Sunday, February 27, 2011

When life gives you lemons……squeeze them in the b*tches eyes and run

Wow, it’s been a crazy few weeks. Sorry I haven’t updated much. Mother Nature continues to be a giant douche. And it seems everywhere I turn lately people are just cranky and not nice. Drivers on the road nearly running me over and neighbors parking so no one else can park and threatening to call the police on a bunch of elderly people that mean well, but suck at life. One of my best friends gave me a bit of advice a few years back and it always comes in handy around these type of circumstances - "don't let the bitches get you down". Works on so many levels.

I work for a large pharmaceutical company that is doing “Capacity Planning” and “Future State Discovery” (aka – how many people can we get rid of and still make money?). It has been going on for about a year and it makes for a very stressful work environment. We are told to focus on our work and try not to be distracted by the fact that your badge might not work when you come in tomorrow. I try to make the most of it and look on the bright side; at least I have a job …… for now.

The one bonus to this craptasic scenario is that my company has an onsite fitness center. So, while Mother Nature has made it difficult to train outdoors, I have been utilizing this employee benefit every day after work.

Monday I did some strength and an hour on the elliptical. Tuesday I did my new favorite “jump rope-run-bike” workout. Wednesday I did more strength training and elliptical. Then Thursday, my plan was to drive into Boston and run the Newton Hills for the first time this year. Unfortunately, we left too late and got stuck in traffic and couldn’t find parking then just ended up doing an out and back to BC. It was still about 9 miles of hills, but not the same scenery.

Friday was the mother of all bad days. My computer crashed and I was unable to do any work so I sat and stared at a blank screen totally helpless and annoyed. I left early because it was driving me nuts. I went home and decided to take a rest day and use the free time to go grocery shopping and do my laundry and watch a few movies.

Saturday morning was another Lowell Ladies run with my prego friend Kim and our running buddies. Yup, she’s still running. You have no excuse if you say you can’t get to the gym or go outside for a walk – She’s 37 weeks pregnant and STILL running! It was cold and windy but we managed to finish a nice 5 miler (plus 3 miles for me to and from her house).

Sunday I got up early and did my 14 miler then took a quick ice bath and a hot shower and met some friends at my favorite restaurant in downtown Lowell – Life Alive. Lunch was awesome. I got home, relaxed, and made plans with some other friends to go back to Life Alive again the next day because I actually had the holiday off.

Life Alive Monday was delicious as expected and my friends convinced me to take another rest day because I ran a total of 22 miles over the past 2 days so I went home after lunch and watched a few movies before going to bed.

This week was almost identical to last week. Go to work, then the gym or a run, and home.

Wednesday night was the annual condo association meeting. It’s always entertaining and stressful. There are only 8 units in my condo association. Half of the residents are elderly; one resident is a completely insane psycho; one resident is a new girl that doesn’t say much; then there’s the young couple that didn’t even show up to the meeting; and me. We do the best that we can with the resources we have available to us and every year the psych guy threatens everyone and yells the entire time. The elderly woman that is the treasurer tries to justify wasting money. Everyone else just sits there.

This year I couldn’t take the chaos anymore. I stepped up and facilitated the meeting. I showed the treasurer all her accounting errors and demanded that we stop throwing money away on non-essential stuff. I cut the psycho off mid-rant and made him leave because he was off topic and disrespecting everyone. After he left I blew through the agenda and adjourned the meeting within 15 minutes. Hopefully, we can follow though on all the action items and keep the crazy guy from killing us all. We already have a report on file with the police department and if he tries anything I’ll put his ass in jail.

Thursday was a pretty normal day at work followed by an awesome hill run in Lowell after work. I went with my friend Scott and took him on the hilly non-hill 7 miler. It felt really great. The weather was perfect; in the 40s and partly sunny. The roads were sort of clear from some of the warm weather melting everything. Cars were still not nice and I had to jump into the snow bank a few times but overall it was a fantastic run.

Friday flew by and after work I went to the fitness center to get my body composition measured again. I could tell immediately when Beth wrote down the first few numbers that I had changed significantly since the last time she measured me. The first few numbers were in the single digits. We plugged the numbers into an online calculator and hit “calculate”. I’m down to 16% body fat!!!! No wonder my clothes feel huge and everyone keeps asking me if I lost more weight. I can’t believe it. From couch potato to lean marathoner in three years, blows my mind.

I went home and baked cookies for Dana Farber and Saturday I volunteered at their long run in Lexington. I didn’t think it was suppose to be very cold, but when I got to the water stop we were working, the wind picked up and cut right through me. I was shivering for 3 hours and I still needed to do my own long run. I got home and put my running stuff on, but with my fingers still numb, my legs really stiff and still frozen, and the clock ticking away the daylight hours, I decided to skip my run and warm up instead. I fell asleep on my couch and woke up 3 hours later. So, I guess I needed the rest.

