buzz buzz buzz

I don’t drink coffee.  It’s not a rule, I just don’t regularly drink it. I prefer to keep it as a back-up last resort.  I bring this up because these are my favorite running fuel: Chocolate Cherry Clif Shot Gel   I love them!  But there’s a slight problem…as delicious as they are, they are also “turbo”.  What does that mean you ask?  Well, it means that Clif puts enough caffeine in them to power a city!  It says it’s the equivalent of 2 shots of espresso.  Of course, non-coffee drinking me has no concept of what that really means, but I will get hyper on half a small dunkin donuts coffee. So, while this does give me a helpful boost during a long run, I can’t have more than one for fear my heart will explode.  Also, I’m not 100% sure that it was a good idea to down one before my run 2 hours ago.  I’m supposed to be heading to bed, but I feel more like heading out for a second workout! ACK! CAFFEINE!!!  😛

coffee shakes

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This week, I went running…

It’s hard to blog about running when I haven’t been running.

Except, I HAVE been running, it just feels like I haven’t.  I’m not sure why. I’ve been putting in 3 or 4 runs a week with an average of over 15 miles a week.  So, why does it feel like I haven’t been running?

Here’s what I think:

  1.  Now that the holiday running streak is over and I’m not going every day, it feels like I’m hardly going at all. (Which is silly and false!)
  2.  I’m not training for anything, so there’s really no need to think too hard about how different runs feel.
  3.  I’ve been running mostly on the treadmill because it’s really freakin’ cold out pretty much all the time now.  So, I can’t even make a “hey, look what I saw on my run!” post.

Whatever the reason, it’s probably fine that I haven’t been posting because, “I ran 6 miles on the treadmill.” is not a very interesting post, and I’m sure posting that same thing more than 5 times would bore even the most dedicated running blog enthusiast.

half marathon Amy

***** I interrupt this post to bring you a photo from the finish line of my first half marathon…look at that smile! Also, I’m wearing a cotton t-shirt…for 13.1 miles.  It was the B.A.A. half marathon, so I drew a sheep on the back of the shirt, it’s running and has a sweatband. It’s saying “B.A.A.”.  It’s a pretty awesome shirt and I still have it :-)****

Now, back to our regularly scheduled posting.  Training for my spring half marathon starts next week! I’ll be posting more about that soon.  I’ve taken the weekday runs from Hal Higdon’s Intermediate training plan, and came up with my own distances/schedule for the long runs.  I’ve gotten to a point where I know what kind of training works best for me in terms of long run distance, but I’m not capable of making up my own speedwork, yet.  I look forward to seeing how this goes. I generally alter the training plans I follow at least a little bit, but I’ve never just wholesale thrown out the long run distances and picked my own. Crazy, right?! Here’s to living on the edge!

Top 5 Friday!

I’m starting this new thing called Top 5 Friday! Because, guess what?, it’s Friday and I have no clue what to write about on the blog this week!

I went running a few times but nothing noteworthy happened.  I’m not training for anything in particular, didn’t have a race, and I didn’t see anything exciting (unless you count the creepy guy w/ 6″ fingernails using weight machines while I’m on the treadmill, but I’d rather forget about him).

Here’s how it works – if you haven’t already guessed – it’s Friday, and I’m going to give you a top 5 list. So, with no further ado…this week’s topic is…

TOP 5 REASONS RUNNING ON THE TREADMILL IS ACTUALLY AWESOME

1.  Law and Order Marathons – Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love Law & Order?  And, can you watch Law & Order while running outside? No, no you can’t. On the Law & Order scale, Treadmill wins!

My Running Buddies!

2.  It’s easy to zone out – My favorite part of the treadmill is how easy it is to zone out. I don’t have to worry about tripping, or getting hit by cars, or watching out for ice.  Just turn on the machine and run. That’s all. It’s awesome.

