May 31, 2014

Stress relief

After taking a few days off, I felt ready to write a post today. I've missed you all! :) Unfortunately, I have nothing mind-blowing to write about, but I guess that could also be a good thing. It's been pretty low-key. I wish I could say that a few days to focus on me was just what I needed to get out of my funk, but I'm still not feeling my best. I really think that I just need to give it some more time; and meanwhile, continue on with my life as I know it.

I did get to spend some quality time with my family, which was a top priority for me. On Thursday, Jerry wanted to go for a run with me. He only gets the urge to run about three times a year, so I thought it would be a good thing for us to do together. We decided to go to the State Park and run a five-mile loop there.

It was really nice! I was struggling through the run, which seems to be the norm lately, but Jerry handled it like a champ. We went at an easy pace, and chatted while we ran. I was really impressed that Jerry did the whole five miles without a single complaint. It actually seemed easier for him than it was for me!

After our run, we went to a flooring store to check out flooring options for our bathroom. We've needed a new floor in there for a while, but it just seemed like such a big project that I've avoided it. After checking out our options, though, we really liked one (I can't remember what it's called, but it seemed really durable), and we ended up ordering it. It should be in on Tuesday, and installed in a couple of weeks. I'll be so happy when that's done!

In the evening, Alex (one of Jerry's friends from work) came over. It was really nice outside, so we sat on the deck and had a few too many beers. We didn't get to bed until about midnight, and Jerry had to get up at 4:00 for work. I had plans to get together with Jessica and Courtney for a run at 8:30. When I woke up, I felt awful. The older I get, the worse the hangover symptoms are! I was really tempted to cancel on my friends for the run, but I knew I'd feel better if I just got it done.

So I got this kids off to school, and then went to Jessica's, where we met to run the State Park trail. The plan was to run 8 miles, but to do it with a 9:1 ratio of running to walking. This was something that Jess and I did during training for the Cleveland Marathon, and we enjoyed it. We'd run for 0.9 miles and then walk for 0.1; then repeat for the duration of the run.

Back then, we did it because we were injured, and it was the only way we could bear to run. But yesterday, we did it because we wanted to make the run more enjoyable. We've all been struggling with running in the heat lately (the weather here went from one extreme to the other really quickly), and we've been dreading our long runs. Doing the 9:1 run/walk actually sounded pretty good!

The first half of the run was pretty tough, even with the walking intervals. My stomach was revolting on me. During mile four, I really thought I was going to throw up--I was super nauseous! But I willed my stomach to obey, and I started to feel better each mile after that. We saw lots of adorable goslings, and one very angry swan. The swan was right in our path, and we had a little stand-off to wait for him to move. Then he got in the water, and we saw the momma and five little baby swans. (I had to google what a baby swan is called--it's a "cygnet". I like "baby swan" better, so we'll go with that.)

Jessica's Garmin kept track of all of our running/walking splits, so I just let my Garmin run the whole time, and I was surprised to see how even our mile splits were, even with the walking factored in:

We did the running portions at around a 9:40 pace, so I was surprised to see that the walking didn't really add much time to our overall pace.

The best part about the run was that I realized how much more enjoyable it was compared to just running eight miles straight. I think I would actually look forward to doing my long runs this way instead of dreading them. So I'm going to do that this summer--run my long runs at a 9:1 run/walk ratio.

I still plan to do 5K training; but even with 5K training, I should be doing a long run each week. So I'll just do the run/walk on my long run days. It should make the heat a little more bearable throughout the summer, too! On the other days, I'll do my short and easy runs or short and hard runs, but I'll run the whole distance.

My stomach felt kind of icky all day, but I did feel a lot better mentally after running. Yesterday evening, Noah was invited to a sleepover birthday party, so I told Eli he could invite a couple of school friends over. When I took Noah to the birthday party, I stopped and picked up Eli's friends Olivia and Christian.

They wanted pizza for dinner, so we picked that up on the way home, and I let them get drinks and snacks at the corner store. The three of them had a lot of fun together, and I'm so glad. Eli's been feeling lately like he doesn't have any friends (one of the things I've been stressed about), so it was important to me to for him to have a good time.

Olivia went home last night, and Christian stayed overnight. I drove Christian home this morning, and then took Eli to baseball practice. I was engrossed in a book, so I brought it with me to read while I sat there at practice; I guess I should have been paying more attention to the game, though, because I got smoked in the arm with a foul ball. Not long after, Eli was standing on the pitcher's mound, and a ball hit him hard in the shin. Poor kid! Now we'll have matching bruises.

The book I've been reading is something I should have read a long time ago:

Most runners have at least heard of Dean Karnazes, if not have read his book. I'd heard his Ultra Marathon Man book was really good, but my library didn't have it, so I just never sought it out anywhere else. But yesterday, I drove all the way to Barnes & Noble (a 45-minute drive!) to get the birthday present for the party Noah was invited to, and while I was there, I saw this book, so I bought it. I was hooked from the first chapter!

I have no interest in ever running an ultra marathon (a race that is farther that 26.2 miles), but this book is so interesting to read. If you're a runner, of any distance, you'll probably find this to be a great read. I was told by Runner's World that Karnazes is going to be at the Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival next weekend, so I may get to meet him. But I haven't seen a seminar from him on the schedule on the website, so I don't know if he'll be there or not. I guess I'll see when I get there!

Anyway, the past few days have been nice--busy, but not overly stressful. One thing I've realized through this time off is that I put too much pressure on myself, and I'm going to try not to do that anymore. Especially when it comes to diet and weight-related stuff. As much as I love my Weight Watchers meeting, I hate the pressure of weighing in there; and even weighing in on my blog has been making me feel pressure all the time. Sometimes, the pressure is a good thing, because it keeps me accountable; but when I'm feeling stressed about unrelated things, the pressure of weighing in gets to be too much.

I think I'll set some goals to focus on that aren't directly related to weight. I liked doing the 10,000+ steps per day goal for February, so for June, I'm going to aim for 12,000+ steps per day. Since I'm done training for the Heartbreak Hill Half, my running mileage is going to decrease by about half, which means I'll have to get in my steps by being more active throughout the day. I look forward to finding ways of getting in my steps! And I like the idea of focusing on that goal instead of something diet/weight related, at least for now. (Of course I'm not giving up on my other goals; I'm just trying to put less pressure on myself!)

