Thursday, February 11, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Shoes at your service
Today I've got a hill-training workout on the schedule. Usually I keep a pair of running shoes at my desk for treadmill wear. Unfortunately, I took them home last week and forgot to bring them back. Right now, I only have a pair of retired running shoes in my gym locker, which I wear just for lifting, biking, and Zumba. ARGH!

I debated going home to retrieve some in-service shoes. Unfortunately, it's about 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside, which makes this idea sound very unappealing.
Xaar suggested going to buy a new pair of running shoes at lunchtime. I would wholeheartedly embrace her solution!!! Heck, I'd "accidentally" leave my shoes at home maybe once a week!!! =P But the sad reality is that my office isn't convenient to any stores that sell legit shoes.

This mean I'm likely going to suck it up and run in retired shoes today. First world runner problems!
I wish there was an Uber-type shoe service that could deliver shoes in 10-15 minutes for purchase and/or testing. You know there have been many critical instances where runners needed shoes "on demand." Wouldn't that be awesome?

2. The trials and tribulations
Who else is excited to watch the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials this weekend??? It's like Super Bowl Day for runners! For once, the commercials might actually be well-segmented towards my personal interests. =D

Speaking of running commercials, this one is unique:
I've heard the elites only compete in two or maybe three marathons per year due to the strain on the body. Realistically, this means the folks competing in this weekend's trials likely won't run 26.2 again until the actual Olympics in Rio. The timing seems like it would be tough from a mental preparation standpoint - but the elites obviously must be used to it.

3. Hockey talk
It was exciting to learn Chicago will be hosting the NHL Draft next year. I was a little surprised, to be honest, because I thought the NHL leaned towards "up and coming" markets for hosting these events. But hey, we'll take it! Between Chicago's hostings of the NFL draft in 2015 and 2016, and now the NHL draft in 2017, let's start calling Chicago "Draft Town"!

I was also excited to hear the Blackhawks will be visiting the White House (again) next Thursday to commemorate their 2015 Stanley Cup Championship. What an honor and a privilege. I am wishing I could be in DC next week to enjoy the buzz.
This picture doesn't have anything to do with the NHL Draft or the White House visit.
I just think it's a heartwarmingly adorable scene.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Long run retooling

The Pittsburgh Half Marathon is my primary training focus this spring. However, I've got some adjustments to make after adding the Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon to my race schedule next month. I don't plan to change the weekday workouts, but I do want to reconfigure my weekend long run schedule.

In the spirit of vastly overthinking things and driving myself bananas, I've put together three revised long run schedule versions: basic, intermediate, and challenge.
I am currently planning to default to the intermediate plan, but we will see how things are feeling on a week-to-week basis. It's always a delicate balance between training ambitiously versus red-lining.

Ready for massive data overload? Here are the three plans:
The immovable factors are obviously the races, and also being on vacation during Week 5. I prefer to NOT have to slug out a long run while on a cruise ship!

  • Xaarlin suggested using Hal Higdon's Intermediate Half Marathon training plan as a guideline for the long runs. Under that plan, you increase your mileage for two weeks at a time, then take a stepback week. That was my general thought process here, but race/vacation timing dictates stepping back slightly more frequently in all three plans.
  • A "stepback exception" occurs with the challenge plan, where the first stepback occurs in Week 5. I believe I can handle an initial four consecutive weeks of build-up, but this is a "challenge" plan for a reason.
  • I wasn't entirely sure what to do with Week 9 in "basic" and "intermediate." I elected to err on the side of being conservative, but who knows?
  • Historically, I have trained up to a max of 11 or 12 miles going into a half marathon. Kim mentioned training above the race distance. I've never tried that before but I am considering it this time around. In the "challenge plan" I ambitiously go up to 15 - and this will indeed be a challenge!
  • This was not my original intention, but I may even be up for throwing some hill work into my stepback weeks. (!!!)
  • Not to further overcomplicate things, but there IS room for an "intermediate plus" plan in between "intermediate" and "challenge." I won't get into that today.
Any thoughts, suggestions, words of wisdom? Tell me about anything you might have overthought throughout your lifetime?

