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.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Five Things Friday

1. I've been dealing with a very serious problem these days.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have an addition to lip balm.
Don't laugh. This is a tougher problem to overcome than many might realize.

My first step in recovery was to get informed. I dug up some online self-help articles. Apparently, many lip balms include ingredients which actually dry out your skin and/or prevent the natural skin rejuvenation process. Basically, they spur a vicious cycle. ARGH!!!

I tried going cold turkey on lip balm for a few days. It was awful. I felt self-conscious and awkward. It was the worst when I was leading meetings or having one-on-one face-to-face conversations.

The best remedy so far has been serious lip exfoliation. Someone suggested using a washcloth in the shower. Amen to that! I'm also trying to only use lip balms with natural ingredients like cocoa butter or lanolin. Even so, the recovery process has been drawn out.

2. I am craving a weekend getaway.
I won a Hyatt gift certificate earlier this week and it's burning a hole in my pocket. Must. Spend. It.

I am crazily considering a solo trip to Minneapolis for the Blackhawks-Wild Stadium Series game on February 21 (Adam will be in Pittsburgh that weekend). This is even despite ticket prices being through the roof and my one brutal experience attending an outdoor game.

Other ideas: There was talk of going to New York in March with our friend Lindsay. It's been awhile since I've been to Las Vegas. I've been wanting to do a ski or other winter-type vacation. I've never been to New Mexico and I want to cross it off the list.

The list goes on and on and on and on.

3. Nobody is Perfect
I signed up for Chicago's Perfect 10 earlier this week. The race website and all publicity said registration opened at 10:00 AM CST on Tuesday, and the first 10 participants could sign up for $10.

I logged on at 9:50 AM in preparation to try nabbing one of those $10 registrations. Unfortunately, the first 10 registrations were already sold out! What the heck?
I went ahead and tried registering anyways at the next price point. Sure enough, the system was already open.

I reached out to the race organizers about the miscommunication. Their response was, "We'll investigate and get back to you." However, as I write this, they have not shared anything further.

This makes me nervous. It does not bode well for an event that last year was cancelled 9 days before race day...

4. Operation Tummy Expansion 101
Chicago Restaurant Week has been fun so far! Adam and I went to Texas de Brazil last Saturday and Vivo last night. Both were very enjoyable. We've got plans to check out Sapori Trattoria tomorrow night, and Nia on Monday night.
In other non-dining weekend plans - I'm excited to check out Kingston Mines (a Chicago blues club) tomorrow night, plus a comedy show at Second City on Sunday night! (Can you tell that there is no hockey or football to watch this weekend? ;-) )

I'd been wanting to check out Nellcote's happy hour special (a pizza and beer/other beverage for $10) for a long time. This past Monday, I finally went with Erin and Margaret and it was awesome!

Here's the final dough: A new pizza joint, Forno Rosso, just opened up in my hood. According to their website, they've essentially been given a designation from the Italian government that they "meet strict requirements respecting the tradition of the art of Neapolitan pizza making." Wow! I hope to get over there very soon.

In the spirit of full preparation, I have already gone through my closet, pulled out all of my stretchy pants, and neatly arranged them both front and center. =D

5. "Before" modeling
A few weeks ago, I got both a haircut and new glasses within 24 hours. Here's the before and after:
You can't tell in the picture, but my old frames were black while the new pair is tortoise-shell.

I got about 3-4 inches of hair lopped off. It's now too short to pull back. Yet, none of my coworkers even noticed! I guess that can be both good and bad, LOL.

Linking up with MarCynthia, and Courtney for the Friday Five.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pittsburgh Half Marathon training plan

Happy Tuesday! I am linking up with MarciaPatti, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.

Today I am sharing my training plan for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 1.

Kim had asked me what my goals were for this race. Great question! This will most definitely NOT be a PR attempt, so I want to enjoy the atmosphere and scenery. Beyond that, I hope to finish the race feeling strong and without dying on the hills. (Dying is a relative term, of course...)