Well, thanks for your patience over the past few days while I took some time to try and relieve a little stress. Depression sucks, and I really do appreciate the comments and emails letting me know that I'm not the only one going through it. I had a very tough winter, between the awful weather we had for several months and especially the fact that I lost a couple of friends to cancer. Mark's been on my mind a lot, especially on the days where the weather is nice. I wish he were around to spend some time outside one more time.

As I was typing this, I got a phone call from the raffle I entered a few weeks ago--it was a fundraiser for Sarah's kids held at the local fire department. I won three things--a crocheted afghan, and two gift certificates for $25 each to a sports bar called Mallies. Awesome! I was just trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight, but I think now we'll go out :)

May 27, 2014

A short break

I had such an exhausting weekend! Which is actually kind of ironic, because I didn't get many steps in at all. In three days, I only got 10,000+ steps ONCE. I was busy painting all weekend.

The kids' room has needed a good paint job for a while, and we decided this was the weekend we were going to tackle it. We also did the spare bedroom. We ran into a big issue with the kids' room, because the last time I had painted it, I had put latex-based paint over an oil-based paint (I knew absolutely nothing about paint). That caused the new paint to peel off really easily, so the kids had two-toned walls for a few years now.

We spent the weekend sanding off the paint (necessary in order to repaint it, because of my latex over oil mistake), taping off the trim, applying primer, and finally, painting the walls with "Lemon Drop" paint (it's white, but with the tiniest hint of yellow). Most of the walls in my house are very bold colors, so I really wanted something simple and plain.

It was a huge project, and I felt like I was constantly moving around, but I didn't get in many steps all weekend. I didn't run on Sunday, because of the race Monday; and then I didn't run today, because I was very busy finishing up the bedrooms. I'm SO glad to have it done now!

We have a few more projects that are very overdue--we really need to replace the floor and toilet in the kids' bathroom, we need to recarpet the kids' bedrooms, and we need to replace the bedroom doors. I'll feel so much better when we get all of that done, but we just have to work on one project at a time, as we save the money for it.

My depression has been pretty bad recently. I don't really feel comfortable writing much about it here, because some of my family and friends read this. Everything is fine, but I just feel pretty stressed out right now. The kids are approaching the end of the school year, and they've had a lot of extra work; they've also started baseball, so I've been taking them to practice, and soon, they'll start games.

I already wrote about my weight being up (thankfully, going back down now), and I felt like I was in a big rut with running (hopefully, switching to 5K training this summer will help that). I've just really been lacking confidence in myself lately, and I've been being kind of hard on myself. I know it will pass, as it always does, but for right now, I just want to minimize the stress.

I'm going to take a few days off of the internet, so I won't be posting a blog for 2-3 days. I don't really feel like I've had much to write about lately, anyway, so I think the break will be good. I'd like to focus on eating well, getting stuff done around the house, and some quality time with the kids before I leave for Boston (a week from Thursday, already!).

I also have a lot of spring cleaning I want to get done around the house--cleaning out the refrigerator, pantry, linen closet, etc. All the little chores that I put off until I really can't stand it anymore ;) I think I'll feel a lot better once I do some productive things that I've needed to get done!

I know I'm always posting pictures of Estelle, but I was cracking up at how relaxed she was on my legs a couple of days ago...

This is her favorite spot to sleep, which makes it hard for me to move. Sometimes I'll just want to sit for a minute, but she instantly jumps on my legs and makes herself comfortable. :)

May 26, 2014

2014 Memorial Day 8K race report

No Motivational Monday today--I didn't get any submissions this week, and I ran a race today, so I decided to just do my race report instead. I'll resume MM next week.

This was my third time running the Memorial Day 8K in Grosse Ile. The first time was in 2011, when it was miserably hot; I swore I'd never run that race again! I didn't run it in 2012, and then in 2013, my family made a last-minute decision to go to the race. The weather was great, and I finished in a pretty awesome time of 40:31 (8:09/mi pace), taking first in my age group (it's a small race!).

The course for this race is fine when the weather is good; but when it's hot, it's REALLY HOT. The race doesn't start until 9:05, and when the sun beats down on you, it's just not very fun. My little brother, Nathan, was really interested in doing the race, so I decided to give it another shot and hope that the weather cooperated.

I somehow talked my kids into doing the one-mile fun run last year, and they agreed to do it again this year--that made me really excited! I've been trying to get them into running, but they really just don't show any interest in it. I didn't even have to beg, though--as soon as I mentioned it, they said sure (probably because they had done it before).

I had picked up our race packets a couple of days ago, so this morning, I got up at 6:00 to get ready (I was up until almost midnight yesterday! We're painting a couple of rooms in our house, and it was a big mess. I'll write more about that tomorrow.) My mom said she would go with us, because then she could watch my kids while I ran the race with Nathan. Jerry had to work today, so it was just the five of us that went.

My mom and Nathan picked us up and we headed to Grosse Ile, which is only about 20 minutes away. We got there pretty early, so we just stood around for a little bit while we waited for the fun run. At 8:30, the kids lined up on the track to start the fun run. I was nervous for my kids, but I was so proud that they were going to do it!

Noah always tells me that when he has to run a mile at school, he walks the whole thing. And I told him that he should always do his best, and that he is perfectly capable of running the whole thing, even if it's slower than his friends. So his goal was to just run the entire mile without walking. Eli wanted to run it because they gave out a piece of candy to the kids at the finish line last year, hahaha.

Anyway, they both did awesome! They finished just shy of 10 minutes. Eli crossed first, and then Noah followed a minute or so later.

Eli sprinting to the finish line

Noah was cruising the last hundred meters

Ribbons, but no candy ;)
As soon as the boys were done, Nathan and I headed to the starting line for the 8K. They were getting ready to start the 5K at 9:00, so we watched the start of that, and then it was time for us to line up. Nathan said he'd probably be running an 8:30 pace as well (which was my planned pace for this race), so he was going to pace off me at first, so he didn't start too fast. I had run 3 miles at an 8:08 pace last week, so I thought running 5 miles at an 8:30 pace sounded pretty reasonable today.

It was hot at the starting line. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky, and the sun was beating down. When the race started, I definitely started too fast. I saw that I was running a 7:30 pace, so I said to Nathan, "Woah, 7:30? Definitely too fast." But he kept going! So I just fell back to get closer to an 8:30 pace. I felt pretty good the whole first mile, and finished that mile in 8:18.

