Update

Today I did something I rarely do – a lunchtime workout. I wanted to do a swim workout and usually that means hitting the pool after work and getting home late, or going at 6 AM and having breakfast at work. I finally figured out option 3: go during my lunch break. And take advantage of our amazing weather (clear blue skies and in the 50s) for a nice 15 minute walk each way. I am usually stuck in my building from dark til dark these days.

Winter came on Saturday but was gone 4 hours later.

Winter came on Saturday but was gone 4 hours later.

 

Plus I swam 1 mile for the first time – although with a couple of breaks – but I am almost done with my 6 week zero to 1 (continuous) mile swim program. And I could spy the new cardio equipment and 50m pool in the new gym that will be opening in January 2015.

Shiny new gym.

Shiny new gym.

I could get used to three day weeks! No races for me tomorrow. My body (or more specifically – my right foot) just isn’t ready – and I know that I cannot take it easy in a race situation. I’ve managed two 3 mile treadmill runs in the last week. Running is pain free but my hypochondriac injury detector has gone into overdrive.

When I started back with my 1 mile runs I was feeling little aches in weird places (shins for the first time ever and calves as usual) but these went away pretty quickly. I think that my body was just getting used to running again. So one part of me now thinks that I just need to be brave and push myself a little. To toughen up a little. But (there is always a but) I still don’t feel right. It’s hard to explain: I’m not in pain (and certainly not the rapid onset that made me make an emergency appointment with a doctor) but my foot doesn’t feel normal. I’m not sure if this is actual or imagined weakness in my foot, but I think it isn’t doing any harm to be hyper-vigilante as I start to add back the miles. So vigilant that I’m wearing my compression socks today.

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I kinda feel like a superhero – wearing my superhero socks under my regular clothes!

So, like I said no race but tomorrow is a big day. I’m planning to try a short run OUTSIDE on one of my favorite trails with J and my running buddy A. I haven’t run outside since October 16th and I am so excited, especially because the weather here is meant to be unseasonably warm. Thank you Thanksgiving gods!

Seriously, if I ever move back to Ireland or the UK I am bringing Thanksgiving with me. It is just the best holiday ever. Like Christmas without all the pressure of buying gifts. I also like to think of it as practice for eating Christmas dinner which is a huge deal in Ireland (we do turkey AND ham). We will be eating delicious food and hanging out with our awesome friends.

Speaking of delicious foods……….I think enchiladas are my favorite thing ever.

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These ones are black bean and sweet potato (and you know I need to have avocado and jalapenos). But I’ve been making my own sauce for a while and thought I’d share because it is ridiculously easy.

8 oz can of tomato sauce

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1-2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 chili in adobo sauce chopped (these are in cans in the Mexican section of the supermarket)

Mix everything in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 10 mins and it’s ready to pour over. I think I could happily eat this everyday.

Workout summary: 11/17 – 11/26

Mon: 2 mile run + leg strength/stretching

Tues: AM: Yoga

PM: 1600 yds (40 mins)

Wed: 2 mile run + leg strength/stretching

Thurs: AM Yoga

PM 1600 yds (40 mins)

Fri: 2 mile run + leg strength/stretching

Sat: 1600 yds (40 mins)

Sun: 3 mile + full body strength

Mon: Rest!

Tues: 3 mile + leg strength/stretching

Wed: 1650 yds (1 mile!)

Happy Thanksgiving y’all! And if you live in the UK or Ireland I recommend that you take the day off work and have an early Christmas dinner!

A tentative return

Running injuries suck – I think everyone can agree with that. But one of the hardest things about an injury (at least for newish runners like myself) is knowing when it’s OK to start running again. For this I rely on my doctor’s advice (REST REST REST) and listening to my own body. I took two weeks completely off from running – but supplemented with swimming and biking which were completely pain free. After the first week my foot (diagnosed with stress response AKA if you don’t stop this will become a stress fracture) was feeling great so I decided to test it out. 1 mile on the treadmill – and it felt fine. The next day I was a little achy but this went away pretty quickly. So I kept it up – running every second day with a 5 min walking warm-up and followed by lots of stretching and foot strengthening exercises.