It was a challenge to design this training plan for a few reasons:
  • I'm trying to take advantage of my company's fitness center as much as possible. I want to keep the momentum going with my weekly yoga and Zumba classes.
  • Strength-training is a priority.
  • I need to log semi-sufficient mileage on top of hill-training at least once a week. At the same time, I'm coming off a long running hiatus and zero base in hill-running.
  • Rest days are obviously important.
After much consideration, this plan reflects my valiant and ambitious attempt at the best of all worlds:

Here is a more detailed description of each day:

I'd like to maintain my pre-half marathon training routine of doing 3 sets of 8-10 reps on a full-body range (here is a sample lifting breakout). However, I am giving myself the flexibility of paring things down as needed depending on time or energy.

TUESDAYS: Yoga + 3-5 miles
I consider yoga to be active rest, so I figured I could do double-duty on yoga days within reason. This day will include a yoga class and an easy 3-5 miler. In the early weeks, I intend to start out around 3 miles then gradually increase up to 5.

WEDNESDAYS: Zumba or Rest
I love Zumba! This day is just for fun while still keeping the blood pumping. Since I don't consider Zumba to be an integral cog in running training, I am giving myself the option to take this day off if needed.

THURSDAYS: Hill training
Ahhh, hill training will be my biggest challenge of this training cycle. It will probably take place on the treadmill every week. I plan to start easy with both intensity and duration, then gradually increase either or both. I'm less concerned with the actual mileage on this day, but it'll probably come out around 3 miles, give or take.
FRIDAYS: Yoga + Short Lift
Same sentiments as Tuesday, but this day I'll add an abbreviated lifting regimen. Upfront, I'm planning to do just 1 set of all my reps instead of 3. I am told a single set is still very effective.

I went back and forth on which day to designate as an official rest day. On one hand, I have more time on weekends to work out. But on the other hand, I only have gym access Monday through Friday. I ended up choosing Saturdays to rest with the thought that it'll help me prepare for the next day's long run. I might occasionally flip-flop this with Sunday's routine based on schedules.

SUNDAY: Long run
In order to mimic the Pittsburgh Half Marathon course, I am looking at doing all of my long runs with incline work at the end, and hopefully some interspersed within. We'll see how ambitious I feel. However, I do not plan to incorporate incline work into my cutback weeks. I want to keep my cutback weeks easy.
Other Notes:
  • The training plan started yesterday, and I've already deviated! I was supposed to lift but I took a much-needed rest day instead. 
  • As denoted in pink, Adam and I are going on an extended weekend cruise next month (be warned: I will have MUCHO to say about this cruise in future posts). I wanted to keep my workout routine flexible while on vacation.
  • I've only got two races on the calendar during this training cycle - the Shamrock Shuffle and Chicago's Perfect 10. The timing of both happen to work quite nicely. (Chicago's Perfect 10 is traditionally a November race, but apparently they cancelled the event 9 days before last year's race day? Regardless, I've been wanting to run this race for a few years, so I'm happy about their new spring date.)
Any thoughts or suggestions about my training plan? What goals or races are you training for these days?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Training week recap: Jan 18-24, 2016

My thoughts are with all my friends and family being impacted by Winter Storm Jonas! I hope everyone is staying safe. The stories and pictures I've been seeing are out of this world. Yikes!

I can sympathize tremendously. In Chicago, we're blessed right now that there's currently no snow on the ground. Heaven knows we've certainly had our fair share of awful winter blizzards in the past, though. We're not out of the woods here yet, either.

