Friday, February 27, 2009

Gym Zen

I've been exchanging early morning workouts at the gym these days for lunchtime and post work sweat sessions in order to avoid looking like the crazy workout-obsessed gf by making the bf (who is still on the job search since he was laid off over a month ago) set the alarm to 6 AM. But this morning, with the things on my schedule and lunch with a friend, I simply didn't have any other option. After a few months of missing these workouts, I forgot how totally zen a morning at the gym can be. It's empty, quiet and I can choose to do any machine I want, when I want to.

At lunch and after work, I fight the hoards of college students who have finally rolled out of bed and don't have much choice over what types of cardio or weight machines I do. Today it was 35 min of arc trainer (similar to the elliptical w/out arms and harder on the legs in my opinion), 10 min of elliptical rolling hills, two sets of push ups and 20 min of lap swimming.

After today's reunion with my precious AM workout, I think I just might have to go back for more. Do any of you do silly things (like pretending you don't want to hop out of bed at 6am to go workout and instead stay warm in bed) in order to seem a bit less neurotic about exercise? Truth: I know he wouldn't care if I did this most mornings. I already hop out of bed early to do yoga, push ups and abs in the am, so what's another 30 min earlier to head to the gym instead??

Happy Friday! I can't tell you how much I love Fridays for the mere fact that we get to wear jeans at work (and of course that the week is over). It's my little piece of heaven.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Runner's Lounge Book Project

Have you submitted your article? If not, you still have time! The deadline is this Saturday, February 28. I just sent off my 600 word article to Tom at the Runner's Lounge.

Don't think you have something to contribute? Think again. All of us have a story to tell, no matter where we're at in our running journey. For all the details, click here. Now get on it!

Backwards TIaRT

This week's TIaRT theme in the Runner's Lounge is: Share the one burning question you have about your running and ask other TIaRT readers/contributors for their feedback.

I've been running consistently since high school so I don't have many burning questions about my running. However, the one I just can't seem to get over has to do with my How to Qualify for Boston TIaRT post. That is: how is it that during a speed workout I can run a mile in just under 7 min pace, but completing a marathon in 3 hrs 40 min (8:24 min avg pace) seems a bit far fetched for this bod?

Part of me thinks I already know the answer: I don't employ enough rest days or enough "pushing myself to the limit" on some of my harder runs to reach threshold and understand my true potential. Does this happen to you during training? Do you just go out and run your 8:30 min pace because that's what your body knows and loves, or do you push it 'til it burns and your body is saying "I don't think I can do this, but I must keep going?"

Dear Readers, I insist, share the love and give me some feedback. And for heaven's sake, all of you who are viewing but not commenting, please delurk! :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An MRI machine...

quite possibly the most relaxing place I've been in a while. Sounds crazy, huh? But I don't joke. The tech asks you to choose your music preference, puts large squishy headphones over your ears, has you take off your shoes and relax. For the next 30 minutes, I closed my eyes and nearly fell asleep reminding myself to remain perfectly still. Don't get me wrong, it's a bit loud in there and if you're claustrophobic, it might not be your total zen. The foot got a little warm at times due to the magical powers of the MRI machine, but nothing unbearable. As I was being slid back out I realized that it was the most calm 30 waking minutes of my life as of late. Sometimes a little forced relaxation is totally necessary to your health.

It makes me think about workouts and training and how even if we're not running hard every day, we should still take some time to allow ourselves to do some gentle yoga instead of a sweat-fest cardio session at the gym. Maybe taking a day off wouldn't be such a bad idea... Now if only I could refrain from eating those damn cookies the bf keeps baking. Like I said before, guys can be bad influences on healthy eating b/c they can eat so much more and never have to bat an eyelash. Gah.

As for the scan, I'm hoping it comes back A-Ok and I can start running again and maybe (crossing fingers) still run the half marathon, if not marathon at Whidbey Island on March 29. After all, the cabin is booked, my race registration paid for and the plans have been made.

