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Friday, February 05, 2016

Friday Five: Five Things February

Naples Pier  [source]

Welcome to another Friday Five with Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia. Today's topic is Fitness, but I'll go with a general Five Things Friday as I don't have any fitness wisdom to impart this week.

1. Travel
We leave next week for our trip to Florida! Alex and I will be in Tampa for a few days and then my mom and step dad will scoop us up on their way from Gulf Shores to take us to Naples where I'll be running the Paradise Coast Half. I've found some amazing things to do (my Pinterest board). I'm looking forward to sunshine, warmth, and relaxation, but I'm dreading a hot race.

2. Books
I won the book Letters to Rachel by R.W. Mitchell on Goodreads last month.  From what I can tell it's self-published. I'm about 70% thru and it's fantastic! It's a modern-day story of a British woman living in Barcelona told through back-and-forth letters. I'm a complete Anglophile so I feel right at home with the British slang and cultural references. It's a light read and the characters are so fun. It's also making me want to take up letter writing, which I haven't done consistently since college.

3. Packed Schedule 
My February calendar is officially packed. Chelsea (Pittsburgh City Girl) contacted me yesterday about Warm Up For Boston. It's the day after the Fight for Air Climb and one week after PC, so my legs might be dead, but I'm looking forward to joining her for some laps during her 26 miler. Not running for time, just running for company and fun. Also, how cute is the penguin medal?

Last year's medals for PC and FFAC and this year's WUFB penguin.

4. Dog
Tobias has been pretty cute this week. Here's a photo from this morning of him staying warm under a blanket... while sitting on my work stuff.

5. Wishlist
Oiselle came out with some new things for Spring and I have a wish list a mile long. I also need gels and Nuun like whoa. I bought a Nuun multipack and all I've got left is orange and it's just ok...

(Apparently I like blue and black)

That's all for this week!  Be sure to visit the host's blogs to read more about this week's fitness theme (Stay Safe During Winter RunsCost Effective Fitness in DC, and Five Race Distances and What’s To Like About Them).

Monday, February 01, 2016

Books of January 2016

I skipped my December book recap in favor of my year-end review, but I'm back with a look at January. My goal for 2016 is to read 65 books and while I'm technically on track, I read a lot of fluff. I also tried to leverage my mid-week runs by listening to an audiobook.

Besides running and reading, January included some friend outings, a short trip to Chicago, and I signed up for Great Lakes Birdcamp. (If that doesn't mean anything to you, don't worry. I'll share more in August.) On to the books!
- - - - - - - -

Review: 4 of 5
Another good story, though I think I liked #1 better. Scarlet and Wolf are good additions, but Cinder remains my favorite. Her mechanical ability and cyborg-ness make her a fun character. Iko and Thorne are also great. And of course Kai... 
Don't let the cheesy covers trick you. This is a fun series so far. 

Hit by Lorie Ann Grover 
Review: 3 of 5
I bought this for a $1 and read it in a day. It's a strange book. Fast moving with an interesting premise, but the dialog was so stilted and almost unbelievable. Apparently this is Christian YA and a morality tale, but the end result was a little odd with Haddings true feelings.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Review: 3.5–4 of 5
I did NOT like her last book. I read it around the time of Tina's and it did not compare. I remember being jealous that she was famous and got to write a witty book I could have put together (ha). Luckily (for me and Mindy), I enjoyed this one. I think the stories in this were better and more organized. I'm tired of random assortments of "essays" that do not flow. And I truly think it helped that I listened to the audiobook instead of reading it. It was a good book to run to.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Review: 5 of 5
Because it's such a quick, quality read, I think it's the perfect "introductory" feminist text to use when trying to convince someone to see the light. ;) It's a few years old, so I'm sure other articles have been borrowing from Adichie's speech, but she hits the main points and provides a summary for her argument. A key point that I think many folks don't understand: a feminist also supports men to be whatever they want. Not every man needs to be a hyper-masculine provider.

Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter 
Review: 3.5 of 5
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. 3 for plot, 4 for everything else. 

This is kind of a weird review because I liked the idea of the book, but the plot was a bit boring for having such an interesting premise. Jackaby and Abby are great characters. So are those in the supporting cast... even the duck. The story was also very well written, so I have no doubt that Ritter is a great writer. Unfortunately, it took me weeks to finish this because I never cared enough to read more than a chapter at a time. Heck, during the same time period I read a crappy book in one day because it was "unputdownable." 

Despite the great premise, writing, and characters the central mystery was just ho-hum. I DO think the books will get better as they reveal more details about Jackaby and encounter new supernatural mysteries. I'm not sure if I will continue reading or not, but these stories would probably make an excellent show.
- - - - - - - -

As always, these reviews were taken from my Goodreads. For past months, click here

What did you read in January?
What are you reading now?

