Friday Favorites

It’s been a while since I did Friday Favorites, so let’s resurrect that, huh? Here are some of the things (both running and non-running-related) that I’m loving right now:

1. My new Brooks Transcend 2’s

IMG_7955 (2)If you’ve seen/read any of my posts in the last year and a half, you can probably tell that I love my Brooks Transcends. I was hooked early on with the 1’s when they were first released in February of 2014, and after a brief fling with Asics’ Gel Nimbus (very nice for sure, but not my fave), the love affair continued into this year with the release of the 2’s.

A month or so ago, I posted a pic of my favorite neon pink kicks on Instagram for Brooks’ #thankyourunning campaign, and they loved it so much that they used it on their own site, which then led to last week’s IG Takeover. To thank me for everything, the team at Brooks sent me some gear and a new pair of Transcend 2’s last week – so freaking awesome! While I initially thought the color scheme wasn’t very snazzy (I am more partial to loud obnoxious colors), I’ve found that the unique silver/pink/blue ombre actually matches everything in my running wardrobe. And after a handful of shorter runs and a few bike rides in them, I’m still as obsessed as ever and can’t wait to wear them across the finish of my first triathlon next weekend!

2. Chris Pratt

zo6c9ipiraa5xlwyphtr

I’m gonna keep it real here: this guy kind of snuck up on me. Like, I knew he existed, but he just didn’t do anything for me. I’d seen him in a few things like Parks & Rec and Guardians of the Galaxy and thought, “Meh.” But about 45 minutes into Jurassic World, it hit me like a wave: Holy crap, I really like Chris Pratt. I don’t really have much else to offer in the way of explanation, just that it was a sneak attack mini crush. Which is kind of fun!

3. Miss Coco Peru

Specifically, this video.

I discovered this little slice of fabulous last winter when I was going through a rough patch, and her humor pulled me out of a pretty dark place. Since then I’ve devoured each video she puts out, and find myself channeling her when I get distressed (“This disturbs me” is one of her go-to’s, and it just sums up everything in life sometimes). This video was my first introduction to Coco, and I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

4. Swimming

11742655_855376377888382_2447806420082082928_n

Last night the schedule said I was supposed to swim 400m, but I went ahead and pulled out 1000m!! I had no idea I could go for that long. Yes, I stopped after every 100m or so to catch my breath, but it was a solid 35 minutes of powerful laps, and I was practically glowing by the end.

I found myself truly enjoying every lap, pushing to go faster, tweaking my form, focusing on different things with each lap to improve my stroke… it was great! I mean it can’t replace the high I get from running, but considering I detested and avoided all forms of physical activity for basically the first 20 years of my life, who knew I would really enjoy another sport in addition to running?

That’s about it for me, what are YOU loving lately? Share in the comments!

Just Keep Swimming… and Biking and Running

It’s a good thing I’m a runner and not a mathematician. Because evidently – waaaay back when I first found my training plan – my silly ass miscalculated the number of weeks I had before my sprint triathlon, and I focused on training for 6 weeks when in reality I had 7. I never said I was good at math, guys.

tumblr_m9321xHlsO1rtwaqkAs such, I’ve been totally enjoying my “extra” week of training by building up these muscles even stronger! In the past week I completed not one but two brick workouts, and my confidence levels are nice and high.

IMG_7932Last Thursday I ran a few miles right after work in about 80 degrees and full sun – not my brightest idea, but I rationalized it by thinking if I could run in that weather, I can do anything. The brain is a funny thing, isn’t it?

My time wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t dead by the end of the run, which is important. I’m really trying to increase my endurance by pushing past the half hour/hour mark of my normal workouts, and it’s paying dividends. After the run and a short drive to the gym, I hopped right in the pool for 400m at top speed. To my surprise, the swim felt easy! Sure I was sucking wind at the end of every 100m, and guzzling Nuun like it was my job, but at the end of the workout I walked out of the pool not ready to die. Which is a huge step up from my swimming workouts a few months ago!IMG_7925

Friday I earned my rest day – but I couldn’t help it and ducked down to the office gym for 20 quick minutes of strength training.

IMG_7937Yep, in a skirt. Cause why not?

