Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wedding Planning

The spot where loved ones will watch Josh and I get married, weather permitting...

One of the reasons that I have been posting infrequently since Bike America is that I am spending a lot of time planning my wedding. With such a long engagement, I've been able to spread aspects of planning out over time which has made most of it fun and exciting. Though I still have plenty of time and haven't hit a point of feeling overwhelmed by it, there are still a million and one things to do in the way of planning. So it has taken over a lot of my free time.

When I first got engaged, it never crossed my mind to blog about wedding planning. It doesn't have much to do with fitness and sweating. But it does have a lot to do with style, something I strive to incorporate into this blog from time to time. So...because I love reading about weddings on other blogs and would like to provide inspiration if there are any interested future brides, because I think I'll blog more if I'm free to write about this thing that's consuming a lot of my life anyway, and because, to be honest, this blog is really designed for me to share my life with whoever is out there reading, I've decided to begin blogging about planning my wedding. Stay tuned for details.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

VCM Training Week 7: Running on Tired Legs

Week 7 (3.11.13 to 3.17.13):

Monday:  4.61 miles at 8:15 pace (weights)
Tuesday:  30 minutes weights/abs and 45 minute spin class (4 miles)
Wednesday:  4.55 miles at 9:13 pace (CT cardio)
Thursday: rest (5 miles, weights)
Friday: 12.0 miles at 8:54 pace (rest)
Saturday: 45 minutes soccer (12 mile long run)
Sunday: 3.76 at 9:20 pace (3 miles/frisbee)
Total: 24.92 miles of running

When she was helping me tweak my marathon training plan, my friend Nikki said, "you want to train yourself to run on tired legs". If that's the point of marathon training, then week 7 was the perfect week.

I decided to take last Friday off to get some rest after the busy week prior. Switching my long run to Friday would allow me to play soccer and cheer for the half marathoners on Saturday. That meant cramming my weekday workouts into three days instead of four. I ran on Monday and felt strong. Tuesday, I tested my muscle strength with a lifting/ab session at lunch and a spin class after work. The combination of the best spin class ever and a weird ab workout that worked my legs more than my abs resulted in some very sore quads on Wednesday morning. With all the running, biking, and sport playing I do, my quads almost never get sore. So when I went running on Wednesday after work, my legs were heavy and slow.

I rested on Thursday and felt good on Friday morning. My legs were a little sore but they didn't slow me down much. My big mistake of the run was the route I mapped. It took me down Mass Ave from 16th Street to the Capitol building. I've run down this stretch of Mass many times and it's often busy but it has never been as bad as it was at 10AM on Friday morning. I had to stop constantly at lights which made it hard to get in any running groove. My clock time was 1:46:56 and my overall run time (including stops) was 2:01:27. Most of that 15 minutes of stopping happened between miles 3 and 5. Not only was this hard mentally but I don't think it was good for my muscles. Stopping so much made my muscles tighten as lactate surely built up from the lack of movement.

After mile 6, I barely had to stop at all. But I spent the second half of the run making my way uphill away from the mall. And I ran up my favorite long hill (Mass Ave between Dupont and the Cathedral) around mile 10 which was definitely a test of running on tired legs.

Elevation chart from Friday's long run.
On Saturday, I played a very intense game of soccer which was 4v6 in the first half and 5v7 in the second. My team was the one playing down two players. We lost 3-1 and spent basically the entire game playing hard defense. There was a lot of sprinting and it was a good workout.

I woke up Sunday morning and remembered what a unique workout soccer is. As is always the case after my first time playing in a while, my groins, butt and many muscles in my legs were sore. On my Sunday afternoon run, my legs felt heavier than they had all week. I was initially frustrated by my slow pace. Then I remembered Nikki's words of wisdom and decided that I was doing exactly what I should be- running on tired legs. The sore muscles only mean that my legs will be stronger on May 26th. That knowledge will make every hard workout a little easier in the coming weeks.

Monday, March 18, 2013

RNR USA Spectating

If you live in DC, it is very likely that you or someone you know ran the Rock and Roll DC marathon or half marathon on Saturday. Nearly 30,000 people ran the race. The past two years, I was one of those runners but, this year, I never signed up for it for a few reasons. I didn't want to pay the outrageous registration fees that are a product of the corporate rock and roll buying it out last year. I also know that it might not have been smart to push myself too hard, which I surely would have been tempted to do, while training for my first half marathon.

I had many friends racing, though, so I got up early and showed up at mile 6 to cheer. This year, the course ran within a mile of my apartment so Josh and I rolled out of bed, walked south and arrived in Woodley Park around 8AM, just as the first runner sped by. We didn't have time to snap his picture but got some of the elite runners in his pack.

A few minutes later, our friend Ben arrived with his family. They were there to cheer on his brother Paul and we formed a good team of cheerleaders. But apparently not good enough because, early on, one runner yelled at the spectators for not being loud enough.

Only about twenty minutes after our arrival, Nikki and Jamey ran by. Josh pointed them out and I might have missed them if he hadn't. Nikki told me afterward that, just before they passed, she said to Jamey "I think we missed Carrie" and Jamey looked over and said, "there she is!"

Only five or seven minutes later, Eric ran by. Somehow, he was easier to spot in his all-black uniform!

Next on the list of expected runners-by were Catherine (my friend at work) and Paul (Ben's brother) who both aimed to run about a 10 mm average pace. The problem with race spectating is that if you look away right at the wrong second, you completely miss the runner you're looking for. And then you don't know if they've passed or if they're still coming. And, when you're on the front lines of cheering for an hour and a half, you just have to occasionally look away to sip water, fix your screwy cowbell and post instagrams of your friends who just ran by. Somehow in that mix, we saw and cheered for Paul but missed Catherine. Eventually, I was sure that she must have passed and kept an eye out for Hadley. She came into view in an outfit I was used to cheering for- the outfit she wore for her Marine Corps Marathon in October. I got a picture of her cursing the horrible hill that she had just run up out of Woodley Park. It is definitely one of the worst hills in DC.

Before we left I snapped a picture of our cheering ground. When we arrived, Josh and I stood at the white line by the cars in the far right of the photo. Early on, a guy with his bike went to stand at the far edge of the green, on the left in the photo. Over the course of the hour and a half we were there, the crowds inched up all the way to the double yellow lines, cutting the width of the course in half. We always stayed a bit behind the line, fighting the move but the crowds, especially the bike guy, kept pushing on. At one point, Ben told a policeman that he should control the crowds but the policeman wrote him off, saying he couldn't get everyone to move on his own. From a runner's perspective, it was frustrating.

Surprisingly, I wasn't really sad not to be running this race. If it weren't for VCM, I would have been. But I felt like standing on the sidelines was exactly where I was supposed to be. It certainly made me more excited for the marathon!

Congrats to all the runners on Saturday. I'm very glad that you survived the beastly rock creek hill and, even more so, that it didn't end up raining on you!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Week 6: VCM Training and Reflection

The first line of each day is what I actually did and the parentheses beside it show what my scheduled workout was...

Week 6 (3.4.13 to 3.10.13):

Monday: 45 minutes spin class (rest)
Tuesday:  2.82 miles at 7:49 pace (4 miles)
Wednesday:  30 minutes yoga (CT cardio)
Thursday: 3.32 miles at 8:35 pace (4 miles, weights)
Friday: rest- and by "rest", i mean standing in heels all day and night and running around like a crazy person setting up for and executing an event (rest)
Saturday: 8.04 miles at 8:56 pace (8 mile long run)
Sunday: 90 minutes frisbee (3 miles/frisbee)

My first cutback week during this training cycle came at the perfect time. It was the week of my big dinner at work and it was also the week when my foot pain flared up a little bit. I worked late nights and had some trouble squeezing workouts in. I went to spin class on Monday so that I could get it over with before my schedule got too out of control. On Tuesday and Thursday, I went for late afternoon runs and then returned to work for more long hours. I shortened them both because of mild foot pain and felt that I could get away with this during a cut-back week. Wednesday, a snow day in which I worked from home, I let myself rest and only did some quick yoga in my living room.

The hardest workout of the week, though, was my long run on Saturday after all the work was done. My ten miler the week before had been tough- it was really cold, windy and felt long, so I wanted a confidence booster during this eight miler. Long hours on my feet the day before, and two late-night glasses of de-stress wine, left me feeling tired and lethargic, even after nine hours of sleep. The weather was amazing- 60's and sunny- and I felt guilty for not being more happy to be running under the beautiful sun. Around mile 5, my friend Nathaniel, running in the opposite direction, called my name from across the street and that gave me some adrenaline. About a half a mile later, though, I was looking at a trash can as I threw away my gu packet and tripped on a jagged piece of the sidewalk. I was moving pretty fast so I went flying and skinned both knees and my right elbow, forearm and hand. 

It hurt my knees at first to continue on but I just got up and kept running, mostly wanting to run away from the embarrassing scene. I got a bunch of stares at the blood running down my legs which was embarrassing but, strangely, I felt a new energy for the rest of my run. I finished at the soccer field where Josh and Ingrid were playing and basked in the sun, watching the last 20 minutes of their victory.

So far, training has been really fun. As I prepare to run 12 miles this weekend, and face the fact that I will be doing double-digit runs for the next nine weekends in a row, I am slightly terrified. I counted and, since December 2010 when I began training for my first half, I've done only 15 runs over 9.99 miles. But I'm going to take it one week at a time and I'mg going to keep pushing through when things get tough!

Spinning Again

The view up a hill from my bike in Washington.

In "training" for Bike America, I went to a lot of spin classes. I thought they were made more fun by the knowledge that I'd soon be riding my bike up mountains, down mountains, across states, and so on. They changed the way that I rode my bike in a way, encouraging me to push myself and bike the same way I run.

After I got back, I was obsessed with not losing the fitness I'd developed on my epic ride but I avoided spin classes for some reason. I rode outdoors in the fall and I got my body back in the habit of running. I think I was afraid that developing a relationship with a spin bike would take away from the magic that biking was this summer. I knew it wouldn't be the same.

When I had an injured foot and couldn't run, I rode stationary bikes in the gym regularly because I didn't feel like planning around scheduled classes. Stationary bikes just aren't the same as spin bikes.

But when I wrote my marathon training plan, I knew that I wanted spinning to be a part of it for many reasons. For one, I don't want to put too much stress on my knees and wanted to find other ways of incorporating cardio. I have missed riding a bike this winter and would like to devote more time to outdoor cycling as the weather warms up and, especially, after my marathon. I also remember a post by one of my favorite running bloggers after the RNR Half Marathon in DC last year in which she noted that her friends who are the best at speedily running up hills are the ones who ride their bikes often. And I just like to keep it fresh and surprise my body with different workouts. I want to be a tarzan. I'll explain what I mean by that soon.

I have surprised myself in how strictly I've followed my training plan thus far. In my seven weeks of training, I've been to 6 spin classes and each one has left me feeling strong and powerful. Instead of taking away biking magic of this summer, they actually give me frequent flashbacks of fun, challenging and scenic moments. I am motivated by imagining that I'm climbing a hill that I actually climbed somewhere in America.

I won't lie- sometimes spinning is a chore. It isn't the same as riding outdoors. If the teacher doesn't reel you in and motivate you the right way, the exercises can drag on. But last night, I went to a spin class that changed my life. A girl named Liz was teaching it and she was the best teacher I've ever had. She was clear and organized about each workout. She delivered the perfect level of motivation and encouragement without ever screaming at us like a maniac (some of them do that, it doesn't work for me...) She made me want to get back on my bike and start riding to Anacortes, WA. Or anywhere.

At the end of the class, she revealed that she was subbing and that she typically teaches the 6AM class on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Whether or not she changed my life enough to get me to the gym that early is still to be determined. She did say, "getting out of bed is the hardest part- once you're here, it's great".

Whether under the instruction of Liz or another, far less awesome, teacher, one thing is certain: I will be returning to many spin classes between now and May 27th.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vermont City Marathon Training Weeks 4 and 5


The first line of each day is what I actually did and the parentheses beside it show what my scheduled workout was...

Week 4 (2.18.13 to 2.24.13):

Monday:  30 minutes yoga, 15 minutes abs (weights)
Tuesday:   4.05 miles at 8:24 pace (4 miles)
Wednesday: 25 minutes stationary bike, 10 minutes weights (CT cardio)
Thursday: 3.55 miles at 8:34 pace (4 miles)
Friday: rest (rest)
Saturday: 8.01 miles at 8:53 pace (8 mile long run)
Sunday: 60 minutes of frisbee (3 miles/frisbee)

Week 5 (2.25 to 3.2.13):

Monday:  3.83 miles at 8:38 pace (weights)
Tuesday:  weights and core (4 miles)
Wednesday:  1 hour spin class (CT cardio)
Thursday: 4.9 miles at 8:05 pace (5 miles)
Friday: rest (rest)
Saturday: 10.01 miles at 9:06 m/m pace (10 mile long run)
Sunday: 45 minutes of frisbee (3 miles/frisbee)
TOTAL MILES*: 21.74 

*my cousin who ran the Vermont City Marathon in 2012 and who plays ultimate frisbee in college said that her running coach told her an hour of frisbee counts as about 3 miles of running and is great interval training. So I'm counting it as 3 in my totals.

After this, I'll post a recap of week 6 and then I'll be caught up and hopefully have more freedom to post some other interesting things.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Inspiration: when the day's work is over...

As always, this first week in March has been one of my busiest at work as my team prepares for our annual stewardship dinner. It is always a frantic time but this year it's a little different. Instead of being just another worker bee, in my new (as of August) job, I am "executive producer" of the event, as dubbed by my CEO during a planning meeting the morning after the oscars. This means added responsibility which is a good thing. But it also leaves me more stressed about things going wrong.

This morning, in my twenty minutes eating breakfast, I decided to search for some inspiring words to help me feel zen about the event. I was looking for something profound and, honestly, I couldn't find the perfect thing. I almost went the cheesy route with "que sera sera" but the quote above struck more of a chord with me.

"When the day's work is over, it's over."

All week, this is something I've tried to remind myself. Though I stayed late many nights, worked through my snow day, and had to take a break for runs before my work was over, I still let myself be done each night. I came home to drink wine, eat chocolate, and hang out with Joshua.

Now that the final full day of prep has passed, I'm feeling a little more like "que sera sera" sums up my state of mind. But I also like to think about 10PM tomorrow when the day's work, the week's work, and a whole season of President's Circle Dinner planning's work will truly be over.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the event. In spite of my anxiety over the many things that could go wrong, I always end up having a great time.