It’s (almost) Christmas!

It has taken a while but the Christmas spirit has finally arrived in SLC. Gifts are wrapped, Christmas music is being played on a continuous loop in work, at home, in the car. Our kitchen is full of food and wine and we are ready to go. Bonus: we are due to get a winter storm on Thursday so we are 100% likely to have a white Christmas. This is a huge deal for someone who grew up in Ireland and could go for years without seeing white stuff on the ground. And I’m hoping to get a chance to get out on these:

Snow shoes!

Snow shoes!

A friend was upgrading her set and kindly donated these to me. So I’m hoping there is some trekking through snow in my future.

But before the storm hits I had a chance to continue my return to running. J is signed up for his first ultra in February and wanted to hit the trails. This sounded like an awesome idea. Well, it didn’t feel so awesome climbing 1000 ft in about 3.5 miles. We topped out just under 6000 ft and got some beautiful views across the city and valley. And you know that what comes up must come down! Rollercoaster-ing those downhills was a ton of fun. 7.15 miles pain-free (well except for my lungs) and my longest run since October 12th.

It was a little muddy up there.

It was a little muddy up there.

Sunday was a rare occurrence here in Utah – running in the rain. Because it happens just a couple of times a year it was surprisingly easy to convince myself to go out for a short recovery run. I was also excited to try out some new shoes. I bought these Altras way back in September, but between marathon training and an injury break they have been sadly sitting in their box waiting for the chance to make a break for it. I ended up doing a little over 3.5 miles – a little longer than I’d planned mostly because my sense of direction is so bad that I can get lost on streets I’ve ran a million times before.

Pretty! And a Utah local!

Pretty! And a Utah local!

My very first impressions: They are incredibly light and the toe box does let your toes splay out. I did notice that although I wear a size 7 in my Brooks PureCadence that the same size in these shoes felt a little snugger. I think I’ll keep them for very short runs for now. My ankle felt a little achy on Monday – and my calves were incredibly tight (no real news there) so I’m going to take it easy with these guys. Luckily for me, Sarah at RunningonHealthy just wrote a blog post about switching up your running shoes. I think she might be a mind reader.

The rest of the weekend was spent in a baking/cooking haze. We had a cookie exchange party on Saturday night. I have never baked a cookie that I have been happy to share with other people………..the baking gods do not want this to happen. But I can make biscotti – especially the chocolate chip variety – so that is what I brought. We ended up coming home with a ridiculous amount of deliciousness that I have been slowly working my way through as after lunch and after dinner treats.

Damn - I need to stop hanging out with people who bake such deliciousness!

Damn – I need to stop hanging out with people who bake such deliciousness!

As you might know I am also slightly obsessed with Skinnytaste (the biscotti recipe is from her website) so I tried out her butternut squash lasagne recipe for dinner and a white bean crostini recipe for a savory party snack. That woman can do no wrong in my book.

All from Skinnytaste.

All from Skinnytaste.

But the food highlight of the weekend was saved for Sunday afternoon. For my birthday, J had booked me into a cooking class for October at the Sur la Table in downtown SLC. Unfortunately, they had to cancel that class and couldn’t rearrange it until December. By that time I had found a couple of girlfriends to go. It wasn’t too hard – the class was described as “Cooking with Decadent Chocolate”. We got there at noon and immediately were offered coffee, water and a freshly-made (and amazingly delicious prosciutto frittata). The class was a mixture of hands on cooking and demonstrations (like seeing how to make your very own caramel). The key seemed to be splashing your cash on the fanciest chocolate that you can afford. We (well mostly the instructor who was super nice and informative) made pistachio and peppermint bark, chocolate caramels, chocolate and cherry biscotti and rum and raisin truffles. Everything tasted so good and we got to take samples of everything home to *cough* share *cough*.

My parting gift of chocolate with more chocolate.

My parting gift of chocolate with more chocolate.

I had never done a cooking class but it was so fun. They even do date nights but I think I’ll have to work on J for a little to convince him to come cook with me.

I think I’ve mentioned already that I’m hoping that some running-related gifts make it under my Christmas tree. But I couldn’t stop myself from treating myself to my first ever grab bag from ProCompression. Three pairs for a little under $38. Happy Christmas to me!

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Happy Christmas everyone!

Marathon recovery

It’s been 5 days since my first marathon and I’m finally starting to feel normal again. Honestly, I had no idea how my body would cope with running 26.2 miles but wanted to write a post for any other first timers about what they can expect for the post-marathon week.

Towards the end of the race itself I knew I was going to be sore. My legs felt SOoooooo tired – my left calf and both quads were busy letting me know how pissed off they were for subjecting them to this race. And they pretty much stayed that way until Tuesday night (the race was Sunday morning).

The muscle pain was similar to what I’ve felt after a particularly hard half marathon (avoid all stairs + sit down as much as possible in work) but it feels as if there’s a whole extra layer of muscle fatigue that I’ve never experienced before. My legs feel heavy – although this is slowly improving.

So what have I been doing?

Sleeping! 7 AM wake-ups for me and usually in bed by 10 PM. That is a lot of sleep for me but I totally need it right now. No 6 AM runs or gym sessions.

Drinking a ton of water. I’m hydrating like it’s my job.

Eating better. A 3 week vacation followed by carb loading has left me feeling a little squishier than I would like. With training volume WAY down and no longer having daily access to cheap Chianti I’m getting my diet back on track. Lots of veggies, not much meat and as unprocessed as possible.

Some cardio. On Wednesday I was itching to get my legs moving again so I went to the gym and did 5.5 miles on the stationary bike. Very easy and nice to flush all that crap out. After work on Thursday I jumped on the treadmill for 3 easy miles. My legs were still feeling pretty heavy but it felt good to be running again.

Foam rolling. I have a huge knot in my left calf that I’m trying to get rid of using my foam roller. It’s the right kind of hurt. Plus lots of stretching.

Cross-training. Marathon training takes up a lot of time and I definitely had to sacrifice other activities.I haven’t been to yoga or to my rock climbing gym since the start of August (!). Hopefully, that will be changing next week. My hard-won arm definition is long gone so I’m hoping to get in more strength training time.

So what’s next? Well, last year I signed up to run my second half marathon (Snow Canyon half) but had to pull out due to injury. I emailed the race organizer who said I could defer my entry until 2014. That means in theory I should be running a half on Nov 1st. Originally, I was pretty excited about this. I could use all of my marathon training to bang out a new half marathon PR. Plus it’s a really fast and pretty course.

Well – I’ve tried to get back in touch with the race organizer and so far no dice. I’m also feeling a bit meh about racing again. I figure if I hear from her I’ll run it but if the deferral isn’t going to work out I’m not going to care that much.

But what I have signed up for – the Ogden Marathon – May 16th 2015. I ran the half marathon at this event as my first ever race back in 2013 and want to go back and do the whole thing. That day was pretty miserable – non-stop rain from 1 hour before the race until after I crossed the line. But it was a beautiful course down Ogden canyon. It’ll be a complete U-turn after Twin Cities but something to get me motivated to go running on dark February mornings.

And finally, my reward to myself for finishing my first marathon. New shoes! What else could a runner want.

2216876-p-MULTIVIEWI’ve been interested in trying out some Altras for a while but wanted to wait until after the marathon to transition into zero drop shoes. Plus they were $50 on amazon. I’ve bought a couple of shoes through amazon. Usually they are sold directly through the company (these are from Altra and are $15 cheaper than their own website) and can be Prime eligible. Hopefully, these guys will be waiting for me when I get home from work later today.