Sunday, 31 January 2016

Training this week

Do you think we improve gradually, or in little leaps? I'm not sure, maybe I just don't notice that I feel stronger until it's a significant improvement. This week has been like that all of my runs have been really good, I've felt strong with lots of energy...even running hungover!

BodyPump - really good but tired after.

Swimming - 20 mins of laps and 15 mins jacuzzi
Running - 5 miles @ 9.39 min/mile. It felt really good, my back was very loose after swimming. I got to run a little on the river trails. My favorite one (where the canal broke) is still not opened :( I'm missing that one bad.

BodyPump - Harder than Monday but it still felt good.
Running - 4 miles @ 8.49 min/mile 1 mile warm up, 3x 800m (7.50, 7.48, 7.38 min/mile) <-- all faster than they really should be but I felt really good. 800m recovery in between.

Running - 4 miles @10.02 min/mile.
Friday - rest

I was a little hungover so no BP as planned. The older I get the worst the hangover is! That and the fact that I don't really like to drink a lot is why I rarely have more than 1/2 drinks. BUT once in a while it's nice to let loose and have some fun with friends.
Running - 4 miles @ 9.54 min/mile around the football pitches at the park. I didn't feel awesome but I felt like I could have ran for longer except it was getting too dark.

Running - 10 miles @ 9.47 min/mile. A really good run. Mentally, I really enjoyed it and physically, other than a little shin pain and a blister I felt fantastic.

I still did not make it to a yoga class, yes I am an organizational failure, but I have been a lot more diligent with stretching.

For the next few weeks I'll probably hold my mileage around where it is (27 this week) I don't want to increase it much more other than increasing 800s on Wednesdays until I can consistently run without any shin pain.

I mainly want to hold onto my consistency so I can start to pay more attention to pushing the pace more in the easier runs. I've been happy to run very easy for the most part so I get the miles done but I'd like to find what pace easy actually is right now in case I'm being really lazy.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Removing all the noise

It's shocking how much of our personal data is passed around from company to company. I get as many as 4-5 credit card offers a week in the mail and some mornings I can wake up to over 20 promotional emails, not to mention the phone calls I've received about winning a cruise etc. etc. Some of that is my own fault, like giving stores my email or phone number, but a lot of it is unsolicited. The time and mental space used to filter and delete/trash all this 'useless stuff' is annoying.

So I've made a few simple steps
Adding my number to the do not call registry to stop unsolicited phone calls.

Opting out of receiving prescreened credit card offers
You can do this for 5 years online ( or permenantly opt out by mail.

Taking the time to unsubscribe from 2 email lists a day starting with those that email me daily but I never read.

Refusing to give my number or email at stores. It's helps that I've not been doing a lot of shopping recently :) They don't need this information to complete transactions and I've probably used coupons from the resulting emails once or twice (with the exception of World Market..for chocolate or sometimes coffee). 

I hoping that over time it'll declutter my life a little more.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Life lately

I am going to start of with the negative and work my way to the positive, ok?

Coming back after Christmas and still not having a job has had me on a bit of a downer. Some days I'll just be a total grouch. Others I feel really meh and a bit sad. You know the kind of days where you just don't want to do anything but sleep. I'm also terrible in that I hold everything in until it just explodes out of me..usually in tears.

I'm not like that all the time and a lot of it is due to the fact that jet lag sucked much worst in this direction. So I had probably 2 weeks to deal with that dragging my energy and mood down. I've also in the last two weeks had this really weird thing where I have night time anxiety about someone breaking into the house. Every frickin night I wake up and listen to every sound for at least an brain is messed up ha ha. No more watching documentaries on drugs, guns or crime!

It is getting better though. Slowly, I've been more is ramping back up and I'm trying to do more around the house. All of that makes me feel better about myself and gives me more energy.

I've also finally got my act together and applied for my work authorization. I should have done it asap when I got back, as it takes 2-3 months to be processed, but it was nice not to have to pay the $380 fee in Janurary letting us have a normal month financially so we realized we are doing just fine on one salary. 
I'm excited for that to go through because if I can get some full time or even part-time work, tutoring or something, I'd be happy. I don't even care about the money (ok maybe a little, those races don't pay for themselves) but it'd be great to do something where I feel like I'm helping someone and I'd get to interact with other people on a regular basis.

