Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekly review

Time for a weekly review again. This week's running was pretty good. Tuesday was the last track workout with my running group. Winter couldn't let the group's last week go easy so of course there was snow.

Snow falling on the track.

But it was a 30 minute run so at least we weren't out there too long. It wasn't too bad except for when the snow was blowing directly in my face. The time below is a but off since I forgot to turn of runkeeper until after we finished out post workout stretch. So it was probably more like 40 minutes.

Thursday was a run on the treadmill at the office gym, 5 intervals of 5 minutes running to 1 minute walking. It went well.

And Sunday was the 5k goal race for our training group, the Piece of Cake 5k. I'll be doing a full review later this week. It went ok but the wind and rain did result in a slower time (by about 2 minutes) than the practice 5k we did a couple weeks ago. At least we finished running before the hail and I got home before the snow.  Whatever happened to March going out like a lamb!?!

I also got in yoga on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.  A friend loaned Mike DVDs for DDP (Diamond Dallas Page) Yoga so we're giving that a try together.  I'm sure I'll be reviewing that as well once we've gone through some more segments of the DVD.

I have a similar plan for this week. Yoga on Monday, a run on Tuesday and Thursday, yoga on Friday, a 5k on Saturday (Ben's Run) and yoga on Sunday.

I hope everyone had a good weekend!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Five favorite yoga poses

I am linking up with the lovely ladies from the DC trifecta again, Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia. This week's theme is fitness activities and I've decided to talk about my favorite yoga poses.

So, when I started running with a group, yoga kind of fell by the wayside just for scheduling reasons. But I've picked it up again by practicing yoga at home since it feels like such a good complement to running for me. All my muscles that tighten up during running feel so much better after some yoga.

1. My absolute favorite yoga pose is pigeon. It is a really deep hip opener. I hated it the first couple times I tried it at a yoga studio but I ended up loving it because it hurts so good! It's one of those poses that I can feel myself relaxing into the longer I hold it and it returns a lot of flexibility to my hips which is good for running but also just for like in general.

2. I also enjoy the warrior series of poses. They really work my leg muscles and I know this will make me a stronger runner! But more than just that, those muscles are used for so much in our daily lives and having them be stronger will help with my daily activities. According to Yoga Journal, Warrior 1 has the following benefits:
•Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, groins (psoas)
•Strengthens the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back
•Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles

3.  I've been experiencing a lot of tightness in my quadriceps since I started running and I've been turning to hero's pose to help with that.  It's a simple pose but has really felt helpful for my quads.  This is another one that is uncomfortable at first with my tight muscles but feels great after a couple minutes once I've loosened up and can relax into the pose.  This article discusses the following benefits of the pose: increases energy and blood circulation throughout the feet and body, stretches foot muscles and quadricep tendons, and helps the knee joints.

4.   I keep hearing cautionary notes from more experienced runners talking about stretching your IT bands.  Eye of the needle pose seems to help stretch the IT band for me.  I always end workouts with this and with pigeon and feel really good afterward.

5. And I'll be honest, one of my favorites parts of any yoga class is corpse pose at the end.  It feel great to just let all your muscles go and relax into (hopefully) a meditative state for at least a couple minutes.  It always signifies a job well done to me.  Here's Yoga Journal's information on this pose.

Shelby's favorite yoga pose is cat pose :) But today, she'd rather sleep on my papers and prevent me from working too much.

Several of these poses are very deep stretches so I don't do them directly when my muscles feel tight.  Pigeon especially I only do after a yoga or other workout has already loosened me up a bit. I hope everyone has a good weekend planned! I'd love to hear any of your favorite stretches or yoga poses.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dragon Noodle Salad

I bought a new cook book last weekend, Isa Does It, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  It's a vegan cookbook.  I'm vegetarian, not vegan, but I love Isa's recipes and I was very excited when I saw she had a new cookbook out.  I had to buy it.