Almost immediately after that, though, I started faltering, and quickly. My pace was in the high 8:30's, and it was only the beginning of mile 2. So I thought, "Okay, I guess I'll revise my goal because of the heat. I'll aim for all sub-9:00 miles." I was struggling with that decision, because I kept thinking that it had to just be in my head. But it was awful! The heat was killing me.

I skipped the first water stop, but after that, I KNEW I'd have to get water at the next one. Unfortunately, the next one was at a bad placement. There is 0.3 mile section of the course that goes through the woods on a dirt trail, with lots of rocks and tree roots, and all that good stuff. The trail is narrow, and I knew from past experience that you can't pass anyone on it. The water station was set up just before entering the woods.

I knew that if I stopped for water, a big group of girls was going to cut ahead and enter the woods first, so I'd be stuck behind them. But I needed water badly, so I grabbed a cup and tried to drink it really fast--and of course sputtered out water from choking on it. I tossed the cup in the trash, and then as soon as I turned toward the woods, the big group of girls ran past, and I was stuck behind them. They ran about a 9:30 pace though the woods, so I had no choice but to run that pace.

When we got out of the woods, my split pace had fallen to 9:31, so I doubted I could get that under 9:00 for the fourth mile. I picked up the pace, but not enough, and that split was 9:14. So much for sub-9:00 miles. I then revised my goal again to be a sub-9:00 average pace. That was my worst-case scenario from the beginning.

The last mile of this course is AWFUL in the heat! The sun is directly overhead, there is no shade, and it's just a long straight away of nothing. I really wasn't even sure I'd make it at that point. There was a guy next to me, so I started talking to him, which helped take my mind off of the miserable mile. We talked about marathons--he's done five, and his PR is 4:16, which happens to be my PR, too.

Finally, we entered the football field area, and onto the track. There were a bunch of 5K walkers finishing up, so I picked up the pace the best I could to get around them. Then I saw my mom and kids yelling to me from the bleachers, so I figured I'd better show my kids that I can sprint the last few yards just like they did ;)

As soon as I crossed the finish line, my brother was there holding a cup of water for me--and thank God for that, because they'd run out of water at the finish line! I gulped that down, and caught my breath. Sweat and sunscreen was making my eyes sting. But we did get a picture, at least!

After scarfing down some watermelon, we headed to the car. We got a few blocks away, when Nathan told me that I won third in my age group. I felt bad, but I asked if we could turn around so I could get my award. So they waited in the car while I went to the award ceremony, which had just started when I walked up.

They went through the 5K first, and then the 8K. Last year, I got first in my age group and won a medal. This year, the 8K'ers who placed in their age groups got pint glasses--awesome! Way more fun than a medal ;)

My results:

Looking at those numbers made me think that maybe this heat made the race hard for everyone, and not just me?

Nathan ended up finishing in 40:19--12 seconds faster than my PR on this course, hahaha. That was good enough for fourth in his age group, but not good enough for a pint glass ;)  Finally, we headed home. My kids went to my mom's for a little while, and Nathan came over for a well-deserved cold beer.

I really enjoyed getting to do this race with him, especially on Memorial Day. He spent a few years in Iraq while he was in the Army, and I am SO grateful that he made it home safe and sound; but I know that there are a lot of families who weren't so lucky, and my heart aches for them. The race itself wasn't fun (that's an understatement), but I am really glad that I went and got to spend time with my family.

As for next year... I highly doubt I'll do this race again!!

May 24, 2014

Tips for running (and training for) your first 10K

Last Saturday, I posted "Tips for running (and training for) your first 5K"; today, I'd like to do the same, only for a 10K race instead. While there isn't a HUGE difference in how to train for the two races, there are a few things that may help.

I'll start off by saying that the 10K is my very favorite race distance. It's not an all-out sprint, like a 5K, but you can still push yourself enough to feel like you're working really hard. There is enough time to get a comfortable pace, but it's still over with relatively quickly. Once you run regularly, with a long run of 6+ miles per week, you can pretty much just sign up for a 10K on a whim, and be able to complete it. It's a great distance!

I ran my first 10K just two weeks after my first 5K, and I instantly knew that I preferred the 10K distance. Here are some of my tips that may (or may not!) be helpful:

*After you finish your first 5K, you can jump right into training to complete a 10K. It's important to maintain a regular schedule, and stay consistent with your training, so you don't lose all the fitness you gained while training for a 5K.

*Again, pick a training plan that fits your needs. I always suggest Hal Higdon's Novice 10K training plan for first-timers; the long run starts at just 3 miles. When I was training, I just did two 3-mile runs plus a long run (see below) each week.

*The most noticeable difference in your training is that you will start having a "long run" each week. Once I was able to run 5K comfortably, I added in a long run once a week, slowly increasing the distance until I was able to do 10K.

*Keep track of the distance on your shoes. You should have gotten good running shoes before training for your first 5K, and if you're moving on to a 10K, you'll want to make sure you get new ones when you've run 300-500-ish miles on them. I have to change mine out at 350 miles, or I get tendonitis--I can actually feel when it's time for new shoes! But I always keep track of the mileage on my running shoes to make sure.

*Don't pick a time goal for your first 10K; just plan to run your best while still enjoying yourself. After the first one, you can aim for a PR, but the first one is really about figuring out how to pace yourself correctly--not too fast, but not too slow.

*Practice eating the breakfast you plan to eat on race morning. You want to make sure you don't get any stomach issues during the race, so practice eating your race breakfast on your long run days.

*You may want to start experimenting with a water break or two. The average everyday runner will be running a 10K in roughly 50-70 minutes, so you may feel like you need a water break. It's really difficult to drink and run at the same time, so when I stop for water during any race, I always walk through the station instead of spilling it all over myself.

*If you want to carry water with you, either on training runs or during the race, my favorite way to carry water for a shorter distance (less than 10 miles or so) is a handheld water bottle. You can find my personal favorites on this post.

I hate that my eyes are closed in this pic,
but you can see how small the water bottle
is in my hand. 

*Make sure you don't start out too fast. Pacing a 10K is definitely different than a 5K. During a 5K, it takes a mile to really find your pace, and by then, the race is 1/3 of the way done. If you started too fast, you can push yourself to finish, but it'll be tough. If you started too slow, you don't have much mileage to pick up speed and get your best time. For a 10K, however, you have more time to find a comfortable pace, and if you still feel good toward the last couple of miles, you can push yourself to work harder.