One thing that may seem small and I'm gonna sound like a crazy person saying this but I'm so grateful to have Boomer. He is literally my constant companion. Nothing makes you feel better than a ball of unconditional love, one that wants to snuggle all the time.
I've also been really careful to take my B vitamins as a lack of B12 can affect mood and anxiety. I 100% notice a difference, physically at least, if I don't take them for a while. Today I also popped into a local market and found myself some vegetarian Omega 3. Woah pricey!! Vegetarian diets can be lacking in DHA (a type of Omega 3) which most people get from fish. This apparently can affect dopamine levels. It's also recommended now as a prenatal vitamin as it affects neural development. Not pregnant, just looking after myself as much as possible. 
I'm not depressed or anywhere near that just wanting to pass along a glimpse into my life right now and what I'm doing to change things a little. 
Sometimes I enjoy it when things are hard (and I just made myself laugh with that line) like a good run (mind out of the gutter people!). Other times, like this kind of stuff, Its just frustrating but one thing running has taught me is to keep going, work through it and you'll be better and stronger for it. 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Training this week

 Body Pump 1 hour 
I started the week off with a positive frame of mind, rather than be worried about my first class back since before the holidays I was excited. Since it was MLK day, and there were no university classes, the gym and BP was jam packed. I retained some sort of strength over the holidays because I used the same weights as I did before Christmas and really only struggled with the chest track. Class felt AWESOME!

Running - 4.5 miles @ 9.57min/mile
Cold but bright day. I was a little sore from BP but I had fun.

 Body Pump 1 hour 
Dropped the weights a little for the chest track but other than that everything felt good.
Running - 3 miles- 1 mile warmup, 2x 800m (8.30min/mile) with 800m recovery
Everything felt good.

Running - 4 miles @ 10.04min/mile with Boomer
Felt inner shin splints on my left leg...grrr a sure sign I need to lose more weight or get more padded shoes. The pup was a little champ and had a great time. I love seeing his happy, laughing face after a run.

Complete rest. Iced my shin a lot and rolled out my calves to make sure they aren't too tight.
Body Pump 1 hour
Cluster f8888 with parking and then, when I eventually made it to class, it was so full they had no mats or benches. I was tempted to leave but I stuck it out and killed it. Pretty sure I re-bruised my knee a little but a week and a half later the bruise is almost gone.

Our only snow

Stormy skies for the snow

Running - 5 miles  -1 mile warm up, 1 mile progressions (8.50,  8.44,  8.26), 1 mile cool down
Laced my shoes up tight and wore calf compression sleeves. Only one or two twinges in my shin. Iced after.

Running - 9 miles @ 10.18 min/mile
A hilly 9 miles. I took it really easy and chilled out with some music. Again only one/two shin twinges.

  • In case you can't tell the possibility of shin splints freaks me out. I had them years (eons really) ago when I was overweight and they were a nightmare I do not want to relive. As a result I changed around BP days to give myself one day completely off, something I probably should have been doing all along really. Also, a hard day on Saturday (BP and running) will help prepare me for my double half marathon weekend in May.
  • Overall, I'm happy with this week 25.5 miles total and 3 rounds of BP.
Next week:
I will actually do yoga. Add another 800m interval to Wednesday speed work and another mile to my Sunday run, depending on how I feel, as well as some extra low intensity stuff like swimming and walking.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Brooks Winter Sale

I'm going to do a bit of free advertising for Brooks since I'm always so excited to see my shoes on sale! Right now they are having a winter sale. There are some good discounts to be had on some shoes if you wear Brooks. Two pairs of Pureconnects are winging their way to me!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Training this week

Positives this week -Losing 2lbs of Christmas weight (out of 4). Kicking ass with eating healthier. Hoping to continue on and finally lose the extra few pounds I've been carrying for a while.
Running for 5 days and enjoying it.
Not so good- Not getting to start back to gym classes like I wanted to...down to disorganization and being a klutz.

Nothing but the long drive back from Alabama and unpacking. 
A nice 4 mile run that felt easy 9.10 min/mile

I also got a whole new cooker after the old one gave up on life. It's so much prettier than the old white one.
Got up at 6.30 and changed for body pump only to remember I hadn't got a class pass which I can only buy during office hours...doh!
Only 2.6 miles at 10.30 min/mile. I got taken down by some raised sidewalk. I had around 2 minutes of blinding pain where I just lay on the floor cursing not caring if I was seen or heard. It ripped up my hands and my knee a little through gloves and pants grrr! I'm sure I swore like a sailor ha ha! I need to pick up my feet more.

I felt more like I'd been in a small car crash rather than a simple trip and fall so I switched my rest days around.

