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?

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how hard it is to balance things out without feeling like I’m stuck in an endlessly repeating loop.

giphyKind of like my friend the gray rat there..

In the past when a big race loomed on the horizon, I would get so focused on The Plan (with a capital P) that by week 10 I felt like a zombie. I’d spend most of the last few weeks wishing the monotony was over, plodding through each workout while repeating the faithful mantra “trust your training”.

duhFat lot of good that did me through endless treadmill miles.

I went from being excited to dreading those workouts, and if we’re being honest here, that kind of defeats the purpose of running, right?

So once my big spring races were done back in April, I scaled back my weekly mileage and looked for other ways to get my fitness kicks. And wouldn’t you know it, my running endurance has improved overall a result!

obvs I maintained a lower base mileage per week, kept my long runs to 5-6 miles on the weekend, and found that I looked forward to weekends because I could fit even more fitness-y type fun things in my day! On days when my knees and my heart just didn’t feel like running, I started doing stuff like yoga and walking (who knew?!). I biked more, both down the park on my trusty two wheeler and on my DeskCycle at the office.

IMG_5516Seriously, 18 miles while working? A few times a week? Hello, leg muscles!

As a result, the past few runs and smaller races I’ve done in May and June have been immensely better than my training runs and races in March and April. I go out strong and don’t waver after 10 minutes like I used to. My pace is consistently improving, even if by a few seconds. I feel stronger, more confident, and less anxious about race day in general. I’m also a few lbs lighter, which never hurts! Hell – yesterday I caught myself jogging up the spiral staircase at my office – I’ve never done that in the 2+ years I’ve been here!

hyperApologies to my coworkers for my new found energy.

I’ve got a 10K race coming up this Saturday and while I haven’t actually used a Plan with a capital P to prep for this race, I’m 100% fine with that. I’m trusting my training, even though it doesn’t fit into a rigid schedule and add up to a certain amount of miles per week. Sure, I’ll probably feel like dying halfway up those Central Park hills, but I look forward to it! Instead of “trusting my training”, this go-round I’m “embracing the journey” and look forward to smiling through all 6.2 miles.

How about you – have you ever just thrown “The Plan” out the window and gone for it? How did your race turn out? Want to race up the spiral staircase with me? 🙂

Happy National Running Day!

It’s June 3rd – that means it’s the biggest holiday in the running world (besides Marathon Monday): National Running Day!

I kicked off my day with a 2.5 mile run around town this morning before work, and while I know I’ve said that morning workouts are the worst (for me), I actually had a good time. I’ve decided to use the limited time I have during my morning runs to focus on speed bursts and hills because I have a hard time working them into my longer runs and never feel like doing them at the end of the day.

IMG_5888So I took off from home at around 6:30AM and set off right up the big hill around the corner, powering up without stopping. My newest playlist was bumping and I feeling fantastic thanks to these folks – have you ever heard of Matt & Kim? Highly motivating running tunes right here!

I coasted down into the main part of town and loved all the smiles I got from people waiting for the bus, walking their dogs, getting their morning coffee – while it was overcast and humid, this was the first morning that hasn’t been filled with torrential rain and miserable chilliness, so I think everyone was just in a better mood in general, which I don’t mind!

IMG_5886I’m always smiling anyway.

I nailed my first mile in about 10:40, which I was stoked about, but I think I may have pushed too hard because once I got to mile 1.5 I started to develop a throbbing headache. Does this happen to you guys? I think it might have something to do with the effort I’m putting in, or maybe I’m not warmed up properly? It mostly happens when it’s cold outside or after I’ve pushed hard in a run, and feels almost like an ice cream headache. I’ve tried taking off my headband, taking my earbuds out, and massaging my temples when it hits, thinking that maybe something is too tight, but that never helps. It’s weird and quite annoying, especially when I’m in a groove like I was this morning!

I spent the next half mile walking and jogging without music to calm the headache, and it mildly subsided enough for me to push through the last half mile to get home, with a respectable time of 2.5 miles in 28:17! Even with the walk breaks and hills, the speedwork evened out my pace to 11:18 per mile, which I’m pretty psyched about! While I haven’t been logging as many running miles as I used to during half marathon training, the 45-60 minutes per day I spend on the DeskCycle seem to have really made an impact on my endurance (plus my knees feel great)!

IMG_5887Thanks, feet!

When I got home and sat down and rehydrated, it took about 10-15 minutes for the headache to totally subside, but once it was gone it was like nothing had ever happened! Now I’m really looking forward to logging a few more miles in the coming days, and running long this weekend in prep for next week’s 10K in Central Park.

How about you? How are you celebrating National Running Day? No matter how you celebrate, make it a good one!

Trying out the DeskCycle

If you’ve seen some of my recent Instagram posts, you’ll notice that I’ve been doing some different cross training this past week, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to tell you all about it!

IMG_5426aAfter throwing my name into the pool for a “calling all bloggers” post on the Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador page, the folks at DeskCycle contacted me asking if I’d like to review their flagship product. I felt like I’d won the lottery! I accepted, and last Monday I received a note from our office warehouse manager saying that I had a package downstairs. It was like Christmas morning!

IMG_5427

Once my lunch hour rolled around I quickly got to work on putting it together – and surprised myself when I got it all right on the first try in under 10 minutes! Ikea furniture takes me like 3 hours and half a bottle of wine, so I was impressed with myself. The directions were super easy to follow and they even included that cute little wrench you see in the pic up there to help speed things along.

I was also very surprised by the high quality of this thing – it was SOLID. I had a little difficulty getting it up to my desk because the box was so heavy (maybe that’s a sign that I need some Desk Arm Weights?), and the pieces are heavy metal, ensuring that it’ll stay put no matter where you place it. Really impressive!

IMG_5433The coolest part was this little egg-shaped desktop display that connects to the bike and gives me a live feed of my speed, distance, calories burned, and total pedaling time! It’s extremely motivating to see that little thing staring me in the face, urging me to pedal some more. But I’ll get to that in detail later.

IMG_5429Once I got it all set up and under my desk, it took about 15 minutes to adjust the height of my chair and distance I needed to sit away from it in order to not bash my knees into the underside of my desk with every rotation, but luckily I’m a fast learner.

After a handful of co-workers all wandered by to take their turn trying it out (I had 4 coworkers who practically threw their credit cards at me to order their own once they tried it out), I settled in after lunch for some actual WORK, adjusted the handy little tension knob right between my feet to a level of 2 to start, and pedaled away.

It was virtually silent – the number one question I received on IG when I first posted about it – so unless you work in a library or office where you can literally hear a mouse fart, you don’t need to worry about annoying anyone. The only related noise I’ve heard in a week of using it is my chair squeaking as I pedal, but that’s my chair and not the bike!

I soon fell into a super focused zone as I compiled stats and did my day job work, and about 10-15 minutes into my ride, I found myself really sweating!! Usually I’m the one huddling up in a thick cardigan and complaining about how cold I am, but just a few miles on this thing and I was burning up! It happened so quickly that I had a brief moment of confusion before I realized that yes, I’d been biking, and… holy crap I did like 3 miles already! That was when I was hooked. Throughout the rest of the day, I’d pedal some more, step away from my desk to take care of something, come back and start up again. Before I knew it, 5pm rolled around, my legs were jelly, and I had completed more than 10.1 miles in 47 minutes!

IMG_5441That was all it took to hook me – now it was a game. I HAD to beat my mileage the next day! So Tuesday rolled around and I started my biking even earlier. I cranked up the tension to 3 this time, and felt the difference immediately. It also made me experience some “drifting” for the first few minutes too, which was a little annoying. I would pedal harder, only to push myself away from my desk and the bike, then have to wheel myself in again.

The folks at DeskCycle already had me covered though, because the bike comes complete with this neat little velcro Tether Strap that you can loop around your chair base and the front stand of the bike. Once you get it hooked around nice and tight, you magically stay put with no effort at all! Once I took care of that, I was able to crank out 15.5 miles throughout the day, with a total of 55 active minutes and 572 calories burned! I again sweat through my shirt after a few particularly strenuous bursts of cycling while filing emails, and while I’m not 100% sure how accurate the calorie counter is, 15.5 miles is nothing to sneeze at! Even if I burned 1/2 of those calories, that’s still something!

IMG_5452The competition with myself became fierce – my legs were super tired at the end of every day, but it was a great feeling getting this hard work in when I was sitting at my desk. I’m usually bushed by the end of the day, and pushing myself for a ride or run after a full day is sometimes a struggle. But with this fun little device, I was getting a good hour’s worth of workouts done each day while also working!

Wednesday I clocked a total of 17.1 miles in just over 59 minutes, and Thursday I managed to get in 18.2 miles in 66 minutes! It became a game – my coworkers would see me sweating as we held impromptu meetings around our desks and I pedaled away, and every few hours someone would yell out “How many miles are you at now?” and no matter what the number, their responses were always something like “I have got to get one of those!”

IMG_5516Friday was the final day of my self-imposed challenge, and I managed to clock a total of 18.5 miles, beating Thursday’s mileage by a hair. It’s true that 2.5 of those miles were running in the morning because I hadn’t run in days! But the 16 miles I biked throughout the day were still 16 miles, and I was amazed at the numbers I racked up over just one week’s use:

  • Total Miles Biked: 77 miles
  • Total Active Minutes: 4:44:09
  • Total Calories Burned: 2,828

All told, I was thoroughly impressed by the DeskCycle. I went into this thinking it might be a fun thing that I’d use and get tired of because it was too flimsy or didn’t give me a good idea of what I was doing, but this far exceeded my expectations. I get such a sense of accomplishment seeing those little numbers add up, and the wobbly-leg feeling I get at the end of every day tell me that I’m doing something right! It’s a super high-quality bike that will get your blood pumping while you’re doing every day tasks at your desk or even on the couch at home! My husband is dying to get one, and while I’ve promised him I’ll bring it home for him to try out, I have to admit: I think I’m just keeping this one and getting him one for our anniversary so I don’t have to share!

For more information or to get a DeskCycle of your own, check out their website – and tell them that JessRunsHappy sent you!

Disclosure: DeskCycle provided me a free sample in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

The First 10 Minutes of Every Workout

Confession time: the first 10 minutes of every workout I do – running, strength training, cross training, you name it – are sheer hell. I spend the whole time just going through the motions while one long “UUGGGHH” drones on silently in my head. It takes a good 10-15 minutes before I’m feeling the burn, sweating it out, and reaping the benefits of the whole fitness thing.

yaasss

This is especially the case when I work out in the mornings. I simply cannot drag myself out of bed, get warmed up and get an efficient workout in less than like 2 hours, and I’m not losing 2+ hours of sleep if I don’t have to, dammit. By the time I get in a groove, I need to start cooling down, showering, and getting ready for my day. First world problems, I  know.

Having said that, I keep trying to fight the system by waking up early for a morning run every now and then. And while these runs are always technical successes in that they are runs that take place in the morning, I can still safely say that I hate morning workouts.

IMG_5303Every time I try to run before work, I only manage to get about a half hour (or 2.5 miles) in before the morning routine has to start, and then I’m exhausted for the rest of the day. Sure, it feels good knowing my workout is done, but the pros don’t really outweigh the cons there.

IMG_5314But of course that sunrise was really something to see, and I would have missed that if I slept in.

I know what my problem is: I need to build it into my schedule just like everything else to make it a habit. Once my body realizes this is the norm with more frequent sessions, it won’t be so bad. But until then, I’ll tough it out and try to enjoy myself.

IMG_5302I also battled the “first 10 minute scourge” this weekend when I did my favorite HIIT workout in the living room Saturday morning.

IMG_5328Back when I first started working out in 2004, I relied heavily on group fitness classes to stay motivated. Looking back, I’m like 90% sure the strict start times and “follow me exactly” routines were the sole reason that I was so successful back then. Working out on your own time, by your own rules, and doing your own made up routine? It’s really hard to stay focused. Especially when you’ve got a nosy cat and a husband watching Bob’s Burgers and laughing in the next room.

IMG_5332I would do one set and get distracted by the mailman or the cat or my own short attention span, but I finally managed to  struggle through the full 40-or so minutes (burpees included)! The humidity outside was a real killer, but I felt nice and accomplished afterwards – even if my legs and glutes were screaming for mercy.

IMG_5333

And that’s the happy, sweaty truth I have to keep reminding myself of: even though the first 10 minutes of every workout suck a pretty big windbag, the last 10 minutes are probably the most rewarding and blissful moments of my day. And SO worth fighting through that wall to get to 🙂

How about you? Do you suffer from the same affliction? How do you conquer the first 10 minutes?

Kicking Off Spring in a Healthy Way

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend – I know I did! It was my first weekend without “having to” train, and I lived it up by doing what I wanted and when, and I loved every minute. It started on Thursday afternoon when I followed up my 3×3@3 workout with 40 minutes of cardio hell on the Arc trainer and 40 minutes of Runners Love Yoga‘s new Hip routine.

IMG_4737It’s a great 14 day Instagram program where they post a pose a day that focuses on opening up those tight runners’ hips. I started on Monday and in just 6 days, boy do I feel a difference! Hell – in my run yesterday I was easily able to start right up and fly from the start. I felt loose as a rubber band!

IMG_4741

I’m looking forward to seeing where the rest of this program will take me! By the time I got home Thursday night my head started to throb with a migraine – I get one once a month (ladies, you know what I’m talking about) and I ended up having to take off of work on Friday to stay in a dark room and sleep it off. I finally started feeling better after dinner so we went to Shop Rite to restock the kitchen with healthy staples and cook-ahead meal supplies. Once we were done with that, I listened to my body – and my body was screaming “Bedtime at 10pm please!”

I woke up 11 hours later on Saturday, 100% better and ready to run as far as I damn well pleased! It was a gorgeous, sunny morning, and I decided to layer up my Skirt Sports Marathon Girl skirt with a pair of my favorite capris (because this booty + that skirt = a running peep show) and created the perfect spring running combo. PS: they’re having a major Sale on clearance stuff over at Skirt Sports, so go check it out! And if you find any full priced-items you like, be sure to use my discount code SSJRH20 for 20% off (code only applies to full-priced items, not on sale stuff).

IMG_4829

I set out towards the park and just went by feel – and I felt great! The first mile clicked by without me even realizing it, at 10:43 pace, and I ran like I was light as a feather. If only I moved this well a week ago for my race! Ah, such is life.

IMG_4802

It was an absolutely gorgeous day down the park, the breeze was light and the sun was shining, and that runners high was in full effect. After a miserable winter like the one we had, I’m truly treating every nice day as a gift and taking full advantage of it by getting outdoors and being active!

IMG_4816

I breezed through the park and back towards home around mile 3.7, and coasted through the next few blocks for 4.05 and walked a nice cool down the rest of the way home.

IMG_4820

The rest of the day was spent helping my mom & dad move furniture and bringing a new mattress set from the store up to their 2nd floor (another workout entirely!), and then we had an awesome seafood dinner at The Barge in Perth Amboy. Highly recommended!

Sunday morning I had a date with my dad to head down to the flea market in Collingwood for some good old-fashioned daddy/daughter treasure hunting!

IMG_4857

We had a blast! My dad has always been super supportive of everything I do, including running, and we spent the whole time wandering the flea market aisles talking about training and sneakers and life and music and everything in between. I even found some awesome treasures too: a shelf-sitting mermaid (who looks like she’s doing a sit-up when you lay her on a flat surface!) and a copy of Circus magazine with my favorite band on the cover: The Smashing Pumpkins! I remember buying two copies of this when it came out in 1996 – one to read and the other to cut up and hang all over my bedroom walls. Today I got to take a trip down memory lane with the same issue for just 50 cents!!

IMG_4854

After that I came home for a nice lunch with hubby, and then we headed out to the park again to take advantage of this still-gorgeous weather! But this time instead of running, I brought out my trusty bike for the first time since last summer!

At first it was cold, but after a mile or so, I warmed up and fell right into the groove again while Mike walked a few laps. The park was packed with people enjoying the weather, so I had to stop a few times to get around large groups (and let’s face it, I had to stop and take pictures of the scenery!), but it was a great ride.

IMG_4873

I was just about to call it at 5 miles, but I couldn’t help it and powered through for another 1.2 to make it an even 10k.

IMG_4875

I had to laugh when I saw my final stats: my 6:49/mile pace is half the speed I ran last week’s race at, and it still wouldn’t be fast enough to keep up with the amazing athletes that led the Boston Marathon. I was cranking as hard as I could. To imagine running that fast? It’s simply unbelievable how speedy those folks are!

IMG_4878

When we got home I started working on dinner (and lunches for the next few days too): Ground turkey, stewed tomatoes, onion and chopped broccoli stir fry over quinoa!

IMG_4887

I even roasted up some chickpeas for snacking in the coming week too. The result of all that cooking meant that the whole house smelled delicious when we woke up today!

And that was it for me! How was your weekend? Did you get outside to enjoy the nice weather? Did you race? Tell me all about it, I want to know!

IMG_4740

Time to Rebuild

So I finished my last half marathon of the spring racing season! Hooray!

anigif_enhanced-27326-1413999458-5

Now that the celebratory peanut butter pie has been eaten, the Tiger Balm has soaked in, and the muscles have recovered, the inevitable question that follows the end of every race is now on my mind: What’s Next?

Well, if I’m being honest with myself – and honest with you, dear reader – I don’t know! I mean sure, I know I’m going to race again eventually, but right now I have zero races lined up in the calendar. Even for next fall.

I briefly considered the Jersey Girl Triathlon this August, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on that yet. I’ve only incorporated swimming into my cross-training plan about a half dozen times so far, and after 25 minutes and about 200 yards I’m physically unable to walk myself from the locker room to the car without my legs shaking and giving out on me. Just the thought of having to add biking and running after a workout like that makes me weak in the knees. I’d have to do some serious training to prepare for an event like that. And I just Googled “beginner triathlon training plan” and the first result that came up is a 93-page PDF. NINETY-THREE PAGES, YOU GUYS. Can anyone point me in the direction of a training plan that isn’t like a book of stereo instructions?

giphy

OK so maybe I need to set my sights a little lower. I’m sure I’ll do some local 5K’s that I’ve always done, and I’m searching the local running club calendars for 10K’s as well. I certainly don’t want to lose the running endurance that I’ve built up these past few months, and having some slightly shorter than half distance races on the horizon could keep me moving. Do any of my local Jersey peeps have recommendations on 10K’s in the next month or two?

Lastly, I’m searching for a new fall Half Marathon to call my own. I could easily sign up once again for the Atlantic City Half Marathon and see if the third time is the charm – after all, it’s where I set my current half PR! But the fall race season is so rich and exciting, that I wonder if I’m limiting myself by just setting my sights on that one bigger race when there are so many other great events going on in September and October. Does anyone in my area have any local half plans or dream races you’d like to do in the fall?

One thing I AM sure of, however, is that I’m going to be focusing very heavily on rebuilding my strength up with weights and cross training. After the little spurts I could fit in while training for my races these past few months, I felt an immense improvement in the running workouts that followed. But just like everything else, life gets in the way and excuses get made and the time I could spend working out was spent on getting mileage in, not strengthening everything else. As a result, I notice the weakness creeping in, even with little tasks like carrying the grocery bags into the house.

funny-gif-weight-liftingNo more!

Today I kicked off this new rebuilding phase by doing something called “3 Times 3 At 3”. It’s entirely made up and in no way scientific, but it’s random and fun and sounds just easy enough to stick with for a while. Here’s how it works: at 3PM every day, I go down to my office gym and do three sets of three exercises for :45 each, with :15 of rest between them. Sounds easy, right? Well. 10 minutes of push-ups, side crunches, and squats later, I’m kind of dying.

reconstruction

Alright, I’m not dying – I’m fine, I just have a fun case of jelly arms from the absolute and complete lack of work I’ve done on my upper body in the last month or so. My abs and legs feel great and strong and ready for more, which is great.

But the whole thing was just what I needed to jump back into a post-race fitness routine and beat the “What do I do now Blues”! Now I’m nice and warmed up for the cardio I’ve still got planned after I get done with work, and I’m excited to build it up into 4 Times 4 or more. Cheers to rebuilding and growing stronger with each passing day!