I bumped it up to 1.5 miles this week and my foot is still feeling good (total mileage 7.5 miles for the month). But I am freaking out about every little ache or pain – hypochondriac right here. On one hand I want to get back to running ASAP but I do not want to injure myself in the process. The day after my second comeback run my shins were feeling sore – then I remembered that I have the tightest calves in the world and need to remember to stretch them everyday. And volia – shin pain disappeared. But (there is always a but) my foot still doesn’t feel quite right. I can’t quite figure out what is wrong (and it’s definitely not the stress response issue) so I might have to rest a little more. Or at least continue with my constant body surveillance and decide for myself when an ache is really a pain.

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But workouts are still happening.

Sat: 1.5 mile run + strength session at gym

Sun: Swim (1500 yds) + yoga (first class in 4 weeks!)

Mon: 1.5 mile run + strength

Tues: Swim (1500 yds)

Wed: 1.5 mile run + strength

So lots of swimming (I’m about 2/3 of the way thru my 0 – 1 mile swim program) and lots of core + leg work. I’m actually feeling pretty good and like I haven’t lost that much fitness. Also, today was the first time since the marathon where I’ve gotten up before 6 AM to workout. Of course, I did pick the coldest day of the year to do that. But it seems like I’ve suddenly got my energy and motivation mojo back. And if you live with me that means baked goods.

Chocolate chip zucchini bread and pumpkin granola AKA breakfast this week.

Chocolate chip zucchini bread and pumpkin granola AKA breakfast this week.

AAnd some non- homemade treats.

I did use the dough to make the cookies and it was amazing. Fresh made cookies need to be eaten with ice cream.

I did use the dough to make the cookies and it was amazing. Fresh made cookies need to be eaten with ice cream.

And because John was out of town all last week (and I was somehow way more busy than usual hence my complete lack of posting) I managed to catch up on my new favorite shows – How to Get Away With Murder and the Mindy Project.

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It seems like today is our first real taste of winter out here in SLC – I am currently wearing a million layers to stay warm – but we were treated to some beautiful sunsets last week. Luckily for me my offside is west facing and I get to take in the view before I leave for home (in the dark).

From work last week.

From work last week.

On the way to yoga on Sunday.

On the way to yoga on Sunday.

Any tips for returning from injury?

Returning to normal………….

The post-marathon PR glow has finally subsided and things are getting back to normal around here.

I finally got to a yoga class. So many lunges and downward facing dogs – my legs were loving it. My calf tightness is gone. Yes! Lesson for me: do not stop doing yoga when training for a marathon – your calves will thank you.

Love my yoga studio. Not quite sure why he's standing on a baby though.

Love my yoga studio. Not quite sure why he’s standing on a baby though.

This class also worked on half-moon pose which is my absolute least favorite yoga pose ever. But the teacher made it seem pretty fun – that or I was just so excited to be back on my yoga mat.

If only I looked this good.

If only I looked this good.

I also did a one night camping trip in American Fork Canyon. The fall colors up there are spectacular. And you’re just going to have to take my word for it as my iPhone is acting all weird at the moment.

This is pretty much what it looks like right now.

This is pretty much what it looks like right now. Not my photo.

I also managed to put up my tent all by myself – which I think means that I am now an adult. Usually, I just hold things while J does all of the hard work. It was a pretty great Saturday night hanging out by the campfire. But my God – during the night there was heavy rain, howling winds, thunder, lightening and hail. I did not sleep much – I was too worried the tent would fly away and carry me to Oz.  It was still raining by 7.30 AM (camping mornings are always early) so we packed up as quickly as possible. This meant more driving through beautiful autumnal scenery followed by the most amazing brunch at Sundance Resort.

On Saturday morning I headed out on my first ‘long’ run since the marathon. This was 8.85 miles of not-fun running. I wanted to some mileage in because I will be running a half marathon on Nov 1st – thank you kind race folk for letting me defer after last years injury combo (sciatica and hip bursitis).

So my carb loading continues………………..

Local brewery. Utah has weird liquor laws so they opened a place in Denver.

Local brewery. Utah has weird liquor laws so they opened a place in Denver.

Kale and mushroom-stuffed lasagne rolls.

Kale and mushroom-stuffed lasagne rolls.

I am beyond obsessed with skinnytaste (that is where this recipe is from) and just got her new cookbook as a gift. I am so excited to try out some recipes this weekend.

Am I am still waiting for my new shoes! UPS messed up the delivery last week so I am hoping to get to try them soon.

Finally, I got some marathon photos (at Twin Cities you also get a link to a video showing you cross the finish line). There are a couple of cute ones of J and I running earlier in the race but the finish line seemed to be a little crowded as we were crossing.