Note to all: It is not a good idea to leave your car doors open during a winter storm:
Here is how my training week went:

MONDAY: Pure Barre class and run 3.1 miles on treadmill
TUESDAY: Yoga class and Pure Barre class
WEDNESDAY: Zumba class
THURSDAY: Pure Barre class
FRIDAY: Yoga class and Pure Barre class
SATURDAY: Pure Barre class
SUNDAY: Run 7 miles

Whew! It was a very busy but very productive week.
  • My Pure Barre membership ended yesterday, so last week I was really gunning it to the finish. I ended up completing a total of 22 classes in 35 days. It's been a good 5 weeks but whew, I am worn out!
  • I had my first long run in 6 weeks scheduled for this morning. Unfortunately, I was so sore and beat up after my last barre class yesterday that I thought a lot about skipping the run. My couch was looking sad and forlorn and was in need of some quality company. (Doesn't it always???)
  • How to recover? After I got home yesterday, I came across a free sample of protein powder that I got at an expo. I made it into a shake and slurped it down. It tasted like a chocolate milkshake, which helped. It quickly made me feel a lot better (thanks Erin for the tip!) Then I took a nap. Yes, the joys of the weekend! By last night, Voila! I was feeling as good as new. As I've said before, the body is an amazing thing.
  • My first running miles of 2016 have finally been logged, three weeks into the year. Last Monday night, I ran 5K on the treadmill run and felt really good. At the time, I only allowed myself to be cautiously optimistic, given the short distance. But oh my goodness, the exhilaration of having fresh legs!
  • My 7-mile run this morning was my first long-ish and outdoor run in 6 weeks. It felt great to get outside, breathe in the fresh winter air, and let my mind wander. I got hungry around 4.5 miles and didn't have water to take a GU, so I pushed through the 7 mile total before calling it a day. Had my fueling been better, I believe I could have done 10 without issue.
  • I can't even begin to describe how thrilled I am about seemingly maintaining my conditioning despite all the time away from running!
This picture doesn't have anything to do with the topic at hand.
I just thought it was adorable!
  • My Pittsburgh Half Marathon training is now underway. Dare I say that I am feeling genuinely excited to challenge myself with hill/incline work? What is wrong with me? I will share my training plan later this week as part of the Tuesdays on the Run link-up.

How about you? How was your week?

Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Training week recap: Jan 11-17, 2016

Hello, hello, hello!

Sorry for the incredibly delayed nature of this training week recap. I had the day off work on Monday for Martin Luther King Day. Normally, I still work that day despite the holiday. However, this year was the first time ever that I did not crack open the computer for anything during the entire 3-day weekend. It was heavenly!

The temporary computer shun put me behind on all of your blogs but I'll get back on track as soon as I can!

Here's a super quick recap of my training week:

TUESDAY - Yoga class. I considered also doing a barre class but opted not to because of this.
WEDNESDAY - Pure Barre class. I skipped my usual Zumba class because of a meeting that didn't end up materializing (grrrrr).
THURSDAY - Pure Barre class
FRIDAY - Yoga class and Pure Barre class
SATURDAY - Pure Barre class

I fully realize this was one of the most nondiverse training weeks I've ever had.
Notes from the week:
  • Since we've already got over-routining on the brain this week, you all are probably getting tired of hearing me talk about barre classes. Change is definitely in sight, though. Last week was the second-to-last week of my Pure Barre membership. One more week to go before I'll be mixing up the routine big-time. I am ready!
  • After feeling some barre burn-out last week, I found my rhythm again this week. It was a lot like the mental progression I experience when I'm running a race. I tend to hit the doldrums around the 80% completion mark (e.g., the 10- or 11-mile mark in a half marathon). Then, as the finish becomes visible, I usually regain some momentum. I am making the final push with my barre membership this coming week!
  • What a difference rest days make. (I know, I know, let's go ahead and file this into the "duh" category.) I'm mentioning it today because I experienced unusually solid improvements after both of this week's rest days. The body is a marvelous thing!
  • I'll talk about this more next week, but the time has come to ease myself back into running. The Pittsburgh Half Marathon suddenly feels like it is approaching more quickly than I'm ready for! Over the next week or so, I'm going to design my training plan, which I will share.
  • I am really, really excited to get back into my weight-lifting routine. I am finally seeing results from all the strength work that barre involves, which has been motivating. I am pumped to keep going. I've historically lifted two days a week, but I am thinking about upping it to three days a week. More on that to come, too. 
  • Here's this week's song that I heard at barre class and has now been running incessantly through my mind:

Belatedly linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Adventures near ice-level

For the most part, I've had mediocre experiences with mail/parcel delivery. Never in my life have I ever received a shipment early... until this week.

