Monday, January 31, 2011


Friday I ran the hilly non-hill 7 miler after work (after I did some upper body strength training and 30 minutes of intervals on the elliptical). Then I got to work baking my oatmeal awesomeness cookies for the Dana Farber Group run.

Saturday morning I got up early and went to Lexington for the Dana Farber group run. It’s so great to meet the new team members and see so many familiar faces from last year’s team too. Everyone LOVED my cookies and raved about them as they came and went from the water stop I was at. It was a gorgeous day out for a long run. I was kind of jealous watching them run their 12-15 miles. I couldn’t wait to get home and go for my own little run.

I got home around 1:00 and changed into my running clothes (only one layer of pants and two tops!). It was so nice out; almost 40 degrees and sunny. I felt great! I was even able to run negative splits and finish the last 3 miles of the run wicked fast. I got home and some of the snow in front of my condo had started to melt so I changed into dry clothes and grabbed my shovel. With another storm forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I wanted to clear as much snow out of the street as possible. I shoveled for two hours. I moved two giant snow banks from one side of the street to the other side. Smashed up the ice and frozen hard packed snow under the snow banks and moved that too. By the time I was finished there was room for 3 cars to easily park on the street and I was friggin starving!!!! Needless to say, I went in took a hot shower, ate dinner, and fell asleep on the couch by 7:00pm.

Sunday I got up early to do my long run. It was a little bit cooler than the day before and cloudy; made me wish I did my long run the day before. Still not too bad out though, in the 20s. I started my run around 9:00am and wore my yaktrax because it was still below freezing and the roads were kind of slippery. I didn’t want to risk falling and hurting myself even though the roads looked dry for the most part. I couldn’t run my normal 16 mile loop because some of the roads are way too narrow because of the snow and I was nervous about crazy drivers and no space to bail if someone gets a little too close. So, I modified my 16 mile loop and basically did my 14 mile loop with a 1 mile out and back added on 3 miles into the run. I should have picked a better spot to do my out and back because the 1 mile section I chose was a giant hill. I basically ran all the way to the bottom of it and then turned around and ran up it. The whole time I was thinking, it’ll be a mile before I get ALL the way to the bottom of this huge friggin hill. NOPE. Ran all the way to the bottom to make it exactly 1 mile out and back. Then I just continued on my normal 14 mile loop. Took off my yaktrax for the last 4 miles and felt like taking training wheels off and riding my bike for the first time. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!! Here's the elevation profile:

Overall, the run felt great. I was thinking the whole time, I can’t believe I go out on my Sunday mornings and run 16 miles AND I love it. It still blows my mind that I use to hate running and now I run for 2-3 hours at a time FOR FUN! And then when I’m done I willingly submerge myself in a tub full of ice water for 20 minutes. If you asked me 5 years ago to do any of that I would have laughed at you and now I’m the one that gets laughed at when I suggest such activities to my friends.

After the run and ritual ice bath, I met up with a friend I haven’t seen in a long time and we had planned to go to Life Alive in downtown Lowell. It’s this amazing ‘organic oasis’ that we both love and I pretty much only go there when we go out for lunch or dinner together. We had been trying for over a month to connect and plans kept falling through and finally both of our schedules lined up. We headed out my door to go to Life Alive and talked about what we were going to order and how much we love it there and then we got there and it was dark and there was a sign on the door saying that they were closed on Jan 30th for an employee appreciation party! WTF???? What about customer appreciation? We were so upset we must have looked like two little girls that dropped their ice cream cones.

We went to another restaurant around the corner and it was AWFUL. Not just because we were still bummed about not having Life Alive, the food was gross, the service was slow (and the place was empty), and it smelled funny, like there was rotting food imbedded in the carpet. We both just barely nibbled on our food and DID NOT ask them to wrap up the left-overs. Then we tried a small coffee shop down the street hoping for a little dessert to redeem the horrible experience so far and it was closed too. Apparently there is some weird holiday in Lowell on January 30th that causes every business to be closed and no one told me.

To top it all off, the movie we wanted to see was no longer in theaters and we watched a movie on-demand called Vanishing on 7th Street (available now before it’s in theaters). It’s no wonder they released it on-demand first. It was horrible. Really slow and stupid with a lack luster ending that made it seem like they just gave up on the movie and stopped filming before the plot actually finished. We had some delicious homemade food and Newman’s Own cookies. But still the afternoon was pretty disappointing all around. Thank God for the company of my friend because the afternoon was such a let down that to experience it alone would have been wicked depressing. Together we could laugh about it and at least try to make new plans for another day when Life Alive would be open.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…….runners.