Smiling and looking for the camera (for once). I think this might have been mile 14?

Smiling and looking for the camera (for once). I think this might have been mile 14?

Crossing the finish line - and so relieved to be done.

Crossing the finish line – and so relieved to be done.

Check-in and check-up

Can you believe that I’m a quarter way through my marathon training plan? 4.5 weeks done. And so far so good. Although it looks like sh*t is going to get real in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday started with a 6 mile pace run. What I learned from this is that I am a terrible judge of my own pace and that I can’t math. Somehow I figured my first mile was 8.15 (I was aiming for around 8-8.05 min/mile) (Spoiler: my first mile was actually 7.12 min) so I decided I needed to pick up the pace a little for the next two miles (7.35 and 7.27). That’s when I figured I needed to slow the hell down. My last three miles were at a more reasonable pace (7.46, 7.53 and 8.06). D’oh! I definitely need to work on even splits. Overall 6.15 miles at 7.41 min/mile average – and a great way to ensure some tired legs for my long run on Sunday.

Breakfast turned into a berry fest – raspberries and Greek yogurt, strawberry/banana smoothie and blueberry scones.

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We had plans to bike downtown to the Utah Arts festival in the evening so we fueled up on grilled cheese and roasted broccoli pasta salad.

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The festival was by the City and County building. And you got $2 if you rode your bike and left it with the bike valet.

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We checked out some bands, drank some beer, ate some ice cream and browsed the artists’ booth. We also saw a really cool performance by the local ballet company.

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Afterwards we decided to hit up a local bar. That’s two Saturday bar trips in a row. I was telling J that we are now party animals. Party animals that are home by 9.30 PM!

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Then a quick bike trip home (and uphill) to catch up with Game of Thrones.

Sunday was my scheduled long run: 12 miles. I have only ran this distance twice before in training, and it kinda felt like the first real long run of marathon training. My plan was to start slow and finish strong. And it felt pretty good. I took a Gu at mile 6 and by the end felt like I could have kept going for even longer. Plus my miles 8-11 were all in the 8.25-8.35 range. The only downer is that my Garmin doesn’t take into account time spent waiting for traffic lights – and by my calculation this was at least 5 minutes over the course of the whole run.  Oh well – Garmin says 9.07 min/mile, I say 8.47 min/mile.

That run brought my weekly total to 31.85 miles which I think is my biggest week ever. And my June total to 115.6 miles – my second highest month ever.

I had made it a goal at the start of the year to run 1000 miles in 2014. So at the halfway mark I’m at 555.65 miles – on target! Woohoo!

Monday was an after work yoga class. Tuesday an easy 4 miler (8.49 min/mile). And this morning – 7 miles (my longest midweek run ever) at 8.42 min/mile. This run felt sluggish. One of those runs where you feel like you are really pushing the pace until you look down at your watch………….and not so much. For some reason, it took me about 4 miles to properly warm up and  then it felt great.

The other big event this week was my visit to the physiotherapist. I wanted her opinion on my right knee pain and left foot pain (both of which flared up in the last 2 miles of my long run) and to get the go-ahead to continue with marathon training.

So after a detailed description of all my running aches and pains and a hands-on examination of my legs, she came to a couple of conclusions.

1. My right leg is significantly weaker than my left leg in terms of muscle strength, muscle mass and stability.

2. This means that my muscles aren’t strong enough to keep my knee pad in its correct place when I run long distances. This makes my knee hurt……..

3. I then compensate by using my left leg more making my foot hurt because I have crazy tight calves.

The good news is that if I work on strengthening my right leg all my problems should go away. So plenty of single leg work and keep doing yoga.

And I can continue to run if the pain is not getting any worse (this is exactly what I wanted to hear!). Interestingly, she said that if my knee starts to hurt when running, I should focus on engaging all my leg muscles in that leg and concentrate on using that leg more. So that’s what I did on this morning’s 7 miler – and it felt so much better. I have 5 weeks until the next appointment and she seemed pretty optimistic that I should be able to fix everything and run pain-free in the not too distant future.

Bonus: she taped my knee-cap so all my coworkers think I’m a crazy, badass runner. Or just a crazy, constantly injured runner.

Now, I just have another day and a half of work to get through before J and I head off to Nevada for a much needed camping trip. I’ll be throwing in my trail shoes and seeing what I can find!

