Day 33 – February is over – how did that happen?

When you start out a 12 week training plan it seems like an eternity. Three whole months – that’ll take forever to pass…………No, not really. We’re on the last day of February already. I’m almost done with week 5 of my plan and my first race of the year is two weeks away. In preparation for my 10 K race I bought my first ever pair of compression socks. The race is leprechaun themed so I had to get these.

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I don’t know if they’ll help with my racing and/or recovery but I’ll know that I’ll look the part at least. J got a pair of calf sleeves last weekend and has been wearing them every day since. His do not have a clover on them so there’s no way they are as cool as mine!

Last night was another meatless dinner – cauliflower dal (again). This time with pita bread, sour cream and some flaked almonds. I may have a problem with portion sizes……

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This is the second time we’ve had this in the last couple of weeks. I can get serious food cravings and need to eat something every week for a month or two and after that I’ll need a break of 6 months or so. I now have an intense craving for some chickpeas/garbanzo beans so that are top of my shopping list right now. I’m guessing that my body knows what it needs?

Thursday has also turned into “the week is nearly over so you better have a glass of wine” day. Lucky for me I’m much better at controlling my alcohol intake than my food intake. Plus food tastes better when there’s wine around.

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This morning is a rest day from running. I have a short but quick run tomorrow that I am a little apprehensive about and then a medium run on Sunday (7ish miles). I headed for an early morning gym session – mostly core, a little arm work (which I do not enjoy) and some leg strengthening. I wanted to see if my pull-up from last week was a fluke so I tried again on the big girl pull up bar………and I can do one proper pull-up! And then I need to sit down. I tried for a second one about 10 mins later and did not quite make it. Still have work to do to get two in a row. I did manage 30 push ups. Not sure if I’ll get to my target of 50 but I’ll keep trying. I’m definitely feeling the benefits of all this strength training.

Day 32 – Monthly total and crosstraining

Today was my last run of February Р3.5 miles at 8.31 min/mile pace. To be honest I ran this at medium effort and thought that I might be a little faster. Oh well. On the plus side I felt strong and I think I might be finally getting the hang of this new running form. I also totalled my miles for the month (love my data)  Р84 miles for the month. About 30 more miles than I ran this time last year. Plus it puts me right on track for one of my major goals for the year Р1000 miles for the year (this averages about 83 miles per month).

Injury update: My knee still feels a little stiff. So I’m icing it a lot. And doing my PT exercises. Man they are tough – l now have three different types of resistance bands. But I’m pretty psyched that I managed all this mileage despite not being fully fit.

Dinner last night was glazed salmon and stir-fried veggies. I basically made this sauce and used it to glaze the salmon and then to finish off the veggies. Would recommend.

3 tbsp Oyster sauce

2 tbsp Teriyaki sauce

1 tbsp Honey

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It was also really quick to prep which is my number one criterion for mid week cooking.

Afterwards we went to the local climbing gym to do a couple of routes. For anyone sitting on the fence about trying climbing I would definitely recommend it. Even if you are terrified of heights (like me) you’ll eventually get comfortable on the rope (like me) and find it’s a great way to cross train.

I mentioned yesterday how I thought that my leg strengthening exercises were really paying off with my yoga practice. Well, I think the same applies to my climbing. Despite what you might think the best way to move in climbing isn’t to pull up with your arms but rather to push up with your feet. Your quads are way bigger than your biceps! You also need good balance and a strong core. So strong leg muscles and decent core – sound familiar?

You also have to learn to “trust your feet”. This means having the confidence to put all of your weight on your feet – even if you are on a tiny little foothold -and use your leg muscles to stand up and reach the next hand hold. It’s quite the psychological battle!

But last night I felt like I rocked it. My legs felt strong and routes that I thought I would struggle with I climbed easily. It’s kind of like the feeling you get when you have an awesome run – climber’s high maybe? It’s like exercising without realizing you’re working out. And while you’re doing it all you think about is how to solve the next problem. A great way to clear the mind.

Have you ever tried climbing? Do you want to?

Day 31 – Down dog

Last night I got home from work and had about 30 mins to eat before I had to start getting ready for yoga class. So I made my go-to pasta dish – chicken, artichoke, red onion whole wheat spaghetti with a mozzarella-tomato-arugual (rocket) salad. 25 mins all in.

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Then yoga class. This was a mixture of core plus some deep stretching. A perfect way to work up a sweat and then stretch it out. My legs were a little rough after PT earlier but it felt pretty good. I even managed to do halfmoon pose and reverse halfmoon. Poses that I always struggle with. It seems as if all those leg strengthening exercises I’ve been doing have actually been strengthening my legs. Who would have guessed?