OK, so I was going to complain about the snow, but it’s not ALL bad. It’s made me take a few rest days that my body definitely needed, I’ve gotten creative with my workouts, and it’s a good challenge to prepare me for anything on race day. I was starting to feel a little warn out at the beginning of the week anyway and if I had pushed myself I probably would have gotten sick. Instead I kind of took it easy this week.

Monday I did 60 minutes of intervals on the elliptical. Tuesday I did another stair climb work out and on the last set of lunges, I heard something in the front of my right hip snap and felt a little give. No pain, but still worrisome. I was planning on doing another 90 minutes at the gym after the stairs, but I skipped it and went home to ice my hip. Wednesday I was a little sore, but walking fine and managing stairs fine. I emailed all my athletic trainer buddies and determined that I most likely snapped a tendon over a bone, like plucking a guitar string. No biggie. Proceed with caution and monitor pain. I took a rest day Wednesday just to be safe. I don’t want to get injured and not be able to run Boston. I’d be devastated.

It worked out really well that I took a rest day Wednesday because the Sesame tempeh quinoa that I made for dinner Sunday and packaged for lunches was so friggin delicious that I had already eaten it all by Tuesday and had no food left to have for lunches for the rest of the week. So, after work I went to the grocery store and got more food for the rest of the week. Sometimes it’s hard to believe the volume of food I consume now. I lost 100lbs. and I think I eat way more now than I did when I was overweight. I just eat REAL FOOD instead of pre-package processed foods that are full of crap your body doesn’t need. I still love food and eat everything, but I find healthy alternatives to the junk I use to eat. Trader Joe’s makes Doritos that are out of this world and Ben and Jerry’s fair trade milk and cookies ice cream is a yummerific treat. Dried fruit is like candy and I eat peanut butter by the spoonful.

Thursday I returned to the gym for one of my new favorite sweat sessions that Mother Nature inspired with the last storm making it impossible to run outdoors. (100 jump rope skips + 1 mile on the dreadmill + 2 miles on the bike) x 5 It’s kind of fun and I get in 5 miles and it doesn’t seem that bad because it’s broken up and I’m not on the dreadmill for a continuous 45 minutes. Plus, I’m totally spent by the time I finish the last 2 miles on the bike and there’s a puddle of sweat on the floor beneath me. That always makes me feel like I accomplished something.

Speaking of burning a ton of calories, someone told me yesterday that they wore their heart rate monitor while removing the snow from their driveway with a snow blower after the latest storm Mother Nature brought our way. Aside from the walking back and forth, I can’t imagine that it is nearly as good of a work out as shoveling by hand. I googled shoveling and it burns an average of ~400 calories per hour so you can imagine how shocked I was to hear this person burned 2000 calories in 2 hours of snow blowing. They mentioned that their driveway is long and uphill, but still, that’s more calories than I burn running a half marathon!!! Unless they were running with the snowblower or at their max heart rate the entire time I have a very hard time believing it was accurate. I may have to wear my heart rate monitor the next time I shovel for 2 hours to see if I actually burn more than 400 calories per hour. I might end up doing that tonight because the plows didn’t really do a great job of clearing my street and there are more neighbors with a serious lack of parking skills than there are open spaces.

Oh yeah, and there’s only 80 days until the 115th Boston Marathon and the finish line looks like this:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wow, I’ve been busy!

Thursday at work they had a free health screening so I checked it out. I know I’m wicked healthy, but they were raffling off an iPad so I figured I’d get in on that. They were testing blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, and my favorite – BMI. Plus, I haven’t actually had my cholesterol tested in a while so it was interesting to see what the results were now that I eat “REAL food, but not too much, and mostly plants” (thanks Michael Pollan). My cholesterol is 160mg/dL; 59 HDL, 87 LDL, 66 triglycerides. All well below the desirable ranges. My fasting glucose (since I did the test at 6:30am and hadn’t eaten since about 6:00pm the previous night) was 78mg/dL; also well below desirable levels. And my blood pressure was 114/54mmHg. I probably could have gotten even lower blood pressure if I had to wait a little while because I basically ran over to the screening and got right in.