Paradise Coast (Naples) Half Training Week 13

Saturday morning sunrise

Welcome to another Weekly Review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. My training cycle focuses on the Paradise Coast Half Marathon on Feburary 14. You can read about the race here

Week of Jan 25-31

: 5 miles, treadmill, 9:20/mi
Tuesday: 3 miles, 9:08/mi
Wednesday: 5 miles, 8 x 300m hill repeats
Thursday: 1 mile, 7:58
Friday: 2.6 miles, 8:56/mi
Saturday: 12.1 miles, 10:26/mi
Sunday: 5 miles, 9:06/mi

Weekly total: 33.7 miles
This cycle: 314.5 miles
Streak day: 92

First off, I had my highest milage month ever!! January = 126.66 miles

Right before my phone died on Wednesday
We were still in Chicago on Monday and I opted for treadmill miles. The gym at our preferred hotel is hot-hot-hot (71°) so I figured it would be good "warm weather" practice. It was tough. I'm not very quick on treadmills and I started to overheat, so I slowed down around mile 3 for a walk and water break. Luckily, the Property Brothers kept me mostly distracted.

Tuesday's run was uneventful and slower than normal.

I followed my interval plan Wednesday and did 8x300m hill repeats in the middle of my 5 miler. I chose one of the biggest hills in the area and took breaks at the bottom when I needed them. Phew. It kicked my butt, but I did it! Unfortunately, it was so cold my phone died when I took it out of my pocket to take a photo. Bummer because I was listening to an audiobook.

Thursday was a quick-ish mile with Alex. My legs were tired from the hill workout, so I'm pretty surprised we went sub-8. I meant to run before work Friday, but slept terribly so I went before sunset. It was my worst run of the week. I was tired and stopped at 2.6 instead of finishing the full 3.

Paying tribute to the late Afroduck (the article has some great photos).

Saturday was 12 with my training group. The fulls had 10 miles and I was able to get the remaining 2 with a running buddy. I felt pretty meh about the whole thing at the beginning, plus we had to dodge so much ice. My group takes water breaks every 2 miles and there were a few busy road crossings, so by the time we hit the turn around I felt like we'd stopped way too many times. I looked at my Garmin after and we had a total of 10 stops (!!) which equated to almost 12 minutes of dead time. My legs would get super tight during those stops (it was cold). On the plus side, when the fulls split from the halves we took a few less breaks and did a fun tour of the Ohio State campus, including the Afroduck stop above. We also picked up the pace. My group is 10:45 and I don't think a single mile of my run hit the correct pace. I guess we were all in a hurry.

A new bridge along the route

Mid watch restart. Shorts weather!
Sunday is normally a mile recovery day, but the weather was amazing (61°) so we had to take advantage of it. After seeing The Revenant in the morning, Alex grabbed his bike and escorted me along a section of the Alum Creek Trail. The trail used to be a bunch of disjointed sections, but a few connector bridges were finished earlier this year. It was a lovely trail, but I'm glad I had an escort. We saw at least 5 dudes that were totalllllly high just chilling along the path and enjoying nature. Back to the run: My legs were tired from 12 on Saturday and I took a few breaks for bridge photos, but overall I felt pretty strong. I tried to pretend the last 2 miles were the end of a race and my last mile was my fastest!

This was my last long week before Paradise Coast. Normally I feel relief when I hit taper, but this time I'm thinking those crazy thoughts I've seen other bloggers mention: "Well, maybe I need more speed work. Am I fast enough?!" "One more long run would make me feel more prepared!" etc. But I know deep down taper's here for a reason and I'll make it to the finish line. The potential humidity and heat still freak me out (OMG it was 70° with 80% humidity at 7am today!), but if I just keep running I'll be ok.

How was your week?
What's your goal for February? (Mine: make it through race day without melting.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Paradise Coast (Naples) Half Training Week 12

Snow early in the week... but only a dusting.
Welcome to another Weekly Review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. My training cycle focuses on the Paradise Coast Half Marathon on Feburary 14. You can read about the race here

Week of Jan 18-24 
Monday: 4.2 miles, 8:32 pace
Tuesday: 1 mile, 8:12
Wednesday: 5 miles, 9:02 pace
Thursday: 6 miles, 8:58 pace
Friday: 3 miles, 9:12 pace
Saturday: 11 miles, 10:44 pace
Sunday: 1 mile, 8:19

Weekly total: 31.3 miles
This cycle: 280.8 miles
Streak day: 86

After two crappy weeks of skipped mid-week 6 milers, I was back to top form. I tried to think of my runs one day at a time instead of letting the weekly milage pile up in my head. During the crappy weeks I found myself thinking, "I need 28 miles by the end of the week," instead of "I have 5 miles today." Somehow the change in thinking seemed to kick start my motivation and get me back to where I needed to be.