Now it’s Sunday morning and it’s SNOWING AGAIN!!!!!! I have a 3-mile race this afternoon and I wanted to try and squeeze in a few miles before the race to get my long run in for the week, but it might be too dangerous while it’s still snowing and the roads are not cleared. We’ll see if it looks better in an hour or so. In talking with some of the veteran runners at the Dana Farber training run yesterday, they were all convinced that a tough training season means a nice race day. I really hope they’re right.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy “I’m single and I hate cheap chocolate and hallmark cards anyway” day!

I will be so happy when I don’t have to see another friggin’ Valentine’s Day commercial or chick flick on TV for a while. I mean, I love a nice romantic comedy now and then, but it’s nauseating in February. Even Facebook was flooded this morning with status updates wishing everyone lots of love. Blaghhh.

Last week flew by. I did two days of intense intervals on the dreadmill and stationary bike, one day of easy lifting, and a day of easy elliptical exercise. Friday night I went to Trader Joe’s after the gym – BIG MISTAKE. Traffic was terrible and it took me forever to get there and what should have been a quick trip to restock on peanut butter turned into a “everything looks good because I’m so hungry my stomach is eating itself load up on junk and eat it on the way home” trip. I was able to resist the sea salt brownie bites and chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels, but caved and got some mango sorbet and Trader Joe’s version of Doritos.

Saturday morning I went for a run with my lovely lady friends of Lowell. The plan was to do 5 miles, but I ran from my house to my friend Kim’s house which adds a little over a mile and a half each way for me. So, the total for me was about 8 miles and change. Kim is 36 weeks pregnant and still running! She’s proof that anything is possible. It was a great run, the sun was out, there was little to no wind, and we averaged about 10:00 minute miles. Here we are before the run:

After the run I had to rush home, freshen up and wrap a present for Kim’s surprise baby shower. I made her a hand stitched baby quilt. It came out so cute. It had little elephants, giraffes, alligators, and birds on it. Here’s a photo of her holding it up for everyone to see:

Saturday night, I just went home and finished my laundry and took a nap. I was sort of bummed out because I hitched a ride with one of my running buddies to the shower and on the way back to my house she was trying to fix me up with her ex. I appreciated the effort, but the more she talked about him and why I should date him, the more irritated I got and the more I just didn’t want to hear about it. He use to make her pancakes after she stayed the night and so we just referred to him as “Pancakes” and I kind of felt like saying “I don’t want left over pancakes, I want eggs and bacon!” Instead I just said “no thanks”. Then when I got home all the commercials and chick flick marathons on TV made me even more bummed out. Thank God I had a nice long run to look forward to the next day to make me feel better.

I woke up early Sunday morning and had my breakfast and tea and headed out. I felt pretty good. My legs were a little heavy and it was colder than the day before, but overall it was not too bad and it hadn’t snowed in a few days so that was a huge bonus because the roads were actually sort of safe to run in. The miles flew by. I couldn’t do my favorite 16 miler because some of the roads are still too narrow so I did the same hilly modified 16 miler that I did two weeks ago. I got to mile 7 and my iPod shuffle died, it was ok though. It’s been a while since I ran without music and it was kind of nice. I needed the “me time” anyway. I made it to the last 4 miles and felt really great so I picked up my pace and finished the last 4 miles the fastest and just in time for lunch! I had leftover Sesame tempeh quinoa and then went to the grocery store to pick up food for the week. I decided to try a new recipe and made Moroccan Vegetable stew with cous cous for dinner. It made my whole house smell amazing. Spices like cinnamon and cumin filled the air and then danced on my palate when the stew was ready for tasting. Before I knew it, I was thinking to myself “CRAP! Tomorrow is Monday!”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another reason I love running

I did another intense sweat session at the gym yesterday. (Jump rope + 1.5m dreadmill run + 2m stationary bike) x5 increasing speed on the dreadmill with each interval. Afterwards I had an amazing dinner - baked haddock, quinoa and wild rice, steamed green beans, but I was still hungry so I ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream AND still had a negative calorie balance for the day! Boooyah!

Monday, February 7, 2011

What a week

Last week after running a TON of hills I started out easy. Monday, I just did a short sweat session at the gym, lifting and then doing some intervals on the eliptical. Mother Nature was still being kind of douchey and the roads were not safe to run in with another monster storm in the forecast.

