Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Elf Run 5k Race Recap

Some races just don't go the way you want. Sunday's Elf Run was one of those races.

I felt like my training leading up to the race was decent and enough to get a new 5k PR. My last race was about one month ago and I ran just six seconds off my PR - and this was the 2nd of back-to-back races! So my thinking was this time should be a piece of cake.

Unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be. This week served as a perfect example for how you can put in the work yet find your efforts thwarted by unforeseen circumstances. I fell on Monday, got bit by a dog on Tuesday and was sick by Wednesday. I clung to the hope things would improve by Sunday and for a few days it seemed like it would be okay. But by Saturday evening, I knew the best I could hope for was to finish the race.

Race day weather included single-digit temps and a headwind. My plan to wear shorts went out the window. Tights and a jacket it was, and yuck - I really can't stand wearing running tights!

I stayed inside until the last possible minute, which of course meant I had to line up further back than I would have liked. The start was so congested that I had to walk leading up to the start line and could only jog after crossing. Luckily it became more spaced out within the first half mile.

Ha, I look like I'm flying!

Honestly, I felt pretty awful during these miles - the cold air and wind really took their toll and I was coughing away. The only thing that kept me going was focusing on runners in front of me and working on picking them off one by one. Just before the last turn to the finish line, I passed one more woman and at that point knew it was time to kick. Not my best finishing sprint but I was so thankful the race was over!

This pic accurately sums up how I felt during this race: Miserable!

I somehow managed to win another medal.

Definitely not my best race - but given the events leading up to the race and having to run while being so sick, I was happy I made it through the race. It wasn't my day, but it makes me more determined than ever to PR before the end of the year.

However, it may not happen til the very end of the year. After the race, I ended up even more sick and am having a hard time believing I'll be able to race well tomorrow at the Talmer Turkey Trot. I'll do my best, but am also being realistic. The next opportunity to PR may not be until Run Into the New Year.

Still, I am thankful for every opportunity I have to run. There is no greater sport and I feel so fortunate I'm able to do what I love.

Tell me: What are you thankful for?

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

- ST

Friday, November 22, 2013

Five Friday Favorites + A Cute Kitty Pic!

TGIF everyone! This week, I was especially counting down the days til the end of the work week. The days flew by but they were a little too drama filled for my taste. But, the only way to deal with a bad hand is to focus on the positive. So this post is filled with the things that have made me smile lately. 

Bee-Nut Butter Bliss - This stuff is the best. Think all-natural peanut butter, mixed with honey and crunchy sea salt. Divine! My friend Julie sent me a jar earlier this week and I've been eating it with my usual half Natural Ovens blueberry bagel breakfast or with a sliced apple. I haven't resorted to eating it straight out of the jar . . .  yet ;)

Oiselle Randies - I know what you're thinking - who spends that much on underwear?? But seriously, these are worth every penny. A great fit, fun colors, cheeky sayings across the rear - these are the perfect thing to wear during a long run or race. Also, because they are made with a wicking material, you won't end up with soggy, sweat-soaked underwear at the end of your run. 

Petzl Tikka 2 Headlamp - It took me a few tries to finally find a headlamp I like. This one is perfect for city running and provides just enough light so I can see the sidewalk in front of me. The key is a light that can be moved up or down so the beam illuminates the area you want. If the light is stationary, it won't illuminate anything because the light will get too dispersed into the night sky. 

Warm Scarves - Winter seems to have arrived a bit early in MKE this year making warm scarves a must. I tend to wear the same couple of scarves despite having about 30 of them stuffed away in my closet. The French Fleece Runfinity from Oiselle is my newest one and current favorite. 

Picky Bars - These are delicious and satisfying and very portable for a perfect pre-run snack. While all of the flavors are good, my favorite is Runner's High. 

And because nothing really makes me happier than seeing a cat in a ridiculous costume, I leave you with a picture of Eddie in his new Christmas tree coat!

Tell me: What have you been loving lately?

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

- ST

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's Race Week!

