Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Normal Service is Resumed

I've finally shook off my running funk. Last time I posted (Saturday) I really just wasn't happy with all things running. I took Sunday off, yes that did involve skipping an 8 mile run, oops.
It was what I needed though. I went out for a 5 mile run this morning. It was cooler (70F) than it has been in a while and it felt great. I still have one or two spots that could use work with the foam roller but the wooden legs are gone and my foot didn't hurt at all (in fact I forgot all about it). Who could be peed off with a cute stretching buddy anyhow.
I guess sometimes I just need to let things go a little and if I need an extra day off to rest or just clear my head then so be it. Sorry for being a negative Nancy!!

Mud Bog at The South Carolina Peach Festival

An interesting cultural experience on Sunday at the South Carolina Peach Festival in Gaffney, SC. Cars do a timed run through a mud filled trench. I'm sure it would catch on in Ireland, lots of rain means lots of mud, and we're pretty into our car racing. 
No offence meant but this was Country (I'm from the middle of nowhere)....a totally different feel to hanging out in Columbia. It was really hot but fun. I'm sure if I wasn't driving and had time to hang out for longer I would have got into the spirit of things.
Of course Boomer loves being out in public

Peachoid Water tower, Gaffney Sc
Peaches..it was a peach festival after all

Saturday, 26 July 2014

One long week

This week has crawled by in work and running. It's been a hard recovery from The Scream Half Marathon. I've approached it a little differently though. 
I started the week feeling like I'd been beaten up and worried about carrying injuries from the race. Normally I'd just take most of the week off after a race to recover but with marathon training lurking I wanted to keep my mileage at a respectable level and try for a more active recovery.

Sunday..normal long run day, was the day after the race and then Monday was a rest day. I dropped the mileage a bit more than I'd planned, by three miles over the week so far, but the runs were all completed. I didn't do any real speed work but as the week has gone on and soreness has receded I've been able to run closer to my normal pace and throw in a couple of bursts of speed to test my legs. After four days I finally felt like I could foam roll without crying and that has helped a lot. 

Right now I'm at around an 7 out of 10 on the ok scale. I still have slightly heavy legs, no IT band or hip pain/ tightness and a little worried about some pain in the arch of my left foot. I'll continue stretching a lot, rolling and hoping that if I don't push too hard my legs will come back to life and my foot will heal.

I'm a bit disappointed that my week hasn't been a better one running wise. For a race that I didn't really push myself for I thought I'd recover better. I think I've run solid times (for me) this year and racing has been great to make me run consistently, giving me a great marathon base. It's just a bit hard to see the improvement right now. Unless I'm feeling super duper awesome, any halfs I have left to run this year are training runs/sight seeing adventures, as marathon training starts in two weeks.

Part of me feels it was a mistake to have signed up for a marathon (technically two but I'm not counting Disney), because I love the half distance so much and maybe I should just concentrate on that. Besides Disney I've decided on no marathons next year and much less halfs. I've picked a few in the Spring, because they are races I really want to do but I've left the entire summer open to work more on speed and strength and one in fall...which I might set as my A race for the year.
 I think this is the stage, when planning for the next couple of years of running, that I try figure out if I really want to do the 'nose to the grindstone' kind of work I'm going to need to do to get much faster and if I'm constantly getting little niggly injuries will my body be able? Or do I want to run lots of races be happy with my times as they are and be accused of running junk miles.

 I didn't mean to ramble but I'm feeling pretty fed up right now, I love to run but sometimes I think about it way too much for someone who is nowhere in the league of actual competitors. Like the type A I am, I'd love to be as good as I possibly can but I know from reading some very inspiring bloggers that it takes a serious commitment and very long training hours.

I wonder when the effort put forth stops resulting in equal returns in improvement and if I'm there?

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Scream Half Marathon

Last weekend was The Scream Half Marathon starting in Jonas Ridge, NC. To put it simply this race kicked my ass.

The race is billed as 13.1 miles of pure hill, it was, mostly, and almost all of it downhill as well. I knew downhill running would be hard on my body afterwards but I had no idea that I would feel so beat up while running. I thought oh nice an easy PR. I didn't....not even close!!!