What is an MRI? For more info, click here.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. In many cases, MRI gives different information about structures in the body than can be seen with an X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan. MRI also may show problems that cannot be seen with other imaging methods.

Happy relaxing!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Time to detox

After three days of some seriously good meals filled with bread, egg, cheese and seafood, there's only one thing my body wants, a detox.

The man friend and I spent the weekend with a few runner friends at the beach enjoying the Seafood and Wine Festival. While I did pretty well in imbibing only moderately in wine and gin & tonics, the food was so good that none of us could stop eating. Friday night we arrived to a feast of fresh sourdough bread bowls, in which we put homemade seafood bisque (two servings for me-ugh). A few hours later we followed that with blackberry pie and ice cream. Wow.

Saturday morning I went for a 75 min walk/jog, spending about half of it on the beach doing an easy jog/walk routine and the other half making my way over hills to get to and from the beach. I seriously never feel healthier than when I'm walking in the sand breathing in fresh ocean air. I swear it has healing powers. It made me antsy for spring weekends spent at the beach just enjoying the sun, even if it is a bit chilly here in Oregon.

I arrived back at the house to find waffles with strawberries waiting for us and some fresh coffee. Then off to the wine fest we went. What we all anticipated to be a fairly classy, enjoyable affair was more of a drunken, somewhat trashy, crammed event under two massive tents. Thing mardi gras (people were passing out beads to each other) mixed with county fair mixed with a weird high school reunion of all ages. The people watching was truly superb. At some point in the afternoon the boys began nominating wine tasters for "the most drunken and haggard" award. Truly hilarious. After enjoying crab melts and a few hours of wine tasting, we decided to exit stage left before we couldn't move inside the tents any longer and had to battle the drunks on the road.

Back at the house it was nap time to prepare for another round of food. This time: brie, pears, grapes and crackers for appetizers and three kinds of pizza and a salad for dinner. Post dinner we watched one of the most awful movies I've seen in a while, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I mean really, who thought up the idea that they should be hired assassins to kill their own spouse? Lame. Another round of pie and some serious foos ball and hungry hungry hippo and we were off to bed.

Sunday brought another long walk and views of the ocean followed by a mimosa brunch with egg strata and potatoes. Yum. And of course we couldn't pass up the fast food joint (prob the last one for a few thousand miles standing) that sells milkshakes with Nilla wafers on top. After dropping off my passengers in town, I drove directly to the gym (not even tempting myself with thoughts of my bed) and sweat for a good hour and 45 minutes. It felt good and was the perfect way to end a fun filled foodie weekend with friends and the beach.

Anyone else do something fun this weekend? Anyone in detox with me this week? This week the man friend and I are eating salads every night, no joke.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

6 1/2 min of Strength Training

Today's topic in the Runner's Lounge is: If you could spend 6 1/2 minutes each day building your strength to benefit your running, what would you do? What are some of the most effective strength training exercises you do to help you run faster, longer or more comfortably?

I would say it's all about the squat, baby (for me anyway). Personally, I like the lateral squat machine (meaning you're sitting upright, pushing your feet on a flat plate/platform straight out in front of you). The reason the squat is so great is that it engages so many major muscles to work together that are vital for strong running legs.

Here's my routine:
1)Using both feet, do one set of 12 at a moderate-high weight (one that makes it difficult to finish that last rep) with a small medicine ball in between your knees. The medicine ball addition was a trick my physical therapist showed me. It requires the inner and outer muscles of your legs to be firing at the same time because you're not only pushing away from yourself, but also inward to keep that ball from falling.

2)Then, I alternate doing a set of one legged squats (at a lower weight of course) on the same machine, on each leg, without the med ball. This forces the glute, hip, quad, hamstring and knee to function together without relying on the other leg (in case one of your legs is a bit stronger than the other).