3.  You don’t need to carry things – I like to have my “stuff” with me.  On long runs – my phone, my iPod, water, gel, keys.  In the dark, I’ve got my vest, knuckle lights.  Do you know how much stuff that is to carry?  It’s a LOT of stuff.  On the treadmill, there are little ledges to keep all your stuff. It’s awesome.

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Running Stufffffff

4.  Weather – Guess what, it doesn’t rain in the gym. Also, the treadmill is never icy.  Windchill? Nope.  Oppressive heat and humidity – not likely.  Treadmill wins!

5.  Reading – I love running, but I’m not going to pretend that I sometimes don’t want to do it. One thing that can help get me going is the promise of a good book.  Reading while you run, you say? On the treadmill, it’s possible! I just pull out my kindle, change the text size and there you go.  Treadmill + Kindle = Awesome!

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Do people actually need text this large?

Often, the treadmill gets a bad rap, I think it’s unfair.  The treadmill can be so much fun 🙂

2014 Running Resolutions

In case you don’t already know this about me, I am OBSESSED with resolutions.  I don’t know what it is about them, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE making them and coming up with a plan to follow them.  I usually make a lot of New Year’s resolutions, and this year was no exception.  Sure, when you have 20+ resolutions you don’t always accomplish them (well, basically you never accomplish them all), but if you go into it with that understanding, it’s fine. Some are always more important and become the ones I focus on.  And you can’t always be sure in January what the year will be like so maybe some will fall off the list as unimportant or others will be added.

After almost 2 weeks of thinking it through, I now have my final list of resolutions – broken down by category. 🙂 I’m going to share with you my resolutions from the running category (of course!). So, with no further ado, in order of importance, and with detailed commentary..

Amy’s 2014 Running Goals and Resolutions

  1.  Complete a 1/2 Marathon in Under 2 Hours – My current PR in the 1/2 is 2 hours and 55 seconds, so you might think that breaking 2 hours should be no problem.  But, I fought hard for that time. It was back in 2010, and my goal then was to break 2 hours (what would have been about a 10 minute PR). I trained hard, and ran a great race, but just could not go any faster.  It was so disappointing.  I was in good shape then and probably could have scheduled another race immediately to try again, but I needed a mental break from the goal.  So now, it’s back on my list.  I have my eyes set on a race in late April, so if I do not make it then, I’ll have enough time to try again before the year is over.  I plan to sign up for the race and start training during the last week of January, so soon enough you should hear more about this goal.
  2.  Keep up with my Running Blog – I’ve been having fun blogging over the last two months, and I’d like to keep it going. Reading other people’s running blogs is motivating, and I hope to keep finding good ones to follow. Also, given how much I love when I get comments on my posts, I’d like to start commenting on some of the other blogs I read.  My plan for this resolution is to post at least once a week, comment on someone else’s blog once a week, and to be following at least 12 other running blogs by the end of the year.
  3.  Run a Marathon – Although I had my doubts during training and the first 5 minutes after the race, I’m now finding myself interested in doing another marathon.  The training and race itself were very challenging, and I’m looking forward to that challenge again. While I was training, my sister-in-law made me promise that I would run a marathon with her, so if she’s ready, I’d like to make good on my promise this year.  Also, I think we’ll be able to convince my other sister-in-law to join us!  This wouldn’t happen before the fall, so I don’t need to really even start thinking about training for quite a while. For now, my plan is to investigate race options and decide whether I’d still run a marathon this year if I’d be doing it solo. I’d like to figure that out by May.
  4.  Keep a Running Journal – Not a lot of explanation needed for this resolution.  I got a journal for Christmas, and I plan to start using it when I start training for the 1/2 marathon.
  5.  Join a Running Club – Sometimes when I talk about running, I get overexcited and people give me that look.  Like either I’m faking it or I’m crazy – I’m not sure which one they’d think is better, but I’m not faking it! So I’d like to seek out some other crazy running folks who won’t give me those looks!  (This in no way means that all you non-runners should stop give me these looks, I need them to keep me from going off the deep end.  Keep it up!) My plan for this one is to pick a local running club (there are a few I have in mind), figure out when they run, and what I need to do to sign up. I’d like to get signed up before the end of February.
  6.  Volunteer – I want to do some sort of running related volunteering.  I know there are a lot of great opportunities for this, but I’m not sure what is right for me. My goal for the year is to investigate some options and see what is interesting to me.  Also, as part of this goal I want to volunteer at at least one race before the end of the year.
  7.  Run 2014! (kilometers, that is) – Last year’s mileage goal was to run more than my biggest  year – 650 miles.  However, I passed 650 in June, so I kept resetting upwards until I settled on 900 miles. And I JUST made that goal.  Originally, for this year, I had my eye on breaking 1000 miles, but then I saw a run 2014 challenge.  You can run 2014 miles, 2014 km, or choose your own goal.  I chose 2014 km, which is close to 1000 miles!  I’m not sure whether I’ll get this or not, it’s quite a bit higher than my 2013 mileage, but I think it’ll help keep me motivated when I don’t have a race on the calendar. (P.S. you can check my progress on the sidebar)
  8.  Beat Jeff’s 5k PR – At the end of the year, Jeff helped me beat my 5k PR at the Reindeer Run.  At the time we knew it was a long shot, and didn’t think it would be possible to shoot for his 5k PR.  But now that that’s behind us, I think it would be cool to be able to beat his 5k PR as well.  Which means faster than 25:54 min. (This is only 3 seconds faster than what we ran in December.) This one is last on the list because I have no real plan to focus on it.  I’m hoping that it’ll just work itself out.  In theory, if I can run the 1/2 in less than 2 hours, I should be able to beat this time in the 5k.