We made a really great casserole on Monday
I took a half day Monday and went on my run around 2:30 to catch the "warmest" part of the day. It was ridiculously cold (12° with a feels like of -3°), so I planned on running one streak mile and move my runs later in the week. After I ran a mile and warmed up I figured I might as well get in 3 more since I had free time. Halfway through the 3 miler my phone died from the cold. Yikes.

Tuesday was a one mile day because I went to see a free movie with my friend. She had passes for Dirty Grandpa. I would not recommend this movie to y'all because you seem like sweet ladies. It was really, really raunchy and offensive... but Zac Efron was very pretty. ;)

Wednesday's run was snowy, slushy, and very slippery. I avoided sidewalks (most of them weren't cleared) and stuck to the streets of my neighborhood. I have a pretty small neighborhood, so I had to run many loops and I think some of my neighbors thought I was crazy. The snow made it pretty fun, though it was tough to keep myself upright. Oh, and my phone died again.

The track is my treadmill this winter

My run started around sunset on Thursday and continued past dark. I had the place mostly to myself, which is great because last time I did speed work there was a really chatty guy and I did not feel like talking and running. My speed plan called for 1 mile warm up, 4x800 at interval pace (7:56 for me), 1 mile cool down. I modified the warm up and cool downs to 2 miles so I'd get my 6 miles. My 800s were pretty fast (low 8s), but I didn't consistently hit my goal pace because of the snow. One side of the track was completely clear, but the 200m closest to the stands was still covered in snow and slick. My phone stayed alive because I put it inside a glove and I was able to finish Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me? audiobook.

Buffs on buffs on Friday morning
I ran before work on Friday (which seems to be the only day of the week I consistently run before work). I decided to take it slower since my legs were tired. Plus, I read the pace guidelines for a sub-2 half and realized I'm running too fast during some of my weekly workouts, so I was really trying to be good.

Speaking of being good, I knew I needed to nail my long run pace on Saturday's 11 miler. My target pace is 10:50. I joined my pace group (the 10:45s) for the first 3.5 miles. The fulls had 7 miles on their plan so I originally intended to run 7 with them, then get back out for 4. I kept dreading the remaining 4 because I knew I'd have to retrace our steps (because we were at one end of the trail). Luckily, my friend Andrea decided she wouldn't mind getting in 11, so we kept on when the fulls hit their turn around. We took a nutrition stop at 5.75 and turned around. The last few miles were tough for Andrea (she'd only run 8 miles during her training cycle so far) and we took some stops, but our pace didn't really waver. She said she felt bad for holding me up, but honestly she didn't. I felt really strong and she was keeping me on pace. I was able to talk a lot more than normal and my spirits were high. It got a lot colder while we were running, so I'm glad I layered appropriately. We had to run up a big hill at the end, but we felt like rockstars when it was over. It was so nice to have someone with me!

Antrim Lake was a bit frozen on Saturday, but no blizzard or weekend snow for Columbus

On Sunday Alex and I drove to Chicago and did some sightseeing. We haven't been to the bean in a billion years, so it was nice to see what's changed. We found a great Chinese restaurant for dinner, headed over to Trader Joe's for some snacks and wine, then back to our hotel to chill. Because it was a jam-packed day, I ended up with one treadmill mile to keep my streak alive.

Here we are!

Overall, it was a pretty awesome training week. I didn't have any knee pain and I nailed my workouts even when I felt tired. I'm hoping this week goes just as well since it's my LAST week before taper. I cannot believe my race is just under three weeks away!!

I cannot run very fast on a treadmill. Am I alone? (I feel like I'm going to fall off.)
How was your weather? 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Race Recap: Broke Man's Winter Warm Up Weekend

The starting line after set up
The Broke Man's Winter Warm Up took place 9am Sunday, January 17 in Columbus, Ohio. The race included three distances: 3.5, 7, and 13.1. [Race Information]

Being an Ambassador 
I am an ambassador for this race. The October Broke Man's Half Marathon has been around for a few years and I've always wanted to run it, but couldn't fit it into my schedule. When Katie (the race director) put out a call for ambassadors and posted an application, I filled it out immediately. I was really excited to see she'd added three new events to the lineup.

Things I love about Broke Man's:
  1. Local and low key: a trail race atmosphere 
  2. Cup free racing: encouraging runners to bring their own water bottle or carry a collapsible cup, which means no waste 
  3. Great handmade wooden medals and quality handmade shirts, buffs, etc 
  4. Low cost and à la carte merchandise: race fee only includes the race. I had a free entry, but registration started at $10!
  5. Opportunity for ambassadors to truly help: on top of normal volunteer duties we were able to brainstorm design ideas, meetup with other ambassadors, engage with participants on social media, and write blog posts (mine was about multiclavas)  
Shake out fun (Alex and I are in green and yellow)
Saturday: Shake out run and volunteering
On Saturday morning the race hosted an official shake out run starting at Land Grant Brewing. Our 1.5 mile route wound through downtown and provided a chance to talk to other runners. Packet pickup began after we returned to the brewery. Alex and I volunteered for the first shift (10-1) and ended up stuffing packets (a great reusable tote bag) and checking in some of the runners. The line was epic. During our 3 hour shift the line died down only once. After we were relieved of our duties, RD Katie gave us a few Broke Man's buffs (amazing) and we relaxed with a beer.

Outfit: I ended up adding a vest
Sunday: Pre race
We arrived at 7:15am Sunday morning to help set up. There were official volunteers, so we didn't have to do much besides unpack some boxes and put out trashcans. It was hella cold, but everyone was in good spirits. Despite two pairs of gloves, my hands were toast. I was so thankful for the indoor bathrooms and ability to go inside to warm up.

Around 8am a ton of people showed up to pick up their packets. The online system used for check in was very slow and there were only two tablets, so despite the volunteers, the line moved slowly. I think this was the only downside of the race: not enough lines to support day of packet pickup. They eventually found a way to cut corners and get everyone checked in before the race, but it was a struggle. But on the bright side: 900 people registered for this inaugural run!

As I mentioned in my weekly review, I came into the race with a mileage deficit for the week. My training plan called for 7 miles and I was signed up for the 7 miler. Perfect. I felt really great after the shake out and dreamt about running the 13.1. In my mind, 13.1 in the cold would be easier to PR than my half in Florida next month. Haha.

My Ridiculous Plans
A. Change to 13.1 at mile 5.7 (where the course breaks off). If this happens: run a conservative training pace or PR if you're feeling it
B. Stick with the 7 miler and PR a 10k in the middle.
C. Ignore everything and stop at 3.5

Hey I'm running!
As you can see, I was all over the place. I started out at a quick pace and my first mile was 8:27. Whoops. If I wanted a 10k PR I knew I needed to stay under 8:50 mi/mi, so this was a little excessive. The whole time I felt like I was going pretty slow, but my pace didn't dip into the 9s until mile 2.

A few things I know about myself: I hate courses with loops and in order to finish the 7 or 13.1 you had to run the first 3.5 mile loop twice. I ran a very similar course last year and cut out my third lap. I also hate baby hills. For some reason repetitive elevation changes get on my nerves. I'd rather have one giant hill than several 20 foot rollers in rapid succession. (Don't worry, I know it's stupid.) Also, I usually don't "feel it" until mile 4 or 5 of a run, which would have been in the middle of loop 2. And finally, if given the opportunity to stop, I will stop. Had this been an out and back course I probably would have kept going.

So, as you can tell somewhere around mile 2 I'd already decided I'd probably stop after one loop. I think it was shortly after a 6% incline and right as my legs began to feel unsteady on a bridge. My knee also felt stiff (and not the knee that was feeling weird last week.) I came up to the final decision point: go straight and do a second lap or turn right towards the finish? I turned towards the finish and by golly I'm glad I did! It was a steep grade to the finish and I was dunzo.

Official photos were only $4! (Alex, me, Angie)

Post Race
I finished, collected my medal, and went back to the fork to find my friend Angie. I decided if she continued on for the 7 miler I'd go with her. (This race was not chip timed.) As soon as I saw her she made it clear she was not going to continue. So I ran up the finish hill with her and crossed the line again. The finish line was dead. The 3.5 mile option was added a few weeks ago, so either not many people took advantage of it or mostly walkers signed up.

Alex appeared after getting his stuff from the car and told us he'd won the 3.5 miler! (He got an Altra Running hat and a $100 giftcard!) He said he ran a pretty brisk pace and was in a pack of guys, but all of those fasties continued on to the 7 or 13.1 Someday I'll convince him to run farther... Angie, Alex, and I sat around for a while and had free bagels and hot coffee, then went inside to get warm. It was lovely. We parted ways when Angie headed home and we went to the brewery after party (with drink specials). All-in-all a great day, even if I was feeling blah about running.

Does anyone say bling anymore?
Thoughts and Stats
If I would have continued on I might have PRd the 10k, but it wouldn't have felt good. When I have a crappy run, it's hard for me to believe I can run 13.1 miles. I wasn't feeling it on Sunday. What was I feeling? The community atmosphere and helping out. I really enjoyed myself at this event and wish I would have slowed down and treated it as a fun run.

Distance: 3.69 mi (RD confirmed the loop is long)
Time: 31:48
Mile Splits: 8:27, 8:48, 8:48

Up next: The big one. Paradise Coast Half Marathon on February 14. After two crappy training weeks, I'm ready to get back to nailing my runs. It's only a month away so why not suck it up and give it my all (she says while eating pizza at her desk). We'll see how it goes!

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