Thursday, February 24, 2011

Speed Work

So back on the running front, I have been trying some new things this week. My next (and last) race for a while is a 15k, my first ever 15k, but I have something to prove after a lackluster start to this race season.

This week has been 100% focus on speedwork, and every single run so far this week has been a killer. For whatever reason I have not been able to drag my butt out of bed early enough to run in the morning, and with spring in full bloom, it has made for some interesting runs this week.

Monday: schedule 5M tempo (3 @8:40), after work
5 Miles- 44:41, 8:56 average pace
9:26, 8:34, 8:41, 8:37, 9:21

This tempo was a beast. I haven't done a good tempo run in weeks and it showed. On top of the fact that I was running in temperatures a good 20-30* warmer than what my body is used to, I was gasping for air by the end.

Tuesday: Schedule for 1M warm-up, 10x1:00 @7:30, 10x1:00 @9:00, 1M cool-down
1M warm up- 9:26
10x1:00 @7:30- 8x1:00 @7:30, 1x1:00 @7:24, 1x1:00 @7:19
10x1:00 @8:55-9:13
1M Cool down- 9:19

This made for a total of 4.5 miles, and it was not as tough as I was expecting. The middle minutes of sprinting were harder than the last few where I picked it up. I did this run on the treadmill mostly for the ease of tracking everything since it was so involved with specific paces and minutes. I knew I would have botched somthing if I tried to do this outside.

Wednesday: Track day. On the schedule 12x400, goal time = 1:48 (7:15pace)
1:00 recovery after each 400, 2:00 after every 4th

Let me start by saying I was dreading the track, not quite sure why, but I even called my mom on the way and tried to bribe her to go to the mall with me instead of to the track, but in the end I was glad I went.

1M Warm-up 9:38
12x400- I am going to break this into groups of 3 since we got a 2:00 break after each 4th lap

1st 4- 1:45, 1:41, 1:44, 1:43
2nd 4- 1:41, 1:41, 1:45, 1:45
3rd 4- 1:48, 1:42, 1:47, 1:39

Usually we run with 3 groups and I run with the middle group, but considering our middle group was really only 3 people he said only 2 groups and gave the 3 of us the choice to run with either the faster group or the slower group. A girl who is my exact speed and we usually split who beats who at the track each week opted to run with the fater group, I decided to lead the slower group- I beat all of her times by at least 2 seconds even though she ran with the fast group.

I decided I would perform best trying to lead the slower group, I should finish first every time and that was the push I needed to make sure I maintained my paces. I never started to feel tired until the last 4, but I managed to stay below my goal time, and hold sub7:00 pace for most of the intervals- I was very pleased with the outcome of this workout, and I think my coach would agree.

I have 1 more run this week (3-4 miles easy) and then my long run (10M) which has 7 miles at goal pace to see how I am shaping up for Gate. Hopefully all this speedy running pays off, it has been a little different and very exhausting for me this week, but hopefully it pays off in the end.

Do you like running fast, or nice and easy? I go through spurts where I appreciate each, but I think my ADD brain is enjoying the break-up of all these speedy runs!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wedding Wednesday

Happy Hump Day! Who is ready for a wedding update?

So this past Sunday John and I went to TPC for their 2011 Tasting Event that they had for all of their couples who have already booked their weddings for 2011 and early 2012. They really encouraged everyone to come if they could, as the prefer to utilize this event to individual tastings.

I was a little hesitant at first, but was SO glad we went. Considering the number of brides and guests in attendance, they actually set up everything as if it were a real wedding, so we got to see everything as it would be set up for 200 people.

Once we arrived, we actually started sampling after party snacks and the appetizers. These lists of passed foods are quite lengthy so we had lots of different foods to try.

We made it a point to have one of everything, that way we knew we had sampled it all and could make an informed decision as to what we liked and what we didn't. Honestly, everything was really good, there was only 1 thing that I didn't love, but it was still good, just not on the same level as everything else- it was a small pressed panini with salami, cheese, and roasted red peper aoli. Like I said it was good, but it was a little greasy for me and the flavors remind me a lot of a calzone- not quite what we had in mind.

After getting through the bulk of the passed appetizers we made our way into the next room for the stationed appetizers and wine tasting. Now I know know this all sounds like a blast, but deciding on the wines was actually a lot of work!

As much as I love drinking wine, analyzing it and deciding what will go best with the food I haven't yet tried, and what is a generally popular choice amongst most was a little difficult.

