Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wine Vine 5K

I know I have said it before but I don't run 5Ks or 10Ks for that matter, but this one is put on by the organization I coach for so I feel obligated to run it twice a year (and it is cheap). The downside is it always falls the day after a long run, yesterday I ran my final Boston long run of 20ish miles.

Inside before the race
The course is tough, very hilly and the snow/ice covered sections of path didn't help. Also racing in cold isn't a fin idea either, today was a little warmer then yesterday, low 20s and sunny during the race. I took off with the lead guys and they soon lost me but I kept pushing up the hill and finally hit the turn around. Luckily much of the way back was downhill until the final 0.1 mile which was again uphill. I was the 1st woman to cross and I thin 4th or 5th overall, like I said last time this is the perk of small races!

I'd never be able to win a 5K in 21:40. Somehow this is actually a PR for me, nice! I can't believe I was able to run a PR after 21 miles the day before. I've decided I am going to find a 5K and 10K to actually race this Summer and ones that are flatter to see what I can actually do, I'd love to run a sub 20:00 5K.
Crossing the finish line!
In follow up to my last post I think I have found the motivation, the last few days have been great. I enjoyed my long run yesterday and today's race and am once again looking forward to running. 3 weeks to go and we'll see what happens at Boston.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Where's my motivation?

I can't seem to find it and I want it back! I think it is part the weather, part the way I feel, and part who knows probably the length of training in the Winter. After finally being able to get in a long run outside again and thinking Spring weather was actually here it snowed again and now we sit here looking at a foot of snow on the ground and temperatures in the 30s, come on I've had enough!

I look forward to my workouts, running especially but then it comes time for the actual run and I'd rather do a million other things! For example last Friday I was so excited about my long run on Saturday but then Saturday came and I had other feelings on it and took awhile convincing myself to get out there. Most of the time the end result is good and I'm glad I got the workout in. I think I am just sick of knowing I have yet another 1-2 hours on the treadmill or trainer. Last week I updated my iPod play list thinking new music would help and have been doing more gym workouts for a change in scenery. Next up buying new running clothes to motivate!

Here I am a little over 3 weeks out from the race I have been looking forward to for years and the start of another coaching season and I am rethinking my desire to run. What is going on? How do I get this motivation back?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Food for running and beyond

A comment on my last post got me thinking about fueling pre-race and what I normally eat and how that changed since going gluten free. As far as night before a race/long run I have done it all, some good and some not so good: the typical pasta, gnocchi, rice dishes, black bean tacos- not so smart, Indian food- sometimes good, sometimes not, sushi- actually good, veggie burgers and sweet potatoes. Traveling for Boston on a GF diet will be interesting, worst thing I grab a couple sweet potatoes and throw them in the microwave at the hotel. Race morning used to always be a whole grain bagel  with PB and a banana, then I traded the bagel for 2 pieces of whole grain toast, then for some reason switched to cereal and a banana which is what I am doing currently. I have also done yogurt with granola and oatmeal. The other part of race fuel is during the race and this I am still looking for the answer to. I've done it all: Gu, Clif Blox, Power Bar Chews, Hammer Gels, Sport Beans, you name it and most often have the same GI issues before the run is over. Who knows what my answer is for that one.

Then today I was about 17 miles into my run and going past some restaurants, the smell was wonderful! I can't believe how good a burger smells at that point and how tempted I am to actually stop and grab one along with a greasy basket of fries. I kept running and didn't stop, first I had no money and second I'm not quite sure how my body would react after almost 20 years of not eating burgers. Instead I opted from a wrap with spicy chipotle hummus, spinach, cheddar cheese and avocado.
It actually still looks kind of good!

This and reading other blogs about food and diet restrictions has got me thinking. Since going gluten free I have focused a lot more on what I eat and how it effects me. I have always been a pretty healthy eater, but have a bad sweet tooth and am a carb addict. I could live on cereal!