As I mentioned yesterday it’s been a while since I’ve made it to this class and the instructor was wondering where I’d been. She also talked during the class about how much progress all her regulars had been making. I’d like to think that was especially for me!

My local yoga studio is about 0.5 mile from my house so I usually walk there and back. I feel like it preps me for class and gives me time to clear my head. Although when I walk back in the dark I always get creeped out by this statue.

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I’m convinced that one night this little girl statue is going to turn her head and look up at me. Maybe I’ve been watching too many horror movies.

This morning was back to the training plan. 4 miles at 8.36 min/mile pace taking it nice and easy. I can definitely notice the mornings getting brighter and I saw 6 other runners out this morning. For the last couple of months I have seen nobody. At my PT office yesterday the receptionist lady also mentioned how busy they are because running season has just resumed – well except for all the people who have been braving it all winter.

Today was just a regular run until I hit the park. It’s about a mile away and I like to do shorter runs there because I don’t have to stop for lights or watch for cars. Plus there’s an older gentleman who seems to walk there every morning who always says hi to me.

This time as I was entering the park there was a lady there with two dogs – both unleashed. One stayed by here side while the other starting running towards me. Now I like most dogs but I get a little nervous when I’m meeting a dog for the first time. This dog looked pretty friendly but you never know. So I stopped and walked and let the dog sniffed me out. Whatever he smelled he wasn’t interested and left me alone. All this time his owner never said a word. No calling him back or apologizing to me who was clearly sketched out by the situation.

I think it was her reaction more than the dog’s behavior that annoyed me so I told her she should leash her dog (you know obey the law). But it put me in a bad mood for the rest of my run. I’m not a confrontational person and I like to think the best of people so it bothered me for the whole morning.

Luckily for me I’m going to hit the climbing gym tonight and forget all about it!

Day 30 – Sunshine and mood swings

I feel like my mood for the last few days have been all over the place. Crappy and down on Saturday. Elated on Sunday. Beyond exhausted on Monday. And back to my normal happy self today. It might not be a coincidence that my two awesome days coincided with sunshine and blue skies. Good weather always puts me in a good mood.

Last night I was seriously in need of comfort food and my go-to is enchiladas. This time it was all-veggie zucchini enchiladas with all the toppings. It was good. Cheesy and with extra avocado.

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I also went to bed before 9.30. I think that maybe my long run took it out of me on Sunday but I needed 8 hours of sleep. I was also hydrating like a crazy person all day. I think chocolate milk might become a staple in my diet from now on.

It all worked and I woke up feeling great and with minimal stiffness in my quads and glutes. Plus another smashing day. Today is a rest day so no running. But I had scheduled a check-up with my physiotherapist……….

Overall it went pretty well. My right foot rotation is improved and my form is better. She massaged the hell out of my quads and glute medius muscle. And I got more homework to do – crab walks and bridge exercises.

I have a serious muscle asymmetry – my right leg is significantly weaker than my left leg and may be the cause of all my problems. So we’re working on strengthening exercises to sort that out. It’s never good when your PT looks your leg up and down and tells you its got issues.

On the plus side she said I could keep at my current volume – a little over 20 miles a week. And my training plan got the official PT approval. And she suggested that I could restart some speedwork – specifically tempo runs! Plus I can have a bigger gap until I see her again. Win. Win. Win.

I’m celebrating with a yoga class to work on my core some more. This is a class I went to almost every Tuesday for a year – Yoga for Athletes. However, by the end of last year I was getting a little tired of it and wanted to shake up my routing so I haven’t been in a while. I am excited that I’m excited to go (if that makes sense). I know if will kick my butt.

Also, I had some thoughts about my long run on Sunday that I wanted to share;

1. Lemon and lime flavored Nuun is so good. A million times better than Grape (Yuck!). It tastes like flat Sprite which is actually pretty tasty to me.

2. I love running down hills. I just have to get my quads to agree.

3. It was a bit too cool to wear shorts. My legs went a little numb especially running in the shade. This happened in my first half marathon – cold and rainy. But I kind of liked it because it felt like I was running a little nekkid – I had to check that I was still wearing shorts!

4. Running under blue skies and sunshine is the best. Well, as long as it’s less than 60F.

Day 29 – Bah Mondays!

Week 5 of half marathon training begins. And what a dubious start. After my longest run since October 2013 on Sunday I started with a 4 mile recovery run at 9.19 min/mile pace. Nice and slow. I thought after my downhill running adventure that I might be sore on this run and after about two miles I noticed knee twinges and quad pain. But I guess I was still sleep-running as it didn’t seem that bad.