*Most of the time, wherever there is a 10K, there is also a 5K on the same day. Sometimes the two races start at the same time, and the 5K will break away from the 10K on the course; other times, they have different courses and/or starting times. If the 5K and 10K are going on at the same time, don't get intimidated by people flying past you. It can feel disheartening, but they could be doing the 5K, which is why it seems like everybody is blowing past.

*Hit a port-a-potty before the race. Since you're running for more than twice the amount of time as a 5K, you don't want to have to stop and go to the bathroom mid-race. Get to the race early, and allow enough time to use the bathroom.

*Most of all, don't put too much thought into it on race day. Just go out and think of it like a training run, only with lots of other people around you. Overthinking it can cause you to feel pressured, and that can lead to a bad race. My best race times have been when I felt no pressure going into them. My first sub-50 10K race is a great example!

Hopefully these are somewhat helpful! Like I said, the 10K isn't a whole lot different from the 5K, and the strategy is pretty similar for both. Best wishes on your first 10K!

May 23, 2014

A run with my brother

I leave for Boston in just 13 days--it's coming up so fast! Today was my last long run before the Heartbreak Hill Half. Next week, I'll probably do 8-10 miles, which is still a long run, but it's a taper week. I wanted to make sure I got in 12-14 miles today.

Yesterday, I made a plan to drive an hour north of here to a really hilly Metropark. Since the Hearbreak Hill Half is going to be pretty hilly, I wanted to do a run with hills, and we don't have any routes like that near where I live. I mapped it out, wrote out directions to get there, etc., and then I got a call from my little brother, Nathan. He said he was going to run when he got off work in the morning, and asked if I wanted to run with him.

Nathan never invites me to hang out with him, but since he started running, we have something in common. He only planned to do about four miles, but I really wanted to make it work out, so I decided I could just run before and/or after the run with him to make up 12. I told him to meet me at the recreation center parking lot when he left work (he had to to a physical test--push-ups and sit-ups-- at work, so he wasn't sure what time it would be).

I drove to the recreation center at around 6:50, because Nathan guessed it would be 7:30-ish when he got there, and I decided to run a few miles before he got there. I parked my car and headed out. Right when I reached a mile in, Nathan sent me a text saying that he was at the recreation center already. So I turned around, and had him come pick me up. I got in 1.5 miles.

There were tons of teenagers flying down the road in the their cars to get to school, so I thought we'd be safer if we went to the State Park to run. We took Nathan's car to the Kroger parking lot to drop it off, and then my car to the State Park, because I had a sticker for park entry. We parked in there and headed out for four-ish miles. It was fun running with Nathan! The miles passed so much faster than they would have if I was running alone.

I really wasn't having a good run-day, though. I just felt really tired, and it was hard to maintain pace. When we got back to my car, I told Nathan to drive my car back to his car at Kroger, and then I planned to run to my car. I had only run just over five miles when Nathan left, so I still had seven miles to go. I wish I'd thought to take a picture of Nathan and me, but it didn't occur to me until after he left.

I decided to keep my pace very easy, close to 10:00+ min/mile. At around mile six, my mom drove past me, and stopped to ask if I was okay or if I needed a ride or anything. I really wanted to stop then, but I knew it was important to get in my mileage today, so I told her I was fine, and kept running.

When I reached Kroger, I was at mile 8.25, so I still had 3.75 miles to go. I just ran an out-and-back from there, heading out until mile 10.1, and then turning around. That last stretch was SO difficult. It was sunny, and there wasn't much shade along that stretch of road. The last quarter-mile, I was so ready to be done, I picked up the pace the best I could to just hurry up and get to my car.

Even though the run was broken into chunks, it still felt like it took forever (except for the four miles I ran with Nathan). I'm actually really glad I didn't stick with my original plan to go to the hilly Metropark. I think it would have been a very miserable run there! And it was fun to run with my brother. I think he's going to do awesome at the 8K on Monday. I'm going to take it really easy this weekend and hopefully, I'll have a good race, too.

I felt really drained all day today, and I definitely had a lazy afternoon. After lunch, I got my pillow and a blanket and laid on the couch to watch a movie. I somehow found the movie Prisoners on OnDemand, and it ended up being really good! It ended just in time to go get the kids from the bus stop.

We don't have any plans for the weekend, which will actually be kind of nice. Jerry is off work, and the weather is supposed to be in the mid-70's. We have lots of yard work to do, so it should be a good weekend for it!

May 22, 2014

Push-ups challenge

Yesterday was so humid all day, it was really tough to get in my steps. Ever since I got my Fitbit, I've been doing whatever I can to get in 10,000 steps a day. Yesterday was a rest day, so I didn't run. And normally, Jerry and I go for a walk (just a mile or two) in the afternoons, but it was ridiculously humid. We walked to the bus stop to get the kids, and I was already sticky with sweat.

The kids had baseball practice in the evening, and the coach was sick, so my dad ended up coaching. Since he was with the kids, I walked around the parking lot a few times--I was already sticky and gross, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to get stickier and grosser ;) Anyway, when I went to bed last night, I had 10,011 steps on my Fitbit. Just barely made my goal!

I was worried the humidity would be just as bad today, but when I checked the weather last night, it showed that today was supposed to be pretty nice. After the kids went to school, I ate breakfast, and then headed out for my run. Today was a four-mile "steady state" run, which is a little faster than easy pace and a little slower than tempo pace. According to the McMillan calculator, that would be a pace of 8:45-9:09 per mile for me.

My legs felt heavy today, probably because I ran faster than I should have on Tuesday. It was a tough run! With the exception of the first mile being a few seconds too fast, the rest of the splits were on target.

I burned 100 calories per mile--usually I burn 80-90! So my heart rate was definitely a little higher than normal.

Through the whole run, my shoulders were killing me. It took me a while to figure out why... last night, I did 10 push-ups. I never do push-ups, but Noah came home from school very upset that he only was able to do 5 push-ups for his fitness test (he was "supposed" to be able to do 17). I told him that he could certainly do 17 if he practiced! I said that I am a good runner because I practice a lot, but I'm terrible at push-ups because I never do them. The only way to get better is to practice.