Last but not least, BMI……now, I’m 5’8” and on Thursday I weighed in at 164lbs which gives me a BMI of 24.9. Just barely making the cut for being overweight; to which my response was “BMI is BULLSHIT!” Last time I had my body composition tested I was at 17% body fat, extremely lean for a female in her 30s. Calculating whether a person is overweight only based on their height and weight is a totally flawed method. Not to mention it’s a horrible way to measure someone’s overall health too. I know plenty of people that fall into the range of “healthy weights” based on BMI, but they eat fast food and have high blood pressure and cholesterol and much higher body fat than me. Anyway, enough about that, I know I’m healthy, I just hope I win the iPad. After work on Thursday, I continued my stair climb training with another 5 flights workout followed by 20 minutes of upper body strength training.

Friday the nasty weather in New England continued and the roads were still not ideal for running on so I stayed indoors. YUCK! I did the same interval I did earlier in the week. (100 jump rope skips + 1 mile on the dreadmill + 2 miles on the stationary bike) x 5 As much as I hate the dreadmill, this workout makes doing 5 miles indoors tolerable. The entire workout takes me a little under 90 minutes to complete. I am dripping sweat all over the place by the time I get to the second round and I create a lovely puddle of sweat beneath the stationary bike by the time I’m totally done. So, even though I HATE the dreadmill, I get it done.

Friday night I met some friends and we went to Nashoba Valley Ski area. Not to actually ski, just to hang out in the lodge. I use to ski back in the day growing up in Maine, but that was when lift tickets were $25 at Sunday River. I can’t afford to ski now. It’s ridiculous. We had way more fun staying warm and watching other people ski and listening to the AWFUL cover band play. Some of our friends decided to narrate a couple that was fighting off in the distance and the fake fight they came up with was so funny I was laughing so hard I was crying. Then there was a very odd looking couple making out at the bar that they narrated for too. Needless to say there were few words in that fake conversation, but it was still very amusing. Overall it was a really fun night with all my running friends, not skiing at the ski area.

Saturday morning I got up and went outside! YAY! It might have been in the teens and a little windy, but it was sunny out and the roads were pretty decent. I did the 7 mile hilly non-hill loop and felt AMAZING. After four days of being stuck inside, running outside despite the cold temperatures felt like Forrest Gump must have felt when he finally broke out of his leg braces (I know I’m blonde, but yes, I do realize he is a fictional character). After the run, I quickly changed my clothes and had a snack, some water, and headed out the door to meet some friends at a ten story building in Andover for more stair climb training. Ten flights ten times and for fun I through in a 10 burpees on the last 5 reps for a total of 100 flights and 50 burbees. I was able to do the first 4 reps in about 90 seconds and then I got tired and slowed to a pace of about 2 minutes for ten flights. I think if I can push through the pain and fatigue on race day (and not run 7 miles prior to climbing) I should be able to finish in under 8 minutes. I think I need to be around 7 minutes to win my age group. Cross your fingers for me.

Yesterday, the forecast was for single digits with wind chills in the negative numbers. I was not looking forward to running my 14 miler. I had a feeling my water bottles would freeze and I’d have to take my last gel without water and that was not motivating me to get out the door and get started. Then I got a text from my friend Kim and she offered to check on me part way into my run to make sure I wasn’t frozen solid. So, knowing she would be out there I ran out the door and started my run.

I wore my yaktrax because I was a little nervous about black ice, but once I got going the roads were actually totally dry and I took the yaktrax off and stuffed them in my pocket. I made it to the spot where I had told Kim to meet me and she wasn’t there. Then I realized I told her to meet me where I would be when she planned on leaving and didn’t factor in the amount of time it would take for her to get to me from her house. I kept running and hoped that my directions were good enough that she would find me and right when I hit the 7 mile mark on my run I heard a horn honking behind me. She found me! YAY! I was maintaining a very good pace and felt amazing. The temperature was actually a lot warmer than expected, a balmy18 degrees. The sun was out and there was little to no wind. I chatted with Kim for a few minutes and grabbed a tissue from her and continued on for the last 7 miles of my run. I finished the last 3 miles of the run the fastest and felt awesome when I was done. Made the ritual trip to Rite Aid for my ice bath supplies and spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching some movies.