As the day wore on the quad pain got more intense. I had forgotten that my legs are not used to downhill running. Yikes! I felt that today my eyes never really opened at all and I was zombieing (new verb) my way through work. As luck would have it (or not) this was a crazy busy day and I got just about 30 mins break to have lunch in a 9 hour day. I spent 20 mins of this break icing my knee – it seemed a little swollen – and lucky for me I work in a lab with an ice machine. So I’ve got that going for me.

Last night we made pear and gorgonzola pizzas for dinner with a Greek salad. What can I say it was almost 60 F and it felt like summer.

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My tolerance for blue cheese is pretty low and I just couldn’t manage to eat the leftovers I brought for lunch. This did not help my energy levels. I think I might have to start eating more than normal – I’ve lost 4 lbs in the first 4 weeks of training which isn’t good. I had extra snacks yesterday while I watched J make more homebrew.

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Carrots and hummus. Yum!

So 4 weeks are done – that’s one third of the way through. Still loving it most of the time but the last three runs have been a bit of a roller coaster of feeling crappy followed by awesome followed by crappy again. Perfect timing for a rest day. And a check-up with the physiotherapist.

Weekly recap:

5 runs

Total mileage: 22.80 miles

Longest run of the year: 8.40 miles

Two strength workouts

Two yoga classes

Two trips to the climbing gym

Why can’t every week be a four day week?

Day 28 – What a difference a day makes

24 little hours. And a total turnaround.

If you read my blog yesterday you’ll know that I did not have a good run. I decided that today would be an awesome run and the power of positive thinking definitely worked.

Last night we had some friends over for dinner and my friend I made this. It was amazing. And no we don’t always make people cook for us when we invite them over for dinner. We have season tickets for a local theater and alternate who cooks dinner and since we live about a 5 min drive from the theater it’s usually at our place. I made dessert. Thank you again skinnytaste. Tasty as always – strawberry and rhubarb crisp (if you’re from the US)/crumble for Irish/British folks.

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Then it was shome Shakespeare – Much Ado about Nothing. Pretty good but not the best play of the season.

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So back to today. I woke up feeling great to a beautiful sunny morning. And I was running a new route. Win win win. My first race of the year is on March 15th so I wanted to get a feel for the course because it’s in an area of Salt Lake that I have never run in before and the elevation change looked a little scary. My run started at the Utah State Capitol.

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I was planning on running up City Creek which is about a mile from here – unless you’re like me and take the wrong turn and add an extra¬† 0.75 miles. Once you reach the turn for City Creek it’s hard to believe that you’re so close to downtown. The road was closed to traffic and besides a few other runners and walkers I felt like I was by myself running in the wilderness. So beautiful. But because I don’t bring my phone with me on runs you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The first 4 miles were non-stop uphill – about 635 ft in total. Not too steep but continuous and my mile splits were all about 9.40 min/mile. Felt pretty good. No knee pain at all. Felt like I could run forever. Although when I saw the turnaround point I was happy start the downhill portion. I lost about 700 ft in 4.5 miles. Fun! I was running with a smile on my face and it felt so good to be outside.

The run finished in Memory Grove Park. 8.38 miles at 8.41 min/mile average pace. I am now looking forward to the race and I’m 100% sure that I’ll negative split and maybe sneak in a PR.

After the run my legs felt a little tight and the day was so nice that I went for a 1 mile stroll around the State Capitol and Memory Grove. It’s days like this that I’m so glad that I live here. It was really such a great morning and so special considering how crappy yesterday was. Definite runner’s high!

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View downtown and west to the Oquirrh mountains.

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We are the beehive state.

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The Capitol from Memory Grove.

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Meditation Chapel. Cool pink marble.

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City creek.

Afterwards I refueled with homemade granola (my new favorite thing) and a BLT + avocado. Ready to face the day!

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Day 27 – Bad runs

Today is my one month blog-iversary! It’s been fun and such a welcoming community.

This morning was meant to be the easiest run of the week. 3 miles at normal pace. Should be a piece of cake right? Well no. This run was the worst of all my training runs. I started with a headache and icky stomach. My form was all over the place and every step was a struggle. My mind definitely did not want to be out there. It sucked.

So what do you do when this happens? Well, I acknowledge that it was a bad run. Have a minute to feel bad about it and then forget about it. At least the miles are in the bank and that run is ticked off my chart. Now I just have to move on to my long run tomorrow.

Part of the problem is not drinking enough water. Today I have been guzzling as much H20 as possible. I want to feel great tomorrow. It’s also a good reminder for me to take my hydration seriously.

Also managed a quick trip to the climbing gym. 5 routes done including a couple of more challenging climbs and I felt so good. It was a nice contrast to my shitty morning run.

J’s new hobby is home brewing which means are spare room looks like this.

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Beer counts as hydration right? Especially when it’s in a glass from my trail series last year.

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