Yesterday, I took a potentially nasty spill. One minute, I was skipping down the hall at work. The next, I was face down on the floor in the lobby area. Mega embarrassing, especially since I was wearing a dress. I really am the queen of clumsiness :)

Anyhow, the incident served as a reminder that I need to be more careful since it's race week. And not just any race week - I'm aiming for a PR. Now is definitely not the time to get injured in some type of freak fall or accident!

I'm super excited to race this weekend. During last week's speedwork, I felt like I could keep hitting my paces all night long so I know a PR is within reach. It's a matter of remaining calm and collected before the race, getting to the start line on time, pushing hard during every single mile (no slacking during the second mile), and embracing the pain and going all out during the last quarter of a mile. Easy, right? ;)

The race day forecast is a balmy 21 degrees. However, no PR attempt is complete without a speedy looking outfit. This means shorts, not tights - although I will probably add a Flyte Long Sleeve for an extra layer under my singlet. Here's my race day outfit:

 Oiselle Team Singlet

Sparkly Soul Wide Rainbow Headband - for good luck! 

And, leading up to the race, here's how I'm training:

Monday: 60 minute training session
Tuesday: 6 miles @easy pace; 30 minutes strength training
Wednesday: 6 mile workout, including 8x400m @goal 5k pace w/quick recoveries; 30 minutes strength training
Thursday: 6 miles @easy pace
Friday: 4 miles @ easy pace
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: The Elf Run 5k race

Total: 25 miles

Although it makes me sad to see only 25 miles for the week, I'm reminding myself that my goal is a 5k PR, not racking up as many miles as I can possibly run, especially since I don't have any longer distance races on the calendar right now!

My questions for you:
  1. Are you racing this weekend? If so, what are your goals for the race?
  2. How does your race week mileage differ from your usual training mileage?
  3. Do you have any key workouts that you do to help gauge your race readiness?
  4. At what point do you put your shorts away and start wearing tights/pants?

If you're doing The Elf Run this weekend, I'll see you at the start/finish line :)

- ST

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

For the most part, I can pass on the seafood served at Red Lobster. The biscuits, however, are another story. Buttery, cheesy and flaky, these biscuits are hands down the best part of the meal. 

And now, I can make them at home. A few months ago, I came across a recipe for knock-off Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits at Brown Eyed Baker. I instantly knew I must make them to see if they live up to the original version. 

I'm happy to report these biscuits are fantastic and just as tasty as the ones served at the restaurant. I definitely recommend making these this weekend. Serve them alongside homemade soup. They would even make a wonderful addition to the bread basket at Thanksgiving!

So easy to make and even easier to eat ;)

Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup buttermilk, cold
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 5 minutes

For the Topping:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp minced fresh parsley (or ¼ teaspoon dried)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, garlic powder and cayenne. Next, stir in the cheddar cheese, then set aside.
In a separate bowl, stir together the buttermilk and melted butter until the butter forms small clumps. Then, add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix gently until dough forms and no dry ingredients remain. Add 1/4 cup scoops of dough to the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little more than an inch between biscuits.

Bake about 12 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown. While the biscuits are in the oven, stir together the 2 Tbsp melted butter, garlic powder and parsley. After removing the biscuits from the oven, immediately brush with the topping mixture. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. 

Tell me: Do you have any restaurant knock-off recipes that you love? 

Share away in the comments!

- ST

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why You Might Want to Carry Pepper Spray on Your Next Run + This Week's Training Plan

I'm going to start this post with a little cautionary tale:

Last week, I ran a sweet little six miler after work. It was dark outside but I wore reflective gear and my new headlamp. It was just me, the lakefront and the waves crashing up against the shore during these miles and it was so peaceful. After my run, I walked for a bit across the street from my apartment building and stopped to stretch by a park bench under a street light.

This turned out to be a big mistake. One moment I was stretching my quads and the next, I looked up and there was a man directly in front of me. I instantly felt uncomfortable so turned around and started walking away. He yelled at me to come back and that he had to ask me a question. Umm, no thanks. I kept walking. He yelled at me again and said the same thing. 

At this point, I was creeped out and began jogging away. He then started chasing me. I ran out into the street but couldn't cross because of all the cars coming and he caught up with me, got right in my face and kept trying to engage. Finally, the cars stopped for a moment and I was able to run away. Since I didn't want him to see where I live, I ran around the block before running up the steps to my apartment and deadbolting the door. 

I spent the rest of the evening wondering if maybe I overreacted. But when I shared the incident with a few friends, each reminded me that a normal person wouldn't have chased another person and would have backed off when it was clear the other person wasn't interested in talking. 

Fortunately, the incident happened in a pretty populated area and I felt I would have been able to call for help if the situation had escalated. But what if this had happened in a less populated area? For the most part, I am a cautious runner. I stick to lit paths. I wear reflective gear. I never run with music. But, I don't run with any type of protection, such as pepper spray. I think the time has come to buy a bottle and I urge all of you to consider carrying some type of protection during your runs. Even close to home, you just never know what might happen and it's better to be safe than sorry. 

 Creepers beware!

So, that's that. The incident has been on my mind this week as I run my miles but hasn't kept me from running on my favorite paths. Here's this week's training plan:

Monday: 4 miles @easy pace (AM); 6 miles @easy pace + 60 minutes strength training (PM)
Tuesday: 8 miles speedwork, including 4x800m and 8x400m; 30 minutes strength training
Wednesday: 6 miles @easy pace + 60 minutes strength training
Thursday: 4 miles @easy pace
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 10 miles @easy pace
Sunday: Rest Day/Cross Training

Total: 38 miles + 2.5 hours strength training

This sums it up!

Depending on how things feel later this week, I might make Thursday a cross training day instead. Jumping from last week's 29 miles to 38 miles this week seems a tad ambitious and perhaps a recipe for an injury of the too much, too soon variety. I'll take it a day at a time. 

My questions for you:

  1. Have you ever been in a situation while running (or exercising outside) that made you feel uncomfortable/unsafe? What happened and what did you do to get out of the situation?
  2. Do you carry protection when you run or exercise outside? If so, what do you use?
  3. For the non-runners (and runners!), what was the best moment of your weekend?

My favorite was strolling around Cedarburg with a hot autumn chai tea from Fiddleheads!

- ST

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Oh, running lately. Even though I've raced three times since Lakefront Marathon, I'm still getting back into the swing of things. I've run hardly any miles (for me) these past few weeks and it's felt good to take a break. 

But, that break is now over. So, less of this . . . 

And a whole lot more of this . . . 

A few people have asked me about my plans for the rest of the year. It's pretty straightforward: 

  • Build back to a modest base of 40 mpw
  • PR at the 5k distance

I'm not too worried about getting back to 40 mpw. Running this amount does not require any doubles and I can even keep my longest runs to 10-14 miles - which is perfect for 5k training. It's important to build to this weekly mileage because it's key to setting myself up to build to 50 mpw during the first few months of next year and then to 60 mpw over the summer months. 

Shorter days mean miles will be logged with a headlamp. Gotta stay safe!

As for that 5k PR - I will do everything in my power to make it happen. I have three chances: The Elf Run (Nov. 24), the Talmer Turkey Trot (Nov. 28) and Run Into the New Year (Dec. 31). I may sneak another 5k race in that line up, depending on how my legs feel and how ready I feel to race.

Here's how this week's training will go down:

Monday: Rest Day (traveling)
Tuesday: 6 7 miles @easy pace w/strides + 1 hour strength training workout
Wednesday: 2 sets of (1600, 800, 400) + w/u & c/d + 1 hour strength training workout
Thursday: 6 miles @easy pace
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 10 miles @easy pace
Sunday: Rest Day/Cross training

Total: 28-30 miles + 2 hours strength training

It will be so nice when I start seeing fewer rest days in the mix :) 

With that being said, let's start the Q&A portion of this post. That is, me asking the questions and you telling me your answers ;)
  1. How do you get back into a routine after a big race?
  2. What are your training goals for the reminder of the year?
  3. How are you staying safe during dark morning and evening runs?
  4. If you're not into running (or even if you are a runner!), what do you love most about fall?

Fall is my favorite season and I love it all - apples from the orchard, homemade chili, hot coffee drinks, warm sweaters, scarves, colorful leaves, crisp temps for hiking, etc. etc. etc!

- ST