My Popcorn Thoughts

When I was in high school I had a live journal, I called it “My Popcorn Thoughts” because I used to think of my thoughts as popcorn. Lots of random things just popping into my head out of seemingly no where. I don’t know what happened to that live journal, but I still sometimes think of my thoughts in this way when I’m having trouble concentrating on what I’m supposed to be focused on. Or when I’ve had coffee and my brain is zipping about. Today is turning out to be one of the first kind of days. I’m supposed to be studying (and I am), but I keep thinking about blogging and running and doing chores around the house instead. And it’s hard to keep my butt in my seat and my mind on practice problems.

studies

Studies

I’ve given myself a goal to get through 8 videos and work on 5 sets of practice problems. The 8 videos is realistic, the practice problems may be a stretch. And I’m hoping to bribe myself with breaks for blogging and other activities. (I’ve already got some laundry going, and am dying for a run). So here are some popcorn thoughts for you as I make my way through my day:

  1. February has gone by in a blur…and I’m not entirely sad to see it go. We’ve been on this seemingly never ending carousel of sickness over here where Mr. Baby gets sick then passes it along to Jeff, and then the process repeats. I have (with lots of luck and excessive amounts of airborne) made it out unscathed, but the whole thing has been stressful and exhausting nonetheless. It seems like we may finally be on the upswing, fingers crossed. I’m ready to put this experience behind us.
  2. After taking a year long hiatus on my blog, I have like zero followers now, and it’s bumming me out. Even though I didn’t start the blog to get followers/likes/comments, I liked the little community that was built up. And I miss it. I’m working on getting back into it, but it’s tough sometimes when it feels like I ruined it for good.
  3. I bought new running sneakers!!  My current pair is from March 2015 (I had to take a look in the way back machine to figure that out), so it’s been nearly 2 years! I have no idea how many miles I have on them, but recently my feet hurt when I run and that’s usually a sign it’s time for new kicks.
    sneakers

    Old friends. 

  4. One of my best friends recently started teaching me yoga via Skype, and it’s AMAZING. The only time I’ve ever enjoyed yoga. Even better, though, the last two weeks we’ve just chatted instead. This week, I had a glass of wine during our chat. I don’t know why we didn’t do something like this sooner.
  5. I LOVE buying books for Mr. Baby. While home last week, we found an old Barnes and Noble gift card with $30 on it, and I bought 6 books for MB. Yesterday we read, “I Love You, Stinky Face” and it was hilarious. Our all time favorite over here is “Pout Pout Fish”, and we also really like “Don’t push that button”and “The monster at the end of this book”, but some new material is always nice.
    books

    Harry Potter is the best one. Haha

  6. The bright spot in February was the week of vacation time Jeff and I both took last week. We didn’t go anywhere, we just stayed home while sending MB to daycare, and it was GLORIOUS. I feel a little like I’m supposed to want to travel and I’m supposed to want to keep my baby home with me when I’m off, but really I just wanted some time to get a haircut, go out to lunch, cook up some freezer meals, clean the house, and go running without a baby monitor mounted to the treadmill. Yes, traveling and hanging out with your baby are great activities, but this was the vacation I needed.
  7. My friend and I are planning to do a selfie challenge in March. One selfie per day sent to the other. I’ll probably post some here. And I’m planning on coming up with some selfie challenges for her, but she doesn’t know that yet. ;-
    selfie

    This face is gonna rock selfie month. 

So there you have it, some random thoughts. Now tell me: how was your February? ever take a vacation with no plans? what was your last pair of running sneakers? do you have a favorite book to read to your kids? ever do long distance yoga or wine dates? and last but not least, how good are you at taking selfies?

 

Monday, Monday

Ugh…it’s Monday. Monday’s are the worst, aren’t they?  Fortunately, I’ve got some good reasons to be excited for this Monday. Last week, I ordered myself some goodies, and they’re all (magically) scheduled to come today! As long as I make it through the work day, I’ll have some exciting new toys to play with. 🙂

One thing I’m getting is a new heart rate monitor! Hooray!! This one is worn on your arm, and I am so psyched. The chest strap is driving me bonkers. I hate it. I’m really enjoying heart rate training, but the chest strap is so so annoying. So I did lots of research and found a heart rate monitor worn on your arm that had pretty good reviews and works with the garmin. If I can get it to connect quickly, I’ll be able to run with it tonight!