I do #1 and #2 three times total so it goes like this:
double leg squats with ball (12, right leg squats (12), left leg squats (12)
double, right, left
double, right, left
*If you need a break in between sets, get up and grab a drink of water, stretch out those legs, or super set by doing some bicep curls with dumbbells.

The important thing here is that you are doing some kind of strength training. I've been weight lifting regularly since 8th grade so I'm very comfortable in a gym, but I know that it can be intimidating to lift around a lot of beefy, obnoxious guys. If you need some moral support, hire a trainer or grab a girlfriend and hit the weight room. Just be sure you know what you're doing so you don't make a fool of yourself or more importantly, injure yourself.

The Valentine's that keeps on giving

Last night my lovely package arrived from the Valentine's Blogger Exchange that Ashley at This? is Not the Life I Ordered! organized. Marisa at July Bug sent me a fabulous box full of candy and even a few powergels for marathon training. She too is a marathoner. Hi Marisa and thanks for the cute package!

If you haven't involved yourself in a blogger cookie/gift/holiday exchange, next time you see one, I encourage you all to do it. It's fun to put together a package of goodies for someone you don't know and in return receive a bundle of goodness from someone else.

And thanks again, T for the flowers! They still look great.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Does your doc do it for you?

I want to know: how many of you actually like and respect your doc? I'm now on my second doc who I haven't exactly loved, but have dealt with because it's just a hassle to try and find a new one and get an appointment scheduled.

When I first needed a doc for something more than a "can you see if this is a sinus infection?" type appointment, my coworkers and friends recommended a few people. So I called and all were booked and not taking new patients. So I resorted to calling my insurance company and getting the name of a new doc who could take someone the next day. While it seemed convenient, the woman doesn't seem to remember anything about me (i.e. the whole marathoner/athlete piece), even when i come in for a hurt foot or lack of Aunt Flo coming to town.

Last year, after missing Aunt Flo for about seven months, she had me go through a series of hormone tests, an MRI, the whole bit to see if anything was out of whack. Everything came out normal so her response was "well, you have three options. 1) Take BC to regulate your period (Aunt Flo) 2) Significantly reduce your exercise intensity and duration (ha!) 3) Gain weight and increase fat (double ha!). Naturally, #1 was the only real choice.

The tough part about seeing a doc who isn't an athlete herself or doesn't understand the mentality is that we just don't see eye to eye. When I said "Yeah, I think my body might not have been built to put up with the kind of mileage I put on it," she said "I don't understand what you mean by that." Seriously?! And when I answered the number of hours I workout daily question she looked at me like I was delusional. Come on lady, I'm not a waif and I train for have to put in the hours to run a 26.2 mile race without killing yourself.

Point is, I don't settle for less than I deserve in the relationship department so why am I doing it with my health? I think it's time for a second opinion. As for this morning's xray, I hope it comes back showing no breakage.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Because sometimes rest is exactly what you need.

My heart tightens when I look at my running log this week. An entire four miles No joke. That's about 35+ short of my usual marathon training weeks.

Don't get me wrong, I still logged a lot of hours in the gym, but still. My foot hurt after last Sunday's five miler so I took three days off, opting to bike, aqua jog, weight lift and elliptical my way through it (since this happened 3-4 weeks before my last marathon in May). Come Thursday I decided to do a short EASY jog while my running group did the speed workout. Result? Foot hurt, required more icing and less running.

Saturday (my typical long run day) came and I knew my foot would thank me for not running. So I hopped on my bike, rode the 5-6 miles to a local race that several friends were running in (Couple's Classic, named appropriately for the holiday) and cheered them on. Then it was off to REI on the bike to get some winter sale items I'm SURE I needed. Then another six or so miles home. After refueling, I headed to the pool for 35 min of aqua jogging and another 30 min of laps. Result? I felt good about getting some calorie burnage in and my foot didn't hurt as much as it would have after hitting the pavement for 2+ hrs straight.