5 miles at 9.57 min/mile.
Side note, I've been listening to Adeles new album on repeat for my runs lately. I think I might be a little obsessed, along with half the world. Then I saw her rapping Nicki Minajs Monster on YouTube and I think I love her even more now, she is hilarious.

3.4 miles at 10.02 min/mile. Nice evening run.
6 miles at 10.32 min/mile. Did mini zig zags through a nice neighborhood to keep the run interesting and to add a few miles. I got to around 5 before my bruised knee began to hurt and ran home from there. I think it's a little swollen still and it's also time for some new shoes so running on concrete most of the time was probably not good.
Next week: I'm looking forward to getting some strength training in (as I remembered to buy my pass) and also a yoga class for a good stretch.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Mississippi Blues Half Marathon 2015

The Mississippi Blues Half Marathon takes place in Jackson, MS in January. I couldn't run it last year as it was (and still is) the same weekend as the Disney Marathon. This year I made it!! I was super excited about this race....mostly because I like the previous medals, because there would be some music on the course and I'd get to visit and run in a new state.

That said I was very nervous in the run up to the race. Not because I had any time goals. In fact, I had none this was to be an easy long run since my holiday training has not been so consistent. No it was because I kept getting emails and FB posts about the thunderstorms forecast for race morning and possible plans to delay or cancel the race. Gulp, MS is a long way to drive for a canceled race!

The race itself is on Saturday so we had to be in MS on Friday by 7pm to get the full expo or 9pm for the extended packet pickup. Nice late expo hours! We made it in loads of time and went to the convention center in downtown Jackson. The expo was good, maybe a bit small for a race of that size but they had a pretty awesome band playing the whole time.
I got my long sleeve t-shirt and immediately exchanged it for a small (sizes were unisex).  Despite the lack of gender specific cuts the t-shirt seems like really good quality. Heavy tech material and I really like that the long sleeves have a thumb loop so you can cover your hands.

This year the race paid tribute to BB King who died this year and that was reflected in the t-shirt, medal and the fact that one of his albums was in the race packet. Also in the packet was a harmonica which I cannot play for shiz. My lung capacity does not extend beyond one or two notes.

The next morning the race was at 7am. I got up in the rain at around 5.30am and got dressed. No brekkie just some water for me. We arrived at the convention center around 6am and got a free parking spot in the lot there. Just in time because 15 minutes later it was full. The start/finish area was spread out over a block or two of the city....around the art museums and the squares there. This made finding stuff a little confusing but a quick wander around and I found everything. At this stage the rain was dying off, no sign of the thunderstorm everyone was worried about. I was so excited now that I realized it wouldn't be delayed/cancelled, not so excited about running with soaked feet.

The race started exactly on time after a guitar based rendition of the national anthem. I wore my running jacket at the start and had to remove it after a mile or two. I even transfered my bib to my shirt on the run...mad skills.  After around 3 miles the course looped back through the start (nice for spectators).

What can I say about the course, hills, hills and more hills. Not all big, but damn they just kept coming. The road surface was not so good either. South Carolina people are always screaming about how bad the roads are here, they should be grateful they don't live in MS.

All the turns were very clearly marked so there was no chance of getting lost.

 Aid stations were spaced around 1.5 miles apart and I didn't need but saw port a potties several times. One thing that really stood out about this race was the volunteers. They were fantastic and so friendly, before I could even thank them for volunteering they were thanking me for coming out to run.
There weren't too many spectators out for the first few miles but when we got towards the more residential neighborhoods at the end of the race there were plenty of people about. A few unofficial aid stations were set up in front yards. Since I was running for fun I took a shot of beer at one. Another one had a sign saying "Sorry about the potholes, have a doughnut hole" I did and it was delicious. We were also entertained by music along the course. I think I counted 3 or 4 bands.

Running wise I was very glad I decided not to push the pace. Straight away I knew I was a little too tight all over to be running fast. That said I felt pretty good the whole time and the miles ticked by in the blink of an eye. I walked a few of the bigger hills in the last 4 miles of the race as I thought I felt some IT band pain beginning in my right knee, that and I was tired of the hills :) Walking held it off and I made it though with no niggles at all and collected my pretty medal at around the 2.14 hour mark.

The finish area now had a band playing, a Budweiser truck and a tent full of food. I ate a lot which is unusual for me post-race. Two slices of cheese pizza, coffee, an orange slice and two cookies. They also had hot chocolate, soup, soda, gatorade, bananas and I think some sort of BBQ. After that we listened to some music before heading back to our campgrounds.