 

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My other new “toy” coming tonight is a brand new pair of Newton Gravity sneakers! This is thrilling!

Last fall I bought a pair of limited edition Gravitys that are bright orange, and I love everything about them. Unfortuntely, when I went to purchase a second pair a month ago, they were out of my size, and the normal version came in a hideous pink color. Think pepto bismal. So, I waited, hoping they would release the 2015 models and the colors would be awesome.

Well, they did… And the 2015 model is also neon orange! Yes! I could not be more thrilled. AND, I had a gift card. So, I didn’t even feel guilty buying the brand new model instead of shopping around for a cheaper pink pair.

So, yeah…I guess Monday isn’t always so bad. 🙂

Where does my heart beat now?

It’s been over a week since I last posted, and I didn’t tell you yet about my recent adventures with a heart rate monitor, so buckle your seat belts, you’re in for a wild ride….

Last Sunday I took my heart rate monitor and Garmin to the gym to use the heart rate monitor for the first time ever. It came with my first Garmin back in 2010, and I could never get it to pair with the watch. To be fair, I didn’t really try very hard because I wasn’t interested in heart rate training at the time. However, the 80/20 running plan uses heart rate training so it seemed like a good time to dust off the heart rate monitor.  (You don’t technically have to use heart rate training for 80/20 running, but it does seem to be the author’s preference, so I figured I’d give it a try since I have the heart rate monitor anyways.)

A couple weeks ago I got it paired up with my current Garmin, and last Sunday I took it for a spin. I tested it out by using it to set up heart rate training zones for two different types of cross training – the arc trainer and uphill treadmill walking. Whether or not I end up using these zones is questionable, but I mostly just wanted to do a dry run of the process. I’ll have to use the same method to set up my heart rate zones for running. And, I wanted to make sure that the heart rate monitor actually worked. It did.

2015-01-25 13.52.05New buddies!

And, here’s what I learned:

  • Wearing a heart rate monitor is annoying. It wasn’t comfortable. While it wasn’t awful, I knew it was there the whole time. I don’t know what it’s going to be like when I run in it (specifically, for a long time); I’m hoping I eventually get used to it and forget it’s there. Maybe I had it on too tight? I probably won’t be wearing it ALL the time, but at first I’ll have it on more often than not.
  • The 80/20 running book has you set heart rate zones based on lactate threshold heart rate. There are 5 zones, based on percentage of this heart rate. There are several ways to determine your lactate threshold heart rate, and I went with the perceived effort method. At first I tried to use the talk test method. I’ve been using a talk test for years in training runs, but reciting the pledge of allegiance at the gym wasn’t working out. (I was more or less trying to whisper, and I don’t think that was giving me the same results as speaking out loud.)
  • The perceived effort method basically requires you to record your heart rate at various effort levels. On a scale of 1 to 10, level 6 is your lactate threshold heart rate. Level 1 is “extremely easy” and level 10 is “extremely hard” with 6 being “slightly hard”. Technically, you could stop once you hit level 6, but I kept going all the way to 10. It was easier to figure out what “slightly hard” was when I had a better frame of reference.
  • For the arc trainer, I ended up with a lactate threshold heart rate of 167, and for uphill treadmill walking I ended up with 154. I think the uphill treadmill heart rate was a little off because I had a tough time controlling my effort on the treadmill. When it comes down to it, even though you’re the one who pushes the buttons the treadmill is in charge of your speed.

Heart Rate Graph

I made a graph because I’m a huge dork, and as you can see, the green line (treadmill) seems to dip in the middle. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a straight line, but let’s assume it is. In that case, I have proof to back up my theory about the uphill heart rate being off. (Sorry about the terrible quality of the tiny little graph.)

