Girls on the Run 5K

imageIt’s not often that I write negative or emotional posts on my blog (not that I think it’s a bad thing, I like reading about anything and everything!), but last night I participated in the Girls on the Run (GOTR) 5K. I want to say that this event was a positive one for me, but my experience made me really sad. I was paired with a girl from a local elementary school, and she came in dead last. Don’t get me wrong – that isn’t what made me sad at ALL. It was the circumstances that surrounded the situation just really bothered me.

The girl, who I’m going to call Suzie, was from a school in an underprivileged area, and she arrived with her grandmother. She was 11 years old, and seemed very shy when first introduced to me. No problem, I can break anyone out of their shell. I’m the friend you go running with that starts talking as soon as I start my Garmin and doesn’t shut up until the last mile. When we began the run, it was a pretty congested field so we started off by walking. Once we were able to run, she would dash ahead for about 20 feet, and then begin to trudge along. I’m not talking a power walk here – I’m talking literally dragging her feet.

It wasn’t the pace that made me sad – you could just tell that this was the last thing Suzie wanted to do. She had zero enthusiasm and it just seemed like she wanted to be anywhere else but at the 5K.  It’s totally okay if running isn’t your thing, but she just had no interest in participating. If she was happy to be there or enjoying herself, she didn’t let me know about it. We ran in the parkway, so if she saw something like a bird she would stop and look at it, or she would try to pick flowers if we passed by wildflowers or flowering trees. She would find anything she could to just stop, and I don’t think she realized that by not moving, we would not get to the finish line.

When I realized that running the race might not be in the cards for Suzie, I tried talking to her and getting her to open up. Maybe I couldn’t inspire her to run, but in our time together I might be able to have SOME sort of impact and get to know her a little bit. Unfortunately, she didn’t want to talk and would answer my questions only about half of the time. I was really striking out: I couldn’t motivate her to run, and she seemed to want no part of hanging out with me. I’m not used to that. As a high school teacher, I take a lot of pride in being able to relate to students and make them feel comfortable and relaxed in their surroundings, and I was not successful with this. I’m not known to be intimidating or unfriendly – I connect well with kids. But this was one kid that I was having a hard time getting to know. I think that’s what bothered me the most.

I kept trying to give Suzie little goals to motivate her to just keep moving. First, I did time intervals. Once we were able to run, I suggested that we try to run for one full minute to see what she would do. We made it about 25 seconds before she began to walk. When I realized she didn’t respond to that, I told her when we hit the first set of hills in the first mile that we would just try running down the hill. Who doesn’t like running downhill? But we trudged up one of the first hills, and she stopped before we even got to the top because she got cinders in her shoe. At the top, I tried to get her to run down the hill with me but she completely ignored me and kept walking.

My next strategy was to pick a point and tell her we were going to run to it. As we approached the red covered bridge (the one mile marker), I tried to get her to run to the bridge. She started running and stopped about 20 feet later. My next attempt to get her moving was to challenge her to a “race”. I’d pick a point- like a bench, or a tree – and tell her to race me to that point. Of all of my strategies, that seemed to work a little better. I would make sure that I stayed a good distance behind her so she could “beat” me every single time. Once we stopped running, she would slow down and walk slower than we were going before. I’d periodically challenge her to race me from this point forward, but she wouldn’t always “accept” the challenge and just ignore me. Other times, she would start running and just stop a few feet later for no reason. When the last girl passed us, putting us in last place, I tried to use it as motivation to move. I’d say, “Okay, lets run to that girl and catch her”!

At the end of the race, a few of the volunteers on the course that were walking as the “sag wagon” walked us in. As we approached the finish line, she repeatedly asked where her grandmother was. I told her she would see her grandma as soon as we crossed the finish line. At this point, we hadn’t run in quite awhile. Her teammates and one of her coaches were all there cheering for her, and she looked both confused and overwhelmed – almost like she wanted to cry, but it didn’t seem like tears of joy. She looked more scared than anything, and saw her grandmother about 10 feet in front of the finish line. She stopped running and just walked to her grandma and wouldn’t go any further. I was so confused. Both myself and the other volunteers were trying to pump her up and get her to cross, but she refused. It was like she didn’t understand what was going on, or just really didn’t care.