So to get him motivated to work on his push-ups, I challenged him to a contest. I said we would each practice every day, and the first one of us to be able to do 20 push-ups at a time would win. And to make it interesting for him, I said that if he won, I would give him $5 for every one that he beat me by. So when he can do 20, if I only can do 15, then I would owe him $25.

To get a starting point, I told him I'd see if I could do more than 5 (which is how many he did at school). I was surprised to see that I was able to do 10. Noah didn't want his old mom to beat him, so he pushed himself to do 11 ;)  I forgot how awful it is to run after doing push-ups, so he is very likely to beat me!

I went grocery shopping after my run, and saw THIS on the shelves at Kroger:

It's like Biscoff spread, only one is with vanilla sandwich cookies, and the other is with almond cookies. I actually haven't had any issues with keeping nut butters (and even Biscoff spread) in the house lately, and I really wanted to try these, so I bought both of them to give them a taste.

When I got home, I took the tiniest little spoonful (probably just a 1/4 teaspoon) of each, just to taste it. The Almond Cookie Spread was okay, but I wasn't totally wowed by it. The Vanilla Cookie Spread was very good! It tasted just like I expected it to--like vanilla sandwich cookies. I'll probably have some on an English muffin tomorrow.

I bought a ton of fruits and vegetables, because I've been going through fruit like crazy lately. Dinner tonight ended up being a total bust--Italian sausages with sautéed peppers and onions. It sounded so good, but I am just not a big fan of Italian sausage unless it's removed from the casing, browned, and mixed into other foods. Jerry and the kids weren't fans of the sausage, either. I did broil some asparagus and Brussels sprouts, which turned out really good, so we filled up on that.

Now the boys and I are going to head out for a walk. I've still got a couple thousand steps to get in today!

May 21, 2014

Finally, some progress!

As lame as it sounds, I was actually kind of looking forward to weighing in this morning. I was 100% on-plan all week long, and I knew (regardless of what the scale showed) that I did my best. There was nothing I would have changed about my choices this week.

So when I got on the scale this morning, I was pleased to see that my hard work paid off:

I didn't weigh in last week, but from two weeks ago, I'm down 2.5 pounds. I'm sure if I had weighed in last week, it would have been more ;)  But I was very happy with the weigh-in today. It just shows that when I stop half-assing it, I actually can make some good progress!

I've been using the Aria Fitbit scale as well, because I wanted to do a comparison of them. (The Aria scale wasn't given to me for review--it was purchased with my own money. Just wanted to make that clear.) I like the Aria scale, but I don't think it's as accurate as my trusty Health O Meter. It's consistently off by about 1.2-1.8 pounds (it weighs me as heavier than the Health O Meter). So today, just after I took the photo above, I weighed on the Aria scale:

So the Aria scale was over the other one by 1.4 pounds. When I step on and off a few times, it reads different numbers, but only by about 0.4-ish pounds (the other two numbers were 149.1 and 149.7, but I went with the first reading, which was the 149.4). As far as accuracy, when I put dumbbells on my Health O Meter scale, it reads correctly (two 10-lb. dumbbells shows 20.0, etc.). The Aria scale reads it as a little heavier. The heavier the dumbbells, the further off the number is--which is why my weight was off by 1.4 lbs.

The Aria scale with two 10-lb dumbbells

The Health O Meter scale with two 10-lb dumbbells

I know this isn't exactly a scientific test, but I do this every time I try a new scale. I do like the Aria scale, though, and I don't mind if the actual weight is off a little, as long as it's consistent--and it has been. I do like that it automatically uploads my weight to my Fitbit account, so it keeps a record for me. A few times, I've stepped on the scale without looking, just so that it would record my weight, but I wouldn't have to see what it was. I'll probably just start posting the Aria scale weight for my Wednesday Weigh-ins from now on, even if it does show me a little heavier ;)

We had a bad thunderstorm this morning, and the power briefly went out. Today was a rest day, so it didn't affect my run, though. I took the kids to the bus stop, and then ate breakfast, and headed to Weight Watchers. I was tempted to stay home, just because it was so crappy outside, but I'm glad I went.

Today's meeting topic was supposed to be "Spring Clean Your Fridge", but Glenda (my leader) did a different spin on it. She had a table set up with all kinds of fake food to demonstrate a full day of the Simply Filling program. She showed ideas for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and treats that were part of Simply Filling. I don't follow the SF plan, but I still like getting meal ideas.

Oh, speaking of treats... remember how I said I found half a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs in the travel bag I took to Toledo last month? Well, I locked them in the Kitchen Safe for the maximum time allowed (10 days), and this morning was when it unlocked. Before I could even second guess myself, I dumped the bag in the trash without eating any of them! I don't think there is anything wrong with having a few for a treat, but I have SUCH a hard time stopping with just a few. I have been doing so well on my no-sweets challenge this month, and I didn't want to sabotage myself, so I just figured it would be better if they weren't even in the house.

The York Peppermint Patties (mini ones, that are 1 PointsPlus each) were locked in the safe, also. After thinking about it, I decided to have Jerry take those to work with him to give out to the guys. I like them, but I don't LOVE them; and cutting way back on the sweets has made me realize that if I'm going to spend points on sweets, I want it to be on something I really love. The peppermint patties were so easy to eat several of throughout the day, and I really didn't get much enjoyment out of them, so I decided to let those go, too.

This no-sweets challenge has really helped me to realize whether I *really* want something, or if I was just eating it because it was there. Now, I'm only going to buy the things that I really want, and skip the things that are just "okay" tasting. In a way, I guess I did do some "spring cleaning" of my fridge (or pantry, rather).

Seeing my progress this week has made me really motivated going into another week!

May 20, 2014

Field trip to the museum

I got out of bed pretty early to run this morning, because I was going to be chaperoning a field trip for Noah's class today. I figured if I got up at 6:00 to go run, I could be done, showered, and dressed by 7:00--yay for three-milers!

It was SO nice outside. Because it was so early, it was really quiet and peaceful. It was warm enough that I wore just a tank and capris, and there was just a little breeze. It made me remember when I used to get up early to run all the time, because I was only doing short runs, and I just felt really nostalgic when I stepped outside today.

On my schedule today was a three mile tempo run. I didn't want to get nervous about trying to maintain a certain pace or anything, so I told myself I'd just go out and run fast for 3 miles--whatever that pace ended up being. My best runs usually happen when I don't overthink them! I started running, and my legs felt great, and I was sure it would be a good run.