 

  • When I set up my heart rates for running, I’m probably going to use the treadmill. I wanted to do it outside after what I experienced with the uphill walking, but it looks like real winter finally showed up and now there’s snow everywhere.  And, I know I won’t be able to do this test in the snow. At least not without falling. We’ll see what it’s like out next weekend when I plan on doing the test, but I’m expecting to need the treadmill.
  • After figuring out the heart rate monitor, I set up an awesome spreadsheet that calculates my heart rate zones from lactate threshold heart rate. All I have to do after the running heart rate test is enter my lactate threshold heart rate, and through the magic of excel, my heart rate zones are all set for my 80/20 plan.  Looks like taking 3 weeks off running is making me super prepared for my next training cycle. (I’m going running tomorrow!!! eeeeeeeeee!!!)

Have you ever used a heart rate monitor?

Do you make graphs based on your running? 

Did I say “heart rate” a million times in this post? 

I’m Knot Crazy!

After reading a review of Lock Laces last week, I got to thinking about how I lace and tie my running shoes. For years, I’ve been fascinated with different methods for lacing shoes (not just the running variety), and my favorite thing to do when getting a new pair of sneakers is to remove the laces and sit on the couch with both shoes. I usually choose two lacing methods, lace up the shoes, and pick the one that tickles my fancy. I’ve also been known to lace other people’s (Jeff’s) new sneakers, but he usually request that I lace them in the traditional manner. What can I say, I just genuinely enjoy lacing shoes. (ahem…weirdo). So, when I read about shoelaces the other day, I got all excited.

Let’s talk about how I tie my running shoes. I use a modified double knot. I’m not sure where I picked this up, but since I’ve been using it, I’ve had no problems with my shoes coming untied on the run (unless I forget to do it). I call it a modified double knot because it’s not the same as your traditional double knot, with the main advantage (in my opinion) being the ease of untying. Double knotting can be tricky to get untied, but this one is much better in that department.

So, here’s how I do it (I apologize for the horribly inadequate and unclear explanation):

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Start tying your shoe like normal.

 

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Still normal.

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Instead of pulling it tight, stick your second loop (on the right) under, around, and through the hole a second time. (Does that make sense?)

 

 

 


And the untying:

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Pull one end (not too hard, though)

 

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Pull the other end, and voi-la!

 

Now that we’ve got that explained, let’s talk about lacing the shoes. Here’s a magnificent website that has more ways to lace shoes that one would ever need to know: Ian’s Shoelace Site. It’s amazing, and my go to for choosing a method to lace my non-running shoes.

Normally, I choose to go with traditional lacing for my running shoes. The fancy lacing methods aren’t necessarily ideal for running, but there is one specific lacing method I do like for running. It’s called lock lacing. It’s not very fancy, but it does keep your laces tight and holds your foot in place in your shoe. The main reason I don’t always use it is because it requires a longer shoe lace. But if you have trouble with your shoe laces staying tight and your foot staying put, you can find standard shoelaces in many different lengths for pretty cheap.

You can see step by step directions on Ian’s Site, but in case you wanted to follow along with me:

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Lace up like normal, leaving the last eyelet (hole) empty.

 

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Feed lace through the last eyelet on the same side.

 

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Feed lace through the loop you just created. And Ta-da!

 

Any other lacing enthusiasts out there?

Do you tie your shoes like me?

Can you follow along with my instructions? I have a feeling they’re pretty awful.

 

Have I Mentioned That I Love Running?

First things first: You’ll notice I changed the theme on my blog! I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but I wanted to make sure I picked one I liked. I don’t want to switch it up too often, I always find it a little disorienting when others make big changes to their blogs. I hope you like it, and it doesn’t take too long to get used to. 🙂


Now let’s talk about running! Yesterday, Jeff and I ran another long run together. We also ran together Tuesday and Thursday night….I’m really loving non-marathon training!

Tuesday we did 3.5ish miles (my watch was being difficult) and Thursday we did 2.5 miles. These runs were just okay. My legs have been sluggish and I’m still getting used to my new “working amy” schedule. After working all day and then driving home for an excessively long time, I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to go back out in the cold and dark to run. But I did it, and it was a good decision both times.

Our long run was a lot more exciting than the two weekday runs. First of all it was Saturday morning, which is my absolute favorite time to do a long run. I pretty much can’t sleep in on Saturdays anyways (I woke up at 6:13AM this weekend, and it’s usually not much later than that.), and it’s just so nice to get out there when you have the whole weekend ahead of you.

This Saturday was COLD. In the low/mid 20s. I’m still getting used to the weather change so I wore a lot of my “it’s super cold out” gear…hat, mittens, multiple shirts, and of course my fancy cold weather running socks:

cool kids wear argyle

Last week, we did 5 miles with a fast finish (last mile) and I really enjoyed it. With my long runs so much shorter than they were in the summer/fall, I have more options when it comes to pace. When I was doing 20 milers, the only option was “run as slow as you must in order to not pass out”. But now, a little speed thrown in is totally possible. This week we did a progression run, trying to make each of our 6 miles faster than the last.

It was really interesting. I loved getting faster and faster as the run went on, but it was tricky because it required us to not speed up too much and end up with a last mile that would be impossible. When our first mile clocked in around 10:30, and the second at 10:11, I was seriously concerned about what time we’d have to beat for mile six. Luckily we stopped getting faster at such an alarming rate (10:06, 9:56, and 9:48 for the next three miles), and our goal for the last mile wasn’t outrageous.

We finished up with a 9:36 mile, and I was thrilled! I was most proud of tackling a tough hill in mile five and not slowing down. I used all my focus and “hill tricks” to push through that mile. The last half mile was also a struggle, but Jeff was there cheering me on, and I knew it was the end…it’s so much easier to push at the end. So we finished all smiles having completed our goal, and I realized that my legs had felt the best they have since the marathon. I think I might be out of recovery mode…hooray!

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Another perk of winter running….hot chocolate to refuel!

Do you like running in the cold? I do! Right up until the ice makes an appearance.

Do you ever throw some speed work into long runs?

 

A little of this, a little of that

I’ve been having the worst time with running motivation lately. I’m still enjoying the weekend long runs, but the shorter weekday runs just aren’t doing it for me. If I didn’t have a marathon at the end of the month, I’d probably take a bit of a break. I think one of the reasons that I’m dragging is because I am not enjoying my weekly speed work. I go out feeling like it’s something I have to do, and that’s not really any fun. Hopefully, when I enter taper mode after tomorrow’s long run, I can regain some motivation. I’m thinking of trying to find a short race to do in the next few weeks to jump start my excitement a bit. 


In the meantime, I’ll try and focus on some exciting things:

I got new kicks and they are AWESOME! I went back to the Newton Gravity. I love them so much. I tried out Brooks Pure Flows for my last shoe (because Newtons are expensive), and while they weren’t terrible, I did have some problems with foot pain. So, when my mom asked what I wanted for my birthday I pointed her toward the Newton store!  I’ve been wearing them every chance I get so they will be broken in for the marathon.

Limited edition orange w/ blue laces….it’s like they read my mind that I thought the regular color (pepto pink) was hideous.

It is fall. According to the calendar and the weather and everything. My run yesterday was one of the first where it looked, felt, and smelled like fall. It was nice. Cooler temps, faster feet. My marathon takes place on the weekend before halloween, and they have a candy station at mile 17. They polled on facebook, and candy corn was a big winner! I think I’ll hold off eating any candy corn until then, and it’ll be even more delicious.

Look at that red tree out there across the water. 🙂

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It was a bit windy.

I signed up for the Turkey Trot! I love the Turkey Trot, and I can’t wait! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and this is an awesome tradition. This year, we’ve convinced my brother in law to sign up, too! The more the merrier.

Family + Turkey Trot = ❤

I entered the t-shirt design contest for the Turkey Trot! It was a tad bit frustrating. They needed a file type I’d never heard of, and they require a high resolution file. Ha! My graphic design skills are limited to paint. I had to download multiple different free programs and create the design three times before I got it in the right format at the right resolution. But, I did it! And, it was pretty fun to do; worth it, even if I don’t end up winning.

Turkey_Trot_official_shirt_1024x1024

My design is top secret!

Starting 26 days out, Cape Cod Marathon has been posting a picture countdown to race day. It’s making me excited about the course. I think it’s going to be really beautiful. 🙂 They started with a picture of Mile 1, and are now up to Mile 3. I think it’s a really cool thing of them to do.

mile3

I assume I’ll be running up that hill, but at least it’s pretty. 🙂

 

What are your tips for getting out of a running funk? Anything you’re excited about lately? Have you ever entered a T-shirt design contest?