Sunday (today), my dad and I drove a few hours to the snow for a day of cross country skiing. The weather was great and it was nice to get some father/daughter bonding time in. My foot? It wasn't super happy with me and gave me hell most of the day. The few advil I took around lunch didn't seem to make a dent in the pain, but I survived and it was probably better than running on it (I hope).

So, what am I doing tomorrow at 8 AM? Calling the doc. Scheduling an appt to get a referral to my phys therapist or foot doc and then getting an effing xray, hopefully. Ugh. To which the result will probably be: rest, ice, bike, aqua jog. Just fabulous.

And on a more exciting note...wanna know what I'm making for dinner tomorrow night? Orange Pan-glazed Tempeh. YUM. Heidi has some awesome recipes that I borrow from time to time. For example, Fri I mailed my Valentine blogger exchange recipient a batch of theseitsy bitsy choc chip cookies (and the Love Actually soundtrack)!

Anyone out there want to share a good recipe with me you've tried lately? I'm ALWAYS on the lookout. And, if you haven't checked out JOY or TRANSPLANTED BAKER, do so pronto. Your tummy will thank you.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Love is all you need, or so the song says...

As a mostly single girl for 26 years, I know all too well about spending holidays (especially Vday and Christmas) alone and feeling like you're lost out there at sea with no one to care for or to be cared by (besides your parents-thanks ma and dad!). While this year I don't quite feel so lost at sea, the holiday doesn't seem any more lovey dovey. In fact, I think I actually celebrated Valentine's less this year than I have in the past.

The holiday lover that I am, usually makes special trips to Tar-get just to walk through the holiday aisles and stare at all the pretty red and pink heart shaped things. Not this year. This year I was too busy watching episodes of the biggest loser (we have dinner riding on the person's team who gets the furthest), going on dates and trying to squeeze in my normal workouts and laundry into any spare few hours I previously had to lust over the holiday. Crazy how quickly life can change. How you can go from having four hours every evening to sweat to your heart's desire, wander through the grocery store picking out your favorite organic produce, watching endless episodes of Jon & Kate plus 8 or Grey's, to pretty much throwing half that out the window. It's all worth it, but I'm just sayin'.

These little beauties arrived to my office on Tuesday because the man friend and I were celebrating Vday a bit early. He left today with a friend for San Fran for a big wig bike race to watch the likes of Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong and others and do some riding of their own.

Receiving flowers in the office is nearly one of the most humiliating things ever. Lots of unnecessary oohing and aahing and silly grins. My boss came in stuttering something to the effect of "where, um, who...did those come from?? Nevermind. I mean, um, are you dating someone you didn't tell us about?"

Dear Boss,

No, I did not send you a memo when I started dating this man friend of mine five or so weeks ago.

YourFaithfulEmployee Sass

In true sass form, I want to say that no matter where you are in your life and love, love is really all around us. (Don't hate, I happen to be listening to the Love Actually soundtrack and it's fabulous. If you don't have it, go on and get it.) Love is in your parents, your best friends (who also send you bouquets of flowers-Thanks T!), coworkers who bring heart shaped bagels and berry cream cheese to work, the gas station attendant who calls you "hun." Ok, so I'm stretching.

But in all seriousness, the one thing I hated as a single woman is that feeling of pity and loathing that singles are supposed to feel on this holiday. I say, celebrate it. Celebrate how fabulous you are, even if no one special gets to experience that right now. The more you love yourself, the more someone else is going to. So grab your favorite single friends, a good bottle of wine, a chic flick, go dancing in the rain, laugh until you cry...whatever it is, just enjoy.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Pool Etiquette 101

I was minding my own business just doing my aqua jogging after a session on the bike and then the elliptical trainer. What did I get? A face and head full of water. So much for trying to keep the hair dry.

Now I understand I was in a pool with a lot of H2O, but what I don't understand is how the two different males who occupied the other half of the "slow/aqua jogging" lane during my 25 minute jogging session managed to splash like they were being chased by sharks while doing the simple freestyle stroke. I'm no Michael Phelps and I wasn't ever on a swim team, but I did take a "learning to lap swim" class for two terms in college so I'd feel confident about slipping into the pool for some laps.

That was by far one of the most valuable classes I took during the four years of college, besides a little class called "info hell" in which journalism majors learned to research, check facts and sources and write concisely. Bottom line, like drivers and cyclists don't always understand each other's common rules, aqua joggers and lap swimmers don't always see eye to eye. Mind your wake and beware of us runners who are trying to get off the injured list. As both a jogger and a lapper, when I do pull the cap and goggles on, I'll be sure to keep the splash neat and tidy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Are you listening?

In my recent 'Take it and Run Thursdays' post I mentioned I really should listen to my body more often. It's true. I run, a lot. My bod, it hurts. After 17 milers my feet and knees ache and sometimes wrench with pain. My it band is tight. I need stretching and massaging. I need rest.

But as any runner knows, rest is the mental enemy. And I'm going to rest for two days. Today and tomorrow. I need it. That plantar faciitis is rearing its ugly head back into my feet and I don't like it one bit. While I know deep down rest is the best thing, it's a fight not to pull on the spandex and lace up the shoes for a good hard run, no matter how bad it hurts.

So to save my own sanity, I'll do some pool jogging (think ugly blue floatie belt strapped around waist while trying to attempt running motion in water) and maybe a little bike, weights (upper body) and abs.

Anyone out there struggle with resting?

And, on the meeting the parents front, all went well! It was a definite success. My grandparents drank too much wine (after all you can't let good wine go to waste). My brothers and dad were pretty quiet, but that's no surprise. My grandpa was sarcastic. My grandma kept pulling birthday gifts out of this Mary Poppins-like bag and he just kept laughing. My mom was happy. My bro's girlfriend liked him. He said my family was great.

Moral of the story is, I'm assured meeting the parents early on isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes it's just the icing on the cake that makes him say "you just keep earning more points in my book." Enough said.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Do yourself a favor.

Go ahead. Give another woman a compliment. I promise you'll feel like a good person after you do. I for one, am horribly awful at giving and receiving compliments, more so at receiving than giving, but I'm working on it.

Last night, walking off the dance floor with my man friend during 80's night at a local college hangout, a cute, stylish girl I'd never met came up to me and said "I just wanted to tell you you're really beautiful." "Oh, thank you" is all I could muster in total shock.

But I know what it feels like to give a genuine compliment to another woman. It feels like everything in the world is good and right. It makes you want to shake hands and kiss babies. As a society, we women aren't always supportive of each other, but when we are, it makes us stronger as a whole.

I remember in high school letting compliments sit on the edge of my tongue and not spit them out because I couldn't manage a thank you when one was uttered my way. But as we grow, we learn that others want us to say thanks and hear our genuine thoughts.

The point is, my mystery friend reminded me why it's so important to appreciate each other. We women are amazing. But we're also self conscious, over thinkers who sometimes need reassurance. The next time you're thinking the girl on the sidewalk is wearing a pretty sweet jacket/flats/bag or is flashing an amazing smile, tell her. It's all about kharma and the warm & fuzzies. It will come back to you, I promise.

What's the best compliment you've ever received? And the best one you've given?

Truth: I've given compliments to a few strangers in the mall on their shoes or clothing and on the dance floor giving props to some pretty sweet dance moves.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How to Qualify for Boston??

This week's Take it and Run Topic from theRunners Lounge is: The Secret of How To Qualify for Boston (and other big goals.)

My first response is: um, I don't faster?! And I don't mean to sound condescending, it's just that I've never qualified although I REALLY want to. I just don't seem to be fast enough (based on my previous 3:49, 4+ and 4:08 marathon times).

Not sure what it takes to qualify? Check out the age/sex specific qualifying times here. For a woman 18-34, it requires a 3:40 min or faster USATF certified marathon time. In addition, each age group gets an extra 59 seconds leeway so that if you come in at 3:40.59, you're still qualified. Heck yes!

Beyond running faster, my suggestions to qualifying for Boston are similar to what it takes to train well for a marathon.

1. Stick to a plan like glue.
2. Speed workouts are tres importante!
3. Don't underestimate the effects of hill training.
4. Take rest days when you need them to keep yourself fresh and injury free (I should listen to my own advice more).
5. Before training for your BQ, you may want to drop any unnecessary lbs you have hanging around to make your training just that much easier on your bod.
6. Do not miss your long runs. They are key. And be sure to get at least two 21+ mile runs in during your training for your Boston qualifier marathon.
7. STRETCH, eat well and drink plenty of H2O. The little things go a long way.
8. Remain calm on race day and know what times you need to hit at major check points to keep your BQ goal.
9. If you need and are able to, run with a pace group (like the red lizards that are at many large marathons) to keep you motivated and on pace.

Good luck!

PS-I'm putting the general goal of hitting a 3:40 for Whidbey Island out to the universe, but I'm trying not to psyche myself out over it. After all, if I don't quite qualify, I don't want to finish the race thinking I've failed after all this great training and dedication. You owe it to yourself and your bod to celebrate such a victory because not everyone can run 26.2 miles.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Busy bee, that's me!

So, things have been insanely busy in my work world for whatever reason this past few weeks. I keep thinking man, am I thankful for having a job when so many of my friends, acquaintances, community members and beyond are losing their jobs left and right. Amidst my busy work day, I have some random thoughts I'd like to share.

1. Facebook as of late, is creeping me out again. Please read this. You remember when it was freaking me out a while back and I was unsure whether to limit profile some colleagues? Well, now I'm kind of freaked out by it all. I'm addicted to it, but at the same time I want my privacy!

Dating this new guy has me thinking, that yeah our mutual friends know we're together, but do all 308 of my facebook "friends" need to know thanks to these tagged Super Bowl party photos? I mean, I left off filling out the whole "relationship" section of my fbook profile for a reason (who wants to go through the pain of seeing the broken heart appear and people comment on it when you get out of a relationship? eeks, not me!)

2. Dating makes you think you can drink more and eat crappier just because a guy can do it and still lose weight. Must stay on top of this! I don't want to reverse all this hard work I'm doing for my marathon training.

I'm giving up alcohol for two weeks, seriously. Okay, I'm allowing myself one drink per week. So far, it's Wed and I've had zero. Go me!

3. Remember how I worked at/enjoyed the Olympic Track & Field Trials this summer? Well, I'm super excited to see that Jordan Hasay (who was in hs at the time) and ran in the trials is coming to Tracktown, USA to run for the UO! 2012 Olympics, you better watch out. I was there when the crowd started chanting "Come to Oregon!" after she set the national girl's hs record in the 1500m race.

4. This 50+ degree weather we've been having makes me crave skirts, running in shorts and a tank, camping and summer in all its glory.

Any random thoughts occupying your mind of late?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Meet the Parents

When to meet the parents? That is the question.

It's definitely a point of contention. Growing up, all I can remember is friends, magazines (thanks Cosmo and Seventeen!) and tv shows (Sex and the City) teaching you that for no sane reason should you introduce your parents to the new man/woman in your life for months on end. I'd like to think that we've moved past that belief and grown adults are able to meet the person you're dating, regardless of how fresh or stale a relationship may be.

So after just barely 5 weeks, I'm doing it. I'm introducing my parents to my man friend. To me, it's not a huge deal. It's dinner with my parents, brothers and grandparents for my mom and i's co-birthday celebration. Part of me feels like I should be panicked. After all, this is not something I'm accustomed to: dating someone or introducing them to the parents. But I'm ok with it.

He accepted my invite with no big concern, even when I said oh, the grandparents would be there too. Some of his family comes to visit in a few months so I imagine I will meet them if we're still hanging out.

What about you guys? Do you have 'meet the parents' rules when dating?