Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Week That Was

To switch things up a bit this week, I decided to do a recap of last week's training instead of going through this week's plan. I've seen a few bloggers do this and love reading about their runs and workouts. 

Before getting too much into the post, I'll say it was a solid week! I give myself a B+ - because I did skip a mile and wasn't completely successful with my Tuesday workout :)

So here it is - the week that was!

Monday: 5 glue miles w/stides + TRX Cardio Circuit + Strength Training
The first run of the week always seems to go good for me and this week was no exception. Ran this one on the Y-track and the laps went by pretty fast. I was pretty successful sticking within my glue miles pace and nailed the strides after. TRX was a challenge as always, especially the core work. I can't decide if my inability to do a plank in the straps is a strength or coordination issue! 

Tuesday: 8 mile workout, inc. 8 x 3-minute intervals 
The trick to this workout was that I had to run further for each 3-minute interval. So if I ran 0.44 for the first one, the next one had to be 0.45. And so on. Needless to say, I was nervous going into this workout knowing that it would likely include a ride on the pain train toward the end. I did my 2.5 mile warmup at a snail's pace then did my usual workout prep. Downed a GU, then took off!

I had mixed success. Did the first 3 intervals as planned, but then ran way too fast during the 4th interval. Felt like dying during the 5th interval and only ran as far as the 1st interval. But was able to get back on track during the 6th and 7th intervals. Ran the last interval all out and nearly made it a full half mile! I should add that I developed a nasty foot blister during this workout so the last few intervals were extra fun ;)

Wednesday: 6 recovery miles + Y-Fuse + TRX Cardio Circuit
With a giant blister on the bottom of my left foot, I wasn't sure I would make it through these miles. But, I laced up for a runch and told myself I'd go as far as I could. I wore my heavier Brooks Defyance trainers for this run and they did a great job cushioning my feet so the blister ended up not being a factor during the miles. 

I was a little off my game during Fuse - couldn't get going to run my laps as fast as I would have liked but told myself it was okay since I was supposed to be taking a recovery day, plus TRX after! 

Thursday: 5 glue miles + Y-Blitz
I ran these miles during lunch and they were okay. Oddly enough, they actually felt slightly harder than my miles yesterday. Ended up working late, so no Blitz. Later in the evening I got a bit of exciting news - I won my age group for this year's Winter Run Series! Totally unexpected since I missed a few races!

My medals from this year's Winter Run Series

Friday: Rest Day
A much-needed day off!

Saturday: 12 mile run, inc. 75 sec pickups
Seriously, the best long run I've had in awhile. Usually, the first mile - sometimes the first few miles - are a drag for me but today my legs felt great from the start. Every 10 minutes I ran a 75 second pickup, which made the miles fly by. Plus, I knew after the run I was going to Performance Running Outfitters to pick out a new pair of shoes!

Cute, right?

Sunday: 5 4 recovery miles
With rain and mega winds, I decided to do this run on a treadmill. Because of that, I kind of dreaded these miles. However, I really wanted to get the run in as part of the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Kickoff Virtual Run. I think because I was dreading the miles so much, the run actually turned out great. Even though I was running a slow recovery pace, the time went by fast and before I knew it, I had my 5k plus a bit extra :)

Snapped right after the 5k was complete!

P.S. If you haven't checked out the Kickoff Virtual Run yet, I recommend hopping over to the website stat! To participate, all you need to do is run or walk 3.1 miles and upload a pic of your watch, treadmill, etc. It's free and all participants get a cute t-shirt or tank!

Total: 40 miles

My questions for you:
  • What run or workout are you most looking forward to this week?
  • Which shoes are your current favorite and what do you like about them?
  • What did you do over the weekend?

- ST

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Luck of the Irish 5k Race Recap

Saturday's Luck of the Irish 5k marked the end of another Winter Run Series and it was by far the hardest course yet. There were several hills and a hairpin turn - all within just 3.1 miles.

Going into the race, I knew it would be a tough morning since I haven't done much hillwork lately. The good thing was that the weather cooperated and it was a brisk - but sunny - morning with temps in the upper 30s/low 40s. This meant I finally got to race in my Oiselle singlet and shorts again! Not being weighed down by a bunch of layers made me feel like a faster time might still be possible.

My plan was to race a smart first mile and not push too hard to conserve energy for a monster hill in mile 3. But, that's not what happened. Instead, I ran a 6:36 mile to start the race. Since there was a large hill during this mile, I didn't think I was going that fast. Although I was working hard, I really thought I could maintain the pace for the rest of the race. I told myself it was time to pay the price!

Photo by Bill Flaws - Running in the USA

Well, pay the price I did. Things started feeling tough as I ran up a hill during mile 2. When we took a right turn and started up a small, but steady incline to the turnaround point, I was struggling. The main thing that kept me going at that point was knowing I had a bit of a downhill stretch after the turnaround. But my pace still slowed dramatically.

During mile three, my pace slowed even more. I could see the final hill looming in the distance and didn't know how I was going to get up and over it. As I stumbled up the hill, I told myself it was less than a mile to go - do not walk! I made it about halfway up the hill ... and then I walked. After about 10 seconds of walking, I made myself start running again only to have to take another short walk break after getting to the top of the hill. Ugh!!! I was so disappointed in myself for taking not just one, but two walk breaks during a 5k. So terrible. I knew these little breaks were costing me all sorts of time but my legs wouldn't keep going. 

I could have walked the rest of the race but somehow got going again and ran the downhill. At that point there was maybe a quarter mile left in the race but it felt like a marathon. I was riding the struggle bus and couldn't manage any type of kick. It was basically a crawl to the finish line with me hoping no one would try to pass in the last stretch because I didn't have the strength to run any faster.

I was toast after the race - barely enough energy to run back on the course and run Mom in to the finish line. But it's tradition, so I managed! 

With our medals, after the race!

As I wrote about the race in my Believe training journal, I decided the race was both good and bad. Good in that I can't believe I ran that fast for the first mile, even with the big hill - and it didn't feel too hard. Perhaps I will be able to run a similar pace later this year on a flatter course for an entire race! Of course, the bad is that I walked. I can't believe I did that, however what's done is done. 

I learned a valuable pacing lesson with this one. But it's like Coach Matt said, that's why it's good to have practice races before a goal race. So you can get these types of mistakes out of the way! 

And just in time, since up next is the Door County 5k - a goal race - so I will have to be on my A game with smart pacing!

My questions for you:
  • Did you race last weekend? If so, how was your race?
  • What is your typical race strategy - start fast and try to hang on or start conservatively and aim for a negative split and/or fast finish?
  • What are you most looking forward to this week?

I'm excited to nail every. single. workout. No slacking this week!

- ST

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Moroccan Chicken Stew

Between work and evening workouts, I really don't have time to cook during the week. So recently, I've been into prepping as much food as I can on Sundays. It's such a relief to finish a workout and head home knowing a delicious meal is just a quick reheat away. 

Moroccan Chicken Stew is a recipe I recently made on a Sunday afternoon. It's a perfect meal prep recipe as the stew tastes even better the days after making it. Also, it's a nice blend of protein and carbs, making it a great post-workout meal!

Moroccan Chicken Stew

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 zucchini, sliced and halved
2 summer squash, sliced and halved
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, cooked and shredded*
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1/2 cup green olives
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste

For serving:
Cooked farro
Slivered almonds

In a large pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, zucchini and summer squash. Once softened, add the shredded chicken, garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes and green olives. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the ginger, cinnamon and cumin. Allow stew to simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour over low heat. Salt and pepper to taste. 

For serving, place 3/4 cup cooked farro on a plate. Top with 1 cup chicken stew. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Tell me: Do you meal prep? If yes, what is your favorite recipe to meal prep?

- ST

*My favorite method for cooking chicken: Remove any tendons or bits of fat from chicken. Add to a baking dish with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from oven and shred.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

10k News, Tough Workouts & Training for the Upcoming Week!

I'm going to kick off today's post with some exciting news - this year's Rock 'n' Roll Chicago event is adding a 10k race! Although I was originally planning to do the half marathon, I'm switching down to the 10k. As Coach Matt said, it's not often you get the opportunity to run a fast 10k race. And with Chicago's flat course and loads of spectator support, it will indeed be a fast race!

So, in other news, while running last weekend, I realized ... my first goal race in 2015, the Door County 5k, is just eight weeks away! Right now, I'm feeling pretty good about training so far. My last race was solid and I've completed some really tough workouts, including these two:

2 x 14 minutes @15k pace - You would think running at 15k pace wouldn't be that hard, but the longer intervals are what got me. My legs weren't the freshest since I did this race on a Tuesday after racing on a Sunday. I ran the first 14-minute interval at the faster end of the range Coach Matt gave me and paid for it during the second interval. I had to dig pretty deep to stay within the pace range but somehow made it through!

2 x 2.25 miles @5k pace - This one felt a bit like doing two back-to-back 5k races. Or at least the type of effort I imagine it might take! During the middle of each interval, I got a half mile break in the pace but then immediately after had to kick in the last half mile of the interval. It was an interesting workout and great practice for kicking in the end of a race. I think it definitely paid off during my last 5k!

As for this week, it's more of the same. And by that, I mean consistently getting in the miles ;)

Here's this week's plan:

Monday: 6 mile run; TRX Cardio Circuit + Strength Training
Tuesday: 8 mile workout
Wednesday: 5 mile recovery run; Y-Fuse + TRX Cardio Circuit
Thursday: 6 mile run; Y-Blitz + Strength Training
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 10 mile run
Sunday: 5 mile run

Total: 40 miles

I'm guessing these miles and workouts will make for one very tired girl :) I hope you all have a wonderful week! I'll end this post with my questions for you:

  • What recent workouts have left you tired but satisfied?
  • Do you like racing 10ks? Why or why not?
  • Random: What is the most delicious thing you've eaten lately?

I'm in the middle of Shamrock Shake season - one shake per weekend!

- ST

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Favorites: The Run Edition

Today, it's all about favorites! And as you all know, running is my FAVORITE. So I decided to share a few of my current run faves. 

I'm once again linking up with the Friday Five. A special thanks to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting this link up! Make sure you check out their blogs as well :)

Oiselle Wazelle Halter - This brand new spring/summer style from Oiselle is the perfect blend of style and function. I recently tested the Wazelle Halter during an 8 mile speed workout and it held up great. No chafing or sagging and amazingly it didn't show sweat marks! Plus, I love the open back - just a little bit of exposed skin helped me feel cooler during my workout. 

Saucony Breakthru Shoes - I've been looking for a new pair of trainers for awhile and these Saucony Breakthrus look like a great option. From the description they sound similar to my favorite Kinvaras so I'm looking forward to trying on a pair at Performance Running Outfitters, my favorite MKE running store!

Sparkly Soul Stardust Headband - I've tried many brands of headbands over the years but the ones that work the very best are from Sparkly Soul. While every other brand I've tried either stretches out in one or two wears, slips, doesn't fit properly, etc., these headbands hold up and have never caused problems during a workout or race. While I already have several colors and styles, I'm absolutely loving the new Stardust Headband, which is part of the brand's new Princess Collection. So cute!!

Nuun Energy Cherry Limeade - Sometimes you need a little extra boost mid-workout and Nuun Energy Cherry Limeade tabs get the job done. These tabs are also great if you're craving a refreshing drink at any time!

TRX - Although not a specific running product, I believe TRX at the Downtown YMCA is going to help take my running to a new level. When the time was changed for my beloved kettle bell classes, I decided to sign up for TRX instead and so far it's been great! It challenges different sets of muscles and will be great for building core strength.

Now it's your turn! I want to know: What are your current run favorites?

- ST

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Snowball Shootout 5k Race Recap

Last weekend was a very exciting weekend because ... I finally got to race again! While still a bit chilly - low 20s at race start - by Wisconsin standards, it was a good day for a winter race. 

Because I hadn't raced since November, I was more than ready to throw myself into this one and see what I could do. 

So the interesting twist with this race was a 1-mile race within the 5k race. The first three men and women to cross the 1-mile mark would win a cash prize. The week of the race, I went back and forth on my strategy for the race. Should I go for a fast first mile and then jog the second and third mile? Or, should I race a smart 5k and see where my fitness is currently at for the distance? In the end, I decided to go for a smart 5k race because as fun as it would be to throw caution to the wind and run an all-out mile, it might not be the best decision in the long term. 

Even though I was not racing for the 1-mile prize, I still lined up a bit closer to the front than I normally do because I didn't want to get stuck behind any crowds of people. The first mile was pretty uneventful. My main focus was going out fast but at a pace I knew I could hold for the entire race. I crossed the 1-mile mark at 6:58. I was actually pretty surprised by that because the pace didn't feel that fast!

During the second mile, my main focus was catching and passing as many ladies as I could. I got past two and had one within sight that I made my goal to reel in by the end of the race. I had a minor scare with a slip during this mile, but fortunately caught myself before I fell. However, it was a reminder that I needed to be careful! 

At the turnaround point, also the 2-mile marker, I could see I was the 5th female and that I was getting closer to the woman in front of me. Usually at this point in the race, I tend to slow a bit out of fatigue but not this time. Instead, I felt pretty good and told myself I was going to keep pushing til it hurt. The distance went by pretty fast and soon we were less than a quarter mile from the finish at which point I decided to kick it in. Just pretended I was sprinting a lap during Y-Fuse! The next thing I knew, I had moved up to 4th female and then crossed the finish line. 

So overall a solid race! I was pretty pleased with my time and pace and the effort it took for those times. Also, an AG win always makes a race extra sweet :)

Mom and I after the race!

Up next is the Luck of the Irish 5k in mid-March. I can't wait to see what I can run at this race with a few more weeks of training under my belt!

My questions for you:
  1. Did you race last weekend? If so, how did it go?
  2. When racing, do you embrace the pain or try to distract yourself from feeling it?
  3. What are you most looking forward to this week?

I can't wait to meet some friends for tacos on Friday night!

- ST