After multiple fiascos with Days Inn, which ultimately ended up with them cancelling our room on the day we were due to arrive, we ended up staying at the Brown Mountain Beach Resort. This is where the shuttles to/from the race called home base and the race after party was held there. They had beautiful cabins but we are cheap and went with the tent camping option. $20 for two people (& one cute dog) for two nights you can't beat that, saving us a total of $150 compare to the stupid hotel. I originally wanted to stay there but I didn't explain that I was running and they didn't mention that the reason they were not allowing camping that weekend is because they closed the grounds to everyone but runners. Martina called to double check they weren't taking anyone and since she isn't a weirdo on the phone got it all sorted out. They were super laid back and our tent was right along the river, in the end all was right!

It was a lot cooler in the mountains but not cold, so that made for good camping conditions but then it also rained most of the time..so a mixed bag weather wise. I got up at 5:30am Saturday morning and once ready had the arduous journey of oh around 50 feet to get on a bus. School buses and mountains don't mix so well, but we made it to packet pickup and the race start 30 minutes later. I'd brought a fleece zip up to keep me warm while waiting to run but it was a lot cooler up at the race start than back at camp. The fact that it was so foggy you could see no more than 10 feet ahead at some stages probably accounted for most of the temperature drop. Close to race time the zip up and my new shirt went to the bag drop and I was even more envious of those clever people with rain ponchos.

We started on regular roads and ran on these for around 2 miles, with a mix of flats, up hills and downhills. Then we ran the next 10ish miles, downhill nearly the whole time except for one or two small inclines, on what was meant to be a gravel road (not so much gravel). The last mile turned onto a nice wide road covered in 2 inches of wet sticky black mud. This last mile was a killer not only did you have to drag your feet out of soft ground but we ran mostly flats and a couple of decent uphills after 10 miles of downhill.

I was secretly hoping for a slight PR with minimal effort but a few things stopped that from happening. A wardrobe malfunction of my sport bra cost me a couple of minutes at least. It closes like a normal bra at the bottom but then has a butterfly clip at the top. That came undone. It was driving me crazy so I tried to close it a few times, until eventually I got a nice lady at an aid station to close it for me. 
The roads, I'm talking about the main downhill stretch, where more like an easy trail race than a road race. It was really uneven with giant rocks appearing out of the roadway at random, very bendy and giant gouges along the bends from water runoff erosion. A much more technical run than I'm used to. In the end I was happy to finish without falling since I know I'm no good on uneven surfaces. My left leg which has been fine for weeks acted up with a sore hip and funnily my left arm cramped too. In the end I didn't care about the PR I just wanted to finish in one piece.

It rained the entire time I was running and I was exhausted, so I felt a bit loopy after crossing the line. I picked up my stuff and just kept walking until I felt a bit more with it. Eventually I got the bus back to camp. No delays or waiting for buses for me, it was very nicely organized. The after party was nice they had a good mix of food, BBQ, cookies, chips, fruit and a super tasty pasta salad. I stuck around for the age group awards but I didn't come close to the speedsters in this race (I think 3rd in my age group ran a 1.36, damn gurl). It was still raining so I showered and settled in for a rest.
No chip time so gun time 1:57:17, I'd say minus 30-45 seconds off that would be about right for my finish time.

Sunday we headed to Linville Falls in the Psigah National Forest and hiked some of the easier trails to see the waterfall, ouchy, and then we headed to Asheville for lunch and explored the city for a few hours before driving home. 

Someone (well maybe two someones) were very tired

I took Boomer out for a slow 2 mile run tonight with about another mile of walking thrown in. Three days after the race and I only now feel 'you did a super hard workout' sore compared to 'someone beat me black and blue' sore. You are warned, but what a tough, awesome experience. This is a great race with loads of camaderie between the runners, if you live nearby give it a go...just go out and start some downhill training now. 



So everyone at this stage should know I'm crazy and plan to run 12 half marathons this year. 7 down 5 to go. I have everything registered for except for one. I think the reason I haven't committed to registering for the last one because it was the one race I was feeling a bit meh about.