Linking up with MarciaPatti, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Training week recap: Feb 1-7, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year!
Here's how the week went for me:

MONDAY - Warm-up 10 minutes on the stationary bike, lift 45 minutes
TUESDAY - Run 3.1 miles on the treadmill
WEDNESDAY - 35 minutes on the stationary bike
THURSDAY - 3 miles of incline work on the treadmill (10-minute warm-up, followed by 2-minute intervals at inclines 1-5)
FRIDAY - Warm-up 10 minutes on the stairclimber, lift 40 minutes
SATURDAY - Yoga video, 45 minutes
SUNDAY - Run 8 miles (6.6 miles outside, 1.4 miles of 2-minute incline intervals on the treadmill, levels 1-5)

  • Late last week, I had mentally composed a blog post about the cruelties and unusualities of hill-training. I was going to discuss how you experience a much higher total sum of pain from a) 3 months of hill-training torture, versus b) Just going out and dying on one single race day. The post was going to be titled "Training anti-synergies" or something similar.
  • Thankfully, last week's hill workouts went smoothly (which is why you are reading a calm training recap today =D). I'm already seeing some pay-off from all the hard work! I used to take notice whenever I ran over any overpasses, no matter how slight the gradients. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I did NOT notice. Yay!
  • I need to come up with a contingency plan on using the treadmill to finish my long runs. Yesterday, both of my building's treadmills were occupied when I arrived. Luckily, I only had to wait a few minutes before one opened up. I may not always be so lucky, though. 
  • ADVICE: If you ever need to free up a treadmill for yourself, it works well to stand in direct view and alternate maniacally between staring blankly at the users and staring at your watch. KIDDING, of course! Kind of.
  • Work has been busy, which resulted in yoga taking a hit last week. I skipped both my usual classes on Tuesday and Friday. To make up for it, I did an at-home yoga video on Saturday. It was a really nice change to practice in the privacy of my own home. I need to do this more often. (Sorry, Adam, for kicking you out of the living room!)
  • Lesley had suggested using the stairclimber as another incline-work tool. On Friday, I tried warming up on the stair machine before lifting. It was a solid jolt to my entire lower body! Going forward, I definitely want to keep mixing in more stairs.
  • As I mentioned yesterday, I am now planning to run the Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon on March 12. I am trying to figure out how best to reconfigure my long run schedule for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May. I've got a couple versions in the works - a "basic" version and a "challenging" version. I feel like it's a precarious balancing act between trying to train ambitiously versus too aggressively. It's a frequent story of our lives as runners, yes? More on this to come.
Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Coffee talk - February edition

I am linking up with CocoDeborah, and Lynda for the February edition of Coffee Talk.

The Ultimate Coffee Date

This link-up asks: "If we were having [insert choice of beverage here] together, I would tell you..."

Buckle up, folks! I am so excited for a chance to catch up!

Over my tall glass of orange juice, here are a few things I would share:

I am going all in on another Rock N Roll 3-Pack Tour Pass this year.
This came out of nowhere!

My best friend, Vanitha, moved to DC a few months ago. She recently joined a drumline, and it turns out her group might be performing at Rock N Roll DC! So cool!!!

Since V will likely be at the race, she asked if I was thinking about running the DC Half Marathon again this year. Initially, I wasn't. 

Later, just for giggles, I started looking at my work/training schedule and airfare. Lo and behold, everything would fall together perfectly. Completely perfectly. Who am I to say no when the universe paves the way?

Oh yeah, I am going for it! Rock N Roll DC, here I come! (Again!) It will be awesome to catch up with V and other friends/family that weekend.

From a running perspective, I want so badly to redeem last year's bad weather experience.
Rocking the ever-classic, yet understatedly stylish pre-race garbage bag dress at DC last year.
The course does have a few hills. I am super pumped to see how I feel this year after finally putting forth some decent hillwork. What a difference a year makes, eh?

Since DC is only about a month away, registration rates are very high right now. Therefore, the 3-Pack Tour Pass makes sense financially to lock in set race fees. I am more than happy to run RnR Chicago again this year for my second race, and there is ample time to select a third race.

Maybe this will FINALLY be the year I run RnR Las Vegas? Or maybe Vancouver or Montreal? There are so many choices!

Next, speaking of travel destinations...

I've got a majorly themed vacation coming up soon.
I mentioned before that Adam and I are going on a cruise at the end of this month. Today I'm going to spill some beans about the event.

The cruise is a birthday present to Adam. Why, you ask? Because this particular cruise is a specially-themed cruise for Pittsburgh sports fans - and Adam is one of the most fanatical you'll ever find.
Adam and I at the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Blitz at Heinz Field a few years ago
Approximately 30 current and former players from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates are going to be on board the cruise interacting and hanging out with all the attendees. There will be all kinds of fan-friendly activities, plus Pittsburgh-themed food, drink, and entertainment. In prior years, fans with Pittsburgh roots or connections have attended from all around the globe.

