Sick Day Rambles

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Hello there and happy Monday! I feel like I got steamrolled in the face (specifically the nose) by a sudden cold last night. Holy mackerel. My nose hasn’t stopped running for hours, I got minimal sleep last night, and my head/sinuses are pounding. Perfect time to write a rambling blog post, yeah?

-I’ve had so many potential posts bouncing around in my brain. So many. Reviews of my Legend calf sleeves and HeartZones monitor, reflections on pregnancy and baby things, and all sorts of other things. I just can’t seem to put proverbial pen to paper (fingers to keys?) and flesh them out into anything worthwhile. Hopefully one of these days.

-I ran for the first time in a few weeks yesterday! It was hot and humid and sweaty and too short, but also felt so good to be out there again.

-Confession: I put my name in the hat for my run club’s marathon drawing.

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My run club gets 4 numbers for Boston every year, and if you run a half and volunteer at club events, you can submit your name for the lottery. Last year I volunteered my heart out and got 5 entries, but knew I’d only be a few months postpartum on Marathon Monday and opted not to go for it. This year I only have 1 entry so chances are very slim, but I keep thinking of Prim Everdeen and it gets me biting my nails like SpongeBob up there. Running Boston would be awesome and it’s on my bucket list for sure, but am I anywhere near ready?? Pretty sure the answer is nope.

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So what’s my game plan, given that I barely made it 1.25 miles yesterday? I found a 20-week marathon-for-beginners training plan that looks doable. I have a few weeks til the drawing, so I’m going to jump into my Couch to 5 Miler plan from yore, so that if I pull a Prim and my name gets pulled, I won’t be starting from total scratch. And, if my name doesn’t get pulled, then I’ll be back in the game and will hopefully have a base back. And in the meantime, having a training plan will – in theory – motivate me to get running more than once a month. Because I do miss it, and it would be nice to run with my Sunday Morning Shammies again and actually be able to keep up!

-So, that was a bit of a bomb to drop eh? Random marathon intentions. Seems pretty far fetched as I recline here next to my box of tissues, but hey, we’ll see!

-To make this post more rambly, I’m reading Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of WingsΒ right now, for my Shammies Book Club. It’s really good so far, which is just what I needed – a book I actually want to read! It’s hard to find time to read with the Bairn and all, but I’ve found having the Kindle handy for his naps has proved a good trick.

What are you reading right now? Read anything good lately that you’d recommend?

Am I crazy to throw my name into the marathon hat??

Tell me something random!

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Gotta Have Heart

Hello there and happy Tuesday!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed recent posts that look like this:

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Why have I randomly jumped on the heart rate training bandwagon? Well, I’m excited to share that I’ve recently become a Heart Zones ambassador!

Heart Zones Ambassador Badge 2017Heart Zones was founded in 1993 by Hall of Fame triathlete/ultra-marathoner/founder of Fleet Feet Sports Sally Edwards to motivate and empower people to improve their fitness through education, technology, and training. Their goal is to “Get America Fit through data driven fitness that utilizes wearable technology and sound methodology.” You can learn more about their mission here.

I’ve been curious about heart rate training since my first 5k for Beginners class way back when, when one of our classes was devoted to figuring out our base heart rates and how to train with heart rate monitors. It was fascinating to me, but I felt like I wasn’t *quite* serious enough with my running to invest in a monitor.

When Heart Zones reached out to me, it re-piqued my interest in heart rate training, especially these days when I’m trying to get back to fitness smartly. I’m looking forward to using my Blink 3.0 sensor more, and having new running data I can play with and learn from!

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Have you run/trained with a heart rate monitor? What did you think of it?

Learning to Lower My Expectations

Perfect gif for this post, right? (source)

Hi-diddly-ho, readers! When I last saw you, I was gushing with excitement at my Grand Return to Running. Since then, I’ve been for one more run. It didn’t go as well.

It was that kind of morning.

