March 31, 2016

Countdown until the race

My goal race is getting closer and closer. It seems like just last week that I was returning to training after my 10-month-long stress fracture ordeal. I'm so glad that I decided to cut out the half-marathon and marathon distances and focus on my speed for the 10K. The changes I've made, both with the running and with the calorie counting, have really helped me to get refocused on my goals, and it's been awesome.

This week, being the week before race week, means that it is my peak week for the race. This is the last chance for me to push myself and see what I can do! Yesterday's speed work was going to be my final, big, confidence-building run. Last week, I completed the "best 10K workout", and I felt SO excited to have nailed it. However, I completed it just a bit early. Ideally, it would have been done between 9 and 12 days before my race.

I wasn't quite sure what to do--should I do the same workout in the ideal time frame? Or should I try a different tough workout? When I mentioned it to Jerry, he said that he didn't think I should do the same one, because what if I couldn't do as well as I had before. It would destroy my confidence in the race. I knew he was right, so I decided to try something different, but just as effective.

Yesterday, I was 10 days out from my race, so it would have to be my final hardcore speed workout. I was having trouble making up my mind about what workout to do, so I decided to simply start running, and see what felt right once I got out there--totally winging it. I usually do best in those situations for some reason.

I dressed in the clothes I am planning to race in (Heat Gear capris and a tank, with my Brooks Ghost shoes). Then I headed out for a (hopefully) confidence-boosting run. About a quarter mile in, my pace was at 8:10, which would have made a good tempo run pace. But I asked myself what would make me feel the most confident going into the race, and that answer was running at race pace for four miles.

So, I picked up the speed a touch, trying to stay close to 7:55 without going too fast. I decided on an out-and-back route. A 7:55 pace is tough, but I felt decent, and I was able to maintain it without too much trouble. Once I turned around two miles in, I started rethinking it. I really didn't want to go two more miles at that pace! However, I knew this run was crucial--perhaps the most important run of my training--so I pushed on.

I had done a 3.5-mile race pace run before, a few weeks ago, so I focused on hitting that distance mark. Once I hit 3.51 miles, I would have run my farthest distance at a sub-8:00 pace (other than my current 10K PR). Of course, once I hit 3.5, I knew I could push myself to finish out another half mile. At mile 3.75, I was tired and wanted to stop, but physically, I knew I was capable of going farther. I could either turn right onto my street, and finish mile four in front of my house; or, I could go straight, and add a little more distance to my run. I actually chose to keep going!

I thought, "I can do 4.5--think how awesome I'll feel if I do 4.5 miles at race pace!" And that became my focus. It was then that I remembered telling Stephanie during our recent long run that I might try and run a sub-40 8K on Memorial Day this year (an 8K is 4.97 miles). The last time I ran that race, I finished in 40:31. Being so close to sub-40 in 2013 made me wish that I'd tried just a bit harder. (My 40:31 time actually earned me first place in my age group, though!)

Anyway, I realized that if I could push myself to finish five miles, it would be a new (unofficial) PR for both four miles and five miles, as well as 8K. I was imagining the "Notables" on Smashrun telling me that it was my fastest 8K and 5 mile time ever, which made me decide to go for it. I knew if I could hit 5 miles, then I'd be as confident as possible going into the race a week from Sunday.

As soon as I made that decision at mile 4.5, I was wishing I could put on Eminem's Berzerk on my iPod. That song always makes me pumped up, so I like to listen to it last during a tough run. I was debating whether to get my iPod out and fiddle with it to choose that song, and then suddenly it came on! It was the sign I needed to push on.

When I turned onto my street, I was so excited that I had (almost) done it! As soon as my Garmin beeped for mile five, I stopped the watch and jogged slowly until I reached my house. I had actually just run 5 miles at a 7:50 pace!!

My splits were all sub-8:00, and I did, in fact, get some cool notables on Smashrun:

Once again, I noticed that my hard-but-comfortable heart rate is 174 beats per minute. Once it hits 175, I start to struggle. I find that pretty interesting.

After yesterday's run, having done 5 miles at race pace, I am almost positive I can hit my goal at my 10K! Of course, other factors will come into play--a different course, different time zone, out of the norm routine, etc.--but physically, I am capable of running a 49:22 (or faster) 10K. The countdown is on! :)

By the way, if anyone from the Portland or Seattle area is interested in a meet-up, I was tentatively thinking we could do coffee on Saturday morning (April 9th) in Portland, or drinks on Monday evening (April 11th) in Seattle. If that interests you, send me an email and we can work out details!

March 30, 2016

Week 33 Weigh-in

I was really, really tempted not to post today's weigh-in. I had a small gain last week, but I wasn't concerned about it at all. I was thinking I should cut back on calories just a touch (to 2,000 per day or so); but then this week just... happened.

I want to start by saying that I didn't binge! I am very proud of my binge-free streak right now. But we had a couple of days when we went out with friends, when we ate at Jerry's friend's memorial, and when we splurged on dinner and dessert in Detroit on Monday--all of which caused me to consume more calories that I probably should have. Which is why I was really tempted not to post a weigh-in today! However, we all know that's how it starts... a bad week, and then a skipped weigh-in. Maybe one more. Then the weigh-ins are few and far between, as the scale climbs.

So, I'm posting this for accountability. It's hard to post a gain (especially two weeks in a row!), but I don't want to allow this to get out of control. The whole point of my weigh-ins is to keep me accountable, whether I gain or lose weight. Besides, I'm still far under my goal weight, so I am happy about that.

Today's weight was 127.4, which is up 3 whole pounds from last week. Yikes! My average daily calories were high, but not too horrendous, at 2,348. I'm sure that some of this is water weight, so hopefully it'll drop off in the next couple of days. (To have actually gained 3 pounds of fat in a week, I would have had to have consumed an EXCESS of 1,500 calories PER DAY. I'm thinking that the actual fat gain couldn't be more than a pound or so.)

This next week, I'm going to consciously try and cut back my calories to around 1,900 per day. I'm not setting a "limit", for reasons I've explained before, but when I was eating around 1,900 a day, I was maintaining around 123 pounds. I am hoping to be back around 123-124 when I leave for Portland/Seattle in 9 more days(!), and I don't have any major things going on this week that would cause me to overeat, so I think it's do-able. I know that I'm going to be eating some high calorie foods on my trip, and I'd like to come home weighing under 130. (Laurel is going to take me on a cupcake tour in Seattle!)

My runs were good this week:

I only did one day of speed work, so my 80:20 ratio (of easy runs to moderate or hard runs) was actually 88:12, but it's better to have too little speed work than too much. This week is my peak week before tapering for the race, so I plan to get as close to 80/20 as possible.