Basically, it's going to be the most ginormous floating sports fan convention and party anyone can ever imagine!!!

Adam misses his hometown very much and he loves his sports teams like no other. This cruise is going to be epic for him. I am super excited!

Not to mention, I've got some epicness of my own coming up aboard the cruise...

I will be going into serious beast mode (for a few hours).
I've talked a lot about how through Adam's influence, I like all of the Pittsburgh sports teams in addition to my Chicago teams.

One of my all-time favorite Pittsburgh Steelers players is James Harrison.
As you can see in the above picture, I wear his #92 jersey.

James is going to be aboard the cruise. There are all kinds of onboard opportunities to hang out with players, and James is offering folks the opportunity to work out with him. No experience or qualifications necessary. It was open to anyone.

As you can probably glean from his picture, James is an absolute powerhouse. The man's biceps are bigger than my thighs. He regularly posts videos showing him lifting incomprehensible amounts of weight. Here is an example:

Are you kidding me?

How many times does anyone get the chance to work out with an NFL All-Pro linebacker??? Who am I to turn down an opportunity like this when the ocean paves the way?

You guessed it. I have signed on up!

Yes, I will look like this:
For this opportunity, I am okay with that!

Heaven knows that I very well may be the only woman among a crowd of meatheads. Yes, I am a little nervous. But in all sincerity, I really do want to learn more about strength-training. There's no better way to do so than to learn from one of the very, very, VERY best.

And finally...
Since it's Super Bowl Sunday and Peyton Manning is playing, I can't resist sharing this hilarious video of the Manning brothers from a few years ago. No reason other than it makes me giggle:

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Currently feeling:
Scattered. My to-do list keeps growing and growing and growing before my eyes.
At random moments, I keep remembering more things I need to do. Then I forget them before I can write them down. ARGH!

Currently reading:
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.
My book club did a book swap over the holidays, and I got to bring this one home. I am just underway so no other thoughts just yet, but my expectations are high. This book came with extremely rave reviews!

Currently snacking on:
Clementines, aka "Cuties." I can go through three of them in one setting. I love how sweet they are and easy they are to peel.
I get a kick out of pulling the entire peel off in one piece. Maybe this helps make up for me never, ever, ever being able to peel an entire apple in one piece?

Currently craving:
Dumplings, dumplings, dumplings. Any kind. Pierogies, wontons, samosas, empanadas, pelmeni, you name it.
Proclamation: If I ever get to do an eating challenge where I get to pick the food, dumplings would be my choice. Runners-up include pizza, sushi, and burgers. But I digress.

Current dish I want to perfect in the kitchen:
Mashed cauliflower. I've tried various combos of cooking stock, garlic, onion, cheese, milk, yogurt, etc., but haven't been able to get the recipe the way I want it. (Is there some secret ingredient I don't know about?) I am going to be experimenting again in the coming days.
Currently looking forward to:
So many things! Attending my next Blackhawks game in less than 10 days, going to see Cabaret, upcoming plans with friends I haven't seen in a long time, vacation at the end of the month.
Currently considering:
Trying some new-to-me fitness classes that I've always shied away from in the past, e.g. HIIT core, Step and Sculpt, Fly Barre. I'd like to throw more variety into my tried-and-true rotation of running, yoga, Zumba, lifting, and the occasional stationary bike.

Currently nervous about:
My next long run with a side of hill-work on the treadmill to finish. After experiencing how challenging this workout felt last week, I am gun-shy about trying it again.
Currently reminiscing about:
Going to Second City last weekend with Adam and watching Fool Me Twice, Deja Vu. It was HILARIOUS. Days later, Adam and I are still cracking one-liners from the show. I haven't seen live improv in quite some time and I had forgotten how much I love it!

I've mentioned before that I took three levels of improv classes a few years ago, which were so much fun! I was observing the artists' techniques and they were all amazing. True creative geniuses!
Currently noticing:
The days are getting longer! It is glorious to both wake up and leave the office when the sun is above the horizon. Let's all start replenishing the Vitamin D. =)

Current favorite Blackhawks gif:
I am dying to know what happened off-camera to elicit Artemi Panarin's facial expressions here!
Linking up with Amanda's Thinking Out Loud Thursdays.

Monday, February 1, 2016


I'm going to do double-duty today and link up both with Marcia's Runfessions, and with MarciaPatti, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.