Eventually, her grandma walked her across the finish line with me. She got her medal, looked at me and smiled and waved and said “Bye!” I walked back to her team’s coaches, where we all met before the event and one of the coaches asked me where Suzie was. I told her the story and how she was with her grandma, and she replied by saying, “Yeah, I wasn’t sure about her. Did you get her to talk?” So it was apparent that they were completely aware that something wasn’t right there.

I think it was great that Suzie participated in the event, but I feel like one of her coaches should have run/walked with her. Not because I didn’t want to, but because she clearly was not comfortable with me regardless of what I did. I tried talking to her about anything and everything. At one point, we could hear the DJ and they were playing “Shut Up and Dance with Me” and I even started singing and dancing as we walked. Nothing. They only started the GOTR program at the school I was a buddy for in March, so I know the girls hadn’t had a lot of training, but I just feel like the coaches should have either been there for this girl or maybe prepared me for what she might be like. They had to know she was a little more introverted and that she would really struggle with the distance – they’ve worked with her twice per week since March! Part of me is glad that I was paired with her, because I am a teacher and I know that kids respond differently to different people so I didn’t take it personally, I was just really concerned.

I’m not really sure what I’m getting at. I just wanted to write about the experience to get it off of my chest. I know several of my other friends were buddies and had GREAT experiences with the girls. I was happy to hear that, and that the program really does help and empower girls to be better and want more for themselves. Just something about my girl made me sad – like she is only 11, and no one is teaching her to have a strong work ethic, to strive to achieve goals, and to want more for herself. No one is teaching her to take care of her body and be healthy, and no one is teaching her what it means to give something your best effort. I want to participate again next year. Maybe I didn’t get through to Suzie yesterday, but maybe someday she will think of our 5K and it will light a fire in her to do something great.

Have you ever participated in a GOTR event? Ever dealt with a situation that just rubbed you the wrong way?

Recipe of the Week: Coconut Milk Baked Chicken

Over the past year, I’ve gotten on board with the whole Paleo lifestyle. I have weird stomach issues. Just by looking at some of the recipes I’ve shared in the past, you can tell I’ve tried an assortment of “lifestyles”: vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, etc. I’ve been “Paleo-ish” for about a year now and it’s changed my life.

I say that loosely because I’m not 100% devoted. I still put back a good four slices of pizza every Friday, and a decent amount of sushi on Saturdays. All joking aside, I didn’t know you could eat a meal without having horrible stomach pains and bloating until I started removing gluten from my diet. You better believe that if I’m having a cheat day, there are most likely gluten laden items on the menu (and my stomach will be in for a world of hurt, but sometimes I just don’t care). The week before a marathon, I’ve found that I still need to have pasta on the menu. I could eat sweet potatoes until I turn orange (and I would, because I love them!), but I still do better with refined carbohydrates as an energy source. It’s the reason I still do a plain bagel before long runs – as long as I give myself enough time to digest, I’m okay. I also buy into the school of thought that everything is good in moderation. If I didn’t have my pizza on Fridays, I’d probably go on a carb rampage and binge on everything in sight after awhile. But that’s just my philosophy. Whatever works for you, is good with me. I pass no judgments on dietary choices. I make some really weird ones myself (uhhh, my bone broth, perhaps?)

I want to blog more about the recipes I try because I cook. A LOT. I love it. Most times, I don’t come up with original recipes, but I never follow recipes the way they’re written. I like to think of recipes as inspiration, and a starting point. My newest favorite that I made is a Coconut Milk Baked Chicken. I made a few tweaks to the original, so here’s my version. You can find the original recipe here.

Coconut Milk Baked Chicken

Ingredients
  • 4 pounds whole bone-in chicken (skin on), cut up (or any combination of bone in chicken parts!)
  • 1/3 cup full fat, canned coconut milk (make sure you whisk it well before measuring, it will separate in the can!)
  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • Zest from one lime
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Thai basil (or whatever basil you can find, or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Method
  1. If time permits, whisk together all ingredients through the black pepper until well combined. Pour over the chicken and marinate up to a whole day ahead. Keep it in the refrigerator!
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Arrange the chicken in an oven proof skillet or dutch oven. I like to break out my cast iron skillet for this.
  4. Bake uncovered 30 minutes, or until chicken is done.
Notes
I bet with summer here you could toss this recipe on the grill! I haven’t tried that yet. However, you can see that it makes a lot of juice/sauce, so if you grill it I’d recommend reserving a little bit of the marinade to brush over the finished product. I serve it with roasted veggies. I would actually recommend cauliflower rice because you could dump some of the drippings on top of it…mmmm. If you aren’t concerned about the gluten thing, you could do some real rice on the side!
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Enjoy! xoxo

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

20131107-131103.jpgI started running in 2007, and one of the reasons I initially began to enjoy it was because I LOVE music. I started running on the treadmill, and the only way I could suffer through it was with a great playlist. Once I started running outside, I still loved having my iPod but it was easier to still get the workout done if I didn’t have it for some reason. I have a pretty eclectic taste in music – really, there’s nothing I won’t listen to. My favorite genre is indie rock, but my workout playlists feature songs from a pretty broad spectrum.