Saturday I woke to the sound of thunder, and rather than test out my lightning-dodging skills on the bike, I decided to take my next brick workout to the gym, where I [spoiler alert] totally killed my previous treadmill 2-mile PR! I think it had something to do with my new goodies courtesy of Brooks – tee, tank, hat, and new Transcend 2’s!!

IMG_7955I started off on a spin bike – yes, I know it’s nowhere near the same as a normal bike on an outdoor ride, but I just don’t work up a sweat on the regular stationary bikes like I do with the spin bikes. So I set the timer for 40 minutes and told myself to beat my previous outdoor bike 10K in 40:40 and well, as you can see I kind of crushed it. By doubling my distance in less time πŸ™‚

IMG_7966Feeling pretty awesome, I hit the treadmill directly in front of me for 1 mile (as the schedule called for), and found myself flying.

IMG_7967Yes, that says 2 miles in 20:02. That means each mile was 10:01. And YES that annoys me to NO END. Sub-10:00 mile, you will be mine!!!

I was feeling so good, in fact, that I decided to keep going and pushed to 2 miles. After all, I told myself – I’ve got 3 to run on race day, I’d better get used to covering the distance.

IMG_7971I sweat clear through my shirt – and all over the treadmill – but I blew through those 2 miles and desperately wanted to keep going. But I don’t want to push myself too hard, my knees were starting to ache a bit, and I figured I’d give myself a nice thrill next weekend when I can really go for it and enjoy the final brick workout before race day.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – all this cross and strength training must really be doing something, because I’ve never seen running times like, at least not since 2011-ish. I’m feeling like I’ve finally found my fitness balance and I’m excited to see what this will do for me when I start distance running again in about 3 weeks.

How about you: any of you tri-hards find increased stamina when you returned to running? Any tips now that my first sprint is less than two weeks away?

Live: Brooks Instagram Takeover!

Big exciting news!!

Are you following me on Instagram? How about Brooks Running? Go do both right now – because today I’m taking over the Brooks Instagram handle to share why I say #thankyourunning!

brooks

At the top of the list: amazing opportunities like this one!

This is a huge honor – I hope you’ll follow along as I share all the wonderful lessons that running has taught me, and share your #thankyourunning story in the comments!

My First Brick Workout

As my first sprint triathlon draws near, I’ve starting to feel the pre-race nerves kick in over the strangest things. For example, I had a stress dream last week about forgetting my sneakers, my bike having flat tires, a thunderstorm over the ocean at the starting line, and accidentally swimming with my phone in my pocket.

tEwD9Ix

So to alleviate some of that stress, I’ve started checking things off my race-prep to-do list – one of them being my race day outfit. Initially I just thought I’d go to the store and get a tri suit and be done with it, easy peasy. Well, after driving around to 7 different stores for 5 hours on a Sunday with my poor cousin (and returning home empty-handed), I realized I’d have to resort to the trusty interwebs once again.

Enter SwimOutlet.com – my cousin (who’s raced a few tri’s this spring already) got her outfit from here and loved it, so I took a look. To keep myself from getting too stressed out over multiple orders and sizing issues, I ordered basically half of the site in various sizes to ensure that I got it right on the first try. My credit card probably had a heart attack at the initial charge (frankly I’m surprised they didn’t call me about a possible fraudulent charge!), but the upside is that I finally found a suit that works!!

IMG_7069It’s by Zoot (who I’d never heard of before this), and after testing it out for a bike and run brick workout – my first tri-related double workout ever! – I’m officially convinced it’s the one!

IMG_7204 (2)This past Saturday, the schedule called for a 10K bike ride followed by a 1 mile run. Not bad in theory – I’ve been kind of doubling up with the DeskCycle during the day and running at night so this wasn’t a huge stretch, but putting the two activities together immediately after one another was an eye-opener. In a good way!

It was gorgeous outside – hot and not as humid as it had been all week – so I jumped into my new Zoot suit (sorrynotsorry), and set off. One thing I did notice was that the tri top rides up a bit, but I’m thinking some safety pins on race day will keep it in check. I cruised along at about 6:15-6:45/mile on the bike, which is a moderate effort. I could have pushed harder, but I wasn’t just looping along humming a song either. My legs were definitely feeling it the two times I stopped for water (I’ve since installed a bottle cage on the bike!), and once I hit 6.2 miles I was pleased with my time of 40:40. 10 miles would be a little over an hour, which I’m totally capable of!

IMG_7239Once I put the bike away, I set out for one mile and went by feel. Immediately I took off and found my leg turnover to be ridiculously fast. I’m talking like 9 minute miles fast – nowhere near my usual 11-12:00/mile pace! I must have been all warmed up and stretchy from pedaling the bike! I checked myself and slowed down to around 10:30, and at about the half mile marker, I flagged. The heat and full sun (it was 12:30 in the afternoon by now) were beating me down, so I walked where I needed and jogged slowly where I could, then took off again at 3/4 mile to finish at 11:24. Not gonna lie – I was shocked at how speedy that mile was after 40 minutes of biking!

IMG_7213 I wobbly-leg walked back to the shade of a nearby tree where we took the cooler out of the trunk and I downed a Gatorade so fast I think I can now coin the term “Gatorade Headache”. But it was so worth it – I’d just showed myself that I’m capable of so much more than I think! Sure it was just about an hour’s worth of work, but it’s something entirely new to me, this triathlon thing, and this workout proved that all the work I’m doing is paying dividends, and will continue to every day. And that’s pretty exciting if you ask me!

How about you: when was the last time you surprised yourself?

Race Recap: Woodbridge Pizza Run 4-Miler

In 2011 I ran the Woodbridge Run for Pizza with my friend Carolyn and a huge group of people and had a relatively good time. The company was great, but I learned that it’s just one of those races that truly takes everything I’ve got. The combination of the hilly terrain, the weather, and the fact that it started at 7PM made for 4 miles aboard the struggle bus. And while I finished in 45:05 at a respectable 11:16 pace, I vividly recall my mantra for the entire last mile: never again, never again.

232323232%7Ffp635 )nu=3283)844)8 6)WSNRCG=374439356532(nu0mrj

The 2011 finish line showdown between me & Carolyn (and Derian in the stroller!)

But, like the stubborn polack I am, “never again” turned into “meh, sure” and I found myself at the starting line last night once again!

IMG_7073

I met up with Carolyn about a half hour before the start and we milled around stretching and chatting with our families. The forecast called for thunderstorms but the sky was already clearing, so we slowly made our way to the starting line, talking mostly about how G-D DAMN HOT it was. Seriously, it was like 90 degrees at 7PM, and the humidity had to be around 90%. It was like walking through hot soup!

IMG_7086

We also limbered up with some synchronized acrobatics

After a few words from the mayor, we set off on our journey and chatted a bit along the way. Carolyn set the pace at around 10:15/mile, which worried me a bit. I felt OK, but didn’t think I could maintain that pace the whole time, especially with the humidity.

But we kept going through the first 2 miles, walking at each mile marker for water stops – but I wasn’t going to be able to keep up the pace, I could tell. It turns out that even though she wasn’t running a lot lately, the crazy HIIT booty camp classes that Carolyn has been taking have turned her into a superwoman, because even though she mentioned eating 2 ice cream sandwiches before lunchtime, she made 10:30 miles look EFFORTLESS! I was sucking wind and felt my form breaking down bad, but she just clicked on through with a smile. I think I need to check out these classes!

At the 2nd water stop I felt the nasty acid reflux burn kick its way into my mouth and burped a few times. No matter how much water I drank, it kept burning and I had to walk through it. I felt bad – I didn’t want to hold Carolyn back so I told her to go ahead. She hung around for a few more meters, but all that water kicked back on me and I burped up a big ‘ol hunk of my pre-race PB&J (yuck). That’s when I told her to go: she wasn’t going to want to see the end of this.

IMG_7074 (2)

On the bridge right before mile 3.

So once she took off at mile 2.6ish, I did a few run/walk intervals but started burping again every time I’d start running. At the last interval at the start of mile 3, it was finally too much and I ended up losing the rest of my PB&J (sorry, gross!). It didn’t feel bad though – if anything, the lack of food now made it easier to run! That must officially make me a runner , huh? πŸ˜‰

I stuck with intervals for the next 3/4 mile, maintaining an 11:40-ish pace. I was still really excited by this – considering my last run of more than 3 miles was a 12:30 pace (in nicer weather!), this performance was much better than I anticipated! It was kind of a bummer to see my friend go on ahead though, especially after all that talk of no running and ice cream sandwiches. But comparison is the thief of joy, isn’t it?

Once I hit mile 3.8, I sucked it up and powered through, rounding the corner and finishing strong (and with a smile!) in 46:46 (Garmin time of 46:49) and an avg. pace of 11:33!

IMG_7089

IMG_7078

After I crossed the finish line and reunited with everyone, we cooled off in the open fire hydrant at the finish then headed over to the post-race party for pizza and live music.

IMG_7079

SWEET RELIEF

The pizza was meh considering I’d just yakked on the course, so I had one piece to call it a Pizza Run, got a few mosquito bites, and we called it a night! Another successful, fun Pizza Run in the books.

Will I do this one again next year? Maybe. The smaller field of runners means there aren’t that many slower folks like me at the back of the pack – and I wasn’t even going as slow as I was earlier this year! I finished 165/208, which certainly isn’t last, but I was alone for most of that last mile. It was lonely, and frankly kind of discouraging back there. But again – comparison is the thief of joy! And looking at it in terms of my OWN performance and how much better I’ve gotten over the past 3-5 months, this race was a huge win for me, hands down.

Ah, who am I kidding? I’ll probably give it a shot next year just to see if I can beat my time πŸ˜‰

Fireworks, Ice Cream and Running

I’m not going to lie – I’ve got nothing left in the tank today. It’s the first day back to the grind after a 3 day weekend filled with gardening, walking, running, biking & swimming, and I am feeling it.

10455325_10100270883893589_4586262542601381886_n

Wednesday I woke up in a terrible mood – I don’t know if it’s the super sticky weather, the summertime blues, or what. So I hit the pavement after work around my office for a 2 mile run (avg. pace 10:56!) to stick with the schedule and felt OK. The air was thick with humidity and I had to deal with the honks of my coworkers as they passed me by on their way home. Maybe my ridiculous ombre-filled outfit had something to do with that?

IMG_6860

That night when I got home, though, things started to look up. Because I walked in the door and found myself face to face with this big ol’ box of happiness:

IMG_6826a

The folks at Arctic Zero sent me a delicious care package filled with 5 of their new Chunky Pints for me to try, and I am 100% hooked. I tried their regular flavors last summer and found them to be pretty good – a nice substitute for when you need that ice cream fix but don’t want to undo all of the great work you’ve done by eating healthy and working out all week. And while I’m not usually an ice cream fiend, all that changed when I tried these babies.

IMG_6830

Where their standard flavors are 35 calories per serving (or 150 for the whole pint), these chunky flavors have add-ins that make them a little more decadent at 75 calories per serving (or 300 per pint), which is still peanuts compared to regular ice creams. But I’ll be the first to tell you: those extra calories are SO worth it. I immediately dove into the cookie dough chip and mint flavors, while Mike tried the butter pecan and key lime pie. Soon we were spoon-fighting over who got the last scoop in our bowls, and every night since then I’ve created little masterpieces mixing flavors and adding in things like melted organic peanut butter, reduced sugar chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Just typing it is making my mouth water… is it dessert time yet?

Aaaaanyway! Thursday I woke up without all the guilt of a post-ice-cream-binge (because of the whole guilt-free, good-for-you thing they’ve got going on at Arctic Zero!) and headed to work for a half day. Before leaving I managed to get my biking in (5 miles in 16 minutes) and then we walked about 3 miles to and from our town’s fireworks show that night.

IMG_6922

Thankfully, Friday was nice and sunny and hot, so we took on our lawn all morning. it turns out that “weeding” is really short for “a bunch of squatting and bending over at odd angles to yank out stubborn roots while sweating in full sun for 2 hours”. As a reward, my friend invited me into his pool that afternoon where I went for a dip and did a lap or two, along with a lot of water treading while we chatted for a few hours. I know it wasn’t the standard pool workout, but I counted it – my poor body was tired!

IMG_6923

Saturday I woke up early for a pedicure and took a 100% rest day (and loved every minute of it, naptime included)! Because Sunday I hit the grind again pretty hard: in search of a triathlon tank and shorts, my cousin and I walked about 14 miles (slight exaggeration) around 6 different stores, all with no luck. I started to get discouraged (and Wednesday’s ucky anxious feeling started to return), so I dealt with it the best way I know how: with a run.

IMG_7004

I went out SUPER hard in the first half mile to burn off the restlessness and kind of set myself back for another 2.5 miles of pain in doing so, but it was OK. I lapped around the park and along the water for the full 3.1, eating bugs (ew) and dodging bats (double ew), but I finished sweaty and exhausted and feeling more like me. My pace was still pretty good considering how much I wanted to die after that first half mile, and given the fact that it was 88 degrees and 80% humidity at 8:30PM!

And that was my 4th of July weekend in a nutshell – how was yours? How are you handling this Monday?

Disclosure: Arctic Zero provided me free samples in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Triathlon Training Week 2

When we last left off I was feeling pretty confident about this whole triathlon training thing – and I still am! So I dove headfirst (literally) into week 2 of training with a nice quiet swim last Monday night.

IMG_6690Nothing like having the whole pool to yourself!

I’m so happy: I finally figured out how to avoid the witching hour when swim lessons end at the pool! In the past, I would arrive at gym just as the locker room filled with kids screaming at top volume, playing hide and seek in lockers, splashing each other with water from the showers, and generally causing unsupervised chaos in the locker room. So now I stay at work a little while longer, change into my suit at the office, and arrive to an empty parking lot and silent pool. Bliss!

So I did the 6×50’s on my schedule and rocked them hardcore. Seriously: the breaks I need to take between 50’s are a lot shorter, I don’t start spluttering at the end of the lap like I used to, and I’m generally feeling stronger with each stroke. This plan is really working!

Tuesday was 20 minutes of biking, so I hit the DeskCycle throughout the day and pushed to 30 minutes and 6 miles. It just felt right, even in skinny jeans.

10986564_841050789320941_8441742770079039186_nWednesday was a run day, and I surprised myself with that unbelievably fast 2.5KM I talked about in my last post. I’m not going to lie – I also downed a quick cup of coffee moments before the run while I watched the hotties on the NHL Awards, so my performance was somewhat enhanced by all that extra adrenaline. But what the hell, I’ll take a 9:38 first mile and 10:17 avg. page for 1.6 miles!

IMG_6675Thursday was another swim day, with a full 300M on the schedule. While I still had to hold onto the side of the pool after every 100M to avoid drowning, I tested myself by not pushing off the side (simulating that dreaded open-water swim I’ll face in 4 weeks) and still managed to complete 400M relatively quickly! Yes, I still need to take breaks every 50-100M, but with 4 more weeks of training I’m pretty sure that even if I have to float for those recovery periods on race day, I’m not going to die nearly as quickly as I initially thought! That is, unless a shark happens to catch me straggling at the back of the pack.

Friday was supposed to be a rest day, but a friend and I schlepped into Peddler’s Village and New Hope, PA and managed to clock almost 6 miles of walking! Not exactly restful, but oh so pretty!

IMG_6762

The rest of the week’s schedule was kind of thrown off: I drove up to Connecticut and met my best friend of 25+ years for our annual girls’ weekend, and blissfully forgot all about training for 36 hours. We watched Chris Pratt’s thighs (err, I mean Jurassic World), hung out in the hotel hot tub, laughed until our stomachs hurt, talked about life, and drank wine until we passed out giggling in the same bed. She’s good for my soul, this chick.

IMG_6772Did I mention Chris Pratt’s thighs?

As a result, Saturday and Sunday were both rest days – but I hit it hard again on Monday by taking my bike ride to the DeskCycle. And yeah, about that “15 minutes easy” it said on the schedule…

IMG_6785

Sorry – I accidentally biked a half marathon in 48 minutes.

To my credit, I felt like I had a little bit of a price to pay by skipping the whole weekend, but it was totally worth it!

Last night’s swim was a little tougher than I’d hoped it be though – I had 3x100M on the calendar but for some reason I couldn’t hold it together past the first 100M. I started spluttering after 150 and had to stop entirely at 200 for a full minute or two. I was super glad to have the pool to myself, because that last 100 was ugly. But it was done!

Now I’m looking forward to getting a run in sometime today, even though it only says I need to walk/run 2.5KM. I have a feeling I’ll end up doing more but can’t wait to run by feel and just fall into the groove again. I missed my long run this weekend and need that runner’s high again!

How’s it going by you? Any of you folks in the US looking forward to a long weekend? And Happy Canada Day to my friends in the Great White North!