Well, there you have it – the great 2014 resolution list!  I know you’re eager to find out how it all turns out, so I’ll keep you updated…maybe monthly?

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My 2013 Running Year

My running year started out slow, but sometime around April I picked it up, and it ended up turning in to a fantastic year. Here’s a little recap:

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Black Cat

January/February/March – My main accomplishment in the beginning of the year was that I kept running. When it’s dark and cold, I have very little desire to leave the house. For motivation, I signed up for the Black Cat 10 miler, held in early March. And a 10 mile race looming in the future was just enough to keep me going. Including an 8 mile run during a blizzard!

April/May/June – After the race in March, I decided I was ready to consider another marathon. I added to and lengthened my training runs to make sure I would be committed to the training program.  Undertraining was my biggest issue last time, and I didn’t want that to happen again.  By June I was confident I could handle the training, and I signed up for the marathon.

July/August/September – The summer was dedicated to marathon training. These were good runs, but they were loooong and so so hot. I finished most of them feeling accomplished, but on occasion I also Imagefelt slow and there was one particularly rough run where I tripped and finished up with scrapes on my arm, leg, and palms.

October – At the end of the month, I finally got to run my marathon.  I had spent so long training, and was really really excited to finally do it. Although it wasn’t easy, my wonderful support team, cool sunny weather, and a flat beautiful course made it a great day for a run.  I ended up finishing with a > 50 min PR!

ImageNovember & December – I wrapped up the year with a handful of holiday races and the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak. The marathon was a terrific challenge and I’m looking forward to the next one, but nothing can compare to the fun of holiday races. Especially, when I get to run them with family 🙂

The Holiday Running Streak – I don’t feel like I need to recap this in too much detail, because it just happened. I had a great time, found it a lot easier to keep up than I thought, blogged about every run, and was surprised how difficult Fridays were! I enjoyed the streak, but by the end I was ready for it to be over. 

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Running on the Go – In addition to running on my home turf, Jeff and I were able to get in several great runs while traveling this summer and fall. We discovered City Running Tours, and went on an awesome tour of Chicago in July and another fun one of Washington DC in the fall. Also while in Chicago, we ran the lakefront trail, and while visiting Charleston, SC for my sister in law’s wedding we got to run the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge with the bride to be!