My first 5K race!

No, this isn’t a flashback Friday where I recount my first ever race experience and how the 5K was a launchpad that set me on my path as a runner. My first race was a half marathon (!) and since then I’ve complete two more halfs, two 10Ks (one road and one trail) and a trail 15K. But I’ve never run a 5K race. Ever.

And it’s not like they are a rare event out here in SLC. Every Saturday I run past a 5K in one of our two local parks. So why haven’t I run one yet? Well, I’m a little cheap and I like more bang for my buck – at my last 10K you could pay $30 to run 6.2 miles or $25 to run 3.1 miles. That’s a no-brainer right there! Plus, 5Ks hurt! When I do tempo runs at 5K pace they are not fun. I seriously question what I am doing. At least in a half marathon you can ease yourself into the HURTZONE, and have a couple (or more) miles at a comfortable pace. But, 3.1 miles – they are all going to hurt.

This summer I signed up for a trail race series – 5, 10 and 15K. Tomorrow is race number 1: the 5K! And that means I’m guaranteed a PR! Woohoo! I’m kinda hoping for a 24 min time but we’ll see – there’s about 250 ft of elevation gain (almost half of which is in the first mile). These races are super fun and have a great raffle so you are almost guaranteed to come away with some kind of running goodie. Race recap on Monday!

The half marathon was only last weekend but seems so long ago. I did just find out that we’ll be getting all of our race photos for free – this is the first race I’ve done that has that option. I haven’t seen them yet but hopefully there’s not too much running-bitchface going on.

I spent an hour on both Sunday and Monday stretching and rolling. My calves are incredibly tight and are causing me foot issues – tight achilles, random pain at the bottom of my foot. I did manage a  2 mile recovery run on Sunday and have been diligently rolling and stretching all week.

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I even packed my stick to bring to work today. Lucky I’m wearing long pants so nobody can see the one-legged calve sleeve that I’m rocking.

Monday: 1 hour stretching/rolling

Tuesday: 3.5 mile run at 8.28 min/mile pace

Wednesday: 5.5 miles at 8.35 min/mile pace

Thursday: 4.2 mile on ellipitcal (equivalent to one whole episode of Scandal)

Friday: 50 min strength workout

By Wednesday my foot was feeling pretty crappy so I swapped out running for cross-training on Thursday and am feeling a gazillion (that’s a number, right?) better.

I’ve also had some pretty good eats. Orange chicken (low in calories but tastes so good).

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And this quinoa tabbouleh recipe which was amazing. Still not happy with the falafel.

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Two race weekends in a row! What was I thinking?

 

 

 

Race preview: Utah Valley Half Marathon

This Saturday I’ll be running my third half marathon. It’s the least prepared I’ve felt for any of my races. I thought I could build on my base from the Salt Lake City half back in April and cruise to a new PR.

Ha! My body had other ideas. How about foot tendonitis? I think I need to start a running injury card – sciatica, bursitis, tendonitis – you gotta collect them all! For once, I did the sensible thing – listened to my body and took a full two weeks away from running, including five (!) whole days of complete rest.

And it totally worked. Tendonitis is gone. I do have a tight left Achilles and random right new pain but nothing that will prevent me from running. And the next physio appointment is booked. Overall, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic than I could have hoped for a few weeks ago. I have managed two 10+ mile runs and a couple of 9ish miles too. And even a 5 mile tempo run on Saturday.

I also somehow complete an 11 miler on the elliptical. I think there should be some kind of award for that.

This is also week two of my marathon training program and that is my main focus right now. So I haven’t really tapered this week – same mileage but all at a comfortable pace.

Tuesday: 3.3 miles at 9 min/mile pace

Wednesday:5.2 miles at 9.08 min/mile pace

Thursday Trail Run: 4.1 miles at 10 min/mile pace (only 435 ft elevation gain this time)

Friday is a rest day. I’m taking a half day and traveling down to Provo to pick up my bib (and eat fish tacos). J is running the full and hoping for a speedy time. Then it’s pasta for dinner and an early night. We will have to leave our house at 3 AM. Not fun but we need to catch buses to travel to the start line. This is the price you pay for a downhill race through a canyon. And totally normal if you come to run a race out in Utah. Saturday afternoon will be nap time.