Then, a quarter-mile in, a dog that lives on the end of my street ran at me, barking like crazy. This particular dog is NEVER leashed, and the owners are never outside with him. He's given me problems several times, and I've witnessed him nearly get hit by a car a few times, too. The owners are just really irresponsible. I had zero patience for it today. Usually, when dogs come at me, I get terrified and I freeze up. Today, though, I was pissed that the dog interrupted my nice run, so I started yelling, "NO! GO HOME!"

The dog kept barking, but stopped coming after me, so I started running again. Then the dog ran into the road, and I yelled again, just as a car came by. The dog ran back into his yard, and that was that. But from now on, every single time I see the dog outside without a leash, I'm going to call the police. Not only for my sake, or the sake of other people, but for the dog's sake, too--he lives on the corner of a busy road, and I'm surprised he hasn't been hit by a car yet.

Anyway, the rest of my run was uneventful, and I was really surprised at how good my pace was! My target tempo pace is 8:36-8:51, but I just tried to run "fast"... and ended up finishing with an 8:12 pace over all. That's 27 seconds faster than my 5K time trial last week!

My 5K PR is actually 25:44, so it was faster than that, too. That PR is pretty outdated, though (from 2012). I wish I'd run a 5K when I was my fastest, in the spring of 2013. My time trial then was 24:03, but I never made it "official" by racing. Anyway, I felt really great about my run today! I feel pretty confident that I can do an 8:30 pace for the 8K on Memorial Day.

Noah's field trip was to the Henry Ford Museum. I wrote about that place before, when Jerry and I went. There were 27 kids from Noah's class going to the field trip, and 21 parent chaperones. I really didn't want to go, but when I asked Noah if he wanted me to sign up to chaperone, he really did. Most of the parents were only chaperoning their own kids! I had Noah and one other boy.

The kids were the most interested in the trains. My favorite exhibit is a section where you can see items that represent each generation. I get so nostalgic while looking at all the things from the 80's and 90's! I kept saying, "You guys! Look at this--I used to play with this when I was a kid!" and getting pretty geeked out. I was showing them an exhibit from the 1990's, and the kid who was with us said, "Man, I wouldn't want to live in 19-ANYTHING. It's awful!" I thought that was hilarious.

There was a new exhibit called "Women Who Rock" and it was all female singers from through the years. There were clothes that each of them wore, and some other personal items. It reminded me of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. I'm not a big music person, but I like to look at the clothes. I'm always amazed at how tiny they are! Of course, Noah and his friend asked me, "Who is Britney Spears? Who is Whitney Houston? Who is Billie Holiday?"

A few other things I found interesting:

I was shocked when I saw the size of the Super Size fries container. It's been a
while since they took it off the menu, and I forgot just how big it was. I used to
eat a whole container, along with a big sandwich and soda.

Does anyone else remember these styrofoam containers
from McDonald's? 

This was from a bedroom replica of a teenager's room from the 80's/90's era.
I recognized quite a few things on the shelves!

An artificial sweetener that was banned in 1969. Makes me curious if this will
happen with the artificial sweeteners on shelves today.
This was in the Rosa Parks exhibit, along with the bus that
became infamous. Reading these "suggestions", it's hard to
believe that it was just in 1956, and not the 1800's!

These were the seats on an airplane! (I can't remember the year of the plane)

I'm not usually very interested in history, but some of these things were really fun to see. I've been to the museum a handful of times, but I still find new things every time I go. It was a great day with Noah!

May 19, 2014

Motivational Monday #63

Happy Motivational Monday, everyone! I have had a really great week--I've been counting every bite of food that I eat, I've only have two sweets/desserts this month, and I've gotten in 10,000+ steps every single day this month. I wasn't deliberately trying to get in 10,000 steps, but once I got the Fitbit, I felt really motivated to keep up with my friends' steps. That tiny little gadget gives me lots of motivation to move.

I am most proud of myself this week for staying on track with my eating, and logging my food. The first week is always the hardest, and I'm six days in, so I'm glad to get the worst out of the way ;)  The no-sweets challenge for May has gotten easier for me, as well. I still have cravings for dessert, but not as bad as they were the first week or two.

I have a very short (but sweet) Motivational Monday post for you today...

Audrey has always struggled with her weight, and about a year ago, she decided she wanted to start running. She hit several road blocks in her training, but she finally found something to work toward when her 10-year old sister asked Audrey to be her running buddy for her Girls on the Run 5K. She had never even given thought to running a race before, but she wanted to support her sister, so she agreed. She set a goal to finish the race in less than 45 minutes, and she trained for several weeks. Finally, last weekend, they did it!! Audrey enjoyed it so much that she's excited to keep running and continue losing weight.

Martine is very proud to have completed her first race yesterday--a 10K! She set a goal to finish under two hours, and ended up finishing in 1:49:08. Sadly, the race didn't exactly go as planned. There was no time limit posted for the race, so she assumed there wasn't one; but the race organizers packed everything up before she was finished, and that left her feeling very disheartened and discouraged during the race. The water stations were gone for the last 4K, and when she got to the finish line, there were only a couple of race organizers there. Despite feeling upset about it, Martine didn't quit--she kept moving, and she finished under her personal time goal! She even plans to do more races, and she is proud for finishing (as she should be!).

Cindy (in the center of the picture) completed her first half-marathon! She trained hard for it, and the first eight miles flew by. The last five miles were a lot tougher, but she dug deep mentally and kept on going. When she saw her kids at the finish line, she burst into tears, and she proudly crossed in 3:16:19!

Don't forget to check out the Motivational Monday Facebook post as well, for more stories!

May 18, 2014

Speed work at the track

After reevaluating my goals last week, I made some changes to my running plan, and I am really liking it! Like I said, I just have to get through the Heartbreak Hill Half in June, and then I plan to train for a sub-24:00 5K. So I'm still going to be doing the long runs until then (June 5th is when I leave for Boston), but for the rest of the week, I'm cutting back on the mileage and reducing my run days to five instead of six. I'm basically just starting the advanced 5K training, only my long runs will be 10-14 miles for a few more weeks.

One of the things I've really liked about doing short runs (3 miles!) is that I can get it done before breakfast. I've always liked running before eating, but ever since I started marathon training last year, my runs have all been about an hour or more long. By the time I get the kids on the bus, run, come home and shower, it's nearly lunchtime. So I started eating breakfast before running.

The best part about the short runs is that I can go out and get it done before the kids wake up, if Jerry's home, or I could be done by 8:30 if I go right from the bus stop. It's nice to be able to run and shower before sitting down to have breakfast (my favorite meal).

Anyway, this morning I had speed work on the schedule: 5 x 400 with 400-meter recovery jogs. I knew I didn't want to do it on the road (trying to run intervals on the road is difficult, because of traffic, terrain, etc.), so it was either the treadmill or the high school track. I hadn't been to the track in forever, so I chose that.

I drove to the high school, and I was the only one there (there is never anyone there when I am, so it's actually kind of peaceful).

It looks a lot warmer in the photo than it actually was--I was wearing running tights and a long-sleeved tech shirt. I started with a one-mile warm-up, just running slowly and shaking out the nerves (I get SO nervous for speed work, isn't that weird?). Based on my recent 5K time trial, and my goal 5K time, my 400's should be done in 1:48-1:54 (that's minutes per lap); translated, that's about a 7:12-7:36/mi pace.

After I ran my warm-up, I started the first interval. I haven't done speed work in a while, especially on the track, so I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get a feel for the correct pace. Halfway through the first lap, I knew I'd started out too fast. I didn't want to look at my watch (because it's hard when trying to run fast), but my breathing sounds could probably be heard from the parking lot.

When the Garmin beeped to end that interval, I glanced down and saw my pace was in the 6:00's. I knew there was no way in heck that I would be able to do that again, so I tried to slow it down next time (not that it was hard to slow it down!).

The intervals were tough! Each time I finished one, it would take me the entire lap of recovery jogging to catch my breath and get ready for the next one. When I was done with the last recovery jog, I kept going (slowly) for another half-mile to get in an even four miles for the day. Turns out, I did much better than I expected on the intervals!

I was aiming to complete each one in 1:48-1:54, and my splits ended up being: 1:44, 1:49, 1:49, 1:51, 1:50. Next week, I'm going to make sure I don't start so fast. Even though speed work is HARD, it always leaves me feeling fan-freaking-tastic when I'm done. My face was nearly the same color as the track after that workout, and I was dripping with sweat. Success!

I haven't wanted to jinx anything by writing about it, but I've been doing really well with my eating this week. Once I booked our Punta Cana vacation, I realized that I would have to work my butt off if I wanted to get back down to goal before the trip. I had to quit half-assing Weight Watchers, and go back to strictly counting everything like I used to.

I did have ice cream again on my long run day, but that's the only dessert/sweet I've had. I planned it out ahead of time, and worked it into my points. It was nice to eat dessert without guilt--for the past few months, I'd been eating way too many sweets, and I always felt guilty. But when I plan for and count them, I feel good about it.

About a week ago, I was looking for a shirt that I knew I'd brought to Toledo for the race last month, and while digging through a travel bag in my closet, I found half a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs (I brought them with me and forgot about them). That was really tempting! I threw them in the Kitchen Safe and set the time for the maximum (10 days). When it opens up, I might take out a serving of them for after my next long run.

I didn't have any plans of doing the Grosse Ile Memorial Day 8K run again this year, but my little brother, Nathan, called me yesterday and was looking for a race to do that weekend. I told him about the Memorial Day 8K, and he was wondering if I'd want to do it with him. I decided I'm going to, because it's a nice race, cheap, and I like that Nathan is really getting hooked on racing. A few years ago, the race gave sweatshirts instead of tech shirts, and I really wish they still did that. I wear my old race sweatshirt all the time around the house.

I have no hope of beating last year's time (40:31, an 8:09/mi pace), but I think I'll try to aim for an 8:30 pace. If I don't feel like pushing it, though, I won't be upset at all to just run it without aiming for any particular pace. An 8K is a nice race distance; I wish there were more of them!

May 17, 2014

Tips for running (and training for) your first 5K

After my sister shared her guest post about her first marathon experience, and some tips that she found helpful in training, I had the idea to write a series of posts with tips for each popular race distance. I had no idea what to expect before my first race, but thankfully, I had a friend (Renee) who answered all my questions about it. She helped me with training for my first 5K, and as I increased my distances, I learned a lot of tidbits that helped along the way. So, in this series of posts, I'll write some tips that I found helpful, and hopefully, they will help someone else!

*Research your race to choose one that suits your wants and needs. Do you want a big race, with lots of crowd support? Do you prefer a small, hometown race? Do you want a medal? A t-shirt? A timed race? A fun novelty race, like a Color Run, costumed-run, or an obstacle run? Make sure you read the details from the race's website so you know (and are comfortable with) the race you choose for your first 5K.

St. Patrick's Day run

*Pick a training plan to suit your wants and needs. There are tons of free training plans online, so spend some time finding one that works for you. A very popular one for the true beginner is the Couch to 5K plan--it has you do intervals of running and walking, until you're able to run the whole distance. I chose to do my own plan, because I didn't like the intervals. Find a plan that you can stick with.

*Get fitted for running shoes at a running store. Having the wrong shoes for your feet and stride can cause a lot of problems and even injury. It's important to have someone who knows what they're doing evaluate your feet and stride, and help you pick a shoe that is best for you.

*Stay consistent with your training! If your plan calls for three days of running per week, make those runs top priority. It's okay to miss a run now and then for illness or injury, but if you aren't consistent with your training, you're going to have a very tough race, and it won't be much fun if you're not trained.

*Let your family and friends know that this race is a big deal for you! If you want them to cheer you on at the race, just ask. People who don't run usually don't understand how exciting it is to run your first race, so they won't know that you'd like to have them there, holding signs and ringing cowbells ;)

*Don't do too much, too soon. A lot of beginners make this mistake and wind up injured. Build your mileage slowly, and take it easy on the pace until you've got a good base built up.

*Work on distance before speed. If you're a new runner, it's better to increase your distance until you're running 3.1 miles (slowly), than it is to run a short distance quickly. One you build up your distance to 3.1 miles, then you can work on doing it faster.

*Buy some moisture-wicking clothing to keep you comfortable while you run. Running in cotton can cause chafing, and it gets really heavy with sweat. Clothes made with a technical fabric are meant to keep you dry and cool. Don't forget to include moisture-wicking socks, too! Your feet will thank you.