When Originally tasting we thought we only had choice of 1 white and 1 red, but we actually get 2 of each so that helped settle a few debates :) My wines of choice are typically Savignon Blanc and Shiraz which are not usually standards to most people, so I knew I probably could only fight for 1 choice, and as much as I love red wine, I highly doubt I will be consuming any in my wedding dress. John really enjoyed several of the wines, which was kind of surprising since he normally doesn't drink wine with me!

The food that was at the station in that room was food I had starred to make sure I tried as it was something that was very much in consideration as one of our choices. They had 5 different hours'devours at this station, and we wanted to try all 5, however, this was the last thing we did since the line was SO long. They took the time to assemble your selection as you requested it, which I suppose was nice since it was fresh, but it created a huge line, and that was a downer. Also, by this point, I was starting to get full, and we hadn't even had "dinner" yet.

Next up came the actual tasting. They led us into the main ballroom which was fully set up for a 200 person wedding, this made my day! Each table was adorned with differnt types of place settings and linens so that you could see a lot of the different options available.

In addition, each table had a different centerpiece to showcase the work of several different florists, and countless ideas so you could start to maybe see some of your own wedding vision.

There was one centerpiece of the 20 that absolutely stole the show. It was beautiful, in a huge vase that just displayed itself in such a grand fashion. While my mother thought it was too tall, I thought it absolutely fit with the high ceilings of the room and the gradiose stature of the venue. I was in luck, because this winner was brought in by my florist :) I am super excited to see what I can do with those vases of his! We saw a lot of really fun ideas and things that I am hoping to be able to incorporate into our decor as well


After all the oohing and aahing over the flowers it was time to sit down and get to eating. For the tasting they had almost every single station of theirs set-up and waiters also bringing around plated dinners. We opted to stay heavy at the stations. There were things I was very interested in trying- namely a few of their signiture dishes like Shrimp and Grits and macaroni and cheese in mini cast-iron skillets.

The food was all amazing! There was not one thing I didn't like, just some things I loved more than others. John and I sampled most everything they had out between the 2 of us, seafood, beef, pastas, salads, vegetables, cheese displays, bread, you name it they had it- it was like a food overload! It was all so good, that we sat there with our little note sheet actually debating between 2 dishes that we loved, as it would be redundant to serve both.

Now, as I have sat here and raved on and on about food, we have not even addressed what was by far the absolute best part of the day...

The Cake!!!!

We have a pre-set cake baker that has an exclusive with our venue and I had always heard great things, but this cake was untouchable in my opinion. I am really more of a pie girl, so for me to tell you that this cake was the best part of it all, you know I mean it! They served sheet cakes that were layered with 1/2 devils food chocolate cake and 1/2 white cake with a chocolate buttercream filling and their traditional buttercream frosting. I may have actually tried to lick the plate clean... classy.

Needless to say I am beyond excited about our wedding cake now, we set a time to meet with them one on one early this summer, but have some ideas about what we want for our cake.

After this little taste test John is pulling hard for the chocolate and I am still a vanilla/fruity girl at heart. I am still entertaining ideas of 2 cakes, or differnent flavored layers, but am not quite sure which way to take it.

Overall our tasting experience was fantastic, John and I are both SO excited about our wedding menu now it is rediculous, and it is sad that we will not be having another meal that fantastic until our wedding :( It was a pretty awesome day, and we hope everyone will enjoy the food as much as we did, I know that is a big thing for me when I go to a wedding!

Stations or sit down, do you have a preference?
Are you a wedding cake fan?
What's the best cake flavor in your opinion??

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Alternatives to Running

I trust everyone enjoyed their long (or regular) weekend. We celebrated John's Grandfather's 90th birthday with his whole family this weekend, it was a little crazy, but I am back, recovered, and looking forward to a super busy upcoming few weeks.

Well as the title implies I have been looking for some running alternatives recently. My mileage is getting ready to taper off hard going into the spring and summer months, and to maintain my weight and fitness base, I will need to incorporate more than just a few short runs a week. While I have done a lot of research into what I need and want to be doing, I thought I would see what other fun ideas other people have.

The Goals:

**Speed! This really is my biggest goal with going lighter on the mileage over the next couple months. I want to improve my overall speed over the next 4-5 months.

*Injury Prevention: While there are not any present injuries, I seem to be recovering from races much slower and having more frequent minor flare-ups from previous injuries. I know backing off will help to get me back to 100% so when I am ready to jump into another training cycle I will be healthy.