 

Welcome to the Family!

I made yesterday a rest day, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t spend a bunch of time thinking about running!

I had some stuff to do in Boston, so I took advantage of my time in the city to do some running errands and have lunch with a long lost friend. (Okay, technically, she’s not long lost, but when we were working together I got used to seeing her every day, so even though it’s been less than a month, it still feels like forever.)

First, I headed to the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  Could there be a cooler location for a running specialty store? (I doubt it, but let me know if you’ve heard of one.)

What came in this bag?

What came in this bag?

And after much debate and running up and down Boylston street, I picked out these bad boys:

My new kicks!

My new kicks!

That’s right, I’m back in Brooks!  You’d think after 8 years of running, I would have settled on a shoe by now, or at least a brand. But, I haven’t. I don’t have any significant issues with my feet or stride that requires a special shoe, so I feel good in a lot of different models, and I like to mix it up.

My running shoe history:

I ran in Nike for the majority of my early years, starting with a traditional shoe. I eventually switched to the Nike free, and liked it a lot (mostly for the flexibility and low heel to toe drop.)

From there, I bought a pair of Brooks Pure Something (Cadence I think?) I liked the cushioning of those, they were still light, flexible and a low heel to toe drop like the Nike free, but they were so soft! I really enjoyed them. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to hold up quite as long my previous shoes.

Next, I moved to Newtons. I was really excited about trying those.  I’d read a lot about them and thought they were pretty interesting, so despite the price tag I decided to go for it. I liked them a lot! I’ve tried 3 different models. The first ones, the Gravity, lasted 500 miles, and felt great. I then moved to the Distance. These are lighter and slightly cheaper, and I like them, but they haven’t lasted quite as long as the Gravity. I was surprised recently to start feeling the need for new shoes when these just eeked past 300 miles.

I’ve been running in my “trail” shoes – also Newtons – the last week to make sure that the slight pain in my foot/leg was from old shoes and not something else, and that did the trick. Time for new shoes!

*Note about my trail shoes: They are actually called “all-terrain” shoes, I do not run on trails (maybe someday?), so really the terrain they see is the same as all my shoes – the streets of Beverly. I just like that they’re water resistant and a tad warmer for winter running.

And back to today:

I like the Newtons, but I also liked the Brooks, so I went into the running store thinking Newtons, but also having Brooks in the very back of my mind.  I brought an old pair of my shoes so someone at the store could take a look at the wear pattern and make any suggestions. I run slightly on the outside of my foot, and I start to feel pain because of that when my shoes wear out, but it’s not so pronounced that I need any kind of correction. That’s good news.  Aside from the wear on the side of my shoes, the expert noticed wear on the front near the toes, which led her to suggest a larger size than I normally wear. This is something I would not have thought to do myself, so I was glad to get that advice.

I tried on both Newtons (Energy and Gravity) and Brooks (Pure Flow). I ran around in all three pairs, and narrowed it down to two. I ended up choosing the Brooks because they were slightly more cushion-y (I love soft shoes!), and also slightly cheaper. Plus, I like to alternate between a few pairs of shoes, and will still be running in Newtons part time – so I have the best of both worlds.

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Another picture of my new friends.

After all the excitement of the running store, I met up with my friend Christine for lunch. We talked about lots of things, but as with most conversations I’m involved in, running did come up.  Christine is running her first 1/2 marathon in the fall and she asked me to make her a training schedule! Or I may have asked if she’d let me make one for her, I love them! I’ll be working on that this week/weekend, woo!  She’s also doing a few triathlons this summer, and she keeps hinting that I should do one too.  Especially since I started going to spin class (“That’s 2/3 there, right?” she says). I keep declining, but secretly I think I will try a tri someday.  Someday when I have a bike, and less fear/disgust about the swimming portion.

All in all, it was a pretty fun day, and I can’t wait to give my sneakers their first run today.

Isn’t getting new sneakers just the best? Have you ever thought of running a triathlon? Or done it?