Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Who doesn't love puppies!

So I met this cutie this week
And of course instantly fell in love. She looks eeriely like Boomer at that age. The same fearless cheeky attitude too. 

Of course she is too little to go running but Boomer loves it. It was just about cool enough to bring him along tonight for 3 miles. We did a nice easy pace, around 10 minute miles, everything felt good, yay so far! As soon as we got back in the house Boomer went to every AC vent and lay in front of them in turn, a little trick he has learnt to cool off. Unfortunately for him the house wasn't warm enough for the AC to be running so he had to make do with a nice ice cube..more playing than cooling off and some nice fridge chilled water....only the best for young sir!! He is a little tired now!
For myself I had a glass of my latest Wholefoods find, it is on special right now, delicious not as tart as I expected, kinda like a non-alcoholic mojito.
Why does my desk look like this...
What a disaster zone. Grant writing is slow work. Luckily I'm not expected to do as much as I thought, just pull together the biology part, which is more my area of expertise, than my bosses. Let's hope I do a good job.
The house looks much the same but sometimes things gotta get dirty before they get clean. This is our big spring clean and declutter. Outside looks perfect..new flowers, lawns mowed and my parents room is ready. Now if only the rest of the house would magically clean itself.

Ok one more puppy picture

Sunday, 18 May 2014


So I'll be honest this week has been a bit of a rubbish one as far as running goes. My IT band really hurt on Tuesday when I ran and since then it's been sore. 
Life circumstances, like my job also got in the way. I planned to take Wednesday off to let my knee recover, so that was ok. 
Thursday I had to drive to Spartanburg, SC for a conference. That made for 3 hours of driving that day so between that and the horrendous thunderstorms that day I didn't run. In good news I nabbed some good free stuff at the conference.
A screen cleaner sticker. You pull it off clean your screen and it sticks back on.
Another protein shaker...can never have to many.

Friday..I'll be honest I went to a party at a friends house and had a few drinks.... never again! Friday and Saturday..gone!

Today has been a load of prep for my parents coming to stay. I love them dearly but it might be best that they only visit once a year. I'm not sure I could keep the house this clean all the time!

I can feel my running fitness slipping away and another race is around the corner but there isn't too much I can do. My lower back is really tight and a little sore which = sore IT band when I run. I bought myself one of these ..
In the hopes that better posture at my desk, which I've been spending lots of time at lately, will help.

I have until Friday to get some miles in before my parents get here, once they arrive I'll run while I can but quality time with the family will be my priority then. A year and a bit is a long time to not see them so I have to make the most of it.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Hot, hot, hot!!

5 miles last night.
 It's like it became summer overnight. It was 30C or 87F when I ran last night. I made it through one half of the run in daylight with prescription sunglasses and then had to take them off on the way back. It was a bit of an argument, whether I was blinder with or without them, for once with them was worst!

My favourite ice tray ever, they pop right out!
Ready for post run.
My legs felt pretty fresh after a week off and you can tell that by the fact that I ran an extra mile just to make it to a water fountain. They didn't feel too like that at the end of the run; my ever persistant left IT band problem is still there. Well that and the fact that I probably lost a few pounds in sweat. I feel like this Summer in SC is going to be horrifically hot, if most days are in the 90s in May. I was told that last summer was "milder". I might die!!

I ran thinking about the heat which got me thinking about other things like snakes. I seen so many last summer, none venomous, but I still hate them. Lo and behold I managed to spot one, sans glasses, the biggest m&@$!&$@&$r I've seen yet. I stopped and waited for it to cross the path. I'm sure it was some variety of water snake. Now the heats kicked in I think it's back to the streets for me (not between a canal and river), less snakes and I need to get some hill work anyhow.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Gym bunny, moi, NO!

I felt a bit like this guy at the gym today.

 I finally made it to the gym for a strength workout. I went to the university gym, nothing fancy. I felt inexplicably out of place.
 Too shy to do a whole load of free weights but not familiar enough with all the other equipment to be able to move from machine to machine. You would think that at 30 years old I'd be over the whole shy/awkward thing but I guess it just hits me every now and then. Dedicated strength workout number 1 done, kinda!
Another zillion and I might actually feel comfortable around all these super ripped people.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Getting Back on Track

This week has been blissful. After 5 solid months of training and racing I took an entire week off. I didn't run once.
As I mentioned things have slid a little in the last month, in terms of training and diet and this week was my reset. I needed it. I've had niggles from tight muscles, I managed to completely skip a period last month and I was just exhausted.

Lots of rest stretching and some yoga have been just what the doctor ordered. You know when I'm not exhausted I'm a pretty happy person, I giggled my way through yoga on Friday feeling very content and stupidly happy for no particular reason!!

Because I missed a period, I was worried that I was pushing myself too much and not eating enough. I don't think that's the case, I think it was my regular old PCOS being a meanie but I've ate more in the last two months to be sure. More than I probably should. I've gained 5lbs :(  
No big deal tho, this is the point where my old tracking habits need to kick back in.

Next week is my fresh start. Back to a full training schelude, if I can manage the mileage without hurting too bad and back to healthier eating. My plan is to track my input and output of calories and manage that enough to lost a1lb a week before my Mom appears in two weeks with a ridiculous amount of goodies. So running a good bit and gasp I think I'm finally going to bite the bullet and start hitting the weights twice a week in the gym and of course my usual yoga sessions.

I'm going to need it all, my boss very generously is allowing me to apply as a co- investigator on a grant with him. The catch is that it's due in two weeks and I've never written one. Running will be much needed stress relief.

Scenes From Beautiful North Carolina

A few non-race pictures from last weekend.

Crabtree Falls

Thursday, 8 May 2014

My crazy year of racing!

So I spent a substantial amount of time at the of the beginning of this year looking for races to run, since I feel like I always miss out on the cool ones. I'm sure I've mentioned I get really nervous for races, to the point where I'm beginning to think it's the reason I get injured when I race. I don't run much faster or further but mention a race and something's gonna hurt. 
Well this year will beat that right out of me! I came up with a huge list and decided that there are too many races I'd like to run so I narrowed it down to the lucky number 13. Twelve halfs and a marathon. Yes this is the reason for my back to back half marathon weekends.

Blue=done,lilac=ruled out due to distance or expense. Red/orange=registered for or will be

I've had to do a good few races in the last couple of months to a) make up for my unready self in January and Feburary and b) leave some time to up training for a marathon in December. I might be crazy but I'm not stupid, as I mentioned before I know I can't "race" all of these but I'll use a few to try PR. 

I've also had my heart checked out. A lot of cases of people dropping dead after marathons and halfs , especially younger people, is due to heart defects that have always been there; in some older runners it's due to congestive heart failure but I don't think I fit in the older category quite yet. When getting a medical for a job a few years ago, the doctor heard a slight heart murmer and I went and got an echo cardiogram. I've seen my heart (ok a sonagram type image) and I know it's functioning perfectly (that and the cardiologist told me so).
  So my advise, always get checked out, you might think your ok but you never know what might happen when you stress your body physically.

I would also say don't think you'll train and run the same as if you were doing one or two races a year. My diet, training and wallet have all taken a hit and I'm not even half way there. So far I've had to swallow my pride a few times and be happy to finish. Maybe that's good for me, but it still sucks seeing the minutes tick by when you know you could do better.

On the other hand you get to travel to cool places, when you might otherwise stay on your sofa, and of course you get some nice race bling. Most of all this keeps me running. Even if it's not a 100% training effort between races (that are close together) it's better than a 0% effort!

This week I'm taking some down time to recover from the last few crazy months before I head into another 3 weeks of training for the next race! please don't judge my crazy!!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Adventures with Strawberries

On the way back from Todd NC we stopped off at a farm and picked up a gallon of strawberries. That's a whole lot of strawberries. I've been trying to figure out what to do with them. Two things I've tried and really liked.

1) Strawberry-Balsamic Salad Dressing
     Whizz up 8-10 big strawberries in a food processor with 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and the juice from half a lemon. A healthy and tasty alternative to oily dressings.

2) Strawberry Jam
Even though it seems like it should only take an hour..be prepared to invest more time.

Wash, dry and heat jam jars (I heated mine at a low temp in the oven) 

Put a plate in the fridge to cool

4lbs of strawberries washed and deleaved---Mash/blend for 30 seconds in a food processor

Add the strawberries and the juice of 2 lemons to a large pot and simmer for 15 mins.

Meanwhile heat 4lbs of sugar, in a pan or pot, at a low temp in the oven (250F), if it smells or looks like it's browning take it out.

Add the heated sugar to the strawberry mix and boil for approx 20 minutes

To test if it'll set add a tsp of the hot jam to the cold plate, if it sets after 30 secs it's ready, if not continue to boil and test every few minutes.

Add to the jars (which have been snug in the oven the whole time)

I got jars that can be used for canning. So I cleaned the jar rims and added the tops keeping the rings loosely tight.

I put a plate (upside down) in the bottom of a large pot and filled with boiling water..high enough to cover the standing jars. There are fancy canners for this process but I don't have one. Boil for ten minutes and then allow to stand in the water for a further 5 minutes after the heat is switched off. This creates a good seal for long term storage. Allow to cool and hope it sets.

If you've managed not to burn yourself declare the whole jam making process a victory and Enjoy!!!

Monday, 5 May 2014

New River Half Marathon, Todd NC

I've been drowning in a sea of numbers at work the last couple of weeks so I haven't had a chance to update in a while. Good for my work not so good for my blog :)

This weekend gone past I ran the New River Half Marathon in Todd NC.

Man it was tough. I can summarise in a few points:
I was very tired from last weeks race.
Hills, I walked up every single one and shamelessly took advantage of the downhill.
Beautiful, probably the most scenic course I've ever ran.

Ok for those of you who want the full details....

The race is in a teeny tiny town called Todd in NC, about 3.5 hours from home. The nearest 'big' town is Boone. That meant either driving almost an hour to the race start at 5 in the morning or camping. Camping it was. We stayed in Blue Bear Mountain Campground. A big open campground in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful and blessedly quiet after camping at Myrtle Beach. It was really cold on Friday night, almost freezing, and really windy as we were perched on the top of a hill. Even the puppy cuddled in under the blankets. I slept wearing most of the clothes that I brought.

That made changing into my race outfit the next morning fun. I underestimated how cold it would be and packed 3/4 length tights, I would have been better off with full winter ones. Luckily I also brought my running jacket with me, thinking I'd wear it to the race start, but ended up wearing it for the entire run. Note to self..until its fully the summer the mountains are a lot cooler. Another change from Myrtle Beach where I ran in shorts and a vest top.

The race didn't start until 7.45, so I got up at 5.30 am and was leaving the campgrounds by 6, as I had to do my packet pickup that morning. All went smoothly and the race staging area was well set up, beside a restaurant. The race organisers had lots of porta-potties and even two little changing rooms set out.

 Besides the T-shirt the race packet had a lot of flyers and some discounts with local restaurants. BTW if you ever want to run this race the women's t-shirts run a little small. I usually get a medium just in case, even though I can usually buy a small/XS is most stores, and even the medium is a close fit.

Until the race started we stuck to heating ourselves inside the car. First to start were the marathoners, a little behind schedule and then the half marathoners...we started even later. Lots of standing around at the start, brrrr! But in fairness it was to let some traffic through as we were on tiny country roads and the traffic had to pass or turn around and drive miles out of their way.

We got going and the field spread out fast. These people weren't joking around. By the time I got to the first mile marker I was a lot warmer, thank goodness. There were aid stations every two miles and porta-potties randomly throughout the course.
 So besides the cold I underestimated a bunch of stuff. Like how tired I was going to be after last week. How doing all your training and racing at sea-level doesn't really help race performance in the mountains at almost 3,000 ft at the lowest point. Finally, how frickin big some of those hills were.
Of course I didn't check this out beforehand!

I wheezed my way though the first couple of miles only to hit some pretty serious hills at the 1.5 mile point. They just kept going up and up as switchbacks. Overall I felt like I ran more downhill/flats than anything but when the hills hit they were impressive, I got flashbacks to running the marathon in Asheville. Those little bumps in the middle were a loop included especially for the half marathoners, that was fun and then finally the last big one at 8.5 miles. Although it looks easier than the first one it was a lot worst..I really didn't run any of it, maybe I was just done at that stage.

Don't get me wrong I loved this race. I'm absolutely in love with North Carolina, if I could live in the South West of the state I would, its just that beautiful. Walking during this race was no chore, I took my time and soaked up some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, I was just under-prepared but for once that was a plus. On the downhills I ran as fast as my scaredy cat self would let me. I knew I'd pay for it later but I had to make up time somewhere. That made for a lot of passing and being passed by the same runners, who were running those hills like its their job!!
Again I picked up a running buddy for the last half a mile, we just kept coaching each other to the end, a first timer dong awesome!! I ate her dust at the finish but I was grateful because at that point my left knee was so sore I was nauseous and she kept me running a lot more than I would have for the last bit of the race.

After the finish I got a pretty cool wooden medal. There was plenty of food around so I met up with Martina and Boomer to snag some, although I missed the cookies it all tasted pretty darn good, as I'd been hungry all through the race (maybe I didn't eat enough the day before). There was a band playing and awards ceremonies were ongoing, but since I wasn't even close to placing in my age group we left after a little while.

 Out of all the races I've run so far this year, this is the one I'd run again. I'd love to come back with a less crazy racing schedule (more on that later this week) and more hill training and see what I could do. It was a challenging but not overwhelming course and I'm sure with any amount of hill training and proper rest I'd find those hills no problem, so don't let my little ol' blog put you off the race!
New River Marathon, Todd, NC 2:16:47 (Chip Time).

Once again my Garmin 220 was an epic fail (no gps despite an initial gps lock)...Garmin and I shall be having words. I didn't spot a lot of the mile markers so my pacing was pretty wild......
Miles 1-3 30.02, mile 4 9.24, mile 5 9.49, mile 6+7 20.39, mile 8 10.10, mile 9+10 22.29, mile 11 10.33, mile 12 11.31, mile 13 10.54, 0.1 1.11

Some of my slowest running in a long while :( but I finished!!! My legs are trashed after this race. My IT band is still a little sore and my quads are paying me back for the downhills. Now my races stretch out a bit more, so I want to use the next few weeks to get back into a bit of a groove with my eating, training and get my IT band issues under control. Basically time to regroup before I race anymore and to give myself a chance to heat acclimatise again before summer training kicks in.