As a bonus temperatures are dropping 20 degrees by Saturday so the temperature at the start is likely to be around 40F. Brr! – for standing around waiting for the race to start but pretty darn perfect for running.

I think I mentioned previously that this race was my original goal half marathon race for the year. I really wanted to break 1.40 this year. Luckily, Salt Lake City went better than expected and this monkey is off my back. So, how to approach this race? A PR is not going to happen, but I still want to get the most of a prepaid and fully supported long run down a scenic canyon.

1. Negative splits

I actually managed to run a negative split for my first half marathon (my first mile was 8.30 min). And I finished the race feeling pretty good. Salt Lake – not so much. The last two miles were pretty hellish. So be conservative for the first half and finish strong is my number one goal.

2. Have fun

This is a net downhill race in a scenic canyon. I want to take it in. I recently got s SPIbelt and am planning on bringing my phone. Not going to guarantee I’ll take a whole bunch of photos (my competitive nature will kick in at some point) but I want to run with a smile on my face.

3. Remember marathon training

This is my long run for the week. And I would like to be able to walk up and downstairs on Sunday. Start slow and run by feel. And be ready to get back to marathon training by Tuesday.

4. Time?

I still have a time goal. Anything sub 1.50 would be nice and the closer to 1.45 the better,

5. Biggest goal

Watch J finish his third marathon and get him back home in one piece. Once I finish my race I will magically transform into uber supportive girlfriend and get him back to the house in one piece.

We have been spending this week carb-loading. (And no snail sightings).

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Salmon fishcakes with kale salad and pickled radishes. I am not a huge fan of kale (I know – bad healthy lifestyle blogger) but this salad was legit.

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Another recipe from the same website. And I’m pretty sure this is vegan too – if you’re into that. I used komatsuna that we got in our CSA. It tastes like spinach and kale made babies. Not my favorite (a little bitter) but super healthy.

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Finally, I made arugula-basil pesto. This one has a chilli flakes to give it a little heat. We had it with gnocchi, asparagus and a gigantic garlic ciabatta. Glycogen levels are maxed out right now.

 

Unexpected encounters with wildlife………

I had a very traumatizing wildlife encounter during the last few days…………..If you’re queasy like me, maybe wait til you’ve finished eating.

But first a mini-recap of the weekend. Friday was a post-work strength workout. You’re welcome core!

Saturday – back to running and a scheduled 5 mile pace run. Right now I have no idea what my marathon pace is – having never run further than 13.3 miles – but I do have a half marathon next Saturday so decided I would try half marathon-ish pace. The first mile was hard but once I settled into my rhythm it felt pretty OK – 5 miles at 7.50 min/mile pace. And the first pace run I’ve done in a long time. I’m pretty sure I can’t run a 20 miles at that pace but maybe the half on Saturday (net downhill!!) will be better than expected.

Saturday was spend doing chores. And wedding stuff. Invites to our Irish party are out. Photographer is locked in. Honeymoon is organized.

And then a wonderful dinner (+ margaritas) with our friends up in Park City. Nothing better than sitting on a deck in the mountains with good food and great company.

Sunday is long run day. This week I got more than 5 hours sleep so was good to go. I met my Thursday trail running buddy and another runner friend for a trail run. This time we did the whole trail – 9.3 miles out and back with stunning views and a lovely breeze. 9.33 min/mile with rolling hills – total elevation gain of 1400 ft but without any really big hills. I managed to squeeze in two whole episodes of Scandal while stretching and doing PT exercises. Total mileage for the week 28 miles on the dot.

I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on our front porch before heading to a 4PM Restore yoga class where I may or may not have dozed off for a couple of seconds.

This weekend was all about the burgers – portobello mushrooms and fresh corn on Friday.

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Homemade turkey burgers with potato salad (carb-loading has started with a vengeance!) on Sunday. Ciabatta is my new favorite way to eat my burgers.

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We also are having salad with pretty much every meal to use up our CSA greens ASAP. Finding a snail as you are washing your salad leaves – pretty normal, right? I still had a mini-freakout (can’t do “slimy” things with no legs including (but not limited to) earthworms, slugs, snails, snakes) and had to get J to deal with it.

What is totally NOT normal was waking up the next day and finding a snail had appeared in your kitchen and found it’s way INTO your water bottle which was standing open on the counter. This freaked me out. I had to leave the room. And I felt sick about it all day – especially when I sat down to eat my delicious SALAD. I checked for wildlife before I tucked in.