Last night I decided to try a new recipe that I had found for Sesame Honey Tempeh Quinoa. It seemed sort of simple so I added to it. I made some brown rice to mix in with the quinoa and added cubed tofu to the tempeh and steamed some kale and broccoli and diced up some roasted beets and put it all together and topped it off with some sliced almonds. OH MY GOD! It was delicious. “Delicious” doesn’t even do it justice. It was out of this world. I seriously can’t wait to get home tonight and eat the leftovers. It might be my new favorite meal. It was pretty simple to make and packed full of healthy super foods. Maybe I’ll post the recipe here so everyone can try it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why do they make “boot” cut jeans, but no “booty” cut jeans????

This has been bothering me for quite some time. Since I lost all the weight and started running it is impossible to find a pair of jeans that fits my new body. My waist is tiny, but my quads are ginormous and my butt is a perfect runner’s butt from doing hills and loving them – high and round. So, if I buy the “curvy” jeans that are roomy through the hips and thighs, they don’t fit my waist and don’t hug my butt like I want them to. But if I try on the slim through the hips and thighs jeans I can’t get them up over my knees because my quads get in the way. WTF? Do I have to order some Pajama Jeans just to get a snug fit??? I never thought that after losing 100lbs. it would be difficult to find clothes that fit. If only I could get away with wearing my under armor pants everywhere. That would be AWESOME!

Speaking of under armor, I haven’t been able to wear mine in two more days because Mother Nature is being a wicked douche. It snowed AGAIN and then turned to ice making it impossible to run outside. Just when the roads were starting to look pretty good and the sun was melting some of the snow. B*tch, quit messin’ with my training for Boston! It was funny the first time when you forced me to take a rest day, but it’s getting old. Oh and this weekend’s forecast – partly sunny (not too bad, I’ll take that over freezing rain) and 3° F!!!! Thanks for that! I bet my water bottles will freeze on my long run and I will get frostbite on my nose. Can’t wait.

Well, since I haven’t been able to run outside, here’s what I have been up to. Tuesday I did another awesome stair climb workout. (5 flights up + 5 burpees + 5 flights down + 20 squats + 5 flights up + 5 burpees + 5 flights down + 20 lunges) x 5 for a total of 50 flights of stairs, 50 burpees, 100 squats, and 100 lunges. AND if that doesn’t make you tired just reading it, when I was done I went to the gym and did 3 rounds of an upper body circuit and 60 minutes of intervals on an elliptical. It was awesome! By the time I was done, I could have eaten my own arm I was so hungry.

Yesterday, I was still a little sore from the previous day’s sweat session and it was raining ice so I went to the gym and stared out the window for a few minutes and glared at the dreadmill and stared back outside. Neither option was a great one so I found a way to get 5 miles done without hanging myself on the safety cord from the dreadmill. I did a mini triathlon of sorts. (100 jump rope skips + 1 mile dreadmill + 2 miles stationary bike) x 5 You know it’s a good workout when there is a puddle of sweat beneath you at the end. I might have to keep that workout handy for the next time Mother Nature decides to be a douche, which could be as soon as next week.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I took Mother Nature’s advice

Friday I took a rest day. That makes 3 days in a row of not running because of the stupid snow. I think that’s a record for me in a non-pre or post marathon week or non-summertime biking to work cross training for triathlons week.

Saturday morning, I got up early and drove to the Greater Boston Running Company Store in Lexington to volunteer for the Dana Farber Group run. I bundled up because the forecast was calling for friggin freezing temperatures. I had my under armor on under my jeans, three layers on up top, fleece lined wool mittens and my fuzzy warm hat too. Got to Lexington and it was 8 degrees!!!! All the layers in the world can’t keep you warm when you’re standing still in 8 degrees pouring cups of water. My toes froze and my finger tips were numb, but I still cheered for every DFMC runner that came to our water stop. I had a sign that read “Find your happy pace” and homemade oatmeal awesomeness cookies (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, AND white chocolate chips).

They were running 8-12 miles and some people extended the run and did 14 miles. We were at the 4.8 mile water stop at the end of the Minuteman bike path in Arlington and although we were cold, we didn’t have frost forming on our faces from the sweat freezing instantly in the wind like the runners did. At the end of the run, back at the store, some of the runners had icicles on their hats from the sweat. It was so cold they said that the other water stop was serving slushies.