Afterwards my lower back was tired but thats down to driving so much and then running. I peed after the you do, and thank goodness I was alone in the bathroom because I screamed my head off in surprise...serious raw skin meeting pee, not nice! The shower after hurt too but at least I was prepared. Sorry if thats TMI, I just find these situations funny. Other injuries included a sock full of blood, a long nail dug into its neighboring toe. Why do toes bleed so much for such a tiny cut?

Later leaving the campgrounds (post thunderstorm) we saw the back of the pack for the marathon and boy did they look miserable and I was so glad that wasn't me. Once again confirming that I am not ready for another marathon. No way am I running another one until I know I can run one injury free and faster than my last one. Mentally I can run a half for fun but a full other than Disney (even that I wouldn't repeat), hell no.
I really enjoyed this race. It was over way too fast.  A hilly course but everything that went along with the race was top notch. There were other extras like a Blues Crawl that were available with the race to make a weekend out if you wanted. For those true crazies out there they also put on a private bus service to Alabama for those wanting to run a double with the First Light Marathon or Half Marathon but I had other plans for camping and hiking. I'd definitely recommend this race if you like Blues music and want to run in Mississippi.

*I hope you are impressed that I can now spell Mississippi without googling it

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Camping in Mississippi and Alabama

We left for Mississippi on Friday morning at the butt crack of dawn and arrived in Jackson at around 4pm. We were going to Jackson so I could run the MS Blues Half Marathon (so much fun, I'll post about that separately) and we decided to camp along the way to save money. In Jackson we camped in the Le Fleur Bluff State Park which is right beside downtown Jackson. Super convenient for the race. 

The campsites were nice and placed around a pond so it was very pretty but you could tell it was off season because we had no idea where to go to check in, no one that worked there was around and the park was left open all day and night with no one at the gate house. It was a little aggravating (ok a lot after a 8+ hour drive) not knowing where to go, but after driving in circles we eventually just called to check in (apparently the office is far from the campgrounds). 
The camping itself was an adventure. It wasn't so cold in MS but it was very rainy.....and our tent cover had a lot of holes, oops. We woke up on Saturday morning to a very damp tent and some puddles. I went and ran the race on that morning, then came back and showered. As I was finishing showering a thunderstorm started, right as we wanted to pack up the tent. A lot of running to and from the car and the tent was empty. 
Then the debate....what to do with a leaky tent? I didn't want to put something that was soaked and dirty into the car when we were going to have to get a new one for the next trip anyhow. The risk taker in me won out and 1 day into a 3 day camping trip I put the old tent into the dumpster. Mississippi at this stage had also claimed Martina's phone charger (and her phone was dead) so we went to a gas station, bought a new charger, and got good old fashioned directions to the nearest Target. Thank goodness, they had some tents left and I got one slightly smaller than the old one for around $45. If it lasts the 2.5 years the old one did it'll be a bargain!
New Tent
With lots of coffee we drove back eastwards towards Alabama. This was a deliberate attempt to break up the drive home. It was also an opportunity to hike in Cheaha State Park, a place I originally wanted to visit the last time I was in Alabama, for the Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon, but the rain was too much at the time. 5 hours later and we arrived and drove up a mountain through clouds to the highest point in Alabama.  I almost (note the almost) hit a hare in the fog and had a heart attack but we arrived without killing ourselves or anyone else.

The new tent was excellent and even though it got below freezing that night we felt warmer than the previous one. Opening the tent the next morning was a shock, there were flurries of snow blowing in! 

The only way to stay warm was to run the car or getting moving. We drove a little ways to top the car up with gas and then came back to the park (only to discover they had a gas pump there, doh). 

Then we started hiking for the day. A very short hike along the Pulpit Rock Trail got us warmed up. We didn't get any views just some more snow, hail and a wall of white where a fab view should have been, but hey its an adventure!
Martina and Boomer admiring the clouds
We then hiked for around an hour on another Trail turning back when we hit a small waterfall. Lunch and then more hiking. This time we stuck to a longish drive to outside the park and a short hike to High Falls. Wow is all I can say. This is a set of 3 Falls. The first one is nice but just ok. Then we crossed the river to follow the trail and you come to a second set of Falls that are beautiful and then a short climb up to the third set that are even prettier. I would imagine this would be a great swimming spot in the summer but it was nice to be the only people out there. Later that day when the sky cleared a little we did one short walk out on a boardwalk, back in the park, and that gave us a spectacular view of Alabama. So despite the temperatures and snow we kept warm all day.