*Burnout:  I love running, I really do, but trying to maintain a very detailed schedule with no real goal at the end is a bit difficult mentally. I don't want to burn myself out by "training through base building" so I want to bring in some other stuff to mix it up

**Wedding Bod: Yes running is the culprit that helped me lose 35lbs, but my system needs another shock factor to zap it into shape for this wedding, you won't really be able to see my legs, so the rest of me needs some work.

The Methods:

*Decrease running to 3-5 days/week and focus only on quality workouts and speed- my ideal would be 4x week (one hills, 1 tempo, 1 track day, 1 long run)

*Strength Training- I have been back into a weight lifting routine for a full 2 weeks now, which is almost unheard of for me. I have 3 days a week of weights that I would like to get in, help me get back some muscle definition and try to keep my metabolism as high as I can.

**Try more variety: Doing more spinning, yoga, pilates, and getting back outside on my bike

***Calorie Torchers: namely the stair climber and the arc trainer. Every time I hop on either of these beasts, I am so swety and winded I swear I just completed a 5k race- I know they can do some serious damage!

***Try new things:  Swimming, cross-fit (maybe, this still scares me a little), hot yoga, maybe a triathalon, and anything else I haven't thought of. I know things like this will make me stronger overall and a better athlete, so I feel like this is kind of the time to jump into it.

After the Gate River Run on March 12th this is the plan for the next 4 months. Anyone have any good ideas I missed or fun things to try?????

I have a Wedding Wednesday post coming tomorrow, we've been very productive :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

Before heading out for the weekend, I thought I would regale everyone with my week!

Wednesday: Track Day

This week's workout was...special. Most of the group who turned up had all raced either the marathon or half marathon this past Sunday, so I figured we would have a manageable workout, 800s, 400s, 1000s, but something basic, right...Wrong!!!!

So the workout....3200m alternating 200m @half marathon pace, 200m @5k race pace- no breaks.
The 200 @hmp was supposed to be the recovery which, compared to 5k pace is quite a recovery.
At first I thought this workout would be cake- 200s, yes please! When I finished I literally thought I was going to puke all over the track, I was so surprised how tough this workout was.

3200- 16:14, 8:07 average pace
I was hitting about 7:35 or so for the 5k pace and anywhere from 8:45-9:15 for the half marathon pace. I kept at 8:45 for most of the laps, but the last few I just needed more of a break so I slowed it down even more.

We finished the workout off with a 1600 (7:54) and a cool down. Complete Exhaustion! My knees (ITB) were both a little achy at different points, but by the end both seem to have resolved their issues.

Thursday: More cross-training. Since I plan to hit the ground running next week, I opted to keep this week easy and just focus on a couple quality runs and cross training. I will say this, prolonged cross-training is not for the faint of heart.

I set my own custom interval workout on the bike while watching Sports Center at the gym, and I was practically shaking by the time I was done 30 minutes later.

5 minute warm-up (level 6) moderate pace
1 minute at level 8 sprinting at 100+ rpm
1 minute at level 15 @60+ rpm recovery
Repeat previous 2 intervals 10 times
5 minute cool-down

So by sprinting the easy part and recovering on the heavier part, there was really no true break, I never felt like my heart rate came down too much, and I torched some serious calories, even I was impressed.

After my torture session on the bike, I trembled over to the stair climber- 15 minutes on fat burner level 12, Holy Jello Legs! By the time I was done, I was spent, and so disgustingly sweaty, it felt SO good!

Friday: Weights, and 30minutes between the bike and arc traininer nothing too intense before my long run tomorrow, but I will say I did some killer ab moves today. I usually ignore my core, so I think it appreciated the extra attention.

Wedding:  So while this is not a day, I will go ahead and give you the wedding updates of the week.

-Music selections have been made! It was not an easy one, but at the end of the day since I did not have a strong feeling about our reception music, I went with the people that fit well with my personality and our budget, I figured no point in blowing the big bucks on something I didn't seem to have an opinion on.

-My ceremony music on the other hand....Super Excited about it! I got a nice little sneak preview last weekend and have spent a lot of time this week going through the lists of songs for all the different stuff so we can get the songs finalized and music ordered!

-Save the Dates were mailed last week and my sources tell me that all have been delivered at this point :) It feels super real now that everyone knows the date and location, like when you tell people you are training for a race and they hold you accountable. And for the 1657651 time I have compared my wedding to a race.

-Hotels:  this was not as quick and easy as I thought it would be. I had to put thought into how many people would need rooms, what kind of rooms, how many nights, etc. I thought it was supposed to be cake. We ended up going with blocks at 2 hotels rather than just one, since the one I had originially preferred charges for parking and I thought it may deter some people, so I wanted to have options for them.

-Bridesmaid Dresses- This is on deck for next weekend. I have been working with 2 of my girls on getting some final dress choices together. I don't have to wear this dress, so their opinion is what really matters since they will have to wear it. I think we have come down to the final 3-4 contenders. I have been getting a lot of grief from others about picking my BM dresses so others can pick their dresses, didn't realize this would be so important.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Great Gym Debate

Was everyone's Valentine's Day fabulous? Mine was!

John and I both had the same idea in mind: cook dinner, eat dessert and watch Watson premiere on Jeopardy. Yes, I know I am 100, but I have seen the commercials advertising the computer(Watson) that IBM built that was going to face off against the winningest people ever on Jeopardy- I wanted to see what this computer could do.

It was pretty cool, but there are 2 more nights of it still to go, and figure out how I can steal this thing to bring home and have it unload my dishwasher, fold my laundry, and pick out my clothes every day:)

On the running front: Schedule 5 mile tempo (3 @8:40)

After 20 minutes on the bike and weights yesterday, I figured I would be good to go today. I went and ran 1 mile this morning, my knee still hurt, so I stopped and did even more joyous cross-training- bike, stair climber, and arc trainer. I am not thrilled about the knee still hurting, but on a side note, that stair climber kicked my butt today- like for serious. And I tried to get on the eliptical for the first time in several years, and felt so awkward and uncomfortable after a minute of pedalling that I had to leave- makes me wonder if I was doing it wrong...

I actually have been enjoying my cross-training recently and will be adding a lot more of it in as the summer nears and my mileage backs off in favor of getting faster. Which brings me to the debate of the day....

I have been considering switching gyms for a while now, and I haven't because there are honestly pros and cons to each, and as many lists as I make I can't decide which is the best choice at this point, it's a matter of what is most important, but you know that is very subjective to me depending on where I am in a training cycle, weather, etc, so I am going to put the question to you- which you think is the best choice:

Some Background
-Both gyms are the same cost, so no change there
-Neither has a contract obligation so I could actually switch back and forth easily
-I have belonged to Bailey's since John and I moved into our apartment in August 2008 and have never had 1 negative thing to say about it, I actually really like it
-I am wanting to add swimming as cross-training and my gym does not have a pool :(

-literally 1/2 mile from my front door- I can walk there (weather permitting) and it takes me no time to get there in the morning- big plus
-They have a very vast weight selection (machines, cables, and free weights)
-24 hour access--> this was a God-send when I needed to start long runs at 4am alone, I could run on the TM until it was safe to be outside

-There is no pool :(
-Cardio equipment other than elipticals and treadmills are scarce. There are no row machines, very few stair climbers and arc trainers, and the bikes are fewer.
-Only exists in Jacksonville area- no gym access when traveling

-Nicer/Newer Cardio equipment
-more cardio equipment (including row machine, Jacobs ladder, and 3 types of stair climbers)
-more class varity and time options
-All cardio equipment has individual tv with full cable
-Digital "Key" plug-in for every machine (weight&cardio) to track all stats from your workout that you can upload to your computer at home or at the gym.
-Other YMCA's I can use locally or elsewhere when traveling

-10 mintue drive from my house :( I have been spoiled
-Hours: Mon-Thurs 5am-10p, Fri 5a-9p, Sat & Sun 7am-6p

So there you have it. Which is more important...a pool or 5am access on Saturday and Sunday??????? Although I usually do my long runs and long bike rides on Saturday and Sunday anways. But would I be less likely to go if it is that much further away?

Do you live super close to your gym or do you have to drive?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Breast Cancer Marathon/Half-Marathon 2011

Ok, so I think I am officially recovered from my vacation and the illness I brought home with it, and no more blog slacking excuses- If I can race, I can blog about it right...

Ok, so this past weekend was pretty much my all-time favorite race. I have had this date circled on my calendar since running it last year and it is already circled for next year.
Penny and Jaime were both coming up for the race. Penny was registered for the full, and we had gotten a bib for Jaime to run the half as a training run since she has her goal race in 2 weeks. I was kind of bummed going into this weekend that I wasn't running the full, I had really wanted to, but the training just wasn't there, but I was still excited nontheless.