The first recipe I tried from the book was "Dragon Noodle Salad."  It ended up being super easy and quick, and made 4 servings so we had leftovers.  You cook 8 ounces of rice noodles according to the package directions.  While the noodles cooked, cut the fresh veggies you have on hand and make the dressing.  The recipe used cucumbers, radishes and salad greens.  I made some changes by just using the vegetables I had available.  So bell peppers instead of radishes.

I also didn't feel the need to blend the dressing as the recipe indicated.  I just threw all the dressing ingredients in a measuring cup and whisked until it came together.  It was 1/2 a cup of peanut butter, 2 cloves garlic, 1/3 cup water, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon agave syrup,1 tablespoon sriracha, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil plus extra salt to taste if needed.

I cut down on the sriracha, probably 1 teaspoon instead of 1 tablespoon, since Mike just likes a touch of heat.  I used honey instead of agave since that's what I had available.  I didn't have  sesame seeds or cilantro for the garnish but it was absolutely delicious even without them!  The only thing I might change next time is cutting down the vinegar to 2 tablespoons instead of 3 since it was a bit tangy for my taste.

 Not exactly like the photo but still tasty :)

I think the whole thing took 15 minutes, start to finish.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekly review

I took it easy the beginning part of the week to give my knee a rest. I skipped the Tuesday track workout but I did a lot of stretching, foam rolling, and iced my knee every day.

I felt better by Thursday so went to the gym after work. The treadmills and ellipticals were all full so I started out in the bike. I still didn't have full range of motion in my knee and the degree to which I had to bend my knee on the bike made it start hurting :( Thankfully, one of the ellipticals freed up so I got off the bike and claimed it. I had a decent work out on there and my knee felt pretty good afterward. 

More resting on Friday and then I went out running with the group Saturday morning. We were doing intervals of 12 minutes running and 1 minute walking. I was fine for the first three intervals but my knee started hurting during the 4th running interval. So I walked a little extra during the 5th interval and ended up walking the 6th interval entirely since I wanted to be careful with the knee.  My runkeeper also died part of the way through :(

It was an out and back route, and it looks like 3 miles out so we must have done around 6 miles total. I think I ended up walking the last mile to mile and a half.  This was the farthest I'd ever gone and I was sore afterward, even though I walked some of it. Therefore, more stretching, icing and foam rolling. I woke up Sunday morning with my legs feeling pretty good and minimal soreness.

Sunday evening I did some yoga. I definitely have to try to be better about incorporating yoga back into my weekly routine for the strength training and stretching.  The good news is I felt a lot better after the

The plan for next week is running Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. I'm planning on yoga Wednesday and Saturday with stretching every day. I'm hoping that the predicted snow we get on Tuesday is minimal. I hope everyone has a good week!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Five - Family and Friends

It's time for another Friday Five linkup with the DC Trifecta. Thank you to Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia for hosting this week's theme of Family and Friends.

I'll be honest, I have never been a very athletic person in the past. I was always the one who would rather be sitting in a corner reading a book. Athletic activity is something new to me though healthy cooking is something I've been trying to do for a while. I've been enjoying sharing my journey with family and friends in various ways.

Homemade granola... a delicious and healthy gift that I gave to my mom.

1. Cooking healthy (but delicious) at home - I really think the key to making healthy eating a sustainable habit is making sure the food tastes good! I really try to make food which makes me want to eat it again but also happens to be healthy. My husband was never big on healthy eating before we got married but he enjoys the food I make and the side benefit of it also being good for him. He's even joined me on a Weight Wathcers journey and I like to think that part of the reason is that he knew he could do it and still eat tasty food. I lvoe scouring cook books and the internet for healthy, delicious food. I think I have as many cooking blogs I follow as running blogs :)

2. Entertaining with healthy food - I love catching up with friends over a meal. We used to always go out to do this. Let's face it, most restaurant food is not healthy. Now that we've moved to a house and have more space, I love inviting people over to our place. And this allows me to make sure the food is healthy. Again, I never announce it as healthy food but I just try to strive for delicious food with natural ingredients that happens to be good for you. I had some friends over for a movie night and served vegetables with a yogurt dip, black bean frittatas with guacamole, homemade chili lime popcorn, and sangria (it's got fruit!).