I submitted an online order on Sunday and was expecting delivery either yesterday or today. What a fabulous surprise when it showed up on Tuesday! Talk about being ridiculously happy. Thank you Wrigleyville Sports and UPS for making my day!

What was in that highly-coveted, early-arriving package, you ask? Why, my new Blackhawks Panarin jersey, of course!
I was dying to put the new jersey to work right away (especially given my jersey history). It was burning a hole in my proverbial closet!

As timing would have it, the Hawks were playing at home that night.

Luckily/unluckily, the weather in Chicago was abysmal. The temperatures were in the single digits, the wind was howling, and the real-feel temperature was in the negative teens. BUT - crappy weather on a weeknight game day also means that last-minute ticket prices usually take a nosedive in the secondary market.

My motto for the day: Go big or go home. 

An hour before face-off, I was the proud owner of tickets for two seats located five rows off the ice.

Yeah, these seats will do. ;-)

Rewinding a little bit from that game-action shot, here is a snapshot of my star jersey-wearer (#72) during the pre-game warm-ups:

and here was the view during the pregame show:
It was an incredible experience to sit so close to the action. It really made me appreciate the insane speed at which the game moves. I gained a much stronger understanding of the brutality of the hits, the wall-to-wall coverage of the shooting lanes, the challenge of seeing the plays unfolding at ice-level, and the truly mind-blowing skill that the players exhibit. We were even able to read the lips of the players talking to each other and to the officials.

I have so much renewed respect for what those players do. It is unbelievably competitive. They all make it look easy when it really is anything but.

Since I may never sit in seats like those ever again (back to the upper deck I go!), I relished the experience as thoroughly as I could!
Rushed selfie during a TV timeout.
And of course, that night wouldn't have been complete without an up-close glimpse of Adam's favorite mascot!
Go Blackhawks!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Training week recap: Jan 4-10, 2016, and some fangirling

First off, huge congratulations to everyone that participated in the Disney Marathon this past weekend!!! Special shout outs to HoHo, Tricia, Meranda, and Lacey. You are all superstars and I can't wait to hear your recaps!!!

Here is my workout recap from the week:

MONDAY - Pure Barre class
TUESDAY - Planned: Yoga class. Actual: Rest (was trying to meet a deadline at work).
WEDNESDAY - Zumba class
THURSDAY - Pure Barre class
FRIDAY - Yoga class
SATURDAY - Pure Barre class
SUNDAY -  Pure Barre class
Workout notes:
  • I am starting to burn out on all these barre classes (which have gotten noticeably more crowded after January 1). The moves are so challenging and the classes really never get easier. Contributing to the burnout, I think I've plateaued on strength improvements. I think the physical changes have been marginal this time around, too. Admittedly I will be happy to switch things up after my membership ends in two weeks.
  • Would you believe that I've still logged a grand total of ZERO running miles in 2016? This clearly needs to change soon.
  • Interestingly, every single workout I did this week was a fitness class. It wasn't so long ago that I used to much prefer working out on my own over taking classes. Funny how things change over time. I definitely appreciate how working out with others can help you really push yourself.
  • After giving in to the craze and buying a tub of protein powder, it wasn't working for me to make hand-mixed shakes. I could never get all the clumps out. So I finally bought one of those plastic shaker bottles with the metal agitator. I'll be testing it out this week. Would it be bad to add whipped cream on top?

On a non-workout note...
After my old favorite Chicago Blackhawks player, Brandon Saad, departed the team last summer, I needed to find a new favorite this year.

I have officially found him: #72, Artemi Panarin.
aka, "The Breadman" (a play on his last name's similarity to Panera Bread):
Wow, is this guy a dazzler on the ice. The level of talent he showcases is just insane. I think he is a lock to win the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year). His potential is limitless!!!

Off the ice, I love that Artemi seems so humble and down to earth while also being really personable and funny. I think he is as cute as a button, too!
I stopped by the Blackhawks Store yesterday to try to buy a Panarin jersey. Unfortunately, they were sold out! No deterrent - I came home and ordered one online instead. I am going to the Hawks-Canadiens game this Sunday with Katie and am hoping the shipment will arrive in time for me to debut it then.

Sad side story: When I buy player jerseys, they tend to not stick around for very long afterwards. (Exhibit 1: Antti Niemi. Exhibit 2: Brandon Saad.) Therefore, I really hope Artemi Panarin will end that pattern for me!

[End fangirl blurt]

Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thinking Out Loud Thursday

As tough as the Chicago winters can be, I'm thankful for plenty of fun things to help ward off the doldrums!

First off...

Chicago Restaurant Week 
This starts two weeks from tomorrow and includes over 300 restaurants offering special pre fixe menus. I'm not a foodie by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoy opportunities to try new restaurants (especially at good prices).

The Chicago Restaurant Week options are truly overwhelming! I've only made a reservation at one place so far (Texas de Brazil), and am still sifting through others. Off the top of my head, here are a few places that have caught my eye:
  • Topolobampo or Frontera Grill - I've always wanted to try one of Rick Bayless's restaurants but it's so tough to get a reservation!
  • Michael Jordan's - I was a huge fan of his during the 90s
  • Monteverde - brand new and just a few blocks from my home
  • Formento's - just a few blocks from my home
  • Roy's - I love Hawaiian food and there are so few Hawaiian restaurants here

Time to start loosening my belt buckles! Or better yet, time to start wearing stretchy pants for all occasions, all the time. =D

Next, and just a few weeks after Chicago Restaurant Week, I am looking forward to...

Chicago Theater Week
This is my first year taking advantage of Chicago Theater Week, during which over 100 productions are offering discounted tickets. Again, the options are overwhelming! Why didn't I start participating earlier!?!?!?

Adam and I will be going to see Cabaret on Valentine's Day.

I'm also eyeing Blue Man Group. It's been around for so long and I feel like I'm one of the few people who has never seen it. This would be the perfect time to check it off the list!

This isn't part of Chicago Theater Week, but I have been wanting to see The Lion King musicalI love all things Disney and have heard rave reviews! Unfortunately, I just realized it's in town only until January 17th. Bummer, but this one will probably have to wait for another time.

Now, changing topics to something much more oppressive...

Doom Week
Adam is a Penguins fan first and a Blackhawks fan second. I am a Blackhawks fan first and a Penguins fan second. We both root for each others' teams EXCEPT when they play against each other. I call this "the doom scenario" (or just "doom" for short). No matter what happens, one of us is going to walk away unhappy at the expense of the other.
From the Blackhawks-Penguins Stadium Series game in 2014
This past week, the two teams played against each other twice. On back-to-back nights. (The teams were in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night and in Chicago last night.) It made for an interesting 2 days.

Our friend Lindsay was in town to attend last night's game, so on Tuesday night, she came over to watch the away game. It was a good thing she was there because she helped keep the atmosphere light. =D
What a game that was on Tuesday night! Tons of speed, skill, and puck-possession. It was an incredibly exciting game to watch. There were times I was so nervous that I could feel my heart pounding!

Then last night, we went to the United Center to watch the two teams duke it out in person.
Sorry for the bad picture quality, the upper deck doesn't have very good lighting
Last night's game was slower-paced, but it was still an incredible exhibition of talent and finesse. I love NHL hockey!!!