When I left Lexington, the temperature was warming up, it was 10 degrees. By the time I got back to Lowell it was actually in the 20s so I texted my friend and made plans to go for a run. My legs were so ready to run I felt like a little kid at recess. My friend hates “the Hill” so I took her on the hilly non-hill 7 mile loop. She was cursing me by the end of the run because I told her we were going around “the Hill” but I forgot to mention that that just means a lot of little hills instead of one big hill. I felt great and finished sprinting up the last little incline and waiting at the top for her and cheering her on.

Saturday night I went to a party at Fit Lifestyles Studios, my friend Jenine’s fitness studio in Melrose, MA. It was for her clients, friends and family; I kind of fit into all those categories. I started out as a client back in the day before she owned her own business when this crazy chick I barely knew told me I should run a half marathon after I finished my first 2 mile run ever and almost puked. Then I became her friend when she cheered me on as I crossed the finish line at the B.A.A. half marathon a few months later and reached the 100lb. milestone. Now we’re like family and I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. It’s so amazing how far I’ve come, but I sometimes wonder if I would have done all the things I’ve done if she wasn’t there telling me I could. It was great to be able to go to the party and tell her current clients how much she has done for me and that she could do the same for them.

Sunday morning was cold and I was really warm and cozy in my pajamas and I didn’t really want to go outside for my long run, but I bundled up and got it done. 12 miles and I felt pretty good. Not super fast, but I finished strong. Hoped in my car and went to the Rite Aid for my post long run ritual ice pick up. 20 minutes in the tub filled with cold water and ice and a hot shower to defrost and I was ready to go again (but I didn’t). Instead I went to a friend’s house to watch some football and eat all his food. I warned him that I would be coming hungry. He and his wife had prepared a delicious spread and I sampled ALL of it. I think some of his other friends probably wondered where I store it all. Pulled pork, chicken wings, chili, chowder, mac n cheese, calzones, cookies, and fudge – yup I ate it ALL. It was awesome! Special thanks to the Nottingham’s for feeding me!

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. day and for the first time in the 10yrs that I have worked at Genetics Institute/AHP/Wyeth/Pfizer we got the day off!!! I took advantage and snuggled on my couch all morning with my cat Lola and made an awesome veggie lasagna with organic whole wheat and flax seed noodles and roasted garlic and veggies. Then I went for another run. I did the 7 mile hilly non-hill loop again and crushed it; proof that ice baths are awesome! I felt amazing. And along the way I saw the Tewksbury PD out patrolling the road I run on and pulling people over for speeding. I have to write them another thank you note. I REALLY appreciate them keeping the roads safe for me when people whiz by me so fast that I can taste the salt from the road whirling into the air as they fly by.

Anyway, that pretty much sums up my long weekend. ONLY 90 DAYS until I get to run the Boston Marathon again!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

2ft of snow + extreme treadmill loathing = ZERO miles run

Doesn’t Mother Nature know that we have this kinda big race in New England that happens every April and people need to train for it in January, February, and March? Two feet of snow on the ground and snow banks on the sides of roads that are taller than the recent addition to the Boston Celtics, make it nearly impossible to run outside safely. I know most people have probably taken their training indoors for the past two days while the plow trucks do the heavy lifting and make the roads safe again, but I despise the treadmill and consider it a form of torture worse than water boarding.

SO, since I haven’t run in two days, here’s what I have been up to. On Wednesday, while most folks in the greater Boston area had a snow day because the governor asked everyone to stay home, I got up super early and went to work because Corporate America can’t take a snow day when there’s money to be made. The recording on the Snow Hotline where I work said “business as normal”, but drive carefully you can’t make us money if you’re stuck in a snow bank on the side of the road freezing to death. Just kidding, I made up that last half. Anyway, I got to work at 5:00am before it started snowing three inches per hour and it was still a nasty 10 mile commute with next to no visibility and only plow trucks on the road. Thanks again to the idiot that hit me on New Years Eve, I really would have liked to have my all wheel drive Subaru to navigate the roads in the storm, but instead I was stuck in a crappy rental Toyota corolla which does not handle snow very well.

The best thing about going to work in a blizzard, the gym is AT work. After I finished everything I needed to do, I changed into my workout clothes and continued my stair climb training. I repeated the 5 flights with burpees, squats, and lunges routine; still managing to make it up the 5 flights each rep in about 45 seconds. After that I bundled up and made my way over to the onsite fitness center. I did 20 minutes of upper body strength training and 30 minutes on the elliptical before calling it quits and heading home.