What is truly the best way to eat? Vegan, cutting out refined sugar, organic foods, Paleo diet, low carb or one of the many diet trends out there or should we just eat what we want and not worry. I think having a child also changes the way I think about food, I am not only looking at what is healthy for me, but also trying to set a good example for her and feed her healthy. I would love to be able to grow my own fruits/veggies at least in the Summer, but my lack of a green thumb always takes over when I try. Right now I guess I'll stick with being a carb addicted gluten free vegetarian (who eats still eats sushi) and try to limit refined sugar.

Enough food talk, now I'm more hungry and need to find more food to replace the 2000 calories I burned running 20 miles this morning!

Friday, March 18, 2011

1 month, yikes!

I just looked at the calendar and realized that Boston is only 1 month away and as all the runners know this means only one more big training week then the dreaded taper. The timing for this is not ideal, we are finally getting good weather and I am antsy to get in more miles outside and enjoy it. It will be interesting to see how much tough it is running with BOB now that Ophelia has grown and I haven't been running with her since last Fall.

Looking back, my training has been interesting. I started with a great plan in place and was going to actually follow a "real" training plan this time instead of my "make it up as you go" training plan. That all changed when the weather stayed nasty, cold and snowy and a lot of my miles were ending up on the treadmill to accommodate Ophelia's naps. And then them broken arm and time off didn't help the situation any. Oh well, like I said before I've accepted that Boston is not a goal race and I'm just going to enjoy the atmosphere and have fun. If great things happen I'll take it, but if not that's fine. My goal race will come 6 weeks later at Minneapolis and then again in October at TCM.

Now to focus on the fun stuff and start planning the weekend in Boston: where should I eat? what should we see? I've been there before but it has been 11 years.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stress, really?!

I went back to the doctor yesterday to get the results of all my bloodwork from last week, she was looking at pituitary, thyroid, adrenal and general hormone function. Found out a few interesting things: 1) While my TSH is currently okay and T4 borderline low normal while taking levothyroxine, my T3 is very low meaning my body is not converting T4 to T3. No wonder why I still have hypothyroid symptoms despite normal TSH levels. Why hasn't this been checked in the past? Frustrating! So now I start on Cytomel for this and to hopefully combat some of the fatigue, weakness and other hypothyroid symptoms I am having. It was interesting because in my post-appointment research I came across European studies stating this combination therapy is better then the traditional levothyroxine which is typically used in the U.S. 2) A few other hormones are decreased which is also causing me sleep issues, I was prescribed progesterone, but this I am still debating since I'm not sure how I feel about taking hormones. 3) My cortisol level is elevated, this was also the case in January, but at that time the MD said no big deal we only care if it's low. Yesterday she w
as a little more concerned since it is showing that my body is in a constant state of stress. I guess I can see this, but I truly don't feel stressed. I decided to take a look at my life and stressors v. stress relief...
My life stress
  • A wonderful almost 14 month old daughter
  • Grad school
  • Work (although only part-time)
  • Coaching (another part-time job)
  • Marathon training
  • Trying to figure out my plans with school and waiting to hear on program acceptance   
  • Mystery illness worsening over the past year without answers and learning how to adapt
Stress relievers
  • Running
  • Cooking/baking
  • Drinking wine
  • Reading when I can (not much lately)
  • Spending time with friends (coffee, lunch) another one I don't do much lately
Looking at the list it is a good thing I run since the rest tend to involve food in some way! Yesterday it was suggested that I find more ways to relieve stress and she recommended: walking (I think I'll stick to running), go on vacation (would love to but that can't happen as often as I'd like), massage (once again would love to get a regular massage but can't seem to make it happen). Maybe I truly do need to start yoga not only for the flexibility but for the stress relief. I'll have to find a good class since in the past the calm, slow pace of the class has made me more stressed as I felt like I was wasting time. Can you see what type of person I am?! I do need to find more time with friends. It's one thing to communicate through facebook, email, texting etc, but what happened to face to face conversation?