5k with my dad

3. Running together - Due to some strange coincidence, several of my friends got into running at the same time. We keep each other motivated by signing up for races together. I have Ben's Run as well as the Semper Fi 5k coming up with that group of friends. And I even did a 5k with my dad at the beginning of this month, which was a lot of fun. Race day excitement is even better when you have people to share it with :)

4. Fitbit - Back when I started my getting active journey but before I had started running, I decided that I wanted company. So I bought my dad a fitbit. I bought myself one as well adn my brother joined us by also getting one. It's been extremely motivating to link up with them online through the fitbit and seeing how active we're being. I'm not going to lie, the competition aspect of it is fun. My brother and I send each other little taunts and my dad and I share encouraging comments. If one of us seems to be slacking off we can reach out and ask what's going on. It's been a great was for the three of us to have some extra family bonding. And it's a great way to keep track of how active or sedentary I'm being in my daily life, not just while excercising. It's definitely caused me to change some habits and try to walk more throughout the day by just doing things like parking further or taking extra water cooler trips.

5. Sharing about my journey - I've definitely noticed that by posting things on pinterest or facebook, people ask questions. Other people I know who may be new to working out or cooking healthy food then know that they're not the only ones out there trying new things. We can ask each other questions, share information, point out interesting articles, etc.

I'm looking forward to a beautiful spring day tomorrow for the last long run with my beginning running group.  I hope you all have a great weekend as well!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5k rehearsal

I thought it was strange when the coaches for our running group told us that we would be doing a rehearsal for our March 30th 5k. After all, we're not putting on a stage production!  But now that we've done it, I think it was a great idea.

It was a beautiful day, and I could run without my jacket.

The 5k race we'll be doing is the Piece of Cake 5k at Seneca Creek State Park. It's generally a 10k but this is the first year they've added in a 5k option. The race director came out to run with us as well so she could try out the new 5k course.

It was a hilly course so it was great we had this opportunity to do a rehearsal. I never thought about it before but familiarizing yourself with a course really helps. I like that I'll know where I'm going on race day and have certain markers for myself to help with distance, pacing, etc. I also don't have to worry about getting lost race morning or wondering where the parking lots are.

I did much better than I thought i would.  I had repeatedly heard about this being a hilly course so I was a bit worried. My goal for the race was to try to finish in 45 minutes or less. Well, I finished in the rehearsal in 42:33 for 3.19 miles according to runkeeper. That means I need a new goal for race day itself :) I'm not going to get too ambitious so I think I'm just going to try to at least match my rehearsal time.

This was  also the first time we didn't have defined walk intervals. I ran 30 minutes in a row, which is the more than I've ever run without a break before. After 30 minutes, I took a walk break up a hill, which was less than a minute. I finished by running until the end.  This was definitely a good thing for me because before this run, I wasn't sure that I could run this long without a walk break. So that was the other purpose of the rehearsal, it gave me an added level of confidence for race day.

We ended the run with St. Patrick's Day cupcakes.  Does anyone else try to run a course before race day for local races?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Weekly review

I had a pretty good running week. Tuesday was a track workout with the running group.  We did "ins and outs" for the first time.  I had no idea what this meant but it turns out it was going faster on the straight part of the track and slower on the curved part of the track. We did 20 minutes of that, took a walk break, and the another 20 minutes of running at a regular pace. I felt pretty good after the workout was over.

I checked my splits and for some reason I was slower during miles 1 and 2 and more than 2 minutes faster for mile 3.

I noticed a bit of pain around my left knee on Wednesday so I didn't do any strength training since I didn't want to risk making it worse with squats or lunges.

I went for a run I my neighborhood Friday afternoon but it didn't go too well.  I had trouble with my breathing. I think I was congested because of the rapidly changing weather this week. I ended up walking more than planned and you can see the slowing in my pace.

But I had a great run on Saturday! It was interesting because this was a "rehearsal" for our March 30th 5k and we did the same course we'll be doing that day. Since it was a rehearsal, I'm going to write a separate post about it later this week.  Suffice it to say I need to set a new goal time for the race.