Yesterday, I was sort of hoping that the road crews were superhuman and could work overnight without any sleep to clear the roads and make them safe enough for me to run on, but in reality they are normal and they require sleep. So, the roads were safe to drive on but, with giant snow banks every where and sidewalks that will be buried for weeks, I didn’t feel safe enough to attempt running in the roads. On the bright side, while I was at work I got a call from the body shop that my car was all fixed up and ready. I skipped the gym and picked up my Subaru on my way home from work.

I was considering just taking a rest day after I got my car, but when I arrived home my neighbors had done an amazing job of parking their giant SUV in the middle of the only cleared out section of the street so that there was just enough room on either side of them for NO other cars to fit. If they had pulled forward a little or backed up a little we could have fit TWO more cars, but NOOOOOOO, they win the award for (excuse my language) the shittiest neighbors ever! I pulled my Subaru into the snow bank that the SUV left behind after they brushed off their car just enough to get it out and pull it into the cleared out spot and I went in my house and got a shovel. I figured since I skipped the gym to get my car shoveling would be a good form of exercise and great stress relief for the frustration I was feeling towards my neighbors.

I shoveled for almost 3 hours and managed to single-handedly move a snow bank the size of a house from one side of the street to the other side making room for at least two more cars to park. The Lowell Police actually circled the block 4 times while I was shoveling, parking at the end of the street and pulling people over that blow through the stop light at the intersection. On his 4th trip around the block, the officer stopped to say hi and that I had been out there for a really long time. I was tempted to give HIM a ticket……. to the gun show, (tehehe, from all the shoveling, get it), but I just said I’d feel stupid if I stopped now because I was almost done. A few more shovels full and I went in to my house sweaty, hungry, and exhausted.

Today, I plan to do the stair climb workout again and then maybe if it’s nice out I will try to do a short run outside with full reflective gear and blinking lights and my yaktrax if it’s icy. It’s been MONTHS since I’ve gone two days without running. I’m having withdrawals. If I don’t go for a run today my legs might start twitching and I could go mental. Hopefully, the sun comes out a little today and the road crews are well rested and can start working on removing some of the large snow banks that block the view of drivers that usually try to run me over when there isn’t a large obstacle in the way. Or maybe Mother Nature wants me to take a rest day……

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow, Snow, Go away and don’t come back any other day

Before I talk about the stupid storm we’re suppose to get I’ll recap the last few days.

Sunday, I did my long run; 14.2 miles. It was cold and a little windy, but the sun was out so it didn’t feel too bad. I was so comfy and cozy in my pajamas Sunday morning it was really tough to get motivated. Then I got a text from a friend that wanted to do 6-7 miles and was interested in tagging along for the first few miles of my run. Just the kick in the butt I needed to get my long run started. Only downside, he started me out way too fast. I felt great for the first 6 miles even though I knew I started too fast. Then at about mile 8 I turned into the wind and up hill. There’s a series of rolling hills that I like to call the never-ending hill because it’s really like one LONG hill. It climbs to a peak then I get a down hill for about a mile before I climb the last 2 miles back home. I finished the run a little slower than I would have liked, but I felt pretty good and could have gone longer.

I looked at my splits after a hot shower and a cup of tea to defrost myself. I started out doing 9:40s and finished doing 10:40s. My heart rate was in the high 150s (80% of my max) for the first 6 miles and then I settled into a comfortable rhythm and maintained 140s (70% of my max) for the rest of the run. I really need to train to hold back at the start and conserve my energy so that I can run even splits in Boston like last year or better yet, negative splits and a new PR.

Yesterday, I continued my stair climb training. I’m getting better. I can consistently do the 5 flights in 45 seconds and I’m even getting better at the 5 burpees at the top. I might try and do one workout without the burpees and squats and lunges so that there is less recovery time between reps of climbing the stairs. I can complete the entire workout (8 times up and down) pretty easily in about 20 minutes. I might start adding reps too to continue to challenge myself and prepare for the Race up Boston Place. After the stair climb workout I headed over to the gym and did some upper body strength training and then 30 minutes on an elliptical before going home starving and sweaty.

Oh and to follow up on my post from a New Years, I got the estimate back from the insurance company for the car accident I was in……..$3200!!!!!!! And Lowell PD said it wasn’t that bad. Shows how much they know. I know it was New Years Eve and they probably had a lot more stuff going on, but they still should have done an accident report. I might be going to the LPD later to request one.

So, back to the start of this post, tonight and into tomorrow the weatherman is saying we are going to get A LOT of snow. Like more than a foot and maybe as much as two feet. I know it’s pretty and little kids love to play in it and go sledding, but it makes it nearly impossible and extremely dangerous to train for a marathon. I’m really hoping that the weatherman is wrong and we just get a dusting or the storm misses us completely. Not to mention I friggin’ HATE shoveling and have to shovel pretty much the entire street in front of my condo because all my neighbors are lazy and barely clean off their cars and then pull out of the snow into the spot I shoveled clean around my car. If we really do get two feet of snow I might just put a lawn chair in my spot or totally cover the car that dares to steal my spot in snow from the NEW spot I am forced to shovel because of their laziness.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

More stairs and a fun run in the snow

I wrapped up this first week of 2011 with a 7 mile hilly non-hill run. Let me explain. My usual favorite route from my house is a 6 mile out and back that goes up a hill that is a mile long at the halfway point. Here's the elevation profile:

I was running with a friend that had done hills the previous day and she didn't want to run "the hill" so I offered the alternate slightly longer lollipop loop that goes around the hill. It literally takes a sharp turn left at the bottom of "the hill" just when you think I'm going to make you run it anyway and goes through some lovely back roads around and then to the top and we run down "the hill" back to my house. We added on another block at the end to make it an even 7 miles. At the finish of the run my friend commented that although we went around "the hill" the run was still pretty hilly. She wasn't complaining, but simply stating the fact that instead of doing one big hill we did a lot of little hills. Here's the elevation profile of the 7 miler:

I mean, I guess she's right, but I love hills so I didn't really notice them. Only thing I noticed was the severe case of boo boo belly I got in the last mile. I had broccoli for lunch, a mistake I will never make again. Not entirely sure if that's what caused it, but I was in pain for the rest of the night.

Friday, I decided to do the stair climb work out again. This time I kept track of my splits every time I went up the 5 flights. I did the same work out: up 5, 5 burpees, down 5, 15 squats, up 5, 5 burpees, down 5, 20 lunges - repeat 3 more times. Each time up the stairs took me 45-50 seconds, even on the last rep when I was totally spent. I know that it's not the same as climbing 40 flights all at once because I get the recovery effort of going back down the stairs inbetween, but if I can do even half the stair climb event at that pace and then slow down in the second half, I might be able to place in my age group. At 45 seconds for 5 flights thats approximately 6 minutes for the entire climb. The 1st place finisher for my age group last year did it in 7 minutes and change. I just want to try and get under 8 minutes. If I actually place I'll freak out!

I was going to go for a short run after the stair climb workout, but I kind of lost my motivation and when I got home I decided to relax and do laundry instead. Good thing too because all my running pants were dirty and I had a group run planned with friends this morning.

It's funny, a year ago I was in the airport in Manchester on my way to Disney to do the Goofy Challenge and I ran into this girl that I recognized from the Good Times 5K series in downtown Lowell. We both scoped each other out from a distance before introducing each other and admitting we were both each other's biggest competition. Now a year later, this morning I ran to her house a little over a mile away from mine and we did a 6 mile run together with some other friends (oh and she's 7 months pregnant and still running! ROCKSTAR!). Amazing how running brings people together. I think that's a huge part of what makes it so addictive. Well, that and the endorphins.
Me and my biggest competition/running buddy, Kim (from a race a few weeks back):

The 6 miler was great. It was about 8 miles for me since I ran to the starting point. It was a little chilly and dusting snow as we ran. Not really enough snow that it was accumulating, but enough that you could see the footprint of the person in front of you for a few seconds before the wind whirled the snow away. We kind of did a tour of Lowell; running through the Bellvidere section past Saints hospital over the bridge and down the VFW highway to Aiken St. and back over the river and through downtown. Only part that sort of sucked was along the river because the wind picked up and it chills you to the bone no matter how many layers you have on. I made a mental note to wear my super warm hat tomorrow on my long run. It's suppose to be really windy and cold and I'm planning on doing 14 miles.

After the run, we all went out for breakfast. I can't remember the last time I went out for breakfast. Actually, now that I think about it, I think it was in California when I ran the Disneyland half marathon. Ah, running and food, my two favorite things. And now I can add to that equation the friends I have met along the way for a trifecta of happiness.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year – new challenges

I’ve decided to try and challenge myself in new and different ways this year. 6 marathons in 2 years was a good start to my healthier life, but I’m getting bored with looking for fun new marathons to run. I need to keep myself motivated and keep my body constantly thinking “WTF?” So far that means I’ve signed up for a stair climb race in February and the Tough Mudder New England race in May. I’m also considering a half ironman this summer and maybe an ultra marathon in the fall.

First up - the Race Up Boston Place. It’s a stair climb event for American Lung Association (you can sponsor me at click on the Boston event page and then sponsor a climber). 41 flights, 789 stairs, run up them as fast as you can. Sounds easy right? Hey, if I can run 26.2 miles I should be able to climb 40+ flights of stairs. Well, the thing is, it’s not so much your leg muscles that fail, it’s your lungs. For some reason, climbing stairs taxes your cardio vascular system more than running long distance. If you’ve used the step machines at the gym and you think it’s not that bad, it’s not the same as climbing actual stairs. I have volunteered at the event for the past two years and this year I decided to take on the challenge myself and give it a go.

I started my training yesterday. I found a stairwell that goes up 5 flights and after work I climbed. My workout was as follows: 5 flights up, 5 burpees at the top, 5 flights down, 15 squats at the bottom, 5 flights up, 5 burpees at the top, 5 flights down, 20 lunges at the bottom – repeat 3 more times. I alternated single step climbing and every other step climbing each time up. It took me about 20 minutes total (about 45 seconds each time up 5 flights). I was dripping sweat by the time I finished. It was AWESOME! I can’t wait to do it again. My calves are a little tight today, but other than that I feel pretty good.

After the stair climb my main focus is going to be training for Boston again, but I’ll be keeping in mind that only 2 weeks after Boston I’ll be heading up to Vermont to do the Tough Mudder race. It’s an obstacle course race over 8-10 miles of mountain terrain. So, as I train for Boston I’m going to also try to work in lots of upper body strength training too so that I can make it up and over the obstacles along the tough mudder course. I did two similar races in 2010, but both were shorter and not nearly as (excuse my language) badass. Tough Mudder promises to a grueling battle of determination and endurance and tolerance of mud in places mud shouldn’t be. I can’t wait.

So, stay tuned for all the new challenges that 2011 will bring and maybe even some funny training stories along the way.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Finishing up 2010 with a bang and kicking off 2011 with a 10K

So, the grand total for the year was a little over 1485 miles. I’m not going to lie, I was REALLY tempted to go for a last minute 15 miler to make it an even 1500, but I decided to take it easy and enjoy New Years Eve.

Then on my way to a party at my running buddy’s house with a double-decker white chocolate raspberry cheesecake in the front seat, beautifully decorated with fresh berries all over the top, I turned on my blinker to make a left hand turn into a driveway and turn around to park in front of her house and CRASH!!!!!!!! Some DOUCHE decided it was ok to pull into the oncoming lane and try to pass me on the left side before I made the turn. He ripped off the entire front bumper of my car and the cheesecake and berries went flying onto the floor of the passenger side of my car. Who passes on the LEFT???? AND I EVEN USED MY BLINKER!!!!! I know that’s weird for Massachusetts and maybe he didn’t recognize the flashing red light from the rear of my car as a signal that I intended to turn in that direction, but still, WHO DOES THAT? Needless to say I was pretty shaken up and really upset about the cheesecake and the damage to my car. I didn’t let it ruin my evening though. I called the police, reported the accident, got all the necessary insurance info, parked my car and went to the party. We counted down to midnight and so began 2011!

The next day, I got up and went outside to re-assess the damage to my car and was able to laugh it off because it looked pretty ridiculous that my entire front bumper was now in the back of my hatchback. Not much I can do about it but laugh. Went back inside, ate breakfast, had some tea, and headed off to the first race of the year. Lowell’s First Run 10K. It was almost 50 degrees out and unseasonably sunny and warm. Felt more like May 1st than January 1st. I was slightly over dressed in a long sleeve shirt and long pants. Went out too fast in the first 5K and sort of ran out of steam towards the end. Way too hot in the clothes I had on and dying, but I finished still in the top 1/3 of my age group. I hung out after the race with some friends eating homemade fudge and laughing at the sad state of my vehicle. Fresh start, new year, new miles, new goals, and lots more to come.