I runfess...
I got an ugly blood blister on my foot several weeks ago after wearing an incompatible combination of running shoes and socks. I'll spare you the details and pictures, but trust me, the aftermath is not pretty. 

Normally when I get a blood blister, it goes away within a few days. Unfortunately, this one left a mark that stubbornly refuses to fade. It's to the point that I've been wearing socks to yoga class. Even so, I am self-conscious of being barefoot in the locker room lest folks catch a glimpse and then run away screaming in a fit of terror. 

I am SO thankful it isn't sandal season right now. Otherwise, this might become a last resort:

I runfess...
I had a treadmill-induced social dilemma last week. 

My company's fitness center has a row of about 10 treadmills. I was the only person using one. Then, a woman came in and took the treadmill right next to me.

I was really surprised. I considered moving over to a different treadmill. After much internal debate, I ultimately elected to stay put, but I felt awkward for the rest of my run.

I've always operated under the theorem that thou shalt always space out thy treadmill occupancy. Is that not so much the case any more?
I runfess...
Food journaling has always been the best way to keep myself accountable. Unfortunately, my tracking has been hit or miss recently. My onsite Weight Watchers group is also terminating this week, and there are no other groups conveniently located to my home or office. This means I'm about to lose another fantastic resource for keeping myself accountable.

So far, I've been able to get away with not being as conscientious as I'd like. However, I definitely need to start being much, MUCH more careful.

I runfess...
I looked at my GU inventory and saw a bunch of packets that are past their expiration date. I never thought of myself as a GU hoarder, but the evidence is right there.

Expiration dates are not going to deter me. I still plan to consume all of those packets in due time. 
Yes, I know some of you (Adam) are shuddering right now.

Your turn! Do you have any runfessions to share?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Training week recap: Jan 25-31, 2016

Yay for tomorrow being the first day of February! To me, February is winter's light at the end of the tunnel. The month goes by quickly since there so many holidays/fun events. Groundhog's Day, the Super Bowl, Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day, President's Day... Before we know it, March will be here and that also means springtime is approaching!

Here's how my training week went:

TUESDAY - Run 3.1 miles, 30 minutes of lifting
WEDNESDAY - Zumba class
THURSDAY - 35 minutes on treadmill (10 minute warmup, followed by 1-2 minute intervals at incline levels 0-5)
FRIDAY - Yoga class, 40 minutes of lifting
SATURDAY - Run 6.5 miles (5.3 miles outside, 1.2 miles of treadmill incline fartleks, levels 0-5)

All in all, it was a solid week.
  • Thank you to all for your thoughts on my Pittsburgh Half Marathon training plan. Per suggestion, I am going to do a slower long run build-up. If/when I'm feeling good, I will try to add in some cycling and speedwork, lift heavier on single-set lifting days, and perhaps do a long run or two above the half marathon distance. Shooting for the moon!
  • On Thursday, I went in to my first hill-training workout apprehensively. I was thinking I'd have to start out at a pretty meager level. Surprisingly, right off the bat I was able to push myself at higher inclines and speeds than originally anticipated. Although, with my background, that's not setting the bar very high (no pun intended). LOL. In any event, I think five weeks of barre work is showing results. Yay!!!
  • Yesterday was my first time adding incline work at the end of a run to mimic the Pittsburgh Half Marathon course. Normally 6.5 miles is no big deal to me, but the addition of those inclines at the finish was very challenging. I was completely wiped out afterwards. Much respect to you folks who run hills all the time. I am very glad to be starting this acclimation process now.
  • On Friday, I went to lift right after work. The gym was nearly empty. It was so nice being able to romp around using any of the equipment I wanted, whenever I wanted. I might have to make this a regular visit time!
  • My company's fitness center is hosting a 6-week strength-training series focused on form, exercise varieties, equipment usage, workout design, etc. Woo hoo! This could not have come at a better time.
  • I dig those workout leggings with the mesh panels in them! I ordered a pair online today and can't wait to try them out.
  • Instagram is my favorite of all the social media platforms. However, I am getting progressively more and more annoyed with the glut of sponsored photos.
  • I heard the Disneyland Half Marathon registration fee starts at $205 this year before processing fees. Wow. I'm thankful to have already completed the Coast to Coast challenge because I don't think I can afford to run any more Disney races in the future.
  • Kingston Mines is awesome. How did it take me so long to check it out? Adam and I went last night with our friends Wenxin and Jason, and it was a blast. There's so much energy!
The legendary Frank Pellegrino at Kingston Mines
Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap.