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Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Five: Prepping for Race Day

Hola, welcome to another Friday Five with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia. If you're looking to join the linkup be sure to visit one of their pages for more information! I've joined in about 1-2 times a month for a little over a year now and it's been a great way to find new blogs and brainstorm new topics.

This week is a Free Friday and with the Medina Half Marathon looming (tomorrow!), I thought I'd take some time to talk about prepping for race day. Medina will be my 9th half, so I've got my race prep down to a science.

Stalk the weather
I check the weather daily leading up to a race. In the case of Medina, the temps will reach 87 on Saturday. At race start (6:45am) it will be about 67 and by the time I'm finished running it will be up to 75. Ugh. I immediately know I'll be wearing a tank, shorts, and probably a hat. I will also carry my own water... just in case.

Google weather and wunderground.com
Plan my pace
Sometimes I make elaborate pace charts
This one is usually pretty easy. I gauge my current fitness, assess any race goals, and figure out my per mile pace using marathonpacechart.com. Medina is a bit tricky. It'll be hot, there are hills, and I'm not at peak fitness. I've prepared a few scenarios, but my ultimate goal is to finish at least 1 second faster than last year. Not a half PR by any means, but I think it's a good finish time for hills and heat.

Pack my bags / lay out my gear
I haven't had an in-town half since last May, so my race prep almost always includes a packed bag. I use my travel bag from last week's post and... overpack. Better safe than sorry. The night before the race (like everyone on Instagram), I lay out my gear and narrow it down to one ensemble and accessories. I ask Alex for his opinion about three million times and he usually votes for the brightest shirt (or the Oiselle singlet) so he can easily spot me.

Eat a decent dinner, drink lots of water
I'm not too picky about my food the night before a race. I normally eat a Chipotle sofritas bowl (because I can find it anywhere), but I also accept pasta. In Nashville I had Jimmy John's and Cheetos because that's what I found. I don't think it's a secret I like beer. Once upon a time I wouldn't let myself have any the day before a race, but I'm not that strict anymore. But if I do drink, it's one and done. I concentrate more on drinking water.

Race morning ritual: always the same
Questioning my choices at the start
My race morning meal is way more important. I always (!) have the same thing: peanut butter and two slices of wheat bread. If the hotel has a toaster, great. If not, whatever. I still eat my bread. I also drink at least 16oz of water while I'm getting dressed and ready. After I'm dressed I go to the bathroom (and hope for my PRP...you know). Regardless of PRP, Alex and I head to the race about an hour early because I am always super paranoid about parking and bathroom lines. I usually have some type of "ughhh why am I doing this" chat with him, we park, I find bathrooms, and then I go to the bathroom roughly 2-12 times before the race begins. Alex will give me a smooch right before I go line up and we make tentative meeting plans for after. Then I stand on the line and wonder, "How am I going to feel at mile 6...?"

What are your tricks for preparing for race day?
Do you have any superstitions or rituals you must follow?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekly Review May 16-22

My only sky shot from last week.

I'm back with another Weekly Review with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. Check out their blogs for more info on how you can join the linkup! Before I start, thanks for the nice comments on last week's post about eating crap and feeling icky. I really appreciated the shared stories/feelings! :)

This weekend I have another half. The Medina Half Marathon will be my last 13.1 until fall and after it's over I'll have participated in three halves over two months. This is a new record for me! I'm not really "ready" and it's a fairly hilly course with lots of turning, so we'll see how it goes. One advantage: I've run it before. One disadvantage: I've run it before, so I know how hard it is.

Week of May 16-22

Monday: Sick
Tuesday: Sick
Wednesday: 2 miles, 8:46 pace + walk to work
Thursday: 2.4 miles, 9:21 pace
Friday: 2.3 miles, 8:58 pace + walk to work
Saturday: 6 miles, 9:03 pace
Sunday: Rest

Weekly Total: 12.8 miles
2016 Total: 426.5 miles

Being sick took it's toll on me this week. I took off both Monday and Tuesday from work. While I did a few productive things Monday (including prepping my lunches for the week), I slept in 'til 11:30 (!!) Tuesday... and took a nap later in the afternoon. I was beat.

I returned to work Wednesday and went running after with Alex. We didn't stay together because after about two tenths of a mile I was already tired. It was 66 degrees and everything above 55 feels like lava to me, so it was a tough 2 miler. I had 5 on my schedule, but around mile 1.2 I knew it wasn't going to happen. I met back up with Alex (who also ran about 2 miles) and we agreed to go home. We made some pretty tasty homemade pizzas, so at least the night wasn't a total loss!

Gimme pizza
Thursday's run was another relative scorcher at 68 and sunny. I stopped four times to catch my breath. Lordy, humid running is not my forte! I felt pretty defeated during this run and didn't even make it to 3 miles. Friday was more of the same. It was 72, but kind of overcast and the humidity was lower. I really tried to run slow and easy, but for some reason I kept going too fast. Consequently, I burned out just after 2 miles. Sigh. Needless to say, I was pretty disheartened about running going into the weekend.

Tweeting about running (instead of running)
I slept in Saturday (taking advantage of my last free Saturday!). It was rainy and gray, which I usually enjoy while running, but it took me eons to actually get outside. I finished a book, ate some toast, got dressed, ate more food because an hour had gone by since the toast, tweeted about not wanting to run, and then I finally got out to get it done. It was okay. Once again, I tried to run easy and slow, but my mile times were all under 9:09. Besides normal traffic stops, I took about 6 breaks, so obviously I was running too fast in between. It's almost as if I couldn't slow down when I was running. I consciously tried, but my pace would creepy back into the upper 8s. Regardless, I hit my milage and felt pretty good after. Alex worked on trees all day and when he finally got home around 7pm we got cleaned up and went out to our favorite Japanese/Korean combo restaurant and proceeded to order everything on the menu. So good.

Super jazzed about this great beer.
Sunday was a rest day with a drive to Marengo, Ohio for beer. Before beer, we stopped at Fleet Feet for their Gambler sale (40% off Friday, 50% Saturday, 60% off Sunday) and I scored three amazing Oiselle finds. (Things that are still full price online!) After beer, we went home and laid out in the sun for a while. It was a lovely, warm day and felt amazing after Saturday's chilly rain.

I don't really know what's going on with me lately, but I'm about 99% sure it's mental burnout. If I didn't have a half this weekend I probably would have run the same mileage (maybe more), but without the pressure of a race I would be more relaxed about pace. I am looking forward to my training group's summer session. It'll be nice to have someone else (coaches) pacing me so I can zone out!

Besides my questionable fitness level (I honestly can't predict a finish time!), I am so nervous about the weather for Medina on Saturday. Ohio is getting a big warm up and the forecasted temperature is 68 at the start. By the end it will be at least 75. I've tried to run during warmer times of the day, but it's still very difficult. I am so not ready for a hot-hot race. Oh well. By this time next week the medal will "bee" mine! (You should click that link. The medal is great.)

Are you doing anything fun over Memorial Day weekend?
Do you prefer cold or warm weather running? (I prefer cold if you can't tell. But honestly, 50 degree runs are perfect!)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five Favorites That Make Life Easier

I'm back with another Friday Five with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia. I messed up the theme two weeks ago and wrote about food/drink instead of fitness, but this time I read the calendar correctly and I'm on-theme (for real) with Five Favorites That Make Life Easier.

Great Underwear
Fruit of the Loom Microfiber Low Rise Hipster
Yup, I'm going to start with undies. I used to wear fancy-ish underwear exclusively. I stocked up at Victoria's Secret and loved my Calvins (among others). VS has certainly lost quality over the past 10 years: my pairs were wildly different sizes and they'd fall apart after a few washes. I stumbled upon a pack of Low Rise Hipsters at Target and I haven't looked back since. I get them on Amazon now when I need to hit a shipping threshold and they're normally between $8.50 and 9.99. They don't ride up when I'm running (or sleeping. I hate night wedgies.) and they look fine under tight pants. The fabric is soft and a little shiny, so they look dressier than they are. Amazon randomizes the (solid) colors, but I've never received a pair I didn't love.

Durable Weekender Bag
Orla Kiely Large Overnighter
Like the underwear situation, I used to have a fancy-schmancy Kate Spade Saturday weekender bag. Over the course of several business trips I realized it wasn't cutting it. Sure it looked ok (it was black. Basic.), but the strap was thin and it dug into my shoulder. Plus, there wasn't a zipper closure so sometimes if I bumped the bag, the clasp would open. Once again, Target to the rescue. I found a waterproof Orla Kiely bag. It holds more than my Kate Space one, has great interior pockets, and came with a packable tote bag. And it was only $49! It's so durable. I love that I don't have to worry about banging it around while traveling.

Running Shorts with Pockets 
Oiselle Distance Shorts or Toolbelt Rogas
I carry several things with me on long runs: keys, credit card/ID, iPhone, and gels. I used to pack some of this stuff in a Nathan handheld water bottle with a phone pocket, but it felt like a lot of junk to carry for 10+ miles. If I didn't take water on a run I'd shove my key or phone in my sports bra and hope for the best. No thanks. In came Oiselle and their pocket situation. If they can put a pocket on something, they usually do (including hats). I love the freedom pockets give me to carry whatever I want on a run. Toolbelt Rogas were my first love, but lately I'm digging Distance Shorts.

More Appealing Drinking Water
I'm terrible about drinking water. I routinely come home from work to realize I had coffee (and probably a little beer), but not a single drop of water. Last year I found La Croix, but unfortunately it's kind of pricey if you want more than 3 a day and the waste factor kind of bugs me (even though we recycle). So, seeking alternatives that didn't taste like crap, I decided to try Nuun. I'm still not in love with the new formula (am I alone?), but I was able to stock up on some old tubes for super cheap. I have one or two 24-32oz glasses of Nuun water a night and feel pretty ok with myself. By the way, my favorite flavor is Tri Berry and they sell Nuun at Target now. (I guess I also love Target?)

Easy Book Tracking
I don't know if it makes sense to list a website, but whatever. (I do what I want.) I read a lot and I don't write down the books I read in a handy journal like my mom. I rely solely on Goodreads to keep track of what I've finished and my ratings. I read a mix of borrowed books and my own books and if I was asked what I read in the past 6 months without the ability to look at Goodreads, I might remember about three books. I am thankful Goodreads allows me to free up a good chunk of brain space to remember things that really matter. If you're on Goodreads, let's be friends.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weekly Review May 9-15

Friday night's run

I'm back! I skipped last week's Weekly Review with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin because work was very busy early in the week... and I only ran 8 miles after RnR Nashville. (I'm also very behind on reading and commenting on blogs. I'll catch up this week!)

I learned some things during my time off: I need to eat better, drink less alcohol, and drink more water. (Genius, right?!) In the weeks surrounding my Nashville vacation I ate everything in sight. Before and after the trip, I ate out nearly daily (work lunches, happy hours, run club post-season meet-ups, etc.). It started to add up. I'm heavier than normal and I can feel it when I yank on my jeans and go on runs. I don't normally care about weight fluctuations, but at the beginning of last week I felt terrible and rundown. (Edit to add: I have a very healthy outlook on body/food. So my worries were more about choosing foods that made me feel gross vs. gaining weight. ) 

I love my new egg cooker
After skipping several runs (I was burnt out) I decided to get back on track. I'm easing into it, while also lightly training for my next half in two weeks (Medina). Distance doesn't really matter and my main objective is to get in 4 or 5 quality runs. The longer I go between runs, the more likely I am to skip the next. 

I also spent last Sunday making lunches for the week. While there were still meals and drinks out, I think my solid lunches (plus my normal oats for breakfast) really helped get me back on track. I don't feel quite as sluggish and I'm not craving as much crappy food. I don't like to punish myself for eating what I want (and I know it's hard to get quality food when you're eating out), but mix in drinks and it can all go downhill quickly! Everything in moderation!

Anyway, moving on. 

Week of May 9–15

5.4 mi (9:15 pace)
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: 3 mi (8:44 pace)
Thursday: off
Friday: 2 mi (9:00 pace)
Saturday: off
Sunday: 11.5 mi (9:41 pace)

Weekly Total: 21.9 mi (should have run that .1 more!)
2016 Total: 410.6 mi

Rainy Monday (My phone died after this photo)
My week started with 5.4 miles on Monday. It was rainy, but I told myself I'd get out for at least 3. I started right before 8pm and realized around mile 1.5 that I was feeling it, so I kept going and ended up with a decent progression (9:33, 9:23, 9:22, 9:13, 8:54). I think starting slower helped me because the day before I had a terrible 6 mile run where I ended up walking every .75 of a mile. Monday was completely different. I would have kept going if the sun didn't set. 

Alex planting veggies
I took a rest day Tuesday and we had tacos and beers. Whoops. In my defense the tacos were $2 and the beer $3. Baby steps. 

Wednesday after Jeopardy! I headed out for 5 miles. Ha! The heat and humidity knocked me on my butt and I ended up running 2 miles, coming home and watching Alex plant some veggies, then going back out for one more mile. Just happy to report my pace was consistent during both runs. Unfortunately, I melted. 

Thursday was another off day. My office had a mini bday celebration for a co-worker. More beer, rosé, and snacks. (Ugh, I know! But at least my lunch was quality.)

Friday Alex and I went out for happy hour pizza and stumbled on a beer tasting (whoops), but I ran after we got home. Yeah, post-beer. I ran right before dark, so hours had passed, but still no bueno. Don't do what I do, kids. 

Saturday was an off day due to cold weather. I got so much done around the house: cleaning, laundry, finished some shows, started a puzzle, read some books (my reading slump is over!), then got ready for friend(co-worker from above)'s birthday dinner. We had sushi (then Taco Bell after because we were still hungry) and drinks. I started to get sick earlier in the day, so I took it easy. 

Along the path (and my escort)
I woke up Sunday with a full-blown cold (congestion, sore throat, body aches), but honestly it's more annoying than miserable. I've been really tired, but I don't feel as crushed as I do when I have something more serious. I slept in and Alex said he'd bike along with me on my last long run before Medina. We didn't leave the house until 2pm, but that didn't matter since the weather was holding steady at 50 degrees. It was tough to breathe, but I had mobile hankies to blow my nose (aka arm warmers). The trail ended at 5.7 miles, so after it was all said and done I ran 11.5 miles instead of 12, but it was a solid run, even being sick. There were a few stops for photos, but I was able to maintain a good pace (honestly faster than I should have - probably down to the cool weather). I was pretty beat when we got home. The run helped clear my nose, but unfortunately I returned with a bad sinus headache from the cold air. C'est la vie. Still had a great time with Alex! 

I think if I try to remember I'm fueling my runs I will make some better food choices. I mean, just two weeks ago I was eating crap all day every day, so I've already improved.

What are you training for?
Do you take a break before you begin training for fall races?

Friday, May 06, 2016

Top Five Breweries in Ohio (According to Me)

Hello! I'm back with another Friday Five linkup with Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia. This week, I'm staying on theme (food and drink) to bring you my Favorite Breweries in Ohio.

I have to preface this by saying Ohio has an insane number of breweries. While some have the omnipresent industrial lighting/reclaimed wood thing down to a science, their beers are a mess of hops trying to cover a failed attempt at a drinkable beer. I may not have the fanciest palette or rate drinks on Beer Advocate or Untappd, but I have solid favorites in Ohio. In no particular order...

Rhinegeist, Cincinnati 
Columbus started getting Rhinegeist cans and drafts a few years ago. Their label design is clean and simple, which immediately appealed to me. They had a few standard brews like Panther (Porter) and Franz (Oktoberfest), but it was Peach Dodo (Gose) and the Cidergeist that really won me over. On top of the tasty varieties and clean branding, we visited the brewery last year and it's amazing (see photo at top). The old factory space has a fantastic atmosphere with plenty of seating and games.

Some special bottle releases from Jackie O's

Jackie O's, Athens
Jackie O's Athens roots put them in the heart of the beautiful Ohio University campus. A few years ago they started canning their popular styles and my office was hooked. Eventually, they began to bottle super special brews like Bourbon Barrel Oil of Aphrodite (Stout) and Dark Apparition (rich beer with chocolate and coffee) in collectable batches. Their bottle releases go quickly, but luckily my boss is a big fan and gets his hands on all sorts of goodies. I've had a least a dozen (maybe two dozen?) different styles from Jackie O's and they never disappoint. Their taproom and brewpub are both worth a visit if you're in Athens. This is my favorite non-Columbus brewery.

Some HHB can and bottle releases in the past year

Hoof Hearted Brewing, Marengo and Columbus (2 locations)
Okay first, say the name out loud. Ha. (The first time we tried HHB was at a North Market Microbrew Fest and I didn't get the name until I said it out loud.) I have a special place in my heart for Hoof Hearted because I got to re-skin an arcade cabinet for a beer collaboration between my boss and HHB (Konkey Dong. See cabinet here.) Besides, their beers are fantastic. They have some of the most exciting styles, ridiculous names, and their artwork is bananas. They recently opened a Columbus restaurant/taproom, but it's a bit too sterile for my taste (not enough silly art). Luckily, their beers make up for it. Some of my recent favorites: Rosé Gosé, Koffury, Saizzurp, and of course, Konkey Dong.

Love the bottle art on the Dire Wolf
Wolf's Ridge, Columbus
First off, Wolf's Ridge is the kind of classy place you bring out of town friends. (Or at least I do.) We got a beer flight on our first visit and I remember thinking the beers tasted very fresh and clean, but nothing stood out. Flash forward a year later to the opening of their taproom when a co-worker got us a personal tour with the (newer) brewer. It was night and day. The beers were still fresh and clean, but now they were memorable. They have some standards like Clear Sky (cream ale), but the standout for me is the Dire Wolf (Russian Imperial stout) and it's myriad of combinations. My favorite so far? Dire Wolf Canis Mexicanus. They have a good thing going and I hope they keep pushing the boundaries without losing quality. 

Zauber flight, the bar, and more beer

Zauber Brewing, Columbus
Alex and I started visiting Zauber when they were a teeny tiny growler fill manned by the owner. I was pretty pumped when they opened a full-sized bar and even more excited when they added food and a coffee shop. My co-workers and I go to Zauber about twice a month for lunch. While the food is tasty, I'm in it for the beer. I love German and Belgian beers and their selection is A+. If you love a wheaty hefeweizen you cannot miss with Vertigo. They also do small batches of new styles and combinations. I don't mind spending big beer $ on their small brews. Sometimes I feel a bit boring saying Zauber is my local favorite because it's right around the corner, but they don't make crappy beers. They nail it every time and I'm never disappointed.

Ohioans: Do you agree? Do you have a favorite?
Non-Ohioans: What is your favorite brewery? Winery? Or whatever! 

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