Anyway, as far as my other goals this week:

(The app is called Momentum)

Getting in 7,000+ steps 6+ days a week: I did it every day except for Tuesday. I had my tooth crowned on Tuesday, so I spent a long time at the dentist (they did a same-day crown). Last night, I got in bed and realized that I only had 6,000 steps, so I actually got out of bed and jogged in place while I chatted with Jerry in the bedroom ;)

Stay binge-free: Still going!! Super psyched that today is day 239 and counting. My record is 365, so I still have a ways to go to beat that, but this is the second-longest streak I've had. I was tempted with Easter candy over the weekend, but after indulging a bit too much, I made my kids promise not to give me any of their candy.

Try one new recipe per week: This week, I tried Sausage, Pepper, and Mushroom Hash. I knew my family probably wouldn't be thrilled with it, because they don't like mushrooms, but I happen to LOVE mushrooms. I figured they could just pick out the mushrooms (and put them in my bowl!).

Please excuse the very unattractive egg on top. Normally, I am the MASTER at cooking picture-perfect eggs, but instead of dirtying another skillet for the eggs, I just cooked it in the same pan, and it didn't work out so well ;)

It sure did taste good, though! The best part about this hash was the potatoes. I make hash pretty frequently, and never knew to try anything other than regular old Idaho potatoes; but this recipe called for Yukon Gold potatoes, and while they were expensive, I thought I'd give them a try. They were amazing! They held a firm texture, instead of getting too soft. And the skin is so thin that you barely notice it (usually, I peel potatoes for hash, but these didn't need to be). I'll be using them whenever I make hash from now on.

Anyway, this was a delicious, healthy low calorie dinner that I'll definitely make again. The rest of the family liked it, too (minus the mushrooms).

Overall, I feel like I had a good week, even though my weight was up. I didn't binge, I hit all my non-scale goals, and I didn't chicken out about posting my weigh-in today ;) Hopefully, I'll have a good weigh-in next week!

March 29, 2016

Kids' first Wings game

Ever since Jerry and I went to the Red Wings game in October, the kids have been asking for us to take them to a game. We finally got tickets, and yesterday was the big day. They were super excited to go!

The game wasn't until 7:30 pm, so we decided to plan on having dinner in Detroit beforehand. In the morning, I did speed work on the treadmill: 4 x 5:00 at 7:30/mi pace with 2:00 jogs between. I would have preferred to do it outside, but it was crazy windy yesterday, and doing speed work outside is hard enough without wind.

I started with a mile warm-up at 6.0 mph, and then bumped it up to 8.0 mph for the intervals. I'm surprised at how good I feel at that pace now! Doing five minutes at 7:30 pace isn't all that hard anymore (on the treadmill; outside is another story)--it definitely gets my heart rate up, but I don't feel like I'm struggling to get through it. I did the two minute jogs at 5.0 mph, and then I finished the workout with a short cool down. Good workout!

After my run, I had a doctor's appointment. When I got home from that, it was time to head to Detroit. My parents offered to watch Joey while we were gone, so we took him to their house. My mom wanted to get a picture of us with our Wings shirts on, and she thought it would be funny to put a red shirt on Joey for a quick picture. This is quite possibly the dorkiest family photo ever, but I love it! I can't even look at it without laughing at Joey.

After going through some Yelp reviews, we decided to try a place called Mercury Burger Bar in Corktown. It looked like a place the kids would enjoy. I always love seeing the old train station when we go to Corktown--it's such a cool looking building!

Dinner at Mercury was delicious, and we'd definitely go back there. It was an interesting place, with some fun twists on typical bar food. Jerry got Buffalo Tater Tots, for example:

They were just like buffalo wings, only instead of chicken, they were tater tots (kind of fitting, since the Red Wings were playing Buffalo, it was the Buffalo-Wings game, as Noah pointed out). I didn't get a burger, but I tasted Eli's, and it was really good.

As we were there, my friend Mike wrote on Facebook that he was just a couple of blocks away, so we walked down there to say hi. Then we headed to Greektown to park at the casino (free parking!) and take the People Mover to Joe Louis Arena. There's a bakery called Astoria Pastry Shop in Greektown, and I just had to stop in for dessert. Jerry and I shared a brownie from there last time we were in Detroit, and it was amazing. This time, I decided to try a cannoli. I'd never had a cannoli before, and it was so much better than I'd imagined! I usually prefer desserts with chocolate and/or peanut butter, but the cannoli had neither, and it was still awesome.

We took the People Mover to Joe Louis Arena, and then went in and found our seats.

I was kind of expecting the kids to get bored halfway through the game, but thankfully, they really enjoyed it; and since it was a night game, I hoped they wouldn't fall asleep, and they didn't. The game was good--it was 3-0 (Wings) until the last five minutes or so, when Buffalo made two goals in a row. I would have been so bummed to see the Wings lose after being ahead the entire game, but they managed to win 3-2.

By the time we picked up Joey and got home, it was nearly midnight! Definitely a late night for the boys, but they're on Spring Break right now, so they didn't have school today. They had a blast and felt very grown up going to a Red Wings game ;) It was a fun day!

March 26, 2016

Mark, a long run, memorial service, and cookie cake

Today is the two-year anniversary of Mark's death. I cannot believe that is has been that long already! It seems like just last week that I was bringing him milkshakes and coffee. There really hasn't been a single day that has gone by in the last two years that I haven't thought about him in some way or another.

This was Mark waving good-bye to me a few days before he died
I won't go over his whole story again, but here is the link if you want to read about what a special person Mark was in my life. He has made me see life differently--I'm extremely grateful for what I have, and I always try to find the positives about situations.

I can't drive past a McDonald's without thinking about his beloved strawberry shakes; or Big Boy without thinking of the time I asked him about the best thing he'd ever eaten (he told me it was a hamburger from Big Boy, and I said that I'd love to take him there when he gets better; he told me, "Oh, no, that's too expensive!" I wish we'd had the chance to go, but he was never well enough.)

Anyway, I couldn't let today pass by without mentioning Mark. Thank you again to all of you that sent him cards, gifts, positives thoughts, and prayers--he felt so special getting all that mail! ;)

This morning, I had plans to meet Stephanie for a 10-mile run at the State Park. Jerry and I had to leave for his friend's memorial service at 11, so Steph and I met early at 7:30, right after the sun came up. Steph hadn't run 10 miles since November, when she did the Monroe Half Marathon, but I promised her we'd go at her pace and walk if needed. She said it would be 11:30-12:00 pace, which was fine with me!

It was colder than I anticipated, and I was really glad that I ran back in the house to get gloves before heading to the park. I wished I'd grabbed warmer ones, because my hands never did warm up throughout the run. We did a lollipop route, starting at the very top of the lollipop. Despite being a little cold, it was a great morning for a run!

The miles went by really quickly (for me, anyway) because we were chatting the whole time. I love having company on long runs! We took a quick walk break a couple of times, but other than that, Stephanie was actually running a great pace. I think the talking was distracting her from the fact that she was running sub-11 miles ;)

I really can't believe how fast the run went by; before I knew it, we were back at our cars. It was a great run! I was expecting 12-minute miles, but we finished with about an 11:00 average. And I burned more than 80 calories per mile, which made me happy (lately, it's been in the 70's for my calories per mile! One of the downsides of losing weight...)