Honestly, I think the only reason I picked it because it was in Alabama and I wanted to tick off another state. Thats a little stupid. Well not stupid in general, everyone has their goals, it'd be fine if I was only doing a couple races and not 12, as well as training for a marathon.

I've decided to scrap it from my plans for a few reasons:
 a) it'd be a second weekend in a month I'd have to leave Boomer at home, which is not fair on him
b) its over 4 hours away
 c) cost-its a $90 entry fee at the moment, too pricey in my opinion for a small half, and the extra long journey means extra money on gas (and possibly car repairs!).
d) I'll be exhausted as I'll be ramping up marathon training...travel will not help

At the moment my remaining races stand as:
RnR Virginia Beach (yes also pricey and far away)
Another one in the mountains, The Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon (super cheap registration, not too far)
 Two races around an hour from home (both cheap registration and close)

To meet my self imposed challenge of 12 halfs in 12 months, instead of Alabama, I'm going to run the Governors Cup Half Marathon here, in Columbia, in November. It'll mean two halfs in two weekends again but these will truly be training runs as I'll be well into marathon training by then.
 I have a 20 mile run scheduled for that day so it'll be nice to have company, drinks, gels etc. readily available for 13 miles instead of having to carry them or have drop off points. I'll run the 2 miles to the race start, run the race and then run another 5 on the other end.

I decided on 12 races to limit myself as there are so many cool half marathons within driving distance from here, but I'm not going to sign up for races just because they fit in a schedule. I feel happier about this decision as it'll mean that the race will truly count and by that I mean be enjoyable and useful instead of ticking off another race for an arbitrary goal when that isn't what it was supposed to be in the first place.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Taking it Easy

So I've had at least a month and a half of really solid training, nothing hurts and I've increased my weekly mileage to a respectable level again. That must mean it is time for another race!! This weekend I'm heading to North Carolina for The Scream Half Marathon. Why is it called the Scream you ask? Just look at the elevation profile, my quads will be screaming.
Its a point to point course starting and ending in the middle of nowhere, so no spectators! I honestly have no idea how I'll feel running almost constantly downhill as I have no experience of it. I'm sure those little blips of uphills will be killer after running down for so long. I'm determined to go and have fun and appreciate the fact that I'm not running upwards for once....there maybe some Phoebe (from Friends) style running going on!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Dodging storms

I made it out between storms with some careful watching of the weather radar. What should have been a track workout turned into a 4 mile tempo run.

I had burning lungs and got a little vomity but the thoughts of being hit by lightening spurred me on and it worked out well!  Mile 1-4: 9.17, 8.11, 8.04, 9.05/mile. A very easy 3 miles are on the cards for tomorrow morning.

My First Vegan Dining Experience

Today I had my first vegan dining experience. A bunch of us went to lunch to the Good Life Cafe, here in Columbia SC. It was strange to say the least to be able to choose anything from the menu after 18 years of vegetarianism.
The cafe is way fancier than I was expecting of any restaurant with the word cafe in its name. It had a pretty varied menu with vegan alternatives subbed in for common ingredients e.g. cashew mayonnaise versus regular egg based mayonnaise. It made reading the menu a bit of an experience but I'm sure the more often I go the easier it'll be! One thing I liked was there was no tofu, seitan etc in sight, they are great and I like them, but its not the only thing vegetarians or vegans eat and I think this menu breaks that misconception.
I had a portabello steak with hummus, which was basically a cooked portabello stacked with hummus. Pretty small for a lunch if that was all you got, but most dishes came with two giant sides. I got fresh fruit and a kale salad.

Everything was delicious so it's definitely worth trying new places!!!

He is lucky he is so cute!!

This little man is terrified of fireworks, so terrified that he won't go out for his normal before bed pee! This has been going on since 4th of July.

The reason he is lucky is because for the last few nights he has woken me up at 3am because for some reason its ok to go out then. Last night was one night of broken sleep (I lost around 3 hours because I couldn't get back to sleep) too many and I broke my running before work streak. Now I have to run tonight and there are thunderstorms forecast grrrr.

Lets hope this calms down soon but given that there are fireworks shows at most baseball games at the weekend for the next month or so it's not looking likely.
Most of the time he is a happy chap and very brave but drive past a truck or set of fireworks and he turns into a panicy/barky monster. Most things I can put up with but lack of sleep is not something I can deal with...so Boomer you are lucky you are cute!!!!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Weekly roundup: Is it really July already?

Can you believe it's July? I can't, this year is flying by. It's scary because I'll have to start applying for jobs in September, ekk!
So to make the most of summer, I am making a big effort to get out as much as possible on the weekends and I'm not including running in that. Since we liked tubing so much last week we went and bought some water gear. Buy one get one free life jackets could not be left behind and since I cut my foot in the river with Boomer, on Saturday after running, I got some water shoes. We also ordered a tube and if we use it three times it'll have paid for itself, maybe that's a false sense of economy but it'll bring lots of enjoyment.

We also know some friends with canoes so there might be an opportunity to use our new gear out on the lake! Since the little man is getting used to the water his life jacket might get some use too

This week has been my highest mileage week in a while but it's gone well. No pain and I've been feeling stronger on my runs.
Tuesday 5 miles (9.46/mile)
Wednesday 3 miles with hill repeats (9.17/mile)
Thursday 5 miles (10/mile) + 1 hour yoga
Friday rest
Saturday 5 miles race pace (8.48/mile)
Sunday 10 miles (10.34/mile)
 Weekly total of 28 miles

By complete accident today I ran into two friends out running and I fell in with them for 4 miles. It was great to have company and it slowed me down. Something I'm working on is to make hard days harder and easy days easier so it was good to slow down.
I came home to a yummy brunch 

 I haven't succumb to any naps yet today but I've been pretty tired. Since I've been building mileage for a few weeks, next week I'm stepping it back a little and the week after that is a race. A week after this next race I start marathon training, wow that's sneaking up.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

My 4th of July

4th of July as usual (now my 3rd in the states) was a great day, really relaxing. Of course the Irish people hosted the party. A bunch of our American friends came around and we ate and drank way too much. I pulled together some last minute easy food for the vegetarians while our friends brought meat for themselves to grill. By far my favourite food that I made was a avocado, corn and tomato salad that was super easy to make.
12 medium Plum tomatoes (chopped)
2 avocados (chopped)
1 can of corn
Juice 1 Lime
1 packet of mild taco seasoning mix

Another favourite were these roasted garlic potatoes with some roasted bell pepper and mayo.
This is a giant pan of smores bars, the best desert that exists, unfortunately I can't claim credit for these.
Of course we stuck some corn on the grill

I also whipped up some bruschetta with a nice bread and pre-made sauce from TJ's. Some cheese and 5 minutes in the oven and viola, deliciousness on a plate.

We set up a load of games like can-jam and corn hole in the back yard and everyone sat out and chilled for the day.
Too much food
Once the sun started to set we headed inside and watched some TV until around 9.30pm, when the local baseball game finished. That is when we got our own private fireworks show. We were suitably impressed but Boomer was most definitely not. He is now passed out, exhausted from running around with loads of people paying attention to him and playing with a 7 month old doberman all day.

I didn't drink enough to be drunk/hungover, pacing is important,  but I'm breaking my morning running rule to rehydrate a little. Not looking forward to running in the heat but its worth it for a great day with friends.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Life lately

Enjoying the summer. Mornings are actually working out well, the weather is beautiful then. Evenings equal summer thunderstorms.

I've been sweating it out but one downside of working in a lab is you have to wear full length pants. One step outside the door and you DIE of the heat. My compromise, Thai Fisherman pants. I can wear shorts to work and pull these one size fits all babies on over the top.
For someone who once hated wearing shorts I now realize it's not vainity to wear them but nesscessity! I'm rocking some pretty amazing tan lines right now, shorts and socks.

Tonight has been spent shopping for tomorrow as we are having some friends over..so much food.

Have a great 4th of July!!