Photo of group members chatting before our run at Seneca Creek State Park, which is beautiful.

Sadly, the area around my left knee is still hurting so I didn't do any strength training on Sunday either.  I did do a lot of foam rolling, stretching and icing over the weekend.  I was told that the pain sounds like it might be from tight tendons in the area due to not stretching or warming up before running. I did skip my warm up walk on both Tuesday and Friday :( I've learned my lesson and I think the icing, stretching and rest has helped so hopefully it will be back to normal soon.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Five - things on the internet

It's time for another Friday Five linkup with the DC Trifecta.  Thank you to Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia for hosting!

The theme for this week is racing but I'm going off theme since I haven't had enough racing experience yet. That's certainly changing though :) Instead, I'm posting five interesting things I've read on the internet recently.

1.  Runner's World has an interesting primer on lower leg pain that I found useful.  I had shin pain when I started and my brother was complaining about it recently because he was saying it was preventing him from getting into running.  Some good tips here for newbies to running.

2.  Lil Mys Ninja had a great post explaining the nuances of stretching and the benefits of dynamic stretching.  As a new runner, dynamic stretching was one of the things I didn't understand and this was a great explanation.

3.  An interesting article in the Washington Post last year about the increase of runners in the DC area.  I'm a new runner so definitely contributing to the increase.  The article talks about running increasing in this area because of the competitive nature of the people who live in the area, but I'm not sure if that's the case.  It's definitely not the case for me.  The article also seems to look down on "participatory" runners who run just for the sake of running instead of being competitive for speed. I consider myself a participatory runner and not competitive so this was strange.  Especially because the article then goes on to acknowledge that a lot of the big races in the area wouldn't be possible without the masses added by the participatory runners.   

4. Ten breakfast skills that every cook should know, including links to recipes.  I've got the eggs and oatmeal covered but definitely need to work on the coffee and baking.

Making brunch reservations, also an important skill :)

5. Just for fun, a cat's guide to taking care of humans.  It's super cute :)

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I'm hoping that we escape the snow that's predicted for Sunday, but at least we have nice weather to look forward to on Saturday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Volunteering - Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon and 50k

Well, I had my first experience volunteering at a race. It was the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail and it had both a marathon and 50k option. Basically, there was an extra loop along the course that the runners did if they wanted the 50k option. My assignment was to be a course marshall and stop runners at a place where the trail intersected with the road to make sure there were no cars coming as the roads were not closed.

It was clear that trail races have some challenges that road races don't, but this wasn't an ideal first volunteer experience. I'll start with the good things.

The weather was perfect for a Spring day and the location was beautiful. At the beginning of my shift, I even saw three deer frolicking in the woods while waiting for the first runners to come by. It was absolutely beautiful.

I was paired with another volunteer who had been running with the Montgomery County Road Runners for a long time. We had a lot of great conversations for the hours we were together.

The snow covered trail when I got there.

Trail, what trail? Oh, that little strip by the tree with footprints.

The runners were amazing. We were stationed approximately 6 miles from the finish so the runners had already run at least 20 miles by the time they got to us. And the conditions of the trail were not good. It started out snowy/icy and ended up muddy as everything melted throughout the day.

And this is what the trail looked like after the snow melted.

There were lots of muddy and bloody runners. But they were all so appreciative and friendly even after having run for hours in these conditions. They really made it worth it and I am so glad I was able to be there for them.

Pretty much all the runners were mud covered by the time they got to us (photo from MCRRC)

Now, for the bad. Sadly there were some problems with logistics. I never heard back after I signed up as a volunteer. The day before the race, I asked one of my coaches and she emailed the race director with the inquiry. He apologized for somehow missing me and asked me to fill in as a course Marshall as someone else had cancelled at the last minute. The only information I was given was that I should be there from 11am to 2:30 pm and the directions for parking. I assumed the other course Marshall with me would have more information.

Well, that was the second problem...a complete lack of information. The other volunteer had no information either. All we knew to do was watch out for traffick to make sure runners didn't get run over by cars and cheer them on. But runners would ask questions about how much longer until the end, distance to the next water stop, etc. and we had no idea what to tell them. We also didn't know what to do in case of medical emergency. Thankfully, we had no medical issues but it was quite possible given the condition of the course.

Lastly, the email said to stay until 2:30 but wait to leave until the sweepers showed up. Well, we waited until 3:30 and there were no sweepers, ever. We did finally leave after having given the extra hour because we couldn't wait longer. Did I mention there was no bathroom available anywhere near us?

I did hear from various people the next day that there were problems all along the race but that this was very unusual. Everyone said that they had never had a volunteer experience like this one and that it is usually much better organized. So I won't let this taint my opinion of volunteering for local races. And the runners really did make it worth being there. I was very happy that I was able to be there for them as they finished such long distances in such difficult conditions. They really were inspirational.

This runner was so cute, and still chipper by the time she got to us (photo from MCRRC)

Anyone else have interesting volunteer experiences?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Weekly review

So I only got in 2 days of running this week because of the snow at the beginning of the week. Our Tuesday track workout was cancelled because the school was still closed. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical at home instead. 

Wednesday was a strength training workout from Fitocracy again. I should probably move up a level next week because I'm not feeling any soreness afterward any more.

Thursday, I ran on the treadmill after work.  It went ok but it felt a little tough, probably because I hadn't run since the previous Thursday. I also think I might not have eaten enough before working out that day. I was supposed to run 6 intervals of 6 minutes running and 1 minute walking. I ended up doing that for intervals 1, 2, 5 and 6 but ran only 5 minutes for intervals 3 and 4.

Saturday was the day I volunteered for the trail marathon/50k. I had planned to do some yoga after getting home but I was wiped from standing in the sun for hours so it didn't happen. Sunday, we had our long run.  We were on the capital crescent trail and it was a beautiful morning. We saw two deer cross the trail in front of us at one point.  We did 6 intervals of 10 minutes running and 1 minute walking.  Runkeeper unfortunately didn't work but one of the coaches said it was around 4.5 miles. The 10/1 intervals went much better than I thought it would. The first five intervals went well but I stopped early on the last interval, probably around minute 9.

And for fun, here's a photo of Perry's favorite new spot to hang out. It's as high as he can possibly get in the house, as displayed by his tail hitting the ceiling.

I hope everyone had a great weekend! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Five - Spring forward

Yay, it's Friday! I am so excited since I have a lot of relaxation time scheduled for this weekend :) And of course, Friday also means it's time to link up with the ladies from the DC Trifecta.

This week's theme is the seasonally appropriate "Spring Forward." I am excited about a lot of things coming up this Spring and happy to share five of them :)

1. Running - I've got a local charity 5k in April, Ben's Run and the Semper Fi 5k in May . June will be my first race longer than 5k, the Lawyer's Have Heart 10k .

2. Volunteering - I will have my first 2 race volunteer experiences. The first is at a local marathon this weekend and the second is at the Nike Women's Half in April. I'm sure I'll be writing about both of those.

3. Birthday - My birthday is in early June and Mike always does a great job of making it special. This year, he's gotten us tickets to see Mos Def in concert since he's one of my favorite musical artists and we also have tickets to see the Lion King at the Kennedy Center. I've wanted to see that show for a while, so I'm glad it's going to happen this year.

4. Vacation - Vegas! Mike and I are planning a long weekend trip to Las Vegas over Memorial Day. We just booked the air and hotel package so I'm super excited as that always makes it seem more real.

Edited IMG_0789
Flowers and outdoor dining, more good things about Spring

5. Gardening - One of the things I looked forward to about having a house was being able to garden. Last year was the first time I've had a garden and I've learned some valuable lessons I'm hoping to implement this year. But I love having fresh herbs just outside I can use for cooking since they're so expensive in the store and don't last long. Also looking forward to vegetables from the garden.