Leading up to this week, our friend Michael told us, "No offense, but I hope the result of these two games is that Adam has to sleep on the floor for a week." (!?!?!?!?!?!?!?)

As it turns out, the results from both games would have led to yours truly sleeping on the floor. Oops. Thankfully, Adam and I both always keep things very respectful so there was no overnight floor occupancy.

I am thankful this year's edition of doom is now over!

A few other random notes:
  • I'm getting new glasses and contacts tomorrow, and hopefully a haircut over the next week!!! I'm not planning any drastic changes (no green mohawks or purple-and-yellow-tinted contacts or anything like that) but psychologically it'll be nice to freshen things up a bit.
  • The travel bug is starting to bite again. Unfortunately, my passport expires next fall and there's a lot of talk about how Illinois drivers licenses no longer meet federal ID requirements. Looks like I'll need to be strategic about my renewal.
  • I've had way too many bananas get overripe these past few weeks, so I've been making an industrial-sized supply of banana bread. This is my go-to recipe. If anyone has others to share, I would love to try out some new ones!
  • It's terrifying to see how quickly my homemade baked goods get moldy compared to store-bought baked goods. Apparently all those preservatives are really doing their job...
  • A lot of friends have talked about reducing their phone/social media usage as a goal/resolution for 2016. I'm starting to think I need to get on board with this, too. I realized I had hit a breaking point this morning when I got a pleasant email and my first instinct was to "like" it. What has happened to me!?!?!?
  • As a pet-lover, this news made me incredibly happy. Way to go, PAWS Chicago!!!
Linking up with Amanda's Thinking Out Loud Thursdays.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The hills are alive...

Allright, folks. This Midwestern flatlander has put her money where her mouth is.

I have officially registered for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

This is a big deal for me. Pittsburgh is filled with some of the most terrifying hills I've ever seen. For example:
Canton Avenue, which is the steepest officially recorded public street in the U.S.

After years of playing the avoidance card, I now HAVE to get real with hill training. Otherwise, I'll most certainly be doing a long, painful death waddle on May 1.

Adam is very proud of his hometown, so he is beyond thrilled, of course. He is going to have a great time spectating! We've got several local friends who run the race every year and I am pumped to join them this year. It'll be fun to take the extended tour in my running shoes.
And so begins the challenge.

From a timing standpoint, I'm not going to start training in earnest until my Pure Barre membership ends in a few weeks. In the meantime, I've started researching indoor hill training plans. Since there are almost no hills in Chicago, I definitely have to rely on the treadmill for help.

Based on the guidance in this article, I plan to try doing the following workout once a week:

- Warm up for 10-15 minutes
- At moderately hard pace, run:
  • 2 minutes at 4-6% incline
  • 2 minutes at 6-10% incline
  • 2 minutes at 2% incline
  • Repeat
- Start with three repeats. Try to work up to more repeats and/or increasing the speed/incline.
- Cool down 5-10 minutes.

I'd also like to try mimicking the Pittsburgh Half Marathon's elevations in training. According to the course elevation map, there are massive hills between approximately Miles 11.5 and 13. (Yikes!) Therefore, when I do my long runs, I will ideally add some hillwork at the end. So help me, God. This will require doing the tail end of my long runs on the treadmill.

I'm already trying to think of positive affirmations to keep myself going mentally. I know I'm going to have many moments of ugliness along the way. But hey, style points don't matter, right?
From a strength-training standpoint, I've already been focusing on squats and incline presses. I might try to up my game a little bit here. Maybe I'll add some lunges, etc.

At the moment, I'm planning ambitiously, of course. When push comes to shove, we'll see how strongly I actually execute. But I figure that even if I'm not completely consistent, a little bit of hillwork is still better than the zero I'm doing right now. Baby steps.

Any other thoughts or suggestions on how to whip a Midwestern flatlander out of her comfort zone? What are your best hill-running strategies? Any war stories to share?

Linking up with MarciaPatti, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run on the topic of "Goals."