Saturday we engaged in plenty of pre-race carb-loading, and as usual, John was a saint and tagged along all weekend doing anything and everything we asked of him, including taking a zillion pictures.

Sunday morning we got up, had a few slight transportation glitches that ultimately worked out even better for us in the long run. The line for the recommended shuttles to the start was absurdly long when we arrived there at 6:05am (for a 7:30am race). By 6:30 we had not moved in the mile long line, and the buses were trickling in so slowly we decided we were better off to take our chances parking and walking (running) to the start.

Jaime and I dropped Penny off at the start, since she did not need a warm-up and we went back and parked in the Publix parking lot 1.5 miles away from the start line. We used the chance to get in a warm-up and made it to the runner's village with about 20 mintues left until the race start, it worked out fine in the end. We left our warm-ups, dropped our bags and headed to the start line.

We packed into the first corral, and I surprisingly managed to find one of the girls from my track group who was right at my pace. Even though we started together I lost her in the first 100 yards, I think I went out faster, but was just focused on doing my own thing.

My original goal for this race was sub-1:55. However, with the ski trip, being sick, and some lack-luster long runs, I didn't think I had it in me to run that race yet. But the weather was beyond perfect, my legs were so well rested, and the first 2 miles dropped like it was nothing, so I decided I would try for it and see what happened...

John had gone out to the beach ahead of us to take pictures, and managed to find all 3 of us in the crowd

I held my 1:55 pace until mile 7 when I started to faulter a bit. My legs were already getting heavy, especially my right hip that still occasionally talks when my ITB gets irritated. I kind of expected that considering the hills (bridges) in the first 3.5 miles, but I wasn't expecting it until we got back to said bridges at mile 10.

My pace didn't drop too much from mile 7 to mile 10, I was still in range of a 1:57-1:58 and a possible PR, so I just kept going. The race actually went by super fast: Miles 0-7 were over before I knew it, 7-9.5 was a little slow, but 9.5 to the finish also flew by even though I started dragging.

Climbing back up the slanted sprial on ramp to run over the bridge back to the finish put athe damper on for my legs. Cardiovascularly I had the endurance to hit that 1:55, but my legs were not ready for it after basically 2 weeks off. BOTH IT bands started hurting at mile 10 after I got up that ramp, to the point where every single step made them ache. I was actually praying for the next uphill because I knew it would give them a little reprive.

At 11.5 when the last big climb started I just kept pushing and knew it was less than a mile once I got to the top. Once I got to the mile 12 sign, one of my other team members was there, I knew to look for him, and he was SO excited and motivating! He ran with me for almos a 1/4 mile and got me pumped up again, I am so thankful for him, I had started to lose the fun of this race at that point and he got it right back in me.

Even though I could not fly down the downhill to the finish like I had wanted, I made sure to push with what I had and finish respectably.

Garmin Results 2:00:59
Official Results 2:01:39--> that was clock time, my chip didn't register at the start :(

Considering all the circumstances that is actually a good performace, no complaints here.
That is a full minute per mile faster than my time from this race last year, and I have another half in 2 weeks and I am searching for the 1:55.

After I got my medal and water, I needed some ice on my knees, I knew if I could help keep the inflamation down early, I could hopefully get back to my normal schedule this week.

Jaime and I grabbed our bags and headed back to the finish line with John to wait and watch all the other we knew come in and finish.

Once we tracked down Penny later we grabbed a beer and got to the walk back to the car.

 I had a great weekend with both of these lovely ladies and am excited to run with them again soon!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ten Things Tuesday: Welcome Back

Happy Tuesday! I am back from vacation and recovering quite slowly.

Our trip was fantastic! 9 days of skiing, no stress, snow, sun, mountains, and crazy videos. We got home last Sunday evening and I had very ambitious plans to hop right back into my routine this week, being a race week after all, I have quite a lot to get to, but a cold that I have been fighting since last Thursday has pretty much kept me down for the count.

I have gotten a lot of our unpacking done, and a few other major to-do's at the top of the list, but it has been a much slower week than expected. I did attempt snow/ice/cold running while on vacation, it went well, mostly because I ran in the middle of the road where there was no snow/ice, but hey, at least I got it done.

Regular running to resume today, but until then, I figured I would show you a nice sneak peak of our trip....