so proud of all of my friends who went out and kicked butt in Saturday's race in the unseasonably warm weather. I know there were tons more people out there that I never saw, including my cousins, and I'm bummed I couldn't see everyone.

I loved every minute of spectating this race. But I am most proud of Emily for going out there and absolutely destroying her first marathon!

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I can't wait until we run Marine Corps together in the fall!

Friday, March 16, 2012

My First Bike Crash

Last Sunday the weather was absolutely gorgeous and I was excited to get out and bike on Beach Drive, a stretch of road through Rock Creek Park that on weekends is closed to cars.

Beach drive

Biking in traffic still scares me a lot so I like to take advantage of car-free biking whenever I can.

Sunday's ride was going so well. I was intentionally take it easy since I had just worked out like crazy on Saturday.

I was just out enjoying the weather and being outside.

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At one point I felt something on my face and went to wipe my nose.

I lifted my left hand off the handle bars for a fraction of a second.

At the same time I must have pulled a little too hard with my right handle while trying to balance because the next thing I know, I had lost control and was heading straight for the curb.

I didn't have time to swerve back to the left before my bike went up and over the curb.

I remember thinking for a second that maybe I could maintain control and just come down the other side.

Turns out road bikes can't really handle that, so instead I found myself flying through the air.

I crashed onto the grass hard on my right knee and shoulder. My momentum led me to completely barrel roll and then pop back up on my feet.

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Right shoulder that took the brunt of the fall

I winced my when I put pressure on my right leg and sort of hobbled back to my bike.

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Right knee in the aftermath

A cyclist who had seen the whole thing happen stopped to see if I was OK.

I checked out my arms and legs, didn't see any blood.

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Just lots and lots of dirt

I didn't hit my head at all so I wasn't dizzy (and I had obviously been wearing a helmet.)

The only real damaged seemed to be that my bike chain had popped off. The guy who stopped helped me get it back on. After a quick thank you, we both headed on our ways.

I hopped on my bike to quickly pedal the rest of the way home. I knew the adrenaline would eventually wear off and I would start to feel the pain of the impact.

Sure enough, as soon as I get my bike back home, my knee and shoulder started to throb.

My knee was bruised and ridiculously swollen and it hurt to lift my arm. I had a few scrapes and more bruises developed in the following days, but because I fell on the grass, I managed to avoid any road rash.

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Bruise on me knee as it started to heal

All things considered, this was a fairly minor crash, and it hasn't shaken my confidence too much on the bike. But boy was I sore all this week. It's only today that my right arm is starting to feel more normal, and the bruises on my legs are showing signs of healing.