Steph said she had something for me, and oh, boy--she sure knows how to make me a happy girl! Yesterday was her son's birthday, and they had cookie cake to celebrate. She brought me a leftover piece of cookie cake that she'd actually decorated with frosting, just for me! I knew exactly where those 828 calories I burned were going...

I brought it home and shared it with Jerry and the kids (it was actually a really large piece!), so I only ate a quarter of it, that I estimated at 420 calories. It was homemade, and much better than Mrs. Fields! (Thank you Steph!)

Then I had to get ready to head to the memorial service. Jerry and I rarely get dressed up (just for weddings and funerals, really), so I got to wear a dress that I'd never actually worn before. I bought this dress at a garage sale in 2013. It still had the tags on it ($80 from Express), but the zipper was broken. I'm pretty handy with a sewing machine, so I bought the dress for a couple of bucks and hoped I'd be able to fix it. I did, and was thrilled! However... it was too small.

The dress is a size 4, and when I changed out the zipper, I ended up making it just a tiny bit smaller by accident. But I held on to it, hoping that one day I'd be able to wear it. I decided today was the day, so I tried it on--and it fit! It was a tight squeeze around my rib cage, but I love it. It makes my waist look tiny (you can't really tell from this picture, but it's a flattering dress).

It's strapless, and that didn't really feel appropriate to wear to a memorial service, so I threw a shrug on over it. Jerry and I cleaned up pretty nicely ;)

The memorial was much different than I was expecting. It wasn't at a funeral home, but at a banquet hall. They had a delicious lunch and an open bar. There were a TON of people there--it was actually difficult to move around because of the crowd. Jerry's friend was clearly well-liked by a lot of people!

Several people have been asking how Jerry's dealing with his friend's death, and he's doing good. We had a long talk yesterday afternoon over a glass of wine, and it felt nice to have a real, grown-up conversation. Jerry told me all sorts of fun stories about his friend, and it made me wish that I'd met him. We talked in-depth about suicide and even that was a good conversation to have, because so few people talk about it. It's an uncomfortable subject, but it affects so many peoples lives in one way or another that it really should be talked about more often.

On the way home from the memorial, I thought a lot about Mark. Despite the sad moments of today being the anniversary of Mark's death, and the memorial of Jerry's friend, it was a nice day. I've been feeling very grateful lately for the time I get to spend with Jerry!

I hope everyone has a nice Easter tomorrow :)

March 23, 2016

Week 32 Weigh-in

Today's weigh-in was pretty much what I expected:

I was at 124.4, meaning I was up 1.4 pounds this week. I'm not worried about it, considering I'm still so far under my goal weight, and I didn't binge. My appetite has been crazy for the past couple of weeks, so I've just been going with it. And I certainly can't expect to lose or maintain my weight every week for the rest of my life! I just have to make sure that it doesn't turn into an upward trend over a period of several weeks, and I'll be fine.

My typical routine was thrown a little when my brother invited us over for dinner last Wednesday. I didn't overeat, but it was higher-calorie food (burgers, a beer, dessert). I ended up making that an impromptu high-calorie day, but then I ended up having a weekend that was high in calories as well.

All-in-all, my average daily calorie intake was 2,258, which is the highest it's been since I started calorie counting 32 weeks ago. I was kind of expecting not be able to eat much because of my root canal on Thursday, but I guess it turns out that's not true ;) I ended up having three pretty high calorie days, as opposed to just one. Next week, I'd like to try and keep my calories fairly even at about 1,900 (plus one high-calorie day) and see what happens.

Anyway, I don't have any regrets about the week--I listened to my hunger, and I didn't let indulgences turn to binges--so the week was a success, in my eyes. Interestingly, the thing that I was happiest about was that I didn't get stressed about going to my brother's for dinner. In the past, when doing Weight Watchers, I probably would have declined the invitation or stressed over the food and how to handle it. This time, I didn't even ask him what we'd be eating--I just said we'd love to come over, and I decided to eat whatever he and Becky decided to make. While we were there, Becky even commented on how much more relaxed I seem. I enjoyed the food, taking a mental note about how much I was eating, and then I logged it on My Fitness Pal later. It was so nice not to feel bad or stressed about it!

I had an excellent week as far as my 10K training goes. I'm still riding yesterday's runner's high from nailing that workout! I'm now 18 days away from my goal race. I can't believe how fast the time has gone by (or how much I've improved!).

My long-term goals were good this week as well:

7,000+ steps 6+ days per week: I got in 7,000+ steps every day except for Thursday, which was when I had my root canal.

Binge-free: Today is Day 232! It feels second-nature now, almost like bingeing isn't even an option. Yes, I've had high calorie days, but I've always stayed in control over my choices. I'm also at the point where I feel like even if I did slip and have a binge, I wouldn't let it turn into a week or month of bingeing. I feel like the way I'm eating and living now has truly become a lifestyle. I can't say that I ever felt that way before.

Try one new recipe weekly: This week, I tried out One Pot Jambalaya Pasta.

This was delicious, and SO easy to make! I love the one pot recipes where you basically just throw everything into a pot to cook. Jerry and I loved this, and Eli was pretty into it as well. But it was too spicy for Noah's liking (even the tiniest bit of spice turns him off, though). The recipe made eight servings, so there was enough leftover to have for lunch the next day. I made it without the shrimp, but next time, I'd like to include it. I love shrimp.

Despite the scale being up a little this week, I am happy with my week overall!

March 22, 2016

The Best 10K Workout to Set a PR

As I'm sure you're sick of reading about, I have a big running goal this year: to PR my 10K. I set this goal during the summer of 2015, when I was at the heaviest (and slowest) I'd been in five years. I almost said it as a joke, because of the impossibility of it. But once I said it out loud, "I'm going to get back to my goal weight and PR the 10K next year," I decided to give it a try. The first step was getting back to my goal weight, because I knew I wouldn't be able to run my fastest with an extra 30 pounds on my body.

I researched for what felt like MONTHS about the perfect training plan for a 10K, and I tried out a few before making any decisions. One article that I came across, however, has stuck in my mind the entire time I've been training: Greg McMillan's "The Best 10K Workout".

If you're unfamiliar with Greg McMillan, he's an exercise physiologist and well-known running coach. I use his pace calculator all the time when I write running plans for friends and family members. Anyway, according to McMillan, the best 10K workout is this:

3 x 2 miles at goal 10K pace with 5 minute jog between.

SO SIMPLE, but SO HARD to do! Even the way he worded it on his website is scary:

I was intimidated immediately after reading it, but throughout the last several months of training, I just kept that in the back of my mind, knowing I'd want to try it before race day.