Races:

  • 01/01: Wicked Frosty Four – Salem, MA: 4 mi, 42:21 min, 10:35 min/mile
  • 03/02: Black Cat 10 Miler – Salem, MA: 10 mi, 1:46:00 hr:min, 10:36 min/mile
  • 10/13: B.A.A. Half Marathon – Boston, MA: 13.1 mi, 2:18:44 hr:min, 10:35 min/mile
  • 10/27: Niagara Falls MarathonBuffalo, NY & N.F., Ont.: 26.2 mi, 4:51:11 hr:min, 11:06 min/mile
  • 11/28: Holden Road Race – Holden, MA: 3.1 mi, 29:25 min, 9:29 min/mile
  • 12/01: Run-A-Latke 5k – Swampscott, MA: 3.1 mi, 27:19 min, 8:48 min/mile
  • 12/07: Reindeer Run 5k – Beverly, MA: 3.1 mi, 25:57 min, 8:22 min/mile

Total Mileage: 901.21 miles

All in all, I had a great 2013 and I’m looking forward to some more fun in 2014.

 

Wicked Frosty Four (Holiday Running Streak Day 36)

Day 36: Wicked Frosty Four: January 1st, 2014

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you all had a fun New Year’s Eve and are ready and excited for 2014.  I, for one,  love making resolutions, and can’t wait to get them all written down, planned out, and started 🙂  I’m thinking that sometime in the next week or so I’ll do a post with a 2013 re-cap and a 2014 running resolution list, but for now: a race re-cap!

2014-01-01 09.58.27At 10 AM this morning, Jeff and I lined up with all the other serious crazy runners who wanted to start the New Year off the funnest way we know how: Running!

It was a beautiful morning, but oh so cold! When we left the house it was only 17F, but my phone told me that it would be 21F by the time the gun went off.  It wasn’t really the temperature that made it so cold, it was the wind.  Luckily, we got there just before ten, so we didn’t have to wait too long for the race to start, and once we started running, the temperature wasn’t really a problem any more.

Last year, we decided to do this race last minute and without any particular goal in mind. I thought it would be fun to try and push myself a little and then do it again a year later and compare.  Well, it’s been a good year for me in terms of running, and it was great to see the difference in my time between this year and last.

Like last year, I didn’t run all out, but I did push myself.  I took the first mile “easy” to get warmed up, and prevent myself from going out fast.  No matter how easy I think I’m running the first mile of a race, it’s always faster than I think.  This one we finished in 9:22.

After the 1st mile, we picked it up a bit.  The second mile had a few hills – it’s funny, we run part of this course in reverse on a regular basis, and one of the uphills we did today I had never noticed before as a downhill.  I guess that explains why I always start feeling good at that point when I’m going the other direction – haha.  In spite of the hills, we finished mile 2 in about 9:17.

Mile 3 we continued to keep pace, we had run through downtown Salem in the early miles, passed the harbor and the House of Seven Gables, and were now running by the water and in more residential areas. We held on through a few more hills, and finished in 9:15.

Mile 4 started on an uphill, but once we reached the top we picked up the pace in order to finish strong.  At one point during the last mile, a woman in a car pulled out into the middle of the race and was driving alongside all the runners. It was a bit obnoxious, but the idea that I was “running faster than a car!” gave me a little boost. 🙂  Once the car got out of our way, we had about a quarter mile to go (and another little hill), and we pushed through to finish in exactly 36 minutes.  I’ll have to check my watch, but we must have been pretty speedy in that last mile to finish with an average of 9 minute miles!

Last year, our final time was 42:21 (10:35/mile), so this year was a significant improvement!  And because this is an uncommon race distance, a personal record by over 6 minutes!  A great end to the run streak and a nice way to start the New Year!