Now I sit here looking at these lists and rethink things. I had thought I was pretty laid back even though I tend to not relax well, I need be moving and doing, I don't think I let things get to me, but maybe I'm wrong. One more month of this semester and then a short break which will help. Spring is on the way with warmer weather and sunshine, also a great stress relief. I am trying to get better about getting together with friends and Matt and I have a date night planned for Saturday. This week is Spring Break so my plans are to focus a little more on me: coffee/playdate with friend and her kids today to start it off.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fitness Assessment

My work and health insurance offer a wellness program where you can get gift cards and decreased insurance rates for completing a list of requirements. Okay fine, so each year I do these just for the money. The first part is a wellness assessment which I completed in January and was told I lost too much weight in the past year, I hope so since in 2010 I was 9 months pregnant when I filled it out and decided for the first time to not get the follow up about being underweight so I entered my current pregnant weight. Oh and the other thing I always get is that my typical 2 glasses of wine per week is too much and should cut back, nope not doing that either.

Yesterday I completed a health assessment at my gym which will get me $10 off my monthly dues and  a $200 gift card, pretty good deal. The test consisted of flexibility, strength, cardio, lab values and body composition.
How did I do:
First I refused to fast for the blood draw, sorry but I'm starving when I get up and wasn't going to make it 3 hours without food everything was normal anyways even my glucose at 72.
My flexibility sucks, which I already know and is pretty sad since I spent 18 years dancing and maintaining but as a runner have seen my flexibility go away quickly.
Strength consisted of a bicep curl and surprisingly I came out average, pretty sad considering I lack arm strength especially after 4 weeks of not weight lifting and doing the test with only 1 good arm.
Cardio, now this was the true surprise. I did this test with my trainer on a treadmill and was off the chart excellent, but this time it was a VO2 max on the bike. Being I haven't trained much on my bike for the past 2 years I was only average.
Body composition, no surprises here low BMI (17.4) although they say they don't even look at this and low body fat of 14% (which is actually up from the 9.2% when I did this with my trainer in November). I should say the methods were very different skin calipers v. a scale type analyzer, so I'm guessing I'm somewhere in the middle of the range.
Overall I came up with an average ranking and a body age of 31 (I am 32). What did I learn? Get my butt back on the bike/spin class regularly and add yoga/pilates back to my routine. This starts tomorrow when I WILL get up early to get on the bike.

The final part of this assessment is a health coaching session consisting of 2 phone calls, the first of which was today and she was 20 minutes late calling (nice professionalism). She asked the typical questions: how is your overall fitness, health, diet and what can she help me with to improve? Well unless she is going to come drag my butt out of bed to get on the bike or chase me up hills to improve my running speed, then not much. These programs are great, but I always find it odd that someone over the phone (or through email as the follow up will be) can improve my health. I have all the information to improve my wellness, I know what to eat and how to train, sometimes I just don't listen to my own advice (don't tell my runners this!). Now I'm thinking maybe I need to get back to working with my own coach.

Wow, I just went back and read my post and sorry if it comes off negative that is not my intention. I love that my company is trying to help their employees improve their health and offers these incentives. I just don't think that these programs are aimed at people who already routinely work out and feel happy with their current wellness. I feel like sometimes I am jumping through hoops just to get the benefits. Last year I completed a 10,000 steps program for my $200 and actually felt a little odd tracking these on long run days figuring they thought I was just making up my numbers.