The first workout he suggests to work your way up to "the best one" is 6 x 1 mile at goal pace. When I started training, that was not even a possibility for me! I could barely run a sub-9:00 mile, let alone a sub-8:00 mile (or six of them in a row!). Seeing that made me sort of feel like I'd lost before I even started training, but I decided that I'd train in my own way and hopefully nail that 3 x 2 miles workout  one day before my race.

McMillan suggests doing "the best workout" 9-12 days before your goal race, and today I am 19 days away. However, I decided to give it a whirl today, because I honestly just wasn't sure how it would go. And if I failed to complete it, I wanted to have a chance to try again during that 9-12 day window. I was planning to do it yesterday, but I had a sore throat for a couple days, and I was expecting to get sick, so I rested yesterday. Today, I felt better when I woke up, so I decided to give it a try.

I set my Garmin for 3 x 2 mile intervals with 5:00 recovery between each. I wore the shoes I plan to wear on race day (my new pair of Ghost 8's). It was a little windy this morning, and I wanted to get out there before the wind got any stronger. I took a deep here-goes-nothing breath, started my Garmin, and took off running.

I felt good--it's funny, I notice almost immediately whether it's going to be a good run or not. My legs felt fresh and I felt light and springy. I started out too fast (per usual) so I concentrated on slowing it down to get as close to goal pace as I could without going over. I was running a super familiar route, so I knew where the two-mile mark was, and I just focused on getting there. I tried not to think about the fact that after the two miles, I'd only be a THIRD of the way done with the workout.

That first two miles actually felt really great--I wasn't dying, and when my Garmin beeped to jog, I felt like I could have continued (not sure about four more miles, though! ha). The five-minute jog went by way too fast, and then the Garmin beeped to start my running again. This time, I knew I was going to turn around midway through the interval, so I was just focusing on that. Breaking it up into smaller segments made it go by faster.

I was definitely more tired after that second two-mile segment. I was really tempted to call it quits and just redo it next week--but I kept telling myself that if I could do it now, get it over with today, then I won't have to do this workout again! I knew my confidence would soar if I could just get this one workout done, and I was already two-thirds of the way through it. (Besides, physically, I knew I was capable of pushing through it; mentally, though, I was doubtful!)

My jog was really slow, because I was dreading the final two-mile split. But after five minutes, my Garmin beeped, and I started running hard again. The first half-mile was directly into the wind coming off of Lake Erie, and it wiped me out. My pace was at 8:07, and my heart rate was 180 (over 175 is when it gets too difficult to maintain). I almost gave in at that point, because I felt kind of defeated, but I decided to at least finish out the mile. I hoped that once I turned away from the wind, I would catch my breath and feel better.

Thankfully, it worked! Once I turned away from the wind, my heart rate dropped back down to 174-ish, and I was slowly able to make up the time that the wind had cost me. My pace got down to 7:53, and I just tried to hold it there. I wasn't trying to go any faster, because I really just wanted to finish!

When I knew I had about a mile left, I thought, "Maybe I'll just stop after this mile, and then next week, I'll go for all six." I looked at my Garmin, and saw that I actually only had 0.93 miles left; when I saw that, I knew I would be able to just finish it. I was even able to pick up the pace a little, knowing it would be over with soon. The closer I got to home, the longer it seemed to take... but finally, I heard the Garmin beep. I had DONE IT!

Pace of 7:49, 7:51, and 7:48 for my two mile splits

I really couldn't believe it. I just did Greg McMillan's "Best 10K Workout", and I nailed my pace! I was SO excited.

Once I uploaded my run, I saw that even with the jogging breaks included, this was my second fastest six-mile outdoor run ever (the first being my 10K PR from April 2013). I feel super confident going into my race now. There are a lot of other factors that could affect my race--I'll be in a different time zone, eating food I'm not used to, and my whole routine will be out of whack. Not to mention the pressure I feel! But I do feel like I'm in the shape to run a PR if everything goes well that day.

Going to enjoy my runner's high all day today :)

March 21, 2016

A special kind of motivation on this Monday

The anniversary of Mark's death is approaching (the 26th), and I'd been trying to think of a way to honor him in some way. A couple of weeks ago, it was like an opportunity fell right into my lap. I got an email from Marissa, a reader of my blog who was very touched by Mark's story when I shared it a couple of years ago. Marissa has a son named Atticus, who has special needs, and Marissa says that he is her "main fitness motivation". 

 I asked her to tell me about Atticus, and this was her reply:
"Atticus is a fraternal twin. He measured small during pregnancy, and I was very closely monitored, but everything looked fine on the numerous ultrasounds. When he was born at 35 weeks, however, it was clear that things were not fine. He needed surfactant, an isolating ventilator, a special probe in his artery to monitor his blood pressure, and other sorts of interventions. His twin, on the other hand, didn't even need oxygen. 
"And that's how it began. All told, Atticus spent 108 days of his first year in the hospital, and many other days since. He has been diagnosed with several conditions: two underlying chromosomal issues and then their results, such as polymicrogyria, sensory processing disorder, cortical visual impairment, hypotonia, global developmental delays. He has had several surgeries, including placing a feeding tube through his abdomen into his stomach. He still gets all of his nutrition by his tube. 
"But that is not Atticus's story. At one, he learned to roll over. He would roll continuously until he ran into a wall, laughing the whole time. At two, he began tasting things. He surprised us all by preferring sour foods. I make him a key lime pie every birthday now. He learned to crawl at 3, just when his twin was potty training. Atticus loves playing in water more than anything. I spent much of my day making sure he wasn't playing in the toilet! He began pulling to a stand and cruising on furniture last summer, at 3.5. Now, at 4, he is just beginning to use a walker. 
"Atticus cannot speak, but he can laugh. He loves motion. I began running, pushing him and his younger brother in a jogging stroller during his twin's preschool class. Atticus loved it. He would kick his legs and laugh hysterically. I trained for a half marathon and pushed him in it, and he was mad at me when he stopped at the finish, wanting to continue. I can never go fast enough or run long enough to please him. 
"Atticus's twin is very into biking. Because Atticus is outgrowing the jogging stroller, I have been worried. Atticus has poor vision and doesn't have the cognitive abilities to steer. His twin actually suggested a bike for two last fall, and I just laughed. I have since learned about adaptive bikes for two. They let the child ride in front, and have a safe seat for them. They can help with the pedals or not, depending on ability. And the adult can steer. This is the answer to a dream! But it's an answer we can't afford, which is why we're trying to win it. 

 "We are trying to win Atticus an adaptive bike-for-two. I could continue to be healthy and he could continue to enjoy family activities. This bike costs over $7,000, so obviously we cannot afford it. Our insurance does not cover bikes as they are not "necessary"...although how many children would agree with that?
"Thank you so much for being willing to hear about Atticus, and to help him."

Reading about Atticus just makes me want to scoop him up in a big hug! And then take him for a bike ride ;) 

There is a campaign started by Friendship Circle of Michigan called The Great Bike Giveaway. Basically, the campaign raises money through donations and they try to raise enough to give away adaptive bikes to all sorts of kids with special needs who could use them. There are 600 kids, so that is a lot of (very expensive) bikes--in the case that they don't raise enough money for all 600, they hold a contest where you can vote for someone to receive a bike. (Any extra bikes are given by random drawing). 

Voting is a snap! Here is a link to Atticus's page. You don't have to register or anything to place a vote. I asked Marissa if she thought about starting a GoFundMe page for donations directly to their family, and she said her friends started something similar at YouCaring. Here is a link to Atticus's YouCaring page--there, if you'd like, you can make a donation so their family can buy a bike for Atticus. 

Reading this story from Marissa really touched my heart! I absolutely love that she pushes Atticus in the jogging stroller, and it made me laugh when she said "I can never go fast enough or run long enough to please him." What an awesome mom to put in that much physical effort to bring joy to her son! I would LOVE to see Atticus get his bike--so aside from making my own donation, I'm posting his story here in case it touches some of you as it has me. The deadline for voting and donations to The Great Bike Giveaway is March 30th. I'll ask Marissa to keep us updated of the outcome!

March 20, 2016

Reader Questions #28

It's been a couple of weeks since my last Reader Questions post... so here is a fun one! 

Q. You're obviously a big Friends fan based on the names of your pets! Do you have a favorite episode? How about a favorite character? And the ultimate: who is your Favorite Friend???

A. Fun question! I didn't start watching Friends until about season five (maybe six?), when my friend Sarah introduced me to it. I loved it, and decided to start watching all the seasons from the beginning. Jerry loved the show as well. When we got married and moved in together, we adopted two cats from the animal shelter, who we named Chandler and Monica. When the Friends series ended in 2004, Jerry and I would still watch the episodes on DVD, going through all 10 seasons more times than I can count. 

It's hard to pick a favorite episode! The one that stands out in my mind the most is when Phoebe discovers that Monica and Chandler are dating (season 5, episode 14). All of the knowing but not-knowing in that episode was hilarious and I was dying for the secret to just be out already. My favorite line was Phoebe's: "They don't know that we know they know we know!" 

Another episode that I loved was related to the same issue--Chandler and Monica being together. I crack up laughing every time I see this scene where Monica, Chandler, and Joey are in the bedroom. Chandler says, trying to keep his voice down, "It happened in London" and Joey yells, "IN LONDON?!" 

My favorite character (who is also my favorite "Friend") would probably be Chandler. I love his sarcasm and witty one-liners!

I miss that show :)

Q. My husband and I recently (aka today) joined our local gym together. He's a gym newbie. My question is: Do you guys exercise together? Also, does Jerry find that you help keep him motivated? If so, how?

A. I think it's awesome that you and your husband joined a gym together! Hopefully it will help to keep each of you motivated. Jerry and I don't exercise together very regularly, due to his crazy work schedule (he works a swing shift that changes all the time). However, when he has a day off and the kids are at school, we usually like to do something active together. Sometimes we'll go for a run at the State Park, or take Joey for a long walk. He got a bike last summer, so we did some fun bike rides together as well. The difference between us exercising together versus alone is that when we exercise together, it's more of a fun activity to do together than it is "exercise". 

I asked Jerry if he thinks that I help keep him motivated, and he said yes. When he sees that I'm doing really well with my eating/exercising habits, it makes him want to see the same success that I've been seeing. He spectated a lot of my races before he started running, and he said watching me finish a race always made him want to start running. Right now, he's building a running base to start training for the Rock n Roll Half in Virginia Beach this Labor Day weekend! 

Someone handed out shots of bourbon during the Detroit Half...
so naturally, we took one!

I do try to help encourage him, too. I told him he should get a new pair of shoes for training, and he was reluctant to spend the money ($120) on them when he wasn't even sure if he would really follow through with the training and race. My thoughts were that if he spends the money, he'll be MORE likely to stick with it! So we went to the running store, where he got a good pair of shoes. After seeing how much I love my FlipBelt, I bought him one of those, too. When he comes inside after a run, I ask him how it went--and then I get (jokingly) mad that he ran faster than I do, when I've been running for six years! ;)

When we each came in first place in our age group at a 10K!
If I'm being honest, we were the ONLY ones in our age group ;)

I think the best way to get someone motivated to run is for them to see you do it. Watching a race is especially inspiring! If you have a spouse that you are hoping to motivate, ask them to spectate at a race, and they will likely want to sign up that day for the next one. 

March 19, 2016

RUNdetroit group run!

A few days ago, I asked Stephanie if she was doing a long run this weekend, because I was hoping for some company. She told me that she had plans Saturday morning, so she couldn't; but we decided to make plans to run next weekend instead. All day yesterday, however, I'd forgotten that it was NEXT weekend that we were planning to run together, and I was so sure it was this morning.

Last night, I laid my clothes out on my dresser so that I could just get up and get dressed for our run. Just before bed, I was going to send her a confirmation text, when I realized that I may have remembered incorrectly. I'm glad I texted her, because she reminded me it was next weekend! I would have shown up at her house at 7:30 this morning if I hadn't asked, haha.

I really wanted some company on my run today, so last night I was thinking about asking on Facebook if anyone was interested in running 10-12 miles with me today. Then I decided to Google "group runs" in my area, and saw that RUNdetroit (a running store in Detroit) hosts a group run every Saturday morning at 8:00--a 3-miler, a 6-miler, and a 10-miler. I'd never actually gone to a group run before, so I wasn't sure I wanted to do it. Attending a new group thing without a friend by my side made me very nervous. However, maybe the psychotherapy and anxiety meds are working, because I decided that I was going to go.

I set my alarm for 5:00 (even though I've been waking up earlier) and my clothes were already laid out. This morning, I actually was asleep when my alarm went off! I immediately thought, "Forget it, I'm not going... I'm tired!" but I couldn't go back to sleep after that, so I decided to go. I knew I'd have to run 10-12 miles today regardless, and it would be more fun with other people.

So, I got dressed (it was going to be a cold morning!) and headed up to Detroit at about 7:00. The store was easy to find, and there was free parking right across the street, which was nice. I could see a lot of runners heading into the store, so I just followed them in. It was my first time inside of RUNdetroit, and it was a nice store! I was greeted by an enormous dog (I later learned he belongs to the owner, who brings him to work--although during store hours, he has to stay in the back of the store). Thankfully, I'm over my fear of dogs, so I gave him a pet before standing around a little awkwardly.

Everyone that came in seemed to know each other already, which I expected. A woman named Stacey introduced herself to me, and I'm grateful for that! I told her it was my first time there, and she explained how it worked. She gave me a mini map, and introduced me to the co-owner of the store, Justin Craig. He explained the route to me, and said that once everyone got there, he'd find out who else was running the 10-miler at my pace. He pulled up the route on the computer to explain it in more detail, which was helpful later.

A few minutes later, he introduced me to a couple of women (Nelly and Sherry, who were sisters). They were doing the 10-miler, and Nelly told me that they'd be doing about a 10:30-11:00 pace, which was just fine with me. Since it was my long run, I wanted to keep my heart rate under 146... I didn't mind going slower than I would have on my own, but I didn't want to go faster. There was a guy that joined us as well (I missed his name, unfortunately!). At 8:00, everyone headed outside, and just started running.

Most people were doing the 3-miler, several doing the 6-miler, and there were very few doing the 10-miler. I ran next to Nelly, with Sherry and the guy (who I think was her boyfriend) just in front of us. I was happy just to follow along. Making small talk helped pass the time, and the three of them were super nice.

It was interesting, because they were all from the area, while I only go to Detroit about 10 times a year. I LOVE Detroit, but I still don't know my way around. I loved looking around at the scenery, and I asked about certain buildings. The things that I found so fascinating were just everyday scenes for them, so they probably thought I was a little odd being so excited and interested in it all.

The course we ran was pretty nice. I wish I'd taken pictures, but I already felt out of place, so I didn't want to feel even more so. The whole 10 miles passed really quickly, and I felt great! My heart rate was pretty low the whole time (except for running up an overpass at mile five). We made it back to the store, finishing the run at mile 10.5.

I'm so glad that I ended up going! I would definitely do it again (and I likely will). Stepping out of my comfort zone is never easy, but a lot of times, I'm glad I did--and today was one of those times. I wish that we had a running group in my hometown, but Detroit is probably the closest that I know of. If any of you are thinking about going to a run group, I encourage you to give it a try! Just introduce yourself to some people and let them know you're new--they will likely be happy to help you find someone to stick with during the run.

I thanked Justin and told him I'd be back again. When I got in the car, the middle finger of my hand was cold and completely white. It's from Raynaud's syndrome, and I usually get it on my toes and the heels of my feet... but once in a while, it'll happen to my fingers. Today, it was just my middle finger:

Kind of creepy looking, right?! My younger brother, Nathan, has it pretty bad on his fingers. Every time he runs, all of his fingers turn as white as the tip of my middle finger above. He has medication for it, but you have to take it a full day ahead of time, so it's hard to remember. When it happens to my heels and toes, it drives me crazy! They get totally numb. It's harmless, but it looks kind of freaky ;)

Anyway, fun run today! New scenery, new friends, new experiences :)

March 18, 2016

Root canal!

Yesterday, I finally went and did it--I had my root canal! I wrote about it back in October, explaining what a nervous wreck I was. There was truly nothing more terrifying to me than the thought of a root canal. I kept putting it off for the last several months, even though I kept getting twinges of pain in my tooth. Finally, when we got our tax return money, I decided to make the appointment (it's crazy how expensive a root canal is, even with insurance).

My original appointment was on February 29, but I ended up rescheduling because I'd forgotten that was the day of the Leap Day 4-Miler race. I didn't want to go race after getting a terrifying dental procedure! The next appointment available with the endodontist was today. I almost chickened out again, but I knew I couldn't put it off forever.

I made the appointment for the initial consult as well as the root canal, should I end up needing it (my dentist was confident I would need it). First, I went to my psychotherapy appointment in the morning. It was my second appointment, and I'm very happy with how it's going so far. I really like the psychologist, and I feel confident that she can help with my anxiety. I felt very comfortable with her right away, so I'm looking forward to continuing the therapy sessions once a week.

Right from there, I went to the endodontist's office. He and his assistant were super nice, and made me feel very comfortable (well, as comfortable as I could get, considering the situation). He explained everything well, without freaking me out any more than I already was, and assessed my tooth. Like my dentist had explained, there was a tiny crack in my tooth (from when I fell and broke my jaw) and the tooth was dying.

The endodontist said that he could drill into it and see how deep the crack went. If it wasn't too deep, then he could do the root canal treatment and I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. If it was deep, then I'd have to have it extracted. I almost fainted when he said that--extracted?! I prayed that the crack wasn't deep, and I cursed myself for not going sooner. It never occurred to me that I might have to get it pulled out.

I told him that I needed to do it right then, because if I went home, I certainly wouldn't go back. He agreed. I sat back in the chair to get comfy for my first (and hopefully only) root canal procedure. I asked the assistant if I could wear the lead apron (for x-rays) throughout the whole procedure, because I like that cozy feeling of its weight draped across me (does anyone else like that? Maybe I'm a total weirdo).

The endodontist gave me an injection of the local anesthetic (which was pretty painful!), then waited for me to get numb. I hate the feeling of being numb! But clearly, it's better than being in pain. He then placed a rubber dam over my mouth to isolate just my problem tooth, and that was surprisingly comfortable. It even helped me to hold my mouth open during the procedure.

I probably should have just put on some headphones and zoned out, but I was too nervous the whole time. Next time (hopefully there won't be a next time), I'll know. The endodontist explained what he was doing without going into too much detail, which was helpful. Basically, he spent a few seconds drilling, and then about 20 minutes poking different instruments in there (I didn't want to know, so I closed my eyes). I didn't feel any pain! I could feel the instruments tapping against my tooth now and then, but no pain at all.

THANK GOD, the crack in my tooth wasn't too deep, so he was able to clean out the root canals and said I wouldn't need an extraction. That was such a relief. He filled my tooth with whatever it is they fill it with, and I have an appointment to go to my dentist next week for a crown. The whole procedure, from the time I sat in the chair to when I got out of the chair to leave, was less than an hour. I really should have done this back in October! It wasn't bad at all. If anything, it's just really inconvenient--feeling numb all day, having to be careful about eating with this tooth until I get the crown, and having to get numbed for the crown procedure next week. Not fun!

After the numbness wore off, my mouth was really sore, particularly where the injection sites were. My jaw feels sore on that side, too. Eating has been challenging, because I'm trying to avoid chewing on that side. I'll be so glad when the crown is done and I don't have to worry about this tooth anymore!

I have no pictures for this post (not that you'd want one to go along with it); so here's a picture of Joey and Phoebe sharing the electric blanket :)

March 17, 2016

An update on (and explanation of) 80/20 Running

I was putting this post off until after I see how well I do for my goal 10K next month, but I realized that regardless of how I do at the race, I have made some very serious progress in my running--so it's worth posting now. Several people have asked me lately exactly what I've been doing to get faster, so I'll try and explain it here in a nutshell.

I'm basically doing a combination of 80/20 Running and MAF training, which I'll explain below.

80/20 Running
First, a quick explanation of 80/20 Running--I read the book 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald, and the gist is that MOST recreational runners (even competitive ones) tend to do their easy runs too fast and their hard runs too slow. (Note: I don't recommend the electronic version of this book, because you will do a TON of flipping back and forth between pages). Based on an overwhelming amount of data, particularly from elite runners, there is a formula that is near-perfect for most runners: do 80% (or less) of your running at a low intensity, and 20% of your running at moderate or high intensity.

The big question is what does "low intensity" really mean? Most runners will say they went for an "easy run", but in reality, their heart rate was high enough to be considered a "moderate run". The best way to keep yourself from going too hard/fast is to use a heart rate monitor. Fitzgerald has different ways of figuring out the best heart rate to train at, but in general, he says your heart rate on your easy runs should be roughly 77% of your maximum heart rate.

(Note: the 80/20 ratio refers to TIME spent running, not distance)

MAF Training
MAF training (developed by Dr. Phil Maffetone) is something I tried before in 2014, but I just wasn't patient enough to really see it through until I got results. MAF stands for "maximum aerobic function", and it's a training method that builds up your aerobic system. MAF is done with a heart rate monitor, and you never train above a particular heart rate (here is a link to the 180-formula that is used to find the correct heart rate for MAF training).

To do MAF training, you do lots of aerobic workouts (it doesn't have to be just running, but in my case, that's what I use). You never go over your MAF heart rate (mine is 146 bpm). Over time, you are able to go faster and longer without exceeding your MAF heart rate. For example, when you first start MAF training, you may be doing 14:00-minute miles; after several months, you may be doing 12:00-minute miles at the same heart rate. Seeing that progress means that your aerobic system is improving.

The Combination
What I've been doing is combining the two types of training--I'm using the MAF heart rate for 80% or more of my time spent running, and then 20% or less of my time spent running is on speed work. So, in a nutshell, I'm following the 80/20 ratio, but keeping my heart rate low (per MAF) on my easy runs.

This isn't right for everyone, of course. Lately, I've been trying to follow my intuition with a lot of different aspects of my life--including my diet and running. The MAF training by itself felt too boring and I didn't think I'd be able to progress my running quickly enough for my goal race. I did like the low heart rate running, though, because running at such a slow pace is enjoyable for me. I LOVE the 80/20 ratio (keeps me from being bored, and it's very effective). By combining the two methods, I get the best of both--lots of slow, easy running, but enough hard running sprinkled in to get faster and keep from being bored.

Moving on...
When you calculate your MAF heart rate (or even the heart rate that Matt Fitzgerald suggests for his 80/20 Running method) I can almost guarantee you that the number you get will be much lower than the heart rate you've been training at ;) Mine certainly was! I am guilty of doing my easy runs too fast. (If you don't have access to a heart rate monitor, you can try to use other methods of keeping it easy--you should be able to talk easily while you're running. But the best way is to use the heart rate monitor, because people still tend to underestimate how much effort they are putting into their runs.)

When you do your easy runs, you are not supposed to go over that heart rate at all--even if that means you have to take walk breaks. Your body will adapt over time, and you'll be able to maintain that same heart rate while going faster. When I was just going out and doing an "easy run" last fall, I was running a 9:30-ish pace. My heart rate was regularly in the 150's and 160's, which is too high for an easy run. Once I calculated my heart rate, and saw that I was supposed to keep it under 146 bpm, my pace slowed to 11:30-ish! If I ran any faster, my heart rate would get too high. So, as hard as it was to make myself slow down (it feels awkward and embarrassing at first to run at what feels like a snail's pace compared to what you're used to), I did it anyway. 

There are lots of reasons for doing this method, so I would suggest reading about the MAF method and 80/20 Running for all those details. Basically, you're training your body to require less effort for the same result. There are all sorts of physiological adaptations that happen when running at a low intensity; the ultimate goal being to condition your aerobic system. (And, by only doing 20% of your running at moderate or high-intensity, you are able to hit your goals for those workouts much easier!)

I didn't "officially" start doing the 80/20 Method until mid-January, but I was unknowingly doing it starting around December 24th. At that time, I started following a plan that gave me a recommended heart rate for my runs. I decided to go ahead and follow the plan as written, and take the easy runs very slowly, keeping my heart rate under 146 bpm; and then when I had speed work, I would give it my all.

It has worked out so well, in so many ways! After about six weeks of training that way, I was able to PR my 5K time (on November 26th, my 5K time was 27:00; by February 6th, my time was 24:51)--something I never dreamed would happen. 

I also fell in love with running. I used to dread my runs every single day; even though I felt great after the runs, I always hated the actual running part. Once I started doing the heart rate training, I actually REALLY enjoyed my easy runs! I was able to run slow enough that I wasn't at all out of breath, and it felt similar to just going for a walk. Now, I really do look forward to my easy runs--even the long ones.

It's been very interesting to see my easy pace gradually get faster, too. I always keep my heart rate under 146 during easy runs, but now it takes more effort to get there. Before, I was running an 11:30-ish pace at that heart rate, and now I'm running a 10:30-ish pace at the same heart rate. The effort I put into my easy runs is the same; but the pace is just naturally faster, due to the aerobic conditioning. 

This could be totally coincidental and/or irrelevant, but according to Dr. Maffetone, running at a low heart rate burns more fat. There is a ton of info about this online--some people say it's a myth, some preach it--but I have never really paid much attention to that (and honestly, I don't care at this point). However, it just so happened that when I started doing the low heart rate training, I lost more weight, bringing me 10 pounds below my goal weight--and my body fat is now under 18%. I wasn't actively trying to lose more weight, but it dropped down fairly easily. Again, it could just be a coincidence, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Ultimately, the goal is to continue to keep my heart rate low, but my speed will continue to increase. I'll become more and more aerobically conditioned, and able to run faster without using more effort. Once I'm finished training for this 10K (hopefully I'll hit my goal!) I'm going to continue with the low heart rate training and the 80/20 method. 

Here are some sample runs from my log:

First three-mile self-proclaimed "easy" run on Oct. 1st, after six weeks of no running due to stress fracture:
3.00 miles
HR 165 bpm
9:35/mile pace

First three-mile low-HR run (same course, Jan. 8)
3.00 miles
HR 138 bpm
11:22/mile pace

Most recent three-mile low-HR run (same course, Mar. 9)
3.00 miles
HR 141 bpm
10:24/mile pace

Yesterday's run:
5.03 miles
HR 143 bpm
9:58/mile pace (while keeping a low heart rate, I dipped into the 9:00's for the first time!)


5K race on November 26:
3.11 miles
171 bpm
8:41/mile pace

5K race on February 6:
3.11 miles
172 bpm
7:56/mile pace

Race-pace training run on March 8:
3.50 miles
174 bpm
7:50/mile pace

It's so exciting to be able to train slower but get faster! I am doing speed work, but less than 20% of my time spent running is at a moderate or high intensity. Most people can run fast for a short duration--but to run fast for a long time, we need to build our aerobic capacity (endurance). I wish I'd have listened to this advice a long time ago and had the patience to work on it the correct way ;)

I'm hopeful for my 10K on April 10, but even if I don't hit my goal of sub-49:23, I am confident that with more training, I'll do it sometime this year for sure! 

March 16, 2016

Week 31 Weigh-in

I was fully expecting to see a gain on the scale this week, because my appetite has been pretty high, but I actually dropped a little weight:

Last week, I was at 123.8, and I was 123.0 today, so I was down 0.8 today. I'm not kidding when I say my appetite was high--my average calories per day this week was 2,213. I must have been making up for the week before, when my appetite was kind of nil. But, I've been trying to listen to my body, and if I'm hungry, I'll eat more; if not, I'll eat less. It's working out well this way.

I originally planned my high-calorie day for Thursday, and I ate 2,891 calories that day. Then, I ate normally on Friday all day until the evening. I went to a birthday party for Jessica at a Mexican restaurant, and I hadn't planned to eat there. But once I got there, and everyone was having margaritas and chips and all that good stuff, I ended up indulging. I had two margaritas, chips with guacamole, and a piece of birthday cake--which brought my calorie total to 3,599 for the day! And honestly, I don't feel one bit guilty about it. I didn't binge, and birthday cake is going to happen in life (as are margaritas). I reeled in my calories the following day, and no harm was done.

My runs were good this week, too. I was SUPER excited about the 10K on the treadmill Monday. Tomorrow, I'll write more about the training I've been doing, and update how it's going. I started to write it here, but it was just too complicated, so it needs a whole post of its own.

As far as my long-term goals:

7,000+ steps per day, 6+ days per week: I got them all in except for Saturday.

Staying binge-free: Today is Day 225, and I'm going strong. It feels amazing! Some days, a binge doesn't even cross my mind. Even this week, when I was clearly eating much more than usual, I just trusted my body to go with it. Maybe I was hungrier for a reason. I didn't try to hold back just because the number of calories seemed really high; I felt like I needed to eat more, and I did. And somehow, I still lost a little weight. But I love that I never let that turn into a binge. In the past, I most certainly would have let Jessica's party give me that "Screw it!" attitude, and I would have just continued to eat everything in sight all week.

One new recipe weekly: I almost let this week slip by. With Jerry being in NYC, I didn't cook much for myself and the kids (we had sandwiches, pizza, and leftovers). Yesterday, Jerry had to bring in something for a potluck at work; and on Pinterest, I found a beer and cheese dip for pretzels. It was super simple--I threw it together quickly and it ended up being delicious! I tasted a couple bites before he took it to work. It's not the prettiest looking dip:

But with pretzels, it's actually really good! There are only four ingredients: cream cheese, beer, ranch dressing mix, and cheddar cheese. I let the kids try it, too, and they really liked it. This would be a good snack to make when we have friends over.

Another good week in the books! :)

March 15, 2016

A treadmill PR

It's been nice not having a strict running schedule, but yesterday I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do for my speed work. I ultimately decided to try to do 4 miles at race pace (I did 3.5 last week). It was super foggy outside in the morning, and we got a phone call from the kids' school saying that there was a two-hour fog delay.

Once I got them off to school, I really didn't want to run on the roads with it being so foggy out (good chance of getting hit by a car), so I decided to go to the Metropark. It's a 20-minute drive, but anything that I can do to make speed work more pleasant is worth it! When I got there, I drove to the back of the park and parked the car, and then headed out onto the bike path. Not even 40 seconds into my run, I saw that the bike path was flooded in several areas (we got a lot of rain over the weekend).

I did not want to run at race pace with wet shoes, so I just turned around, walked back to the car, and drove home. I was feeling kind of bummed, and I knew I wouldn't want to wake up in the morning and have to do speed work because I didn't get it done yesterday, so I started thinking of alternatives. Lately, I've been asking myself what I can do to give myself the confidence I need going into my goal 10K--and today, I decided to utilize the treadmill.

Since treadmill running feels easier to me than outdoor running, I figured I would give it my all and see if I couldn't run my goal 10K pace for an entire 10K distance on the treadmill! I set up some random movie on Netflix to watch while I ran, and I set the speed at 7.6 mph (a 7:53/mile pace). I've done what Garmin has said to calibrate the 620 to my foot pod, but it always shows me as going faster than the treadmill says--I don't know which is correct, so for today, I decided I'd be safe and use the treadmill pace of 7:53/mile. (It turns out that the Garmin reads that speed as 7:30/mile--kind of a big difference! But without having my treadmill calibrated, I'll never know which is correct.)

Running at 7.6 mph actually didn't feel too bad! I tried to focus on the movie, but it was terrible and I wished I'd picked something else. But, I didn't want to stop to change it, and I was running too fast to change it mid-run, so I just dealt with the boredom.

I knew without a doubt that I could do 4 miles, because I have done 3.5 outside; so I just kept focusing on getting to that point. I even bargained with myself that I could quit at the 4-mile mark if I wanted. Physically, I felt really good--I knew that if I quit at mile 4, it would only be because I couldn't handle the mental challenge. The book that I've been reading about running by feel explains how to make yourself tougher for workouts, and that we are capable of much more than we think.

Since I wasn't watching the movie anyway, I just closed my iPad and focused on a spot on the wall (super exciting, I know!). I had my phone in the cup holder on the treadmill, so I turned on some Eminem for motivation. I imagined my body as a machine, just doing the same motion over and over, legs and arms pumping. I minimized any extra movement in order to save my energy (I noticed that when I closed my iPad, my heart rate went up because I was doing more than just running; same when I turned on the music--just fiddling with my phone caused me to use up extra energy).

Once I hit mile five, I knew I was going to finish. My Garmin was reading a 7:30 pace, which meant I would hit the 10K mark on my Garmin before the treadmill got there, so it was a bummer that I'd have to keep running even after I stopped my Garmin; but I wanted to make sure I got in all 10K at a sub-7:55 pace.

My Garmin beeped to signal mile 6, and then that last 0.22 seemed to take forever! Finally, I hit the 10K mark, and I stopped my Garmin. I had to keep running until the treadmill read 6.22, though, so it took a couple extra minutes. As soon as it read 10K, I stopped the treadmill and spent the next few minutes catching my breath. I gulped down a bottle of water, and it hit me then that I did it--I actually ran a 10K PR (even though it was on the treadmill). I don't "count" my treadmill runs as PR's, so to make it official, I have to do it in a race; but still, running it on the treadmill was just what I needed to boost my confidence some more.

Check out that vein in my forehead! Yikes.
The calorie burn on my Garmin is completely depressing--389 calories for that amount of effort?! I plugged in numbers to several different calculators online, and got everything from 400-750 (the most common being around 500). The burn on the Garmin is the lowest, but I'm assuming it's accurate because it uses my heart rate, weight, time exercised, etc. My heart rate was very steady throughout the run, and didn't have any big dips or rises that could throw off the data. I don't know--I just feel like I burned way more than that! ;)

My big race is in less than four weeks now--so I have three weeks to get as fit and confident as possible, and then one week of tapering before the big day. No pressure or anything ;)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive