Half Marathon Training Week 3

For a minute there it looked like I almost had it all! Nailing those sub-12 minute miles like it ain’t no thang, rocking all the cross training I could get my hands on… It had to come crashing down eventually. And it did, in last week’s first training run on Tuesday:

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While these numbers aren’t that bad by my standards, they’re deceptive. Because those 54 minutes were PURE TORTURE. I fought through the entire run with a painful, swollen ACL knee (thanks, humidity and rain for 4 days in a row) and each water break was a struggle to come out of without quitting. But the miles were logged and I was only slightly off my goal.

The next day I did some minor strength training (mostly arms and abs), then went to acupuncture. Thursday’s next run was for redemption, and I wasn’t disappointed:

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While it wasn’t 100% easier, the pain in my knee wasn’t as biting and I was able to rock through all 4 miles much faster than a few days prior. I guess that’s what they mean by good runs and bad runs.

After taking my rest day Friday and heading down to Atlantic City with my mama for a little girls’ getaway, I set out for my long run on the boardwalk for a change of pace Saturday morning (and prayed that all the wine I drank the night before wouldn’t hurt my performance).

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The weather was super warm for February at around 55 degrees, but the winds coming up from the south were brutal. After shaking out, I took off for one mile going north and thought “This is great! I could go forever!” That is, until I turned around at the northernmost point of the boardwalk and ran smack into a wall of wind that didn’t quit for the next 2 miles. The tears streamed from my eyes even under sunglasses, and my face stayed pink for the rest of the day. Once I made it just past mile 3, I had to turn around and get the wind at my back again. I had hoped to go farther south so I didn’t have to double up my route, but the wind was just too much.

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So I spun and ran through thickening crowds back to the northern end of the boards at around mile 5, then spun around again to fight through mile 6, and back again for 7. It wasn’t the most efficient route, but I had to do what I had to do to fight through the winds and get the miles in! I only stopped to stretch and drink once at mile 3.5ish, and kept a good pace the rest of the time. My A Goal was to stay under 12:00/mile again for the long run, but once I hit that wind I knew it wasn’t going to be possible. B Goal was to finish under 12:30/mile without walking too much, and I nailed that easily.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my Skirt Sports Tantrum print Lotta Love top for going the distance. The little pocket in the back did double duty by holding my phone AND keeping the edge of my top weighed down so I didn’t have to tug at it the whole time I ran (like I do in other brands). PS: if you want to score your own Skirt Sports gear, use code JRH20 for 20% off your order!

Once I hit 7 miles and cooled down for a bit, I headed back up to the room to change and shower for a nice massage (YES) and then mama and I got all dolled up for a good old fashioned Mardi Gras party!

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All in all Week 3 was a little more low-key than I’d hoped – I wanted to get more strength training in, but acupuncture and traveling cut into my schedule more than anticipated. It’s alright though – I’m still way ahead of the game in terms of my long run mileage (almost a full month ahead, technically), so I’m not going to rush anything. That said, I can’t wait to run tonight, even if it is on another damn treadmill because of the pouring rain and freezing temps outside. Bring it on, treadmill!

How’s your training going? Tell me in the comments!

Is it Spring Yet?

I know, it’s only February 19th. But can we at least fast forward to like… April 1st? I’ve got SO many exciting races coming up and I want to RUN ALL THE RACES NOW!

Okay, that might be the coffee talking (and the fact that I just keep killing it in training, with sub 12-minute miles becoming the new norm). OR it could be the fact that my favorite running club of all time, the New York Road Runners, just opened up a slew of new spring race registrations and I kind of went on a bender yesterday.

No, for real. I registered for 4 races in one day:
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And if you think that’s nuts, my original list had 7 races! I only cut back because I had to be realistic. I have the April Fools 11K on 4/2, then I’ve got my goal race (the NJ Half) on May 1, so I swore off racing in the weeks before and immediately after that. The races I committed to are all far enough out from those dates that I’m confident I’ll be able to compete at top form. Also, there were a few races where signing up would have meant 3 or more racing weekends in a row, with multiple trips to Atlantic City and NYC. As much as I want to #runalltheraces, I’ve got a bank account and a family and adult responsibilities (dammit). So for now, this will have to suffice.

In short: My spring racing calendar went from “meh” to “whoa baby!” pretty quickly. And because I’m not 100% sure of my fall racing calendar, who knows what else I might add?

All I know is I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for March 8th, when the NYC Marathon Lottery drawing happens. I want into that race so bad I can taste it!

How about you – have you locked down your racing calendar yet? If you could RUN ALL THE RACES what would your ideal list be? Any bucket list races in the works? 

Half Marathon Training Week 2 (& Giveaway Winner!)

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there in the blog-iverse! I hope you spent some time today treating yourself however you like best, whether with chocolate or a run or vegging on the couch or wine (or all 4). Hubby and I celebrated in a low-key way, which is how I like it: with a box of Star Wars chocolates, some nice cards, a delicious seafood dinner at a Portuguese restaurant around the corner, and a nap. ❤

Half marathon training is in full swing over here. I’m still more than 2 months from race day but feeling super confident thanks to all these longer races I’ve been doing in the “off” season. My weekly long runs have stayed around 5-6 miles for a while, and my 2 training runs during the week are at a solid 4 miles apiece (when they used to be 2.5-3ish). This training cycle is all about that base [mileage], and I’m happy to log more miles consistently, because it means big improvements in my speed! Case in point: this week’s runs:

I logged 14 miles this week, all under 12:00/mile. This was especially exciting during my long run on Saturday, when I managed to nail 6 full miles at that amazing pace. I can’t remember the last time I did that! Usually once I go over 5 miles I slow down considerably, but this is promising.

The difference this time around? I know I may sound like a broken record, but the acupuncture has really been a game changer. Thanks to the appetite management treatments, I’m still not overeating or snacking like I used to. This has led to a pretty noticeable weight loss: depending on the day it’s between 12-15 lbs! I’m so glad I’m not lugging that extra weight around with me on the pavement! I go for treatment #4 this Wednesday and can’t wait to give him the good news 🙂

Along with the  weight loss, the acupuncture has also increased my energy levels in a big way. I wake up before my alarm, feeling refreshed and ready to go almost every day, regardless of when I get to bed the night before. And even though I recently took on an extra role at work on top of my existing responsibilities (meaning 2x the pressure, focus, and mental energy needed each day), I’ve still managed to nail my workouts even after a full day of work for the past 2 weeks.

On top of the running I’ve been doing to kick off this training cycle, I’m focusing on making those cross training and strength training days count, with full hours dedicated to arms or legs, with core work to cap off every session. I’m finally noticing little changes in my body and will keep it up to see where I can go from here.

And when I take a rest day, I really TAKE that rest day. Like this past Friday, when I went to see Star Wars for the [I don’t want to admit how many]th time and got up close and personal with Mr. Kylo Ren here:

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That’s about it for training this past week! I do want to close out this update with a fun announcement: our Love to Run Giveaway winner! Drumroll please…. Congratulations Miss Meridith Daniel! I clicked “random winner” and you were our lucky lady!! Check your inbox for instructions on how to claim your prize pack 🙂

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Mere and I had a fantastic response to this giveaway with almost 450 entries, and we thank each and every one of you for participating! It’s such an honor to work with companies like Greecie Girl and Cocogo to bring you guys these contests, and I can’t wait to bring you even more opportunities to win fun stuff in the future!

So now that we’re starting a new week, tell me: how is your training going? Did you do anything fun for Valentine’s Day? 

Love to Run Giveaway!

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, why not treat yourself to a little something? Well my speedy sis-in-law, Meredith, and I are hosting a giveaway so you can do just that!

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That’s right: when you enter to win our Love to Run Prize Pack, one lucky person will win a whole bunch of goodies: one Cocogo water bottle & 3 Flavor Variety Pack, one Greecie Girl tank top, and one pair of Saucony arm warmers!

Enter HERE!

Click on over to enter now – there are tons of ways to earn entries, and you’ve got until 12AM on Valentine’s Day to enter! Please note: this contest is open to US residents only.

After you’ve entered, click over to Cocogo to treat yourself to some all natural hydration at an even steeper discount! They’re bumping up our promo codes throughout the giveaway to a full 20% off your order at their online store – simply enter JESSRUNSHAPPY or MERETHERUNNER14 (all caps) for 20% off your entire order.

So what are you waiting for? Enter our giveaway now, share the link and spread the love – and we can’t wait to see who the lucky winner is!

 

Race Recap: NYRR Gridiron 4 Miler

Over the weekend I had the privilege of returning to Central Park for another race – along virtually the same course as my favorite race ever, the Joe Kleinerman 10K! – and it was every bit as perfect as I’d hoped it would be.

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“Perfect” with a capital P.

I woke up at around 4am for a 5:30am drive in – my cousin Heather was running the race again with me and she offered to drive us in! Because it was so early, traffic was blissfully clear and we arrived at our trusty parking garage in Manhattan at around 6:15.

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And saw some sassy graffiti to boot.

After walking for about a mile or two, we decided to grab a cab to the start to save our legs, and after a short ride, we arrived at the starting line VERY early. I’m talking “toilet paper still wrapped up in the port-a-john” early. It kind of stunk because our toes had more time to freeze, BUT you can’t beat a clean port-a-john, amirite?

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also, being early gave me plenty of time to play around with the friends I brought into the park with me: Tiny Rey and Tiny Kylo Ren!

After about an hour of playing with different uses for Hand Warmers (pro-tip: they don’t work on your nose), we checked out the football toss and made one more quick stop at the bathroom, then we all headed over to the start.

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thanks, camera man Mike! ❤

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Once the gun went off, I took a gel (eating breakfast at 4:30AM really leaves you with a grumbly hungry tummy at the 9AM start!) and it took us 9 minutes to get from the last corral to the line.

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With an average speed of 1.7mph. Thanks for the reality check, Snapchat.

Once we crossed the starting line I turned on my music and everything fell into place.

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The sky was so blue and the air was crisp and cold and refreshing. I went into the race feeling confident and healthy, so I decided to aim for a PR. My previous 4 Mile PR was 45:06, set back in 2011. That average pace was something I’d only seen on my best training days in recent months, so I knew it’d be a stretch. But it was a challenge I was ready to take on, thanks to recently increased energy levels and extra training sessions I’ve been logging the past 4 weeks or so.

The first mile went by easily at 11:20 and I nodded to myself when I saw the pace – good. Not ideal, but better to go out slower and get faster as I went further, and burn out in the final half mile if I had to. So I cruised along, taking in the sunrise coming up over the high rises we ran past, dodging groups of people as I went. I lost count of how many people I passed, left and right as I charged through the packs. It was the first time I’ve felt like I was truly racing the folks around me, and it felt great. After Mile 2 clicked by at a similar pace, I knew I’d be in good shape for a PR.

The nice thing about this course is that it’s mostly downhills with one solid hill at around mile 2.5. Once we hit it I powered up, watching my pace the whole time – I told myself if I stuck to 11:10/mile the whole hill without walking, I’d make it up on the other side. Besides, I thought – I’d be running past one of my favorite spots in Manhattan at just past Mile 3, and would get a guaranteed energy boost when I saw it.

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And sure enough, there it was – my terrace. Up in that pic, can you see the little bushes on the terrace near the top of the tallest building? That’s my terrace. Well, not my terrace. But it’s the place I daydream about living in. Ever since spotting it during the Joe K 10K, I developed a crush on that building and concocted this alternate universe where I live in that apartment and have sunset views of the park and the whole city from my balcony. 1040 Fifth Avenue. I’m not one for Kennedy nostalgia, but I learned that Jackie O even lived in that penthouse terrace, a year after JFK was killed. Talk about classic sophistication.

Anyway, once I spotted it I had to snap a few pics while I ran. It was too perfect – the sun coming up, the crowds surging around me, my blood pumping… I don’t think I’ve ever had such a blissful moment during a race. That pic up there is now my phone background, because it gives me this immense feeling of peace when I see it. Whether or not I ever set foot in 1040 Fifth Avenue, I’ll always have that moment. And that’s just one of the countless unforgettable, life-enriching moments that running has given me.

Once we rounded the corner & took off along the final stretch, I charged forward at 10:45/minute. It was tough – for a moment at what I thought was about Mile 3.25 I thought I might not be able to sustain that pace and briefly considered slowing or stopping to walk to ensure a strong finish. But when I glanced at my watch and saw 3.76 (!!) I knew I couldn’t stop, even for a second. I was sprinting for the finish as fast as I could and I was going to PR if it meant I had to crawl over that line.

So I took off even faster, passing people left and right. At one point about 75 yards from the finish I ran into a wall of people – literally – and after slowing to keep pace behind them for about 10 seconds, I finally yelled out “Excuse me!!” I couldn’t take it – I wanted to be polite, but I REALLY wanted that PR! Ain’t nobody got time to be hanging out behind a bunch of people content to block the whole course!

Once I passed them I took off again and spotted the finish at the bottom of the hill near the same spot as the 10K. I just barely had enough time to flash a grin and a half thumbs-up at Mike as I passed him, and crossed the finish at 44:09!

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I think it was my happy stripey Pro Compression socks 😉

I’ll admit: after crossing the finish line, I was entirely shredded. I moved through the finisher’s chute trying to catch my breath. Between grabbing an apple, stopping my watch, turning off my music, and calling Mike to set a meeting spot, I realized I just might have PR’d. So I quickly logged into the NYRR’s live results site, checked my name, and…. YES! A PR by almost a full minute! 44:09 vs. 45:06 in 2011. My 5 year record was BUSTED! I jumped up and down all by myself for a few moments, fist pumping and snapping a celebratory selfie to remember the occasion by.

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Welcome to Cloud Nine, population ME!

Just like the last race, I munched on my apple as I wandered back to our meeting place where I spotted Heather, collected my hubby, and snapped another post-race pic.

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I’ve been taller than her since I was 8. It’s my cross to bear.

That’s when we loaded up into our coats once again and took off down Fifth Avenue to walk the looooong haul back to the parking deck.

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Not before I snapped a selfie with my terrace out on the corner of 85th & 5th! Penthouse Life, baby!

All told, we did about 11 miles that day, walking more than we ran, but it worth it. The sun eventually warmed us up and we had a great time in the city as usual, talking and laughing the whole way there and back, then capping off the day with naps galore and Super Bowl [commercial] madness. Rarely do I find myself smiling just thinking about a race – I even bought the finish line photos because it was such a great experience! – but this was another one for the record books. NYRR Gridiron 4 Miler: A+!

Pins and Needles

Since I first started getting acupuncture done, a lot of folks have asked me for details. How does he know what do work on? [we talk about it at have a mini therapy session at the start of every treatment] What parts of your body do the needles go in? [depends on what he’s treating that day] Do they hurt? [nope!]

It’s a weird experience – and one that I detailed in depth in my first post about it last month – but I’m happy to chat about it as much as possible, if only to spread the word that this stuff is pretty magical. I know some folks might be skeptical about it, and that’s fine. Hell, I was skeptical too, before I tried it. But I started noticing a positive difference immediately after my first session and it’s only gotten better with more treatments.

Last night I had my third session, where we worked a little more on my anxiety and depression points (wrists), appetite control (ears), and continued treatment on my knees for pain management and increased energy overall. In my second session 2 weeks ago he introduced the concept of focusing on drawing in the energy while I sit with the pins in my body – “Think of the pins as little antennas, drawing in the energy” – and while I kind of made this face at first…

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… I decided to go with it and found that it kind of worked. When I went on my last long-ish run this past weekend, I started to feel the usual twingey feeling in my left knee at around mile 3. So I stopped to walk, stretched a bit, and focused on the spots those needles sat in during my last treatment, along with some breathing exercises that the doctor taught me. While it didn’t erase the pain (I mean, nothing will), the pain didn’t last as long and didn’t return when I stopped for the day. I had a few little pinches and pops here and there but nothing lingered. I’ll take it!

And I know I’m a broken record about it, but I can’t overstate it: the appetite suppression points he worked in my ears are unbelievably effective. I haven’t binged in almost a month and have lost between 8-10 lbs depending on the day. The urge to turn to food when I’m stressed, bored, or upset is simply no longer there. Sure, I get the usual pangs if I’m truly hungry (4 hours after a smoothie and an hour past my usual lunch time when I’m stuck in a webinar). And when I finally get the chance to eat, I also don’t find myself so ravenous that I reach for the first bad choice. Smarter choices are easier to make.

I’m super excited to see what this means for my half marathon training. Even though I only just started, the added energy, weight loss, and anxiety relief is sure to help across the board. I’ll be sure to post more about it as I continue both my treatments and my training, but in the meantime consider this a resounding endorsement for pins and needles!

What do you think – do you do acupuncture? Or do you rely on any other alternative treatments like it? Share in the comments!

 

NJ Half Marathon Training Week 0

Hey all! I’m currently in the middle of my first week of training for the New Jersey Half Marathon in May, and let’s just say I’m glad I added a few extra runs before the plan officially started:

I’m happy to say that the apocalypse you see up there is all but melted now, just over a week since it happened. Thank goodness, too, because I don’t think I could take trudging over a snow mound 4 feet high just to get to my front gate much longer.

To kick off my training a little early I did a few strength training + 1 mile run double workouts last week at the office gym just to get my body used to moving consistently again. I even surprised myself with a nice steady 3.5 mile run at what now feels like an “easy” pace – and on a treadmill to boot!

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Once the weekend hit, I went into high gear with an hour or so of strength training and cross training on Saturday, followed by my first “long” run on Sunday.

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The spinning, lifting, ab, and leg work I did on Saturday morning was made all the more intense thanks to those nifty little tights you see in the pic up there: Physiclo resistance tights. These babies have built-in resistance bands that add a little extra burn to every workout and make me sweat a little harder than I care to admit. That’s a good thing though, especially when I’m doing strength training!

Sunday morning I woke up to a delightfully sunny day, and did a happy dance when I realized it was almost 60 degrees. 60!! On the last day of January!! After babying a slightly pulled muscle in my back (thanks, over-zealous ab work and old mattress) all morning I decided to make the most of the weather and go for a run down the shore.

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I was so stoked! An hour or more all to myself with my new tunes and the ocean, what a great long run it was going to be! I went out thinking I’d aim for 5 miles, but if I did 4 that would be OK too. I’ve got the NYRR Gridiron 4 Miler next weekend in Central Park, which I plan on racing full out, so part of me is keeping things a little conservative this week.

Yeah, I was evidently SO stoked about this run that I left in a hurry and forgot my headphones at home.

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[sad trombone sound effect]

I had, however, driven more than a half hour to get to my running destination, so I had no choice but to go for it, sans music. Which I HATE. Yes, I know that running is all about connecting with your body and feeling the rhythm and getting into your own thoughts… yeah you know what? I’m kind of tired of my own thoughts. I’m an only child and have spent more time with my own thoughts than I care to admit. Sometimes I like just leaving the headphones at home and feeling it, but not this time.

To make things a LITTLE more bearable, I played a podcast by the hilarious Bill Burr on my iPhone speakers, just loud enough for me to hear, and took off on the boardwalk for my long run.

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It wasn’t exactly the head-clearing, zone-out for an hour and rock the groove kind of run I had hoped for, but it was good. I laughed at Burr’s ridiculousness – and had to turn the volume down when passing families with small children! – but after about 2 miles in one direction I started to feel the boredom creep in. This is usually where my tunes would kick in and carry me over the hump and into my second wind.

Instead of the refreshing boost I’d get with a new song, I instead just shut the podcast down and ran. It was not fun. I sang songs in my head. I bobbed and weaved through increasing crowds (who knew Asbury Park Beerfest was the same day?) and noticed that the lack of energy had affected my pace negatively – I was averaging about 11:49/mile at 3.5 and that made me angry. I knew I was capable of better!

So with the final half mile left before I got back to my car, I took off and breezed past everyone, leaping over crusty snow banks and splashing through puddles at around 9:xx/mile pace, loving the feel of the wind in my face and the cold breeze in my lungs. The sprinting paid off, and I finished at my car just over 4 miles at a much lower average pace, thankyouverymuch!

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I’ll call this Week 0 because while I’m more active than I’ve been in the off season, the workouts aren’t 100% on plan. Tonight is a rest night because I’ve got acupuncture appointment #3 (hooray!) and a run and strength workout scheduled for tomorrow, then a light shakeout run Friday to prep for Sunday’s race.

I’m really excited to see what Central Park has in store for me – my current 4M PR is 45:05 which will be hard to beat especially on those hills, but who knows? I plan on giving it 100% and seeing what I’m capable of.

How about you – how’s your training going? Any races coming up? Let me know in the comments!