I wore a cotton shirt for my first 5K, and my friends wore
tech shirts... see how the cotton holds the sweat?

*Don't start out too fast. It's easy to get swept up with the excitement of the race, and cross the starting line in a sprint, only to burn out a half-mile into the race. It's best to hold back a little at the beginning, and pick up your pace throughout the race if you feel good. Aim for negative splits (where you get faster each mile).

*Don't set a time goal for your first 5K, but do have an idea of what your pace will likely be. At the starting line, you'll want to line up with people that are running about the same pace as you (so don't go to the very front unless you are going to be running 5-6 minute miles).

*You don't have to run a 5K. There are plenty of people who walk them! If you're thinking of walking it, you might want to make sure it's a walker-friendly race (most 5K's are). You could check the website, email the race director, or even look at the previous year's results to see the finish times.

*There may or may not be a water station during the 5K race. Unless you're out there for more than 45 minutes or so, you can probably get by without stopping for water. But it's tough to run and drink from a paper cup, so I would either practice that beforehand, or walk for a few seconds, just long enough to drink the water.

*Smile when you cross the finish line! Usually there are photographers taking photos of the finishers.

Training for a 5K isn't too complicated, because you don't have to worry about fueling during the runs or race. You pretty much blink and it's over with! Once you complete your first 5K, you can work on improving your speed to set a PR (personal record), or you can work on your endurance and aim for a 10K.

Good luck! If I left something out, please feel free to share any tips you may have in the comments. Here are a few other (hopefully) helpful posts that I've written as well:

50 Running Tips
Running Lingo
Running (or walking) your first 5K race

May 16, 2014

A snail's trail

We finally had a gorgeous day outside today! It was pretty cold this morning--37 degrees--but it wasn't raining and the sun was shining.

Eli was so funny this morning. He told me that he couldn't sleep because he was so worried that he was going to miss the bus today; he had a field trip, and was REALLY excited about it. His teacher had stressed to the class that they need to be on time, because the buses for the field trip leave right after school starts, so Eli was worried he'd be late and not get to go. He was ready for school by 6:30, and the bus doesn't even come until around 8:00.

I took the kids to the bus stop, then came home and had breakfast before getting ready for my run. I am going to go back to doing my long runs on Fridays instead of Sundays. It works out better (at least while the kids are in school) for me to get away; and since I'm not going to be doing Hansons', the order of my runs really doesn't matter so much. I wanted to try a different route today, just to from getting bored. So I plotted an out-and-back run on a new connector path that was completed last year.

I was really excited when I learned that they built this connector path! It links the Metropark that I usually run to three other Metroparks. Until they connected it, there was a section of about two miles that wasn't joined, and that always bothered me. It's now about 22 miles (one way) of paved bike path, and it's a great place to run!

I parked at Huroc Park, which is about 9 miles in to the 22-mile long path. I've only been to Huroc Park a couple of times, but one memory still haunts me. Jerry will never let me forget it! When we had just started dating (May 1999), we went rollerblading at Huroc Park. The park is on a little island in the middle of a river, so it's just one loop of about 0.6 miles.

The river comes up very close to the path, and at one point in the path (where the green marker is on the picture), there is a slight downhill, and then a sharp left turn--if you miss that turn, then you'd go right into the river.

I was not good at stopping myself on the rollerblades, and when I noticed that downhill section taking me right to the river, I panicked. I knew I wasn't going to be able to make the turn with my rollerblades, so instead of attempting it, I just decided to wipe out on the grass. Jerry was behind me, and said it was hilarious to see me wipe out for no apparent reason. Fear of going into the river was reason enough for me!

Anyway, I parked at Huroc Park, and then started running. About a quarter mile in, I realized that I hadn't actually entered the park, so I had to turn around and then cross a bridge to enter the park. When I started the path, I had already run 0.4 miles because of the mistake.

Once I got to the new connector path (that's the green line running to the west on the above photo), I saw a map of the path. I hadn't seen this online anywhere, so it was nice to see the whole thing laid out.

I usually run at Lake Erie Metropark, in the bottom right corner of the map, and then do my turn-around somewhere in the center of the map, where it says Flat Rock. Today, I started in the center, and ran west into Oakwoods Metropark. It was a nice change of scenery!

The new connector bridge
All of the rain we've had caused a couple of spots of flooding. One was so bad that I had to run through (what I think was) someone's yard to get around it.

Today's run felt much easier than the 14-miler I did on Sunday. My pace was right around 9:20-9:30, and I felt good. Oakwoods Metropark was kind of boring to run through--it was definitely nice to go somewhere different, but it just felt so long. Most of the trail looked like this:

Nice, but not very interesting. This was actually my turn-around point. Right after I took out my phone to take a picture, I got a phone call from the pediatrician about Eli's appointment, so I talked to her for a couple of minutes before I started running again.

I completely miscalculated the math on my turn-around point. Because I accidentally ran 0.4 miles before I started the path, the turn-around wouldn't be 5 miles in. Usually, I am great at figuring out at what point I need to turn, but today, instead of turning around at mile 5.2 (which was 4.8 miles away from my car), I turned around at 4.8. So I ended up taking 0.8 miles off of my run total. I was confused about this until I was nearly to my car, and I realized my mistake.

While I was running through the woods, I saw this little guy, and nearly stepped on him:

I've never had a snail cross my path while running, so I had to take a picture. Then I picked him up and moved him off the path, so that he didn't get squashed.

When I got back to Huroc Park, I wanted to run the infamous spot where I biffed it into the ground. It doesn't look like a hill in this picture, but I swear it is a downhill!

I had been picking up speed on my rollerblades from the downhill, and that turn was terrifying, so I chose to wipe out ;)

Just before I headed out of the park, I saw a mama goose with her little goslings. So cute!

Once I got back to my car, I had to go past it, so that I could reach 10 miles. I was really tempted to quit early, because I hate running past my car, but I figured it wouldn't kill me to finish it out ;)

I hadn't planned on running that fast (I was going to aim for around 9:45-10:00), but I felt really good, so I just went with it. It was a good run today!

Noah is having a friend spend the night tonight, and I'm supposed to take them roller skating. The roller rink is always filled with preteen kids on Friday and Saturday nights. I don't feel comfortable just dropping him off at his age, so I need to find a good book to read while I'm there ;)

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