I hope everyone else has had a good week and a fun weekend ahead! Anything special you're looking forward to?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

80's Retro Run 5k

I had a really fun time at the 80's retro run 5k, but I feel like it was in spite of the race.  Clearly, I wasn't a big fan of this one.

Fun with dad!

For starters, it was in Frederick, Maryland.  This one was my fault but I didn't check where Frederick was before agreeing to do this with friends.  It was further than I thought.  It took 45 minutes to get there and 45 minutes to get back.  That wouldn't have been a big deal if the race had been well run.

As a sign of the poor organization, they didn't send information about packet pick up until the Wednesday before the Saturday race.  And packet pick up was only on Friday from noon to 6 pm, or the morning of the race if you paid an extra $5 six hours during the time most people are at work is just not enough for packet pick up.  If that's all you're going to do, you should not be charging for same day packet pick up.  And again, it took me 45 minutes to drive up there and 45 minutes to get back. I got a cotton t-shirt, sunglasses, and the bib.  And this is totally a little thing, but they didn't even have safety pins for the bibs.

The race was supposed to start at 10am so my dad and I left around 8:30 after a quick breakfast at home.  By the time we parked and got to the start, it was around 9:30 and there was just kind of a mob of people hanging out by a DJ and some food trucks.  My friends showed up a couple minutes later and they had to pick up their bibs.  One of them even mentioned, is there anyone to notice if we don't have bibs?  Sadly, she was probably right that no one would have noticed.  I hardly saw  any volunteers or workers the whole time. The lack of support was really surprising.
Fun with friends!

Next, the course.  It was at the Frederick Fairgrounds.  And it was horrible. There were a lot of switchbacks  and even concentric circles at one point.  It was clearly not enough area to get the 5k in in a reasonable way.  It was confusing at points as to whichever direction to go. Also, the terrain was rough.  It started out and ended with paved areas but the middle of the course included grassy area, a horse racing track, and lots of muddy spots. The varying terrain was difficult and I was worried about my dad at some points.

You can see how ridiculous the course is here and the elevation changes as well. I started runkeeper late so that probably explains the 2.95 miles instead of 3.1 But given how badly the race was organized, I wouldn't be surprised if the course was short.

So that's it. We ended up having fun, the 80s music on the course was cool, and there were a lot of fun costumes that people wore. But the logistics and organization were poor. I sadly wouldn't recommend this one to anyone unless major changes were made. And in fact, I probably wouldn't recommend a race at this venue at all. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Weekly review

It's Monday again and time for another weekly workout review.  Monday was a rest day and Tuesday was supposed to be the group track workout.  However, a new Road Runners store opened near us and we were invited to a special event at the store.  They gave a little talk, had some snacks and waters for us, and we went for a 20 minute run.  The run was down the sidewalk near a major road (Rockville Pike for those in the area) so it wasn't that fun and the sidewalk was kind of narrow for the group.  But it was ok and we ended back at the store, where we were given a $25 gift card to use at the grand opening on Saturday.  I forgot to turn runkeeper on so I don't have any data for this run.

Thursday, I ran on the treadmill at work.  I had a pretty good run and ended up doing one more interval than was listed on the schedule.  The average pace was a little slow but it includes the 5 minute warm up and cool down.  It was 6 minutes running to 1 minute walking.  I used 3 mph for the walk intervals and 4.5 or 4.8 mph for the run intervals.

Friday was a strength training routine from Fitocracy while I was waiting for my parents to get into town.  The routine was to repeat these for 4 sets.

Saturday was the 80s retro 5k and it was fun.  We walked most of that one.  I'll be doing a review later this week but here's a sneak peek :)

After the 5k, we went back to the Road Runner store so I could use my gift card and my dad could get fitted for new shoes.  I got a hat and compression calf sleeves. They were also doing some raffles and I  won free entry to a "wine in the woods" 5k in May!  Another race to add to my calendar :)

I was thinking of going for a run on Sunday since Saturday was mostly walking but by the time we finished errands and got home from the grocery store, it started raining.  We hunkered down for more snow last night and are having a snow day today.  Hopefully it won't affect tomorrow's track run.

I hope you all had a great running week!