Of my 35 marathons, I’ve only run three without music – my first three Boston Marathons. I’ve also gone through a whole bunch of iPod Nanos – I would destroy them during hot marathons when I would dump water over my head. I smartened up and purchased a shuffle last time, and I’ve never looked back. It’s much cheaper, fits plenty of music, and is super tiny and clips on your clothes – no weird arm tan lines from having something strapped to you arm!

I watched “The Fault in Our Stars” last week (cute, but requires a box of tissues for sure – and I’m not usually a crier) and this jam has been in my head ever since…funny since it’s not a new song and I couldn’t STAND it when I first heard it. But somehow, it made the cut for my workout playlist and I’ve listened to it more than a few times ever since!

What are you working out to this week?

Weekly Update: 5/18 to 5/24

My run mileage has been going up and I had a solid month of increasing everything – swim, bike, run – so I cut back on my swim and bike miles this week. I could feel the bike mileage catching up with me by Thursday, and my right calf started feeling a little weird on Saturday. My coach doesn’t really give me bike workouts – I add those in myself because I find they help increase my endurance and make me stronger when running hills. I hadn’t had an easier week in quite awhile and I know I have about two more weeks of peak run training before the taper begins, so I dropped a bike and a swim workout this week.

Monday2600 Meter Swim + Strength/Core/PT/Stretching
Not much going on here – just an easy swim and some lifting to recover from the weekend workouts.

TuesdayYoga/Core + 11 General Aerobic Run
My morning yoga practice felt great, but I’m going to start naming Tuesdays “Terrible Tuesdays” because my Tuesday run has sucked every single week for the past three weeks. My coach wanted me to do 10 miles with negative splits. Ha. I called my splits that day “survival” splits. It was humid and awful out. Moving on…

Wednesday 10 miles w/Hill Sprints and Tempo + Yoga/Core
Ahhhhh MUCH better! Tuesdays might suck lately, but I feel like a new person on Wednesday. My legs should have sucked even more since I did the longish run the day before. I was supposed to warm up for 2 miles, do 6×2 minute hill sprints with jog recoveries (about 2 miles), followed by 2 miles @ 7:30-7:45, and a 2 mile cooldown. Should have been around 8 miles. What I really did:

  • 2 mile warm up
  • 3 miles of hill sprints. I was just sprinting for 2 minutes and I kept trying to fit in more distance on each sprint. It was fun!
  • Two tempo miles @ 6:59, 7:08 🙂
  • Cooldown, 3 miles
  • Total miles, 10. Oops!

Instead of the terrible hot weather that we’ve been having, it was 64 and breezy. Gorgeous. I made my way down the cinder trail to cool down from the hill sprints and wanted to keep going. I turned off on the road instead of running back on the trail because I knew it was a little longer and would add about a mile. I couldn’t help it!

I started the run with my form drills and ended with my MYRTLs. When I got home, I popped dinner in the oven (had it all ready to go!) and unrolled my yoga mat while it cooked and did about an hour of yoga and foam rolled. Felt amazing to stretch out.

Thursday 7 Mile Recovery Run + 16 mile Ride + Kickball Tournament
I was so confused yesterday when my legs felt decent on my run. I fully expected to have dead legs and just feel like crap in general. Well, that came on Thursday instead. I did an easy paced (though it felt anything but easy!) seven mile run before work. My legs didn’t hurt – nothing concerning – they just felt like I was running through mud! Yup, my peak marathon training weeks are here!

After work, I was playing in a kickball tournament but wasn’t playing until 5:00. I help out with a club at the school, DECA (it’s basically a business/marketing club) and the kids were holding a tournament. The teachers that chaperone the events put together a team (we were called the Old Farts, haha!) and played. Our day is over at 2:30, and most of the other teachers were going home to grab their kids or run errands. I strapped my bike on the back of my car to squeeze in a quick ride before the game. It was cool, cloudy and a bit windy…one of my friends was coming out of the school and nearly fell over laughing at my cliche biking attire:
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We got completely destroyed by the kids playing kickball, but here we are ready to play (totally got photobombed!):
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Kickball!!!!

imageThey picked me to be the first batter because I run, so they expected me to get on base. However, they completely underestimated my lack of team sports skills. Yep, give me a pair of running sneakers, a bike, or a bathing suit and I can hold my own. Tell me to play a sport where I have to score points or goals and I’m screwed. Just as I expected, I suck at kickball! I got to kick twice and didn’t get on base either time – I had these girly kicks that flew in the air that the kids caught. We got destroyed – it was something like 7-1, ha! So fun. Great group of kids!

FridayREST!
I woke up and was supposed to swim, but I stayed in bed and thought I’d go after work. After kickball on Thursday, I ended up going out for dinner with my husband and I got in pretty late. I went to work, and I had to sit and listen to graduation projects all day long. The kids that are in their junior year have to do a project on a variety of topics (career research, job shadowing, cultural studies, etc) and present. The teaching staff are put in teams and listen to a bunch of the projects and pass or fail them. Most of them try to bribe us with food so we pass them (and honestly, it often works). So Fridays are already always my “cheat” day anyway, so that worked well.

By the end of the day, I was really feeling exhausted and completely run down. I realized that it was exactly one month since I actually had a rest day. I took two days off after Boston, and resumed and haven’t had one day off since. I also knew I had a long run on the schedule for super early in the morning. I was scheduled to meet my group at 6:30 am. If I worked out, I’d have less than 12 hours of recovery in between workouts which is not ideal before a long, difficult run.  I couldn’t tell if I was being lazy or if I really did need a rest, so I asked my coach his thoughts. He told me to rest and nap – don’t have to tell me twice! I spent a glorious night on the couch eating pizza and sleeping. It was wonderful and much needed.

Saturday20 mile Run + 21 Mile Ride + Stretching/Core
I got out of bed and everything still felt “eh”. I slept as long as I possibly could, got up and ate my bagel/almond butter, coffee and GU brew. My friends like to meet early, and while I like to run early, 6:30 on a Saturday is rough. On the other hand, I never mind the early mornings at the end of the run, because it’s still early and the hardest part of my weekend is over. So we began our run…and I felt awesome. After the shitty run on Tuesday and the dead legs on Thursday, I needed to feel awesome. We averaged a 7:26 pace for 20 miles, and I was the one pushing the pace! I haven’t felt that good on a long run in months. I probably won’t feel that good on a long run for another few months…but man, it was great.

I did my form drills, MYRTLs, and core when I got home. After some lunch and some chores around my house, I headed out on my bike. It was an absolutely gorgeous day but I wasn’t sure I felt like riding – until I got out. I had intentions on doing my normal 16 mile route but did an extra loop to make it a little longer! I ended up with 21 miles. My pace was pretty slow because I was just kind of cruising and spinning my legs out. My right calf felt a little weird on my bike so I hit up my foam roller when I got home.

Sunday9 Mile Recovery Run + Stretching/Core
I headed back up to the Trexler Game Preserve for another Sunday trail run! I made a wrong turn and added a little distance, but I was surprised how my legs actually felt decent at all. I ran with Jo, one of the girls that runs cross country and track at the school where I teach. She’s a junior and a badass runner – was running 5Ks in the 18s by the end of the cross country season, and just finished up with track. I was so excited to show her the game preserve because I feel like she’s going to be into trail running someday. Just as I thought, she loved it there. We had a great run. I skipped my long bike and did some stretching, foam rolling and core. My right calf still felt tweaky when I ran. Not bad, just a pinchy feeling. I strained my calf last summer so I know what a calf strain feels like and this doesn’t feel like that. I just know it was aggravated when I biked on Saturday, so I thought I should cool it with the bike miles. It was a shame because it was a really beautiful day outside. So to enjoy the weather, I stretched and foam rolled poolside, and since the water was freezing I soaked my legs in it!

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We have an old farmhouse that was built in 1890, complete with our own barn. The whole ordeal (barn, house, etc) needs work and we’ve been restoring it for the past three years. We haven’t started any work on the barn since we’ve been focusing on the house, but it makes a great backdrop for the pool!

Totals
Swim: 2600 meters ♥ Bike:  36 miles ♥  Run: 57 miles

It was a good week volume wise, and just an okay week based on how I felt. I’m concerned about my calf, but I am going to stay positive and keep just keep my eye on it. Two more tough weeks, then TAPER TIME!

How was your week/weekend? Any fun training runs or races?

Friday Five: 5 Ashtanga Yoga Poses for Runners

Since I’ve been back on my yoga mat recently, I’ve been feeling pretty good. I’m being very cautious and making sure I don’t overdo it like I once did. Being too flexible can be a bad thing for a runner looking to see an improvement in speed. We absolutely need to stretch and need some degree of flexibility, but being too flexible could cost you seconds, even minutes. It’s all about balance and priorities. I’m not saying you can’t have a sick yoga practice and be a runner, that’s totally fine. Once I dropped my daily practice, I also dropped about 25 minutes off of my marathon time. However, I also started having some injuries that I never, ever had with a daily practice. I never had muscular/fascial issues, and I started getting muscle strains (hamstring, calf), plantar fasciitis, and for the coup de grace – Achilles tendonitis. It’s obvious that yoga, to some degree, is extremely important for me and I needed to find some balance. So since my goal is to go sub-3 in a marathon, it means laying off the yoga and taking it down several notches. Like there was a time that being able to do this was a totally normal thing for me and happened on a daily basis:

imageSorry for the blurry picture – it actually came from a video that someone took of me once! My leg definitely doesn’t go there anymore, by the way. Anyway, that’s the world of Ashtanga Yoga, and the posture above (called durvasana) comes from the third series (also called Advanced A). These days, my practice doesn’t go further than primary series, and occasionally some second series because I like to do back bends (that’s a post for a different day). Since I’ve been dabbling in the Ashtanga world again, I’m realizing how many postures really can be beneficial to runners – particularly from the standing sequence. As runners, there are the traditional stretches that we all gravitate to – like triangle pose (trikonasana, one of my favorites), or pigeon pose. These are poses we all know (to some degree) and love. But there are so many postures out there that can really benefit your running. The next time you unroll your yoga mat to stretch, give these a try and see how they feel!

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

imageEveryone knows downward facing dog – that’s an awesome stretch for the calves, hamstrings, Achilles, low back, etc. The next time you are post run and find yourself hanging out in down dog, lower down to the floor and try this counter stretch out. The only body parts in contact with the floor are the hands and tops of the feet, but you could drop your legs onto the mat if it’s too much. Drop the shoulders down the back and be conscious not to hunch the shoulders up by the ears. You also don’t need to drop the head back so far – that’s just how my teacher made us do things. Looking straight ahead is totally fine. Some of the benefits from this pose include:

  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens the spine, arms, wrists, and glutes
  • Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen
  • Stimulates abdominal organs

Parsvakonasana A & B (Extended Side Angle)

Parsvakonasana A
Parsvakonasana A

Parvakonasana A: If you do this pose correctly it will be an amazing hip opener and stretch the side of your body out. Next time you are doing triangle pose post run, drop into a lunge (don’t let the knee go over the ankle!) and reach overhead. Focus on turning your hips forward rather than squaring them over the thigh and you will feel an incredible hip stretch. If you hand doesn’t reach the floor, no worries: just bend at the elbow and rest it on the top of your thigh.

Parvakonasana B: I like to do a modification of this pose. Drop the knee down (don’t hyper-extend here: keep the knee and ankle lined up!), square your chest over the thigh, and sink into the hips for a deep hip stretch. On your exhale, rotate so that the outside of your arm connects with the outside of the thigh. You don’t have to put your hands in prayer, even the smallest twist will be beneficial and therapeutic. The full expression of the posture keeps the back knee off the floor, but I find that dropping the knee and sinking into the hips is a better stretch for my hips and gets me deeper into the twist.

Prasarita Padottanasana, A-D (Wide-Legged Forward Fold)

Most runners do forward folds to stretch the hamstrings, but playing around with your hand positioning in a wide legged forward fold can change the effect. If you just came in from a long run, chances are more than just your legs are sore. Your neck, shoulders and back might be sore from maintaining an upright position. From parsvakonasana, you could stand up and make your feet parallel and begin this sequence. It’s a set of four forward folds, and you can do all four or just do one or two. I like doing all four. It’s like the first one (A) is just releasing the hamstrings and relaxing. The second one (B) is a deeper hamstring stretch because there’s less support. The third (C) is my favorite, because it opens the chest and shoulders and finally the last one (D) is the deepest of them all. I come up to standing after each fold and readjust before going into the next one.

When completing this posture, be sure to keep weight in the balls of the feet. Some of the benefits from the pose:

  • Strengthens and stretches the inner and back legs and the spine
  • Tones the abdominal organs
  • Relieves mild backache

Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

imageI used to really hate this pose. I don’t really know why. In Ashtanga, you are supposed to hold each posture for five breaths, but I would always count really quickly when it came to this one. When I hurt my Achilles, I can’t remember who mentioned to me about Utkatasana being a really good stretch for it. I never thought of this posture as a stretch, I thought of it more as a strengthening posture. Oddly enough, once I looked at it a little differently, I started to enjoy it. You don’t have to reach your arms up over your head – you could simply extend them out in front of you of reaching is too much on your shoulders.

  • Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine
  • Stretches shoulders and chest, calves
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart
  • Reduces flat feet

Uthita Hasta Padangustasana (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose)

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Another posture that used to hate has recently become a favorite. I get a really good stretch down the back of one leg while working on my leg and ankle strength on the opposite side. If you can’t reach your toe, don’t worry – just bend at the knee and hold the outside of the knee gently. The posture actually has three parts: the first is holding the leg out in front of you, and then you open up the hips by rotating the leg out to the side. Once you’ve held each for about five breaths, you bring the leg back to center release the toe (or knee) and hold here – now you are working your core.

  • Strengthens the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the backs of the legs
  • Improves sense of balance

There are tons of posture out there, and these are just from the standing sequence of the Ashtanga yoga syllabus. Next time you are post run and looking for some new ways to stretch, try one or two of these!

Do you stretch or practice yoga post run? What are some of your go-to stretches/yoga postures?

Recipe: Avocado Salsa!

Summer grilling is in full effect, and on Tuesday I made a super simple chicken dish with some grilled pineapple and avocado salsa. I’ve been all over avocado salsa lately – I personally feel like it’s a glorified guacamole but whatever. It’s been showing up frequently in some of my recent Pinterest conquests, but I made up my own recipe because I never really follow recipes (unless I’m baking. I’m not as confident with baking). I’ve used my “salsa” on salmon, chicken, and last night topped my lettuce wrapped burger with it. I do the Paleo thing, so I love these fun toppings/sides to make my food more flavorful.

I had an absolutely horrendous run last night (it was a total shit show from start to finish) and the last thing I felt like doing was cooking – so I fired up the grill for burgers, and the avocado salsa leftover from Tuesday in my fridge was clutch. Here’s my personal take on it:

Avocado Salsa

  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 of a red onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 tomato, diced

It’s easy: prepare the ingredients from the avocado all the way through the cilantro (and the tomato, if using), toss them in a bowl and give it a quick mix. Grab your seasonings and season to taste. You could omit the cumin and/or the cayenne if you aren’t into that. I love those flavors so I do a generous sprinkle of cumin, and a pinch of cayenne for a kick. Mix together gently. I haven’t actually made it with the tomato but I’ve done a guacamole variation with some diced fresh tomatoes and it’s pretty fantastic, so if I had more tomatoes on hand I would have totally thrown one in.

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That was from my easy dinner on Tuesday…wish I took a picture of it on my burger last night but I was inhaling it before I could even think to do that!

Weekly Update: 5/11 to 5/17

“Running gave me a whole new life. I can’t even remember my past—it’s like it wasn’t me. I have a good life now, and it’s all because I run.” – Bill O’Shields

I might have overdone it with the pictures…but it was such a gorgeous week!

Monday2600 Meter Swim + Strength/Core/PT/Stretching
Besides feeling like a truck hit me from the weekend run and bike miles, it was pretty uneventful! Took me awhile to warm up in the pool and I felt weak when I was lifting. I stretched and foam rolled at home later that night.

TuesdayYoga + 10 General Aerobic Run
I felt pretty stiff when I hit my yoga mat, but put in a solid hour of yoga before work, including core work. It felt great to start the day with low impact activity. After work, it was 87 degrees and SUPER windy. It was such a pretty day, even though the weather was not ideal:

imageI was supposed to do 8 miles between 7:45-8 minute pace, but I ended up doing 10 at 7:58. Not as fast as I’d hoped – I wanted to be closer to that 7:45. Even though I couldn’t pick it up, my splits were very consistent and I didn’t feel like I was being tortured, so I added distance to compensate for the lack of speed. There was so much pollen in the air that my throat felt like I swallowed sand, and my whole body was coated in it by the time I finished. I started the run with form drills, did MYRTLs after, and spent time foam rolling and stretching while watching TV later that night.

WednesdayTrack Workout (3 x 3200 @ Goal Marathon Pace) + Yoga

imageNo, I didn’t do hurdles 🙂 I would eat sh*t if I tried those.  I did some core work in the morning and headed to the track at Parkland High School after work. I reeeaaaalllly dragged my feet in getting started. I don’t do 3200s that often (or ever, really), and I hadn’t done a single track workout since late December. It was right after Christmas, and right around the time my Achilles freaked out on me. I wasn’t trying to hit 5K pace and I know I’ve done some speed since then, but I was scared. I didn’t want to set myself back with my Achilles or feel like crap in general. My goal marathon pace is 7:00/mile. My workout was to warm up for a mile, do 3×2 miles at 7:00 pace with two minute jog recoveries, and cool down for a mile. Here’s how the workout really went:

  • Warmup: 1 Mile @ 8:34 (Easy Means Easy!)
  • 3200 #1: 6:54, 6:52
  • Recovery: .32 miles @ 8:37
  • 3200 #2: 6:48, 6:41
  • Recovery: .31 miles @ 8:16
  • 3200 #3: 6:54, 6:43
  • Recovery: .38 miles @ 8:43
  • Cooldown: 1 mile @ 9:09
  • Overall Pace: 7:27

I. Was. STOKED. I had so many positives that came from this run, and only one negative. The positives: I negative split each 3200 (I was trying to). My first one was my slowest one, but usually my last one is my slowest one because I burn myself out by going too hard. It was my first track workout in forever and I felt like I nailed it. I felt good, and my legs felt fresh. My achilles didn’t ache during (a little after, but totally normal). My only negative was that I wanted my last repeat to be my fastest. I was pretty happy that my final mile was the second fastest of the entire workout, though.

I left and did a short yoga practice – about 40 minutes. Not the full hour I’d planned on, but I felt good after the track workout and I was glad to stretch it all out. I made sure to foam roll and ice my Achilles while watching TV later that night – being consistent seems to really be making a difference.

Thursday 5 Mile Recovery Run + 25 Mile Ride
It was a true spring morning and I headed out with the intention of running four easy miles. I expected to feel terrible from the speed workout but my legs felt decent. I still kept the pace nice and easy, averaging 8:23 (right in my recovery zone) but I ended up running five miles. It was 42 degrees and the sun was coming up! After work, the weather was still pretty incredible so I headed out for a nice ride and found some great new roads while exploring:

imageI came home and did MYRTLs, core, stretched and foam rolled. It was a great day!

Friday2700 meter Swim  + Strength/Core/PT/Stretching
I had zero desire to swim when I woke up and almost skipped it. But I told myself if I went and started and still felt badly after the first set, I’d listen to my body and hit the hot tub or the sauna. I made it through the warm-up and the first set, so I kept going and felt better than I thought. After work, the last thing I wanted to do was go back to the gym, but I went and busted out my strength/core/PT in record time. I just really wasn’t feeling it on Friday.

Saturday18 mile Run + 18 Mile Ride + Stretching/Core
I got up early, ate my bagel and almond butter, packed my gear and headed out. My plan was to run a loop near the trail that I often run on, but to stick mainly to roads to get a good dose of hills. I’d planned to run parts of the trail to switch up the surface and give my Achilles a rest. My route ended up being absolutely perfect. It was overcast, humid, and drizzled every so often (which felt great). I started easy- actually, I was running easy for the first eight miles, averaging 7:45-8s (but closer to the 8 minute range for most). Once I hit the trail for a stretch around mile nine, I decided to get my sh*t together and pick up the pace. I used a strategy that comes from my girl Ashley over at PrettyPinkLaces (check her out – badass Ironman/triathlete/runner!): at the beginning of a mile, she picks up the pace for one minute. I like this strategy because when you relax and kick back, you have higher turnover from your pickup and hold a stronger pace. It’s like a glorified fartlek. I decided I’d try it for the middle portion of my run and see how it went. Well, I averaged well under 7:30 for the remainder of my run, with the exception of one or two miles in there where I hit some pretty nasty hills! Overall pace, 7:39. Success!

I met up with my buddy/neighbor, the one and only Bart Yasso and Bill (keep reading for more about him) for coffee at Starbucks. I spent time chatting and recovering before I hopped on my bike and did a nice recovery ride. It was just over an hour and I covered 18.39 miles. Since I didn’t have to start from my house, I didn’t have to climb the HUGE mountain that I live on the other side of to get to the area where I enjoy riding. By this point, the sun was shining and it was absolutely perfect out:

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I waited until after my run to do form drills, but I still did them. I wanted to save energy but I didn’t want to skip them. I did the drills, MYRTLs, core, stretching and foam rolling once I finally got home.

Sunday8 Mile Recovery Run + 51 Mile Ride + Stretching/Core
I felt surprisingly good when I woke up on Sunday and got the bright idea to head to Trexler Game Preserve to run the Border Trail as my recovery run. I was inspired by Jen Chooses Joy, who has been KILLING it on the trails lately! The elevation kind of makes the word “recovery” obsolete:

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However, the pace was sloooowwwww because much to my surprise, my husband decided to join me! Here we are at the creek crossing – you have to go through the water to stay on the trail:

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I don’t know the trail at the game preserve well but I want to start going there more often. It’s got some sick climbs and uneven terrain so when he got wind of where I was going, I think he offered to come out of concern. But I didn’t care. However, dude hasn’t run since ummmm…2009? And he goes and busts out 8.5 miles with 1,500 feet of elevation gain? Way to just jump back into it. He doesn’t work out – he has an extremely physical job, but he doesn’t have any sort of regular exercise regimen. Not one crunch, push up, etc. I wish I could say I hate him…but he’s pretty great 🙂 I’m pretty sure it took me almost an hour longer with him tagging along, but I didn’t care. He can come every week if he wants to. Here are some more shots from the creek:
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And from the mild sections of the trail:

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After our run, I would have been good with calling it a day but I had planned a long ride for the afternoon. My coach didn’t give me bike rides for the weekend but I truly enjoy being outside so I add them in. Plus, I’ve been feeling REALLY strong after a few weeks of ramping up my bike miles. Emily and I hit the road with a route in mind but I was considering cutting it short if my legs felt fatigued. Once we got moving, I felt great. I’d come up with a fun new route that had a whole bunch of new roads to explore. We did about another 3,000 feet of climbing. The loop we did looks pretty cool on a map:

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Since the morning run took longer than expected and I hung around with Emily for a bit after the ride, I bailed on everything else: my form drills, MYRTLs, core, etc. I did foam roll and ice my Achilles, though. I don’t feel bad about it – it was one missed day of those, and I’ve been diligent for the past three weeks.

Totals
Swim: 5300 meters ♥ Bike:  89 miles ♥  Run: 50 miles

Other fun events from the week…on Friday night, my friend Bill was in town. He’s actually a friend of Bart Yasso’s that I met when we all traveled to a the Marshall Marathon together. He was featured in the November 2011 issue of Runner’s World. They did a story about how running changed his life. He was incarcerated for 14 years and began running at 36 years old, and it saved his life. He went from being a several pack per day smoker to running 70 miles per week on a half mile “track” in prison. He’s truly an amazing person with an incredible story. He reached out to Bart when he was in prison to tell him his story, and they’ve been friends ever since. In the fall, he qualified for Boston at a race down south – ran something like a 3:11! When I ran a marathon in Columbia, SC last year, he met up with us and ran it:

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Bil on the left, Mark A. in the middle, and me!

He’s from South Carolina, and he came up this weekend and stayed with Bart to run the Pocono Run for the Red Marathon on Sunday. To get him all carbed up and ready for the race, Bart had a little pizza party for him with few of us that know Bill. Bart lives five minutes from my house. It was such a fun night! Bart is pretty into biking these days and was showing us his amazing bike collection…and his dusty Zipp wheels:

imageYup, those are COBWEBs collecting on those amazing wheels! What?! I’ll take them off of his hands and clean them up any day!!

Oh yeah – the weather was hot,humid, and extremely sunny on Sunday. Our buddy Bill pulled a 3:17 in the marathon! I heard there were a TON of DNFs at the race due to conditions, and he goes and kills it anyway. Incredible!

Have you ever gone trail running? Anyone else feel like becoming a runner has changed your life and had a positive impact?