Playing Catch Up

OK, first: I am SO sorry it’s been so long since my last post! We’ve got a big product launch going on at my day job, and my new role is heavily involved in almost every aspect of the marketing launch, so I’ve had to log lots of extra night and weekend hours trying to get things ready in the past two weeks, meaning this blog had to suffer! The good news is that we launch today and I can finally breathe now. And to make up for it, I’ve got a fun, picture-filled post for you today!

Let’s rewind to almost 2 weeks ago, when I hit my peak mileage in preparation for the Asbury Park Half Marathon. My weekly runs were going well, and the spring weather made things even better – I was finally able to run outside after work again!

IMG_3921

These solid weekday runs had me feeling pretty good leading up to my long run of 10 miles that Easter Sunday. I decided to run for the first time with the Jersey Shore Running Club down in Ocean Grove, and I was super stoked! I joined a month ago to connect with local runners and to take advantage of their long boardwalk runs on Sunday mornings, and since Easter was going to be a full day, their start time of 6:45AM worked well. The only catch was the 5AM wakeup call I’d have to make. Ugh.

Of course, Saturday night I was hit with a bad case of insomnia and stress-dreams. Why? I have no idea! But I ended up only getting a solid 3 hours of restless sleep at best, and dragged my ass down the Parkway before the sun came up for the sorriest 10 miles I’ve ever run.

IMG_3977But oh, that sunrise!

While the run itself stunk, everything besides the actual running was beautiful and positive! The JSRC people were the most welcoming, friendly group of runners I’ve met in a long time. I quickly bonded with Hazem, who kept me company for the entire 10 miles! He’s in the bright green, I’m in yellow 🙂

IMG_3995

Bless that man for sticking with me, too – thanks to the total lack of rest the night before, I was achy and exhausted from mile 3. We started off at sunrise going south from Ocean Grove, and after a mile or two of sticking together, little groups broke away from the pack and either dropped back (me & Hazem) or took off (everyone else). Once we were on our own, we chatted about work, life, running – the usual. Through Bradley Beach, Belmar, Spring Lake, and back we went, slogging along and taking turns going silent as you do on long runs.

Seeing as how I’d never even met this guy before, I kept telling him that he didn’t have to wait for me – because I was dogging it. It’s like I was made of lead. And as much as I now like running with others, I truly hate feeling like I’m slowing them down. It makes me feel worse and starts the negative thinking spiral. But even though I told him at every water and bathroom stop to keep going without me, he said no and stayed with me until the last half mile when he picked it up and finished, then even waited for me too! Thanks for the company, friend – you made a miserable run totally bearable!

And I also want to issue a public apology for loudly serenading you with some off-key Taylor Swift when she came on my headphones at around mile 6. The long run mania will make you do some crazy things, and I’m sorry you had to witness me Shaking it Off like that.

IMG_3980Another one of the sweet Asbury Park message shells, spotted perfectly on this Easter Sunday Runday!

Final tally: 10 miles in 2:08, Average Pace 12:50/mile. BLAH. Because I performed so poorly, I took the experience as a learning opportunity, and focused on resting and strength/cross training, which helped boost my confidence and made for some solid mileage on Tuesday and Thursday. I think it was the new Skirt Sports gear I tried out on the treadmill!

IMG_4067What up, Lioness Skirt! Want one of your own? Use code SSJRH20 to get 20% off your order!

Come the weekend, I was ready to run and do other running-related things. Namely, pick up my Asbury Park Half Marathon bib!

IMG_4112sounds like a lucky number, yeah?

I decided to go down to the shore one last time before the race to get my feet acclimated to those boards even more. Last year I explicitly remember cursing my thin socks at mile 8 because that boardwalk is HARD. My legs felt fine in the days after the race, but my poor feet were blistered from the beating. So this training cycle I purposely did most of my long runs on the race course to familiarize myself (and my feet) with the work it was going to take on.

Also, about 80% of my race-day anxiety involves the unfamiliar aspects: how will I get there, where will I park, what does the course look like, