Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Training Schedule 1/30 - 2/5

This week marks the first week of training for my next half marathon! After being forced to take last week off, I'm thrilled to be running again. The relatively warm, dry weather makes it even better.

Here's this week's plan:

Afternoon: 6 mile easy run, including strides; 45 minutes strength training


8 mile speed workout (One mile warm up, four tempo miles @half marathon goal race pace, 4x400m, one-two cool down miles)

Afternoon: 6 mile easy run, including strides; Guts and Butts Class


Afternoon: Boot Camp Class; 2 mile easy run

Afternoon: 5 mile easy run

Morning: 10 mile easy run

Rest Day

What workouts do you have planned this week? For those of you who also live in cold climates, are you still running outside or have you been having to do more runs on the dreadmill?

- ST

Monday, January 30, 2012

Great Lakes Expo 5k Race Recap

Last week was tough. I got my run in on Monday, but ended up having to rest Tuesday-Saturday due to a terrible cold.

Low expectations til the start
Needless to say, I had very low expectations going into Sunday's Great Lakes Expo 5k (3rd race in the Great Lakes Running Series). They were made even lower when I woke up to chilly, icy, snowy weather. Ever since falling on a patch of ice during a run earlier this winter, I've hit the treadmill or track whenever there's been the slightest bit of ice on the roads. Winter running just isn't for me!

Up until I lined up at the start, I wasn't convinced I would actually do the race. I didn't warm up the way I normally do before a race and if someone had suggested skipping the race and going home, I probably would have agreed. I even briefly considered jogging the race because I'm a wimp when it comes to ice. But soon enough the race started and off we went.

It's a good thing I ended up staying! Here are the race numbers:

Time: 23:10
Average Mile Time: 7:28
Division Place: 1/51
Overall: 83/578
(Top 14 percent)

Running past my fear of ice
After a minute of tentative running (read: slow), I decided it wasn't really that icy out and since it was a race, I needed to pick up the pace. Unfortunately, I ended up stuck in the middle of the pack at the start, which made it a bit difficult to run as fast as I wanted for the first mile. I kept getting boxed in and having to weave around people. But shortly after the first mile marker, it cleared out and I was able to run at the pace I wanted. I was still scared of slipping on a hidden patch of ice, but tried to push it out of my mind and run without fear.

Since I'm still getting over being sick, it was a tough race and felt harder than usual to maintain a faster pace. My kick at the end was a bit weak, but I was mainly happy to be done without falling. The results were really the icing on the cake. I knew I managed to pass a lot of people during the race, but had no idea I ran well enough to win my age group!

In the end, I'm glad I toughed it out and did the race. I may never love winter running, but I think I'm learning to tolerate it :)

Do you race during the winter months?

- ST

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sick of Being Sick

It was bound to happen sooner or later: The dreaded winter cold.

Coming off last weekend's excellent marathon relay race, I was super excited to train this week and race a 5k on Sunday. Monday's planned workout was great but when I woke up Tuesday morning, I knew something was off.

As I got ready for work, I felt completely drained and wanted to crawl back into bed. After a few hours of constant nose blowing, coughing and feeling like I was about to take a nap at my desk, I decided to go home for the afternoon to see if a bit of rest would help me feel better by the next day.

Unfortunately, it didn't. I survived the Wednesday workday, but spent it much like I spent Tuesday - constant nose blowing, coughing, etc. So gross. And once again, missed my workout.

So now it's Thursday, and I'm questioning if I should go to boot camp class tonight or attempt even just a few slow, easy miles. My cough is gone, but I haven't gone five minutes without blowing my nose. With Sunday's race quickly approaching, I know my number one goal is to get better. It's sad to say, but anything I do tonight at the gym won't help my fitness for the upcoming race.

But skipping three workouts in a row . . . it's a tough pill to swallow.

On a more positive note, my box of Picky Bars arrived from NaturaStride today. I'm currently nibbling on an All-in-Almond bar and it's fantastic! I can't wait to try the other two flavors.

So, anyone have any miracle tips for getting over a bad cold?

- ST

Monday, January 23, 2012

Training Schedule 1/23 - 1/29

It's time for another race week, which means another week of reduced mileage. I'm looking forward to a few consistent weeks at 35-40 instead of barely making 30.

Le sigh! Here's what's on the schedule for this week:


Afternoon: 6 mile easy run, including strides; 45 minutes strength training


6 mile speed workout; 30 minutes strength training

Afternoon: 6 mile easy run, including strides; Guts and Butts Class


Afternoon: Boot Camp Class; 2 mile easy run

Afternoon: 8-10 mile easy run

Rest Day

Great Lakes Expo Run 5k Race

Anyone else attending the expo this weekend or doing either the 5k or 10k race?

- ST

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Indoor Marathon Relay Race Recap

It's not often I get to race as part of a team, so I've been excited for weeks - actually months - for last Saturday's Indoor Marathon Relay Race. Team Fatties (name chosen because of how much all four team members love to eat!) went into the race with the goals of averaging sub-seven minute miles the entire race and a top three all female team finish.

Team Fatties at the finish line.
Sara B. (center) was the best team manager and cheerleader!

Here's how we did:

Time: 3:02:32
Average Pace: 6:59
All-Female Teams: 2/29
Overall: 14/99

I'm really proud of how we did! We met our goal of running sub-seven minute miles throughout and ended up with a second place finish!

Our prizes for winning 2nd All-Female Team

Now, I'm not sure why, but I went into this race thinking it was going to be somewhat easy. My team planned to run four laps at a time (a little over one mile) so I thought of it as a speed workout with really long breaks between the mile intervals.

About halfway through the race and feeling it!

It definitely wasn't easy. I was up second for my team and ended up taking my first four laps faster than I should have. A combination of the fast pace and cold, dry Pettit air left me coughing away after my first four laps. Felt like I couldn't breathe and I didn't know how I was going to finish out the remainder of the race. Fortunately, I felt better after sucking on a few hard candies in the warm lobby area.

Our competition
Because all teams (all male, all female and mixed) are running around the track at the same time, it's hard to get a feel for who your competition is. My team learned we were in second place for the all-female teams about halfway through the race and quickly figured out which team was right ahead of us.

Team Illini Quad was really fast and they were about four laps ahead of us. We switched up our strategy and began running two laps at a time in an attempt to catch up, but it was a bit too late. In the end, we couldn't catch them and they finished about 7 minutes ahead of us in what I was told is a new course record for an all female team. They were tough competition and ultimately just too good. Congrats to them on an awesome race!

If you run but haven't yet done the indoor relay race at the Pettit Ice Center, I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list. The enthusiasm shared by all the runners makes it a truly fun afternoon. You can be as competitive or non-competitive as you want and along the way, you might even make some new friends.

Oh, and if you end up running the race next year, don't forget to bring throat lozenges - your lungs will thank me :)

Anyone else run any of the Indoor running events at the Pettit over the weekend? If so, what did you think?

- ST

Friday, January 20, 2012

Race Night Do's and Don'ts

This week's lesson: Sometimes things don't come together until the last minute.

Case in point: One of my teammates for tomorrow's Indoor Marathon Relay Race had to drop out early last week. The remaining members of Team Fatties were left scrambling to find a replacement who could run around our pace. It was either that, or have the remaining three of us each run an extra 2-3 miles - an idea none of us were very excited about.

Enter fellow fatty and run nerd Sara B. and her amazing Daily Mile connections. She hooked us up with her friend Brittani and early this week we were able to add a new team member. Brittani is faster than Anna, Tierney and I, and we're all really excited she is able to join Team Fatties.

Race Night Rules
Since that issue is taken care of, I'm now focusing on the actual race. While I'm by no means an expert, here are a few race night do's and don'ts that work for me:

Do eat a simple dinner with foods you already know work for your body.
Don't eat anything new, overly spicy, fried or extra cheesy.

A great pre-race dinner

Do drink plenty of water throughout the evening.
Don't drink alcohol, soda or caffeinated beverages.

Do pack your race bag, including race bib, gloves, Body Glide, etc.
Don't over pack.

Do take 5-10 minutes to think about your goals for the race.
Don't obsess and think about the race all evening.

Do go to bed early.
Don't worry if you can't fall asleep. As long as you've had enough sleep during the past few days, you'll be fine.

What are your do's and don'ts for the night before a race?

- ST

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'm Ready to Go the Distance

It's official. I'm running my first marathon on October 7, 2012. I already signed up and paid the registration costs. There's no backing out now.

For my first, I've selected Lakefront Marathon. I spectated a portion of it last year and have heard great things about the race. I also really like that part of the course is an area I frequently run during training. I have a feeling that familiarity will be a blessing, particularly during the final 6.2 miles.

An extra 11.2 miles scares me
As excited as I am about this new challenge, I'm also really scared! My longest run to date is 15 miles during training for last year's fall half marathon. Adding another 11.2 miles to that is, well, a tad overwhelming.

Then there are horror stories I've heard about blisters, cramping, hitting the wall, bonking, etc. I'm fortunate in having only had minor issues with the first two and have never experienced the third or fourth. I fully expect I'll experience the third at some point during the marathon, but hopefully not the fourth!

Training just to finish
But, with proper training (and proper fitting shoes!), I know I can do it. It's still a ways off, so I've yet to write a training plan, but when I do, it will likely start in June with weekly mileage between 50-60. I plan on getting in three 20+ mile long runs along with longer tempo runs, speedwork, hill running and of course, plenty of slow, easy miles.

As for a time goal . . . I'm doing my best not to have one. Everyone I've talked to has told me as a first timer, my only goal is to finish the race. Of course, being competitive, this is easier said than done!

Newly inspired by a former classmate
As a side note, did anyone else watch the NBC Olympic Marathon Trials coverage last Saturday? I followed a live feed in the morning so I already knew the results, but it was still fun seeing some of my favorite runners race!

Following the NBC coverage, I logged onto Facebook and discovered one of my high school classmates competed in the trials and finished 29th! Ariana Hilborn didn't run in high school or college and ran her first marathon in 2008 in 4:36. At last Saturday's trials, she ran 2:37:37.

I'm seriously in awe and am so inspired by her story. I probably won't ever run that fast in my life, but seeing how someone else went from being a non-runner to a truly great national-class runner in just a few years motivates me to get out there and train a bit harder.

Now it's your turn to tell me: What inspires you these days? Also, any tips for running my first marathon?

- ST

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

On a busy day, it's all too easy to pick up take out or microwave another Lean Cuisine. But making a homemade meal is both simple and fast.

I made this vegetarian tortilla soup over the weekend and it only took about 5 minutes to prep and another 15 minutes to cook. The result? A hearty, delicious meal that's way more satisfying than anything you'd get from a box.


Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
(Slightly adapted from Whole Foods Tortilla Soup with Tomatoes)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 medium serrano chile, finely diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn
1/2 tsp salt
Ground black pepper
2 cups water
1 Tbsp lime juice
Shredded monterey jack cheese
Tortilla chips

Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add chile and cumin and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes, black beans, water, salt and pepper.
Cover pot and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in lime juice.

Ladle soup into bowls and top each with cheese, tortilla chips and cilantro.

Note: I used Trader Joe's chopped onion, garlic and scallions to further reduce prep time.

What's your go-to, easy-to-prepare, healthy recipe?

- ST

Training Schedule 1/16 - 1/22

It's time for the first of two back to back race weeks. On Saturday, I'm doing the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay Race so I'm scaling back training a bit to save my legs for some fast laps around the indoor track. Originally, my team had four members but it seems we may be down to three for the race. This means extra miles and I hope I'm up to the challenge! I figure it will equate to about 8-9 mile repeats. Eek!

That being said, here's this week's training plan:


Afternoon: 6 mile speed workout; 30 minutes strength training


6 mile easy run; 30 minutes strength training

Afternoon: 5 mile easy run, including strides; 30 minutes strength training

Afternoon: Boot Camp Class; 2 mile easy run

Rest Day

Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay Race

Rest Day

What's your plan this week? And anyone know any fast female runners that might be interested in doing a relay race on Saturday? :)

- ST

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Excuses Excuses

"I don't want to get out of bed."

"All my friends are going to happy hour."

"I'm too tired to run an extra mile."

"It's cold outside!"

Any of these sound familiar? I'm pretty sure I've used all of these as reasons for skipping a run at some point or another. Although everyone needs a break once in awhile, most of the time when I've used these excuses, I was really just being lazy.

I'll convince myself the run is going to be awful. I'll be slow. My legs will feel heavy. I'll get really sweaty. But interestingly enough, it's often these runs that end up feeling the best.

You won't regret running
Lately, whenever I find myself thinking up excuses, I remind myself that while I'll regret skipping a run, I've never regretted going out for a run. Think about it. Have you ever worked out and then after thought, I wish I hadn't done that? The exception of course, being if you are injured and push yourself too soon, too hard.

It's only 30 minutes
If that fails, sometimes it works to fall back on the old standby of telling yourself, I only have to workout for 30 minutes. If it feels awful, I can stop. I've never once stopped because once I get going, it feels great and that's enough motivation to finish the workout.

Avoid a lose-gain situation
Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated, but the alternative is losing fitness and . . . gaining weight. My friend Jamie and I had a chat the gym this week about how it's sometimes difficult to pass up happy hour to workout. Although I certainly recommend going to happy hour once in awhile, it usually ends with drinking too much, which in turn leads to eating too much.

It's also a bit of a slippery slope. Skip too many workouts and it's that much harder to get back into the routine.

So next time I start thinking up excuses for skipping my run or workout, I'll remind myself of these things - and then lace up my shoes and hit the road. It may not seem like it now, but afterward I know I'll feel great.

Now it's time for you to tell me: What excuses do you make for skipping workouts? How do you work past these excuses?

Also, who's following this weekend's Olympic Marathon Trials coverage? I'm excited to see which three men and women will represent the USA in London!

- ST

Monday, January 9, 2012

Training Schedule 1/9 - 1/15

I hope everyone has been enjoying the warm winter weather. Bundling up in multiple layers makes me look like a snowwoman - and feel about as slow as one. Shorts and a tank in January? Yes please!

Fingers crossed snow, ice and zero degree temps stay far away this year . . .

Here's my training plan for the upcoming week:


Afternoon: 8 mile easy run; 30 minutes strength training


7 mile speed workout; 30 minutes strength training

Afternoon: 6 mile easy run, including strides; 30 minutes strength training

Afternoon: Boot Camp Class; 2 mile easy run

Afternoon: 5 mile easy run

Morning: 8-10 mile easy run

Rest Day

What's on your training schedule this week?

- ST

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Evolving Expectations

With the Indoor Marathon Relay less than two weeks away, I've been thinking a lot about how I want and need to run this year's race. The girls on my team are friends I've made at the gym and through a mutual love of running. They are fast and I refuse to let them down with a sub-par performance. We're racing sub-7 minute miles and I've been doing my speedwork accordingly.

During this training, I've been kind of forced to think about how quickly expectations evolve. It was only last year I couldn't even run 8 minute miles at this same race. I was new to running and even 8:30 minute miles seemed fast. I also remember thinking a 25 minute 5k and just finishing a half marathon were hard to reach goals.

Expectations change over time
But after I achieved these things, I had new expectations. What used to be great was suddenly normal and after awhile, not even good enough. On a typical 5k race day, I expect to run sub-23 minutes. On a slow day, I'll maybe run 23:30. But a 25 minute race? Only if I'm walking part of it. These days, I'm chasing a sub-22 minute time - and after I run that, I'm sure my expectations will evolve again.

I have the feeling runners at every stage share this experience. I've even seen it in my mother, who just started running four months ago. In that short period of time, she's gone from trying to run one mile without walking to running a 5k without walking. While a 40 minute 5k time used to be the standard, these days it's hovering around 36 minutes.

Mom and I after the Haunted Hustle. Way to go, Mom!

So the bar keeps getting set a bit higher. But it's my belief that these evolving expectations give us something to strive for and in the end make us better runners. And in the end, isn't that the ultimate goal?

I'd love to know: How have your expectations evolved since you first began running?

- ST

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Setting Goals for 2012

The New Year is here and I'm a tad late posting my 2012 running goals. But better late than never, right?

When deciding on goals, I wanted to choose things that are measurable. For example, running a distance within a certain time, not just running faster. This way, I'll know for sure if I've achieved the goal or not at the end of the year.

Here's what I plan to accomplish in 2012:
  • Run a sub-22 minute 5k race
  • Run a sub-1:43 half marathon race
  • Complete a marathon race
  • Race a new shorter distance (ex. mile, 4 mile, 8k or 10k)
  • Increase weekly mileage to 50-60 miles

It's a short list - only five goals - but I think meeting each one will be a challenge. The easiest on the list is racing a new shorter distance. I have no doubts I can run a mile, four miles, 8k or 10k but the trick will be pacing myself appropriately for the distance during a race.

As for the other goals, the key to accomplishing them will be increasing my weekly mileage. This will allow me to run longer so I can (fingers crossed) complete the marathon as well as run faster in shorter distance races.

So here's to 2012 and making it the best running year yet!

Tell me: What are your running goals this year and how do you plan to accomplish them?

- ST

Monday, January 2, 2012

Run Into the New Year Race Recap

Happy 2012! I hope everyone had a great New Year's Eve and Day. Has anyone logged any miles yet in the New Year? I'll admit, except for the Run Into the New Year 5k Race, I was pretty lazy.

So, about the race - If you live in Milwaukee, you know the weather was unusually nice for the end of December. Sunny, reasonably warm and the roads were dry. In fact, I was able to race in shorts, legwarmers and my new long-sleeve Sweat t-shirt. It was so nice to leave the tights and jacket at home.

I knew going into this race that I wanted to run faster than at The Elf Run. I didn't think I was prepared to run a new 5k PR, but was hoping for a time right around 23:00.

I'm thrilled to say, I made my goal and also managed to get a new 5k PR!

Here's how the race went down:

Time: 22:48 (New 5k PR!)
Average Mile Time: 7:21
Division Place: 8/160 (Top 5 percent)
Women: 33/953 (Top 3.5 percent)
Overall: 174/1596
(Top 11 percent)

There were a lot of people at this race - more than 1,500 - so the start was a bit crazy. Although there were corrals for racers to line up at according to pace, people were basically just trying to go anywhere there was room.

As I waited for the gun to go off, I recognized a woman who ran past me at The Elf Run and ended up beating me. I decided if I was going to beat anyone during this race, it was her.

Outrunning my competition
I ended up lining up a bit further back than I probably should have and spent the first mile of the race weaving around people. Somewhere in the middle of mile two, my competition appeared. It was all the motivation I needed to run a bit faster and push the pace for the remainder of the race. No way was I letting this woman beat me and around mile three she was dropped.

Overall, I felt pretty good about this race. The women in my division were fast and I was happy to place in the top 10. I can't wait to see the updated series standings and where I place after the first two races. I also want to know what I need to do to in the remaining three races.

This week's training schedule
In the meantime, it's back to the usual training. Given that the holidays are over, I'm looking to slowly increase my mileage. Here's this week's plan:

Morning: 5 mile easy run - overslept and didn't get this one in :(

Afternoon: 6 mile easy run; 45 minutes strength training

Afternoon: 7 miles speed work; 30 minutes strength training

Afternoon: Boot camp class; two mile easy run

Afternoon: 5 mile easy run; 30 minutes strength training

Morning: 10 mile easy run

Rest Day

I want to know: Now that the holidays are over, are you increasing your training? Also, how competitive are you when you race? Are you crazy like me and pick out people you want to beat before the race begins?

- ST