I didn’t let it get me down. Tuesday, I registered for the Chicago Marathon in October! I’ve never been to Chicago so it will be really fun. A few of my friends signed up too so we’re already getting a small group together for the trip. After work I did another dreadmill workout. (100 jump rope jumps + 1 mile run + 2 mile bike) x 5 It’s pretty intense and by the time I finish I’m usually starving so it’s a good substitute for an outdoor run dodging traffic and snow and ice.
Speaking of snow and ice Mother Nature delivered MORE to us on Tuesday and Wednesday in a one-two punch combo storm. It was not nearly as bad as the whiteout conditions two weeks prior, but the freezing rain and sleet on Wednesday made it bad enough that for the first time in the 10 years I’ve been working at my company, they closed the site. I had planned on taking a vacation day anyway because I’m sick of dealing with the lack of parking situation when I get home, but I didn’t even need to use a vacation day. So, I didn’t get to the gym on Wednesday and I didn’t go for a run, but I DID shovel for 2 hours. Then, my a-hole neighbor that doesn’t know how to park his giant SUV came home just as I was finishing shoveling all the snow out of the street to clear the parking spaces in front of our condo and he plowed right into the snow bank with his car knocking over everything I had just shoveled!!! He even tried to park right in the friggin middle again until I told him to back up so other people had space to park too.

Thursday was insane at work because of all the stuff that didn’t get done Wednesday because of the snow. I was running around all day like crazy right up until quiting time. I went to the gym and did an extended version of my new favorite indoor dreadmill workout. (100 jump rope jumps + 1.5 mile run + 2 mile bike) x 5 It took me about 2hrs to do it, but it felt AWESOME!

Friday, I was torn. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. The Stair Climb race was Saturday and I didn’t want to do too much and go into it tired, but I also knew it was only going to take me 8-10 minutes to complete so I felt weird “tapering” for a 10 minute effort. I decided to rest. I always say it’s better to show up a little undertrained than injured and not able to race at all.

The rest totally paid off. Saturday morning I went to the Race Up Boston Place. My start time was 9:29:00am and I’m so psyched I got to go early. My adrenaline was pumping from the moment I woke up. I was so nervous and excited. I brought my jump rope with me to warm up a little before the climb. Finally it was go time. I lined up and waited for the clock to tick to my start time and the volunteer said “go”. I tapped my timing chip on the mat and started climbing. I went every other step and used my arms to help pull me up. It was tricky to find a good rhythm at first because the floors were all uneven and weird. One flight would be 3 stairs and the next would be 11 and then 7. It was really strange and not consistent. I realized after I made it up to the first turn I forgot to start my watch so it was a few seconds off. I was still doing awesome. I did the first 10 flights in 90seconds. I could hear the person that had start 15 seconds ahead of me and some other climbers only a few flights up. I was catching them! I passed one person, then another person, then a guy came up behind me and passed me. Before I knew it there was only 5 flights left to go. I stayed right on the heels of the fast guy that passed me and picked up the pace. I kept telling myself only 8 minutes of suffering. Push through it! I MADE IT. 41 flights, 789 stairs. 7 minutes and 58 seconds!!!!

I was coughing and hacking my lungs out at the top and one of the elite racers said to me “you did it right”. It was awesome! Only a short walk down to the 39th floor for a very nice recovery zone with tons of free stuff including my new favorite thing – Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt. It will be in stores soon, but not soon enough. I was very pleased to see that almost all the vendors there were supplying All-Natural and organic products.
After I recovered and enjoyed some more frozen yogurt my friend Jenna and I headed back down to the lobby to watch the other climbers go. I met up with my friend Jenine and her team of Fit Climbers from the Fit Lifestyle Studios in Melrose and saw a few familiar faces from Boston Fire and Portland Fire. Then as luck would have it, of all places in Greater Boston for it to happen, the fire alarm went off, in a building FULL of firefighters! We thought it was just a mistake until the volunteers started saying “it’s not a drill – GET OUT!” I guess there was a real fire somewhere in the building. Kind of random and funny at the same time just because the whole place was crawling with firemen. We got lunch at B-good after and then spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the eye candy.

Sunday, Mother Nature finally gave us a break and provided a nearly perfect day for training for Boston. It was about 35 degrees and sunny. Most of the snow in the streets melted and just a few spots were icy, but not bad at all. It felt like spring. I did my 14 miler with ease. I should climb ~1000 steps (we did an extra 25 flights after the climb) before every long run. I averaged under 10:00 miles for the entire run and I felt amazing. I hope Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction is right and we are really getting an early spring, but I’m not going to hold my breathe. I’m guessing that Mother Nature still has a few challenges up her sleeves for those of us that are trying to train for a little race to be run in Boston on April 18th.