Pesto Risotto

Last week I got ambitious and decided to make homemade gnocchi and the pesto sauce below, the result and great pesto but a messy kitchen and sticky gnocchi (better keep trying on that one). There was leftover pesto so I decided to make a risotto with red peppers and the rest of the pesto. I think this had to be the best risotto I've made, the pesto added extra creaminess and flavor. I'm always happy to make risotto since it requires white wine meaning I can't let the rest of the bottle go to waste :-)

Spinach/Pistachio Pesto
1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
2 cups spinach leaves
1 cup basil leaves
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 gloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
Put the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor with a steel blade. Process until the nuts are coarsely ground. Add remaining ingredients. If pesto is too thick add a little more olive oil.
To make the risotto saute 1 diced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic in olive oil then add risotto, white wine and broth (I used homemade broth) according to package directions. While the risotto is cooking, saute red peppers in a little oil and set aside. Once risotto is done add in red peppers, pesto, Parmesan cheese, and pepper to taste. The pesto added a nice creaminess to the risotto, definitely making this again.

Monday, March 7, 2011

5 weeks to go

The marathon I have aimed for since I started running in 2001 is almost here! I can tell I am in the height of my training because I am a bottomless pit, eating constantly! Another good week of running and even a day on the bike, finally adding some cross-training back in. I am now 4 weeks out from breaking my arm and have been cleared to start lifting more then 1lb, it is still quite achy but healing well and my range of motion is almost back to normal again. My only restriction is to not fall on my arm again for 4more weeks, meaning No running on the ice! The good side of this has been the increased core work, thanks to a broken arm and inability to lift weights my abs are getting a much needed workout!
Week in Review
Monday: SDO
Tuesday: 9.25 miles with intervals + core
Wednesday: 10.5 miles tempo run + core
Thursday: 11.5 miles easy + core
Friday: 1:05 on the trainer + core
Saturday: 8.6 miles hills
Sunday: 16.3 LSD

Now the question I am pondering: I have 2 not so perfect options for my final 20+ miler for Boston and neither is ideal. Trying to decide which sounds better...
1)Do the last long run 4 weeks before marathon and have a longer taper. This would be one continuous run. This is 2 weeks away, so not sure the paths around here will be fully cleared and I may end up on the Treadmill yet again.
2)Do my last long run 3 weeks out, but I start coaching that weekend and my only run option is the day my team runs. I would get in as many miles as I could prior to the team running, then run with team, and finish out afterwards all in an area I'm not too familiar with but would be able to easily map out a route, breaking up the run with 2 15-30min breaks.
Right now I am opting for #2 since I don't know if I can handle another LSD on the treadmill and then a 4 week taper, yikes the insanity may kill us all! But #2 will take half my day with the driving and team meeting after the run, what to do?

Friday, March 4, 2011

I need sleep!

I feel like this is a post I've already written! Sure enough I looked back and I had this past Fall when we were having multiple night time wake ups after months of great sleep. That issue is since resolved and this time the sleep issues are all mine (for the most part). My child is a great sleeper, me on the other hand needs a lesson in sleeping through the night.

Off and on for as long as I remember I've had nights where I just can't sleep, this seemed to get better once I had a routine work schedule and wasn't having to be up all night. Lately it has gotten consistently worse, right along with all the other issues I've had. I go in phases where I can sleep great and then times when I don't, well this time it has been going on for a couple weeks and I'm not having fun! I go to bed completely exhausted and within 1-2 hours of falling asleep I'm wide awake, I'll fall back asleep only to wake back up in another hour and this just continues until morning. I've gotten in the habit of setting my alarm early to get up and work out, but change my alarm once I realize I'll need that extra hour of sleep. To make this even worse, Ophelia has gotten in the habit of waking up between 5-6am (much closer to 5am) lately where she used to sleep until 6:30 or 7am. So needless to say I am dragging lately, lacking energy and just overall feeling yuck (if that's a description). I still make myself run, this tends to be the only time I feel somewhat awake and I'm trying to limit coffee after lunch time to not add to the issues. This needs to stop I just want to sleep!

Today I decided I've had enough of this, I need sleep! The glass of wine last night didn't do the trick so now I'm bringing out the big guns tonight and turning to Unisom, which I had on hand to combat the nausea during my pregnancy, but was always too afraid to take (sticking to the B6 instead) and now have a nearly full box in my drawer. Any other sleep remedies to try? I'm willing to do anything at this point.