Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Setting the Bar

These past few months, I've put all my attention into racing shorter distances - specifically 5k and 10k. And it's been great! I love these distances and the training that goes into them.

But come the first of June, that all changes and marathon training begins! I can hardly believe it's about time to make the switch. More miles, longer long runs and marathon-specific workouts.

Recently, Coach Matt and I discussed goals for my fall marathon. The goal time we decided on scares me but in a good way. I'm a big believer in pushing myself and this one will be a challenge.

The number one goal, is getting a BQ time, but the goal time is ... Sub 3:30. Gulp!

I still have runs when I can barely crank 9:xx pace without wanting to quit. And now I'm shooting for 26.2 miles, averaging 8 minute pace.

But, you know what? I think I can do it come October. I'm running stronger and smarter than ever before. Plus, consistency. I reviewed my Believe I Am training journal over the weekend and I've had a solid 2014 to date. I'm ready to step up my game.

I have no doubt achieving this goal will require a lot of work and discipline this summer. I'll watch the sun rise while logging miles on all the running paths in the area. I'll spend happy hours at the YMCA doing kettle bell classes and doing strength training and core work. I'll foam roll, stretch, ice bath and get enough sleep. I might even cutback on the number of cookies I eat each week! It's a summer of setting myself up to be in the position to execute on the plan come race day.

This summer, you'll find me at the Lakefront

The bar has been set and I'm so excited to see what's possible this summer. It's scary to set a big goal but the potential reward, and journey to achieving it, makes it all worth it.


My questions for you:
  • What goal are you currently working toward?
  • Have you ever set a goal that scares you? If so, what was it and what did you do to make it happen?

- ST

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Try It: Y-Kettle Bell Interval Circuit at the YMCA

Those of you who follow me on Daily Mile, know that lately, I've been all about playing with kettle bells. So naturally, one of my new favorite classes at the YMCA is Y-Kettle Bell Interval Circuit!

Since joining the YMCA in January, I've liked every class I've tried but this one has proven to be the perfect complement to my running. I'm not the strongest girl but I can tell I'm improving since taking this class.

Here's a description of the class, taken from the YMCA website: A faster paced kettle bell basics class that includes cardio intervals to maximize the class time. 

Translation: You will work your tail off and be surrounded by a pool of sweat by the end of the 30 minutes! 

In all seriousness, the class goes by extremely fast. Participants set up before class begins, usually taking a lighter kettlebell and a heavier kettlebell. The warmup lasts just a few minutes and then it's right into the workout, which may include kettle bell swings, clean & presses, pushups on the kettle bell, burpees, various plyo, etc. There is a ton of variety and that's what keeps it interesting - you never know what you're going to do next! 

Instructors can make or break the class and at the Downtown YMCA location, the instructors, Lonnie and Mike, are great!  I love their enthusiasm, plus, they will push you to  get to the next level. For example, there have been times when I've tried to get away with using lighter kettle bells but those have been taken away and replaced with heavier ones. I might struggle during the workout, but I'm always glad I ended up using heavier weights when its over. 

Also, being a somewhat uncoordinated girl, it's great having instructors who can help me with my form. I've been corrected plenty of times, which is great because I definitely would not want to keep doing the various exercises incorrectly. 

I definitely recommend this class to anyone looking to improve their fitness - both endurance and strength. If you live in the MKE area, a new session is starting soon so make sure you sign up for Y-Kettle Bell Interval Circuit. Great results in just 30 minutes a week!

Tell me: Do you use kettle bells in your weekly workout? If so, what is your favorite way to use the equipment?

- ST

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Minneapolis Hot Chocolate 5k Race Recap

Hey everyone! I hope you all had as wonderful a weekend as I did. Mom and I took a little road trip to Minneapolis to visit my brother, Joe, and race the Hot Chocolate 5k. Fun times, indeed!

I wasn't really sure what to expect at this race. I didn't know the course and had heard mixed things about the organization of other Hot Chocolate races around the country. Add in 20+ mph winds and I knew it would be quite an experience! However, the focus of the trip was to visit my brother, so I reminded myself that while of course I wanted to run well, the most important thing was to have fun.

My race plan from Coach Matt was to run the first two miles in the 7:00-7:05 pace range and then pick it up during the last mile. I had heard from friends that other Hot Chocolate races were super congested at the start so I decided to line up right at the front. I've never done this before so it was kind of exciting to be among the front of the pack at the beginning.

I was spot on the first two miles of the race and hit the mile 2 marker at 14:07. Perfect. There had been a few unexpected hills during those first two miles, but nothing major and I felt pretty strong thanks to the hillwork I've been doing lately. I did my best to get my legs going for the final mile when ... I hit a major hill. This one was comparable in size to the one at Luck of the Irish and, wow, did it ever hurt trying to get up and over it! The only thing that kept me going at a somewhat decent pace was passing a woman midway up the hill that I had been chasing the entire race. No way was I going to let myself get passed after that effort!