Third set of falls
Second set of falls

That night we unsuccessfully tried to get a big fire going. Normally, I'm a whiz at fires but the wood they sold us was not dry enough, it just wouldn't burn. We were very chilly getting into the tent and the temperatures were dropping fast. 
After about an hour of Martina not being able to stop shaking I moved us all to the car and we slept in there for the night in our sleeping bags. I woke up every 2 hours or so and ran the car for 20 minutes to heat it up. Even then condensation from our breathing froze on the windows inside the car. 
Overall I slept much better than I thought I would in a car seat and I was glad  that we moved to the car when I saw the thermometer hit 21˚F. Ironically, we were most worried about Boomer being cold when we were planning the trip but he was the warmest of us all. He just borrowed in between us even, sometimes in a sleeping bag with one of us, putting his head under the blanket we threw over the sleeping bags. He had a great time hiking as well as barking to chase off squirrels, cats and deer from our various campsites.
Even though we spent most of the weekend feeling dirty, wet or freezing it was fun. We got to see lots of wildlife and some spectacular scenery.  I wouldn't rule out camping in cold weather again I'd just go better prepared. However, there is nothing like roughing it for a couple of days to appreciate the comforts that you have in your day to day life. 

Friday, 1 January 2016

Ireland trip 2015

I made it back to the USA for 2016. Happy New Year!

I started traveling at 3.30am EDT on Wednesday morning and arrived back in the house in SC at 11.30pm EDT. Oh yes, it was a long day for me. I had something to eat and went straight to sleep. I was awake again at 5am but without the migraine I was carrying around the day before. A 1 hour nap in the afternoon held me over until a respectable bedtime last night but I didn't see midnight other than a quick happy new year after waking up when Boomer barked at the fireworks.

Trip highlights

Seeing my family..human and furry
I got to see my parents, brother, Martina's family and all the various dogs, some for the first time in 3 years or for some the first time at all. Other than my parents oldest dog (12 years old) getting grey and stiff everyone seems much the same and in good health.

Wandering around Dublin and seeing my friends
My parents live around an hour and a half from Dublin in the countryside so I didn't get much time in Dublin but I made a special trip up for a lunch with most of my old friends. I went up early and wandered around some of my favorite spots in the city. It was great to see everyone as plenty of us are scattered around different countries. I left pretty early that night as I had to get a bus home but I was leaving while it was dark and loved taking in all the Christmas lights.

Dublin in Gaelic

The Spire-world largest sculpture lit up as a light sabre
Finally getting a tattoo
I've wanted a tattoo for ages. My brothers girlfriend is training to be a tattoo artist and did one as my Christmas presents. I got a unilome, representing the twisting path to enlightenment. It's smaller than it looks in the picture and less distinct now it's healed, so it's fairly discreet. I love it!

Most of what I brought back was junk much for new year, new me ha, ha. However, it'll be tightly rationed over the next 6 months to a year. Other than that I bought really random stuff, like socks and underwear from Penneys (now in Boston as Primark) because they sell cute stuff and much cheaper than I could buy most of it here and hot water bottles because they don't seem to exist here. I also did a little home 'shopping' in my parents attic as it is storing all my stuff and I managed to fit a wine decanter, huge receipe book and hiking bag into my luggage.
Not so much the running itself but the opportunity to visit some really pretty spots especially around the lake. Like I said it was hard to get to go running because the road my house sits on is very busy. It's twisty with no hard shoulder and cars driving around 60mph. I got to go a few times to smaller roads that are quieter. It's a shame because when we were kids the road wasn't busy at all and the whole family would take out our bikes and go for a cycle together. 

I also ran a 5k in aid of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland. It was meant to be flat (not so much). I finished in 25.26. I need to run some more 5ks my head really works against me when I'm running harder.

Kind of see cairns ontop of the hill..older than the pyramids in Eygpt

Little Bro Carting
It was good going home I had a great time. 2 weeks was enough and I was ready to come back by then. It was strange the little things I noticed....all the gum on the sidewalk in the city, how busy it is, how everyone had a cold and how the daylight hours are over an hour shorter this time of year. I think it helped with homesickness a lot. Obviously I miss my family but for the most part what I miss about Ireland is the way life was there. Mostly, I think I miss living in a big more cosmopolitan city with good public transport. It's reinforced the want to move, let's make that happen in 2016!