I think I wrote a few posts ago about how having a baby has made me realize I need to go with the flow, since the Bairn has a way of foiling any plan I make. Want to meet friends for lunch at a specified time? Oops, morning nap turned epic and now I’m late. Want to stop at Target to grab some things since the Bairn is sleeping peacefully in his car seat? Oh wait, he’s awake and no longer peaceful. Want to watch an episode of Kimmy Schmidt after the lad is down for the night? Just kidding, did I really think he was down for the night? And so on, ad nauseam.

Unsurprisingly, this includes any attempts I make to run, go to the gym, or otherwise not feel like a lump. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I quite like being a lump sometimes. But sometimes I need to move!) And that’s been hard.

I was by no means expecting to be running races again immediately after giving birth, but I was hoping to at least take the Bairn out for walks and work my way back smartly. I wanted my Grand Return to Racing to be the Worcester Firefighters 6K; being in June, I figured 5 months postpartum would be plenty of time to be ready for that. I didn’t need to PR, I just wanted to complete the course. Alas, poor DGobs.

I think I took the Bairn for 3 walks during my maternity leave. He was born in January and, this being New England, of course the weather didn’t cooperate fully. We did have a few warm days that were perfect for walks, but they tended to fall after snowstorms and – as I’m pretty sure I’ve complained in this space before – people in my city rarely clear their sidewalks. Not conducive to pushing a stroller. I had a wrap, but the Bairn was so tiny (he was just shy of 5 1/2 pounds when he was born) that I didn’t feel comfortable carrying him in a wrap built for babies 8 pounds and up. I couldn’t easily take him to the mall for walks either, as I’d had a C-section and my midwife advised against driving for 6-8 weeks.

All that to say, the Bairn and I got used to being lazy cozy in our warm, snug house, and exercise wasn’t so much happening for me. I was dying to get to the gym – Expresso Bikes kept emailing me about fun new challenges! – but logistics were complicated and honestly, whenever Drew offered to take Baby Duty so I could go, I’d usually opt to sleep instead. (I’ve opted for sleep the last several times he’s tried to shoo me out to run, as well. I’m tired, yo.)

Anyway. I managed a few stroller walks eventually, and after going back to work, where it’s a 10-minute walk to and from the T plus a continuous stair workout as my desk is on a mezzanine – I was feeling stronger and once again setting my sights on the 6k. The Shammies promote a race at the beginning of May, and I figured it would be a good test run.

By the end of April, there was no way I felt ready to run a 5k. I still wanted to support the race (which supports the local Boys & Girls Club) so decided to sign Drew and myself up as walkers, figuring we could push the stroller and still take part. I was a little wary of signing up ahead of time – remember what I said about the Bairn and my plans, and mice and men and all that – but knew it would be much harder to get us all down to the race if we weren’t signed up and committed. So I bit the bullet.

Race day arrives. The Bairn is recovering from bronchiolitis, and none of us have been getting much sleep for over a week. The 10:15 start time, which seemed so luxuriously late, came and went while Drew was still in bed and the Bairn was napping on me. Ah well, at least part of the race fees went to a good cause. And we did swing by the post-race festivities to show off the Bairn, where he was awarded his first race bling:

The president of the Shammies gave the Bairn his age group medal, just for being cute

After that race is when I finally got to run, and after 2 walk-run extravaganzas, I felt like I could at least finish the WFD6K. However, learning my lesson and lowering my expectations, I didn’t preregister. Even as race day crept ever closer and I wanted SO badly to sign up, I just had a feeling.

The WFD6K was last Sunday [edit: now two three Sundays ago; I’m lowering my blogging expectations too, you see], and I did not participate. The day ended up being a scorcher, in the 90s, and that race is midday and traditionally hot. My own lack of enthusiasm for hot races aside, I kept thinking of poor Drew having to keep the Bairn cool in his black stroller. Plus logistics about nursing, plus the fact that the Bairn was (is?) going through a phase of screaming bloody murder in the car, and I was relieved to not be running. I’m still bummed at missing out, but there’s always next year!

Last year, when the Bairn (who was about the size of a blueberry) was much easier to run with

So… where was I going with this post again? Oh right, lowering my expectations (as well as yours, for any sort of pithy posts). Back in January, I was determined to run the WFD6K. I knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I weren’t back to a running routine(ish) by that point.

Now that the race has come and gone? Meh. Sure, I’m a little bummed that I missed the race, but only a little bit. At this point, if I actually make it out the door for a 20-minute run around the neighborhood, I’m happy. Someday I’ll get my running groove back, but for now, not lowering my expectations will only lead to feeling bad about myself and ain’t no one got time for that.

Now if only I could get better at lowering my expectations for pace when I run… I know it’ll take a while to get back down to mid-9-minute miles again, and yet I’m disappointed in my 12-and-change pace these days. Unfortunately I think there’ll always be a part of my brain that thinks I’m FloJo.

Til next time!

Taking This New Body for a Test Drive

It finally happened: I went for a run! *confetti cannons and muppet flails* 

Today, for the first time since the QEOP 10K in early September – and not counting the ~20-foot jog I did in jeans to see what it felt like to run with the jogging stroller – I actually ran. I am so chuffed right now. 

It wasn’t pretty by any means, but it was running(ish):

4.91 miles, most of which was walking. I ran a total of just over 1 of those miles, in between ~1 mile warm-up and cool-down walks. It was glorious to cruise around the pond and lagoon again, and even my giant red face throbbing in the sun felt glorious. A bit. 

The lagoon


I made it just over a half-mile of my first bit of running before I had to take a walk break, which wasn’t too bad. The running felt great, but then less so during each running stint. I am so very out of shape, and I could feel weakness/tiredness in pretty much my whole right side – foot, leg, shoulder. Something to work on… one of these days!

In honor of my jubilant mood, how about a wee indulgent thanks-to-the-academy speech?

Thank you Target, for having a sale on your already pretty reasonable activewear, so I could get some running kit that actually fits. 

Thank you Lanisoh nursing pads, for keeping my new running kit free of any lurking milk. 
Thank you Legend Compression Wear, for providing socks that prevented soreness and fatigue in my calves. I was worried my shins would want to split away from the rest of my legs as a protest, but they behaved themselves nicely. 

Thank you Groupon, for selling fancy new Garmins at a slightly more affordable price. Simon is dead; long live Simon II.

Thank you MapMyRun, for stepping up in the awkward time between when Simon died and Simon II wasn’t charged enough to use yet.

Thank you Mother Nature, for giving me a lovely day in the low 60s for my return to running. 

Thank you Drew, for urging me out the door to run while you wrangled the screaming Bairn. I needed this run badly, and you knew it. I appreciate that more than you know. 

Thank you body, for being awesome. Yes, you’re a size or two bigger now and things are still a little out of whack and disconcertingly jiggly from carrying and delivering the Bairn, but you still know what to do. You can still pound the pavement and clear my head and make me feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally, and that rocks. I look forward to doing this with you again, hopefully soon!

C’mon legs, let’s run.

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad…

…and there you have the facts of (running) life. Am I right?

I know I owe a race recap from the Worcester Firefighters 6k (spoiler alert: I PRd by 5:30!!), but this post has been bouncing around my brain since last night’s suboptimal track workout, so it gets to go first.

  
Right. Track workouts. Speedwork. It’s terrible and it’s awesome and and I hate it and I love it all at the same time. Coach Steve is great at putting together tough workouts and people always give him a joking hard time because everyone hates them, but they’re also so good. Even before I was working on changing my gait, the speed workouts I was doing with the Shammies were definitely making me a little faster. 

Anyway. Last week’s workout was one of the “you take the good” kind. It was 12x 200s with 200 recoveries between, and I killed it. It was hot and humid but I was ready and hydrated and I killed those 200s (for me, at least!)! I felt awesome during (I’m running fast! I’m running pain-free! This is awesome!!) and I felt awesome and accomplished after. I couldn’t wait to do it again the following week. 

And then last night’s workout happened. It was rough. It started with a 10-minute tempo run at 10k pace, then went to ladders on the track at mile pace – 3x 200, 2x 300, 1x 400, 2x 300, 3x 200. 

I attempted the tempo and made it barely 5 minutes in before I got all kinds of side-stitches. Since I had already warmed up, I cut the tempo short and took a water break while I waited for everyone else to finish. 

Then the 200s. I was so excited for these, after nailing them last week. But, silly me, I wasn’t only doing 200s this time around, so I should have paced myself, right? Heh.

I took off on the 200s (mile pace? pshh) and, once again, killed them. Then I ran the first 300 and promptly died (metaphorically, of course). Seriously though, why do 300s feel so much longer than 200s??

I had a crazy cramp in my side and an attack of shin splints, which I haven’t had in almost 2 years. What the heck? I was miserable and barely made the last 100m. I limped off to my bottle of Nuun and sat out the next 300, then promptly realized there was no way I could do a 400 without something going wrong. 

Maybe I was just being paranoid, but I am so scared of injuring myself now before my horrifying half marathon on Sunday, and so I used that as an excuse and I stopped the workout. I stretched and sipped my Nuun while I watched everyone else zip around the track. And I felt anything but accomplished on my way home, a much different scenario than the previous week when I was practically throwing myself a mental victory parade. 

But that happens, right? How many bad runs have I had over the past few years that I’ve bounced back from? Quite a few. But even knowing that, I really let last night’s run get to me. I felt like a facsimile of a sham of a runner and that was a bit of a bummer. I’ve never had to quit a speed workout that fast before, and I’m still bummed out about it today. 

But, trying to think on the bright side, what better time to learn from a crappy run than now? What went wrong that made the run so crappy? Let’s see…

  1. I probably wasn’t hydrated enough (anyone surprised?). That could explain the side stitches. 
  2. I wore different shoes than I’ve been wearing for track. Maybe this is why my shins freaked out?
  3. I completely ignored any kind of pacing, let alone my goal pace. Steve has a chat that lists goal paces for each distance based on your most recent 5k result. My 200s were way faster than my goal pace, which is probably why I crapped out so quickly. 

So, yeah. I wrote this rambly post mostly to hammer into my brain what can happen when I don’t do anything I’m supposed to do, like drinking water and following Steve’s instructions, and, you know, using proper footwear. You think I’d know these things by now, but… alas. 

I’d say I’m hoping for a better workout next week, but that will be 2 days post-half so I probably won’t be doing any speedwork yet! But hopefully the week after or so will be better. 

When do you stick a fork in a workout that’s not going so well? 

How do you move on after a run or a workout totally bums you out?

Analyzing My Run: The Rainy 5-Miler

Hello again! I thought if I could get my thoughts on my run down faster than I did last week, maybe I’d have something of substance to say. Knowing my brain though, it’ll probably just be more rambling. Let’s see how it turns out, shall we?

(TL;dr – I ran 5 miles in the rain. It was hard. It was slow. Then I ate a doughnut.)

I knew even last night that today’s long run probably wouldn’t be a very good one. I spent yesterday hanging out with B, my best friend from college, and the day involved North End pizza, JP Licks ice cream, some cheeky Union Square donuts, lots of walking in the sun (leading to a very red face/head), good talks, and a Primark bender. I managed to fit the consumption of a bottle of water in there, but on the whole didn’t hydrate a lot or eat very well. So I had already stacked my own cards against me.

Carrying on regardless, I pulled myself out of bed at 7:30, donned my kit (including a hat which would serve the double purpose of a) protecting my fried scalp and forehead and b) keeping the rain out of my eyes), took a bite of the pieces of doughnut I had left over from yesterday, and headed out into the drizzle with the aim of doing 5 miles.

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Stopped for a breather in the drizzly lagoon

I had done a 3-minute : 1-minute run-walk interval for last week’s 4-miler, then rode the struggle bus pretty hard doing 2:1 at the track on Tuesday, so I opted for the middle ground – 2:30 : 1.

5milerThe first few were grand – I was running downhill, IΒ  passed Shammie Steve and thus wanted to look good… and then I just kind of petered out. My mile times got progressively slower for the first 3 miles (though I did manage to negative split the last 2… I think I was excited knowing I’d be done soon!)

5miler2Foregoing the MapMyRun Route Genius, I took my run down to the pond and around the lagoon, and then sort of improvised as I went from there. Highlights include seeing a goose family with some awkward-stage adolescent goslings, playing inadvertent tag with a robin (he was sitting on the path and when I’d get close, he’d fly a few yards farther down the path, only to have to fly again as I approached. I finally scolded him gently with a “Mr. Robin! You should get how this works this by now!” and he at last fled to a nearby tree), and seeing a bunch of Shammies.

In fact, I decided to add some commentary to my Garmin stats:

5milercommentaryI especially enjoy what happened at the 3rd and 4th arrows… trying to squeeze some more distance into the final stretch home, I decided I’d run “down” a street I’d never been on before, only to turn the corner and see that “down” was so wrong. The street went straight up. Arrow 3 shows my gob-smacked walk break, i.e. stopping cold to stare at the hill in disbelief, and then pulling out my phone to take a picture:

Hills never look as bad in pictures, do they? But this one was a monster.

Hills never look as bad in pictures, do they? But this one was a monster.

The run down the other side was fantastic, though!

I did learn on this run that Simon is very hard to hear when running along busy roads that are wet – the passing cars drown out his beeps completely. If you look at the data in the last data-ful image, you can see my intervals are pretty regular. Then the fat 2nd arrow was when I turned onto a main road and lost the plot the ability to hear the beeps. It felt like that interval was particularly tough and seemingly endless, and then I realized I had run for 2 running chunks without a walk break. Oops!

The gleeful run down the Monster Hill brought me to another main street, so after one last quick pause while waiting to cross an intersection, I abandoned the intervals and just kept running. In a moment of desperation and weakness, I even tried to revert back to my old flingy-shins running style in the last half-mile, in hopes that it would make my life easier, but I think I was still mostly keeping proper(ish) form. I guess that’s a good thing!

I somehow dragged myself to the Mile 5 beep and shut Simon down immediately. I walked the rest of the way home, stretched, pounded a glass of Nuun, and then shoved the remaining Union Square donuts in my face. Follow that with a shower, a homemade iced latte, and a delicious (and much healthier than doughnuts) scramble, and I felt much better. But that run was hard, man. How the h-e-double-hockey-sticks am I going to be able to do a half marathon in two weeks??

[Cue quick panic]

Looking for the shiny, one thing I really enjoyed was (figuratively) running into friends during this run, and reflecting on how much better it made the run seem, even for just a few seconds. I used to have the luxury of having a faithful running buddy when Colin still lived down the street; running with someone, especially on long runs, really makes the run seem shorter and less terrible. Now that I’m mostly on my own, runs can feel endless. I bumped into three separate clusters of Shammies along the way, plus Shammie Steve at the start, and seeing them gave me a great boost.

(Related, so did stopping to pet a big, fluffy, friendly dog belonging to one of those Shammies!)

How was your weekend? Did you run long or race?

Doughnuts – good pre-run fuel and/or post-run recovery snack, or nah?

Am I going to survive a half in two weeks?? Or am I completely crazy?

Ever been to a Primark? If so, are you as obsessed as I am?

Analyzing my Run: The 4-Miler

…or, How I Lost the Mental Bandwidth to Write This Post, and So Turned It Into a Post of Random Thoughts Instead

Right, so. I was planning to ramble on a bit about my 4-mile run that happened last Sunday, kind of like how I rambled for ages about my 3-mile run, but I didn’t really have a lot to say about it. I did 3:1 run-walk intervals:

4miler4milerpace…and felt like my head was going to explode from redness even though it was relatively cool (I realized, when I looked at my phone during during my cool-down walk, that the humidity was at 85% so that might explain it!). That’s really all I remember, so that’s all I’ll say about that. On to the randomness!

1. After my 4-miler, in a fit of nostalgia, I was reading part of an old favorite YA series by Louise Rennison (may she rest in peace). A passage from book 5, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel, spoke to me after my very red run I had just completed, and I thought it would be fun to share.

To set the scene: the main character (Georgia) is going for a run in an effort to impress her Italian crush, Masimo. She doesn’t usually run, and was planning to build up her fitness a bit before “casually” finding out where Masimo runs and “bumping into him” there, but things didn’t really go as planned:

Can heads explode? Because I think mine is going to.
There is some other fool out running. I can hear pounding along behind me but I haven’t got the strength to look round. When I get home I am going to get in the fridge I am so hot and red.
“Ciao, Georgia.”
Ohmygiddygodspajamas, Masimo!!!
Noooooooooooooooo.
He caught up with me and was running alongside me. I just kept running and turned and gave him what I hoped was an attractive smile. Attractive if you like a smiling tomato in a jogging outfit. He looked sooo cool, and not even sweating. Also he seemed to be able to breathe. And talk.
He said, “You know, I didn’t get your phone number. Would it be possible for you to me for to tell?”
I gave him another smile. It might be the last living thing I did. Then I saw the hill path and my brain was so starved of oxygen it had no control over any part of my body. My legs started stumbling down the hill path. They were just merrily careering down the path, carrying my head and body along with them.

I know that feeling well – my legs careering along carrying the rest of me with them! Plus the sensational redness and “tomato in a jogging outfit” situation. Oh yes.

2. I joined the Shammies for Tuesday night track again, and this time decided to try a gentle speed workout of my own, using my GRG intervals. Figuring that the 3:1s on Sunday were okay, I thought the prescribed 2:1s would be relatively easy. Nope! I rode the struggle bus pretty hard and couldn’t figure out why shorter intervals were so much harder. Then I realized it was 82* (~28* C) and sunny and humid, whereas Sunday had been upper 50s (~14* C) and cloudy. That’ll do it.

3. Wednesday was National/Global Running Day, and in celebration of the fact that I could actually take part this year, I joined Runners’ World’s World’s Biggest RUNch, for one sunny mile along the river:

IMG_6788The run started out feeling great! Knowing I was just doing a mile, I ran at a comfortable pace without trying to slow down to something more sustainable. For a while, it looked like I might get close to my fastest mile to date – 8:42… except there were streets to cross and tourists to dodge; my fastest mile was run on an empty track.

I started to flag a bit halfway through, and waited longer than I needed to at my final street crossing to have a nice break. I was excited to see what my pace looked like when I got back to my desk and synced Simon, but it turns out Simon had a bit of a problem with my extended wait at the crosswalk… though I had been standing still, he apparently thought I was flying at a 2:11 pace. Yeah… no. Nice try though, Simon.

2114. The last time I was at Target, I splurged on an on-sale espresso machine. There’s a cafe on campus that sells the BEST iced caramel lattes and I’m so addicted. However, they cost almost $5, and my bank account has been hurting a little thanks to my daily caffeine treat. So I figured I’d try making my own iced lattes at home.

A few internet recipes and some improvising of my own later, plus a fun new plastic cup to parade my beverage around in, and I’ve got myself a daily iced vanilla coconut latte. It’s nowhere near as delicious as the one from the campus cafe, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper! And it’s still got caffeine, so it works.

5. I have MAJOR book ADD right now. I am literally in the middle of 6 books right now, and I can’t seem to really get into any of them. I hate when this happens.

And it doesn’t help that, when Drew and I were killing time between dinner and my haircut appointment Wednesday night, we popped into one of my favorite bookstores and discovered their bargain section. We spent maybe 20 minutes in there, and I walked out with a pile of 5 books. I have a problem.

Yay Friday! Who’s racing this weekend? Any other fun plans afoot?

What are you reading right now? Do you ever get a touch of book ADD?

Tell me something random!