The rest of the race after the hill is kind of a blur, but I remember being super relieved when I saw the finish line. I even mustered up a little bit of a kick down the final stretch!

While I'm happy with how I placed, I wasn't too happy about finishing outside the 21:40-21:45 range. But, the conditions were rough and I do think this was good practice for the race that counts in less than two weeks!

 Warming up with hot chocolate post race. It was a chilly morning!

As for the rest of the weekend? It basically involved a food tour of Minneapolis. Joe is a food enthusiast so we had several delicious meals. My favorite? Masa - a Mexican place located downtown Minneapolis. We shared guacamole and mahi mahi ceviche appetizers and then I had tacos for dinner. As is usually the case, the dessert was the best part of all - Tres Leches cake!

My questions for you:
  • What is your strategy for getting up hills during races?
  • What is your favorite way to explore a city while traveling?

I love sightseeing on foot and trying as many local restaurants and coffee shops as possible!

- ST

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Liebster Blog Award, Version 3.0

Last week, I received a fun comment on one a recent post - one of my favorite bloggers, Hailey from Striding Strong, nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award! Thanks so much, Hailey!

I've received this award a two times before but am always honored to be recognized. I love discovering new blogs, and reading and participating in these types of posts is a great way to get to know some of the bloggers behind them. 

Anyhow, for those of you not familiar with the award, it's an online award that is given to bloggers from other bloggers. It's meant to help generate attention for new and upcoming bloggers, generally those with 200 followers or less.

Here are the rules for participating:
  1. You must link back to the person who nominated you
  2. You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.
  3. You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award (with a small following)
  4. You must create 10 questions for your nominees
  5. You must go to your nominees' blogs and notify them of the award
Now that you know how it works, let's get this started. Here are Hailey's questions for me with my answers:

Are you a morning or night person?
Definitely a morning person. I like sunlight and getting things accomplished early in the day. I usually find it hard to stay up late at night!

What was your favorite childhood T.V. show?
Jem - those girls had the coolest clothes and accessories :)

Are you a dog or cat person?
I like both but if I had to pick, I'd say I'm a cat person. I have the most adorable grey kitty called Eddie and he is my best buddy. 

What is one of your current goals?
My number one goal for the year is to run a BQ time (sub 3:35) at a fall marathon. 

If you could visit anyplace in the world, where would you go?
The Galapagos Islands -the scenery alone would make the trip worth it, plus, who wouldn't want to swim with penguins and sea lions?

Summer or winter?
Summer! I prefer long days with warm temps and plenty of sunshine. Plus, it's better for running. Icy conditions are not for clumsy runners like myself.

What is your favorite movie?
I could try to be cool and name something hip. But ... my all-time fave is Alice in Wonderland. The old Disney cartoon version. It's so weird but way better than the typical princess-in-a-castle-saved-by-prince-charming Disney tale!

Do you have a sport you wish you could play? If so, which one?
I used to love tennis and played every chance I got. If I had more time, I would pick it up again.  

What is the last book you read?
Dandelion Growing Wild - the Kim Jones memoir/biography. It was a fascinating read and a true page turner. I love reading anything related to running, but especially about how some elite runners have worked to overcome incredible odds.   

A must-read for runners!

Who do you look up to most?
My mom - she's my best friend and is a true role model for hard work, patience and generosity. We have the best time together and I'm so lucky to have someone who shares my love of running and racing!

Now, it's my turn to pass the torch - here are the 10 bloggers I'm nominating:

More Beets, Please
The Fit Girl's Kitchen
Lace & Race
Food n' Focus
Oh ... Running
The Harmonized Run
Spaight Talk
Tracey's Space
Eating on the Run
Truly, Mary Margaret

My questions for these bloggers:

1. What is your favorite type of pie?
2. Tell me about your favorite pair of jeans - the ones you'll wear forever.
3. What is your favorite place to eat in MKE?
4. Are you always early or never on time?
5. What's your favorite workout?
6. What type of shoes do you workout/race in?
7. What is your typical coffee shop order?
8. Who is the first person you call when you have good news?
9. What are three words your best friend would use to describe you?
10. What is one current fashion trend you would like to see disappear?

As for the rest of you: I'd love to hear your responses, too! Answer one or all of the questions in the comments section :)

- ST

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oiselle Ladies Night Recap + This Week's Training

Last week, I attended a really awesome event. My favorite running store, Performance Running Outfitters, and Oiselle, teamed up to host a Ladies Night! 

The evening started with a 3-mile fun run. After everyone was back in the store, the local Oiselle sales rep, Cindi, showed off the Spring 2014 and Fall 2014 line. Lots of cute apparel - although I already own a lot of the Spring line, I can't wait to get my hands on the Fall stuff when it's available at PRO or online. 


It's events like this one that get me re-excited about running! PRO hosts fun runs every Thursday at 6pm at both the Brookfield and Shorewood store locations and I definitely recommend checking them out. Lots of fun and a great way to connect with fellow runners. 

Believe it or not, another race week is here. On Saturday, I'm racing the Hot Chocolate 5k in Minneapolis - part of a visit with my brother, Joe. Like my last race, this one isn't a goal race but that's not to say I don't care how I run. I ALWAYS care and will do my best to run according to the plan from Coach Matt

Here's this week's plan:

Monday: 4 miles + strides; Y-Kettle Bell Intervals Class
Tuesday: 6 mile workout, including 4x800m @goal 5k pace
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: Rest Day
Friday: 4 miles + strides
Saturday: Hot Chocolate 5k!! (Plus w/u and c/d miles)
Sunday: 7 miles

Total: 32 miles

A lower mileage week, but I'm looking forward to resting my legs for this weekend and also for a final push before my goal May races!

Tell me: What gets you excited about running or working out? 

On a side note, I finally got the results from the Winter Series - I ended up placing 3rd AG for the series! 

- ST

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This Week's Training + Fueling Miles With Pizza!

Where does the time go? It seems like it was only yesterday that I was picking my goal spring races and they seemed so far away. Now . . . they're just a few weeks away, which means it's almost go time!

As a refresher, the goal spring races:

Nicolet Bay 5k
Madison Bun Run 10k

I reviewed my most recent training block from Coach Matt and am really looking forward to the next few weeks. There are several challenging workouts on the schedule - and that's just the way I like it! This week's key workout is today and includes 15 hill repeats with a goal 5k pace 75 second interval at the bottom of the hill. I'm sure this will be quite the leg workout - no doubt I'll end up sporting compression socks to work on Wednesday!

As for the rest of the week, here's the plan:

Monday: 5 mile run w/strides + Y Kettle Bell Intervals Class + Strength Training
Tuesday: 8+ miles hill work
Wednesday: 5 mile run + Y-Fuse + Core Work
Thursday: 6 mile run + 3 mile run
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 12 mile run, inc. 2 min pickups
Sunday: 5 mile run

Total: 44+ miles

To fuel these miles, I've been eating as healthy as possible. A few sample meals:
  • Tuna Chickpea Salad + Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
  • Organic split pea soup (Trader Joe's) with 1/2 cup diced grilled chicken + 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • Baked Citrus Tilapia (tilapia baked in OJ, dill and chives) + Steamed Spinach + Boiled Beets
  • Chicken Sausage & Vegetable Pizza 

You're probably thinking - pizza??? Seriously, if you make your own pizza, it can actually be a decently healthy meal. Here's how I made a recent pie:

Chicken Sausage & Pepper Pizza

1 pizza crust (I used a Flatzza crust by Angelic Baking Company)
1/2 cup pizza sauce
2 Tbsp pesto
2 Italian chicken sausage links, sliced (I used Trader Joe's)
1 small red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 percent)
1/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (2 percent)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place Flatzza crust in a pizza pan or on a cookie sheet. Spread pizza sauce and pesto on top. 

Heat chicken sausage, pepper, tomatoes and onion in a small non-stick skillet. When vegetables are soft, add mixture to the top of the pizza. Then top with the mozzarella and monterey jack cheeses.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

My questions for you:
  • Are you training for a goal race this spring? If so, what is your race?
  • What is your key workout this week? Does it involve running, a tough session in the weight room or something else?
  • What have you been eating lately? Also, have you ever re-made one of your favorite 'splurge' foods into a healthier eat?

If only there was a way to make peanut butter cups healthier ... ;)

- ST

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How Do You Handle Training Setbacks?

Ever have a workout that just doesn't go as planned? 

I had one of those yesterday. I looked forward to my track session all day. It was going to be my first outing to Hart Park of the season and I couldn't wait. I drove over after work, grabbed my spike bag and ... the track was closed for a football game. It was a total bummer, but I knew I wasn't far from the Pettit indoor track so I decided to drive over there. And ... the Pettit track was closed for repairs!

Hart Park - my favorite track

At that point, I had wasted nearly an hour driving around Milwaukee and still had a 9 mile workout to do. As I drove back downtown, I considered my options. Try a high school track that's not too far from downtown. Try to run the workout on the road. Go to the gym and run the workout on a treadmill. Eventually, I decided the best option was to run my warmup miles outside and then hit the YMCA indoor track for my mile repeats and cooldown.

Although it wasn't exactly the track workout I had been dreaming of all day, it was fine and the important thing was that I got my miles in despite the setbacks. I think that's what being successful in running often boils down to - being consistent and not allowing excuses to get in the way of workouts!

Hopefully the rest of this week will go according to plan. Here's my schedule:

Monday: 6 mile run + Kettle Bell Classes Strength Training
Tuesday: 9 mile speed workout, inc. 4x1 mile
Wednesday: 7 mile run + Strength Training
Thursday: 8 mile run + Y-Blitz
Friday: 6 mile run
Saturday: 11 mile run, inc. cutdown miles
Sunday: Rest Day

Total: 47 miles

My questions for you:
  • How do you handle workout setbacks?
  • What's on your training plan for the week?

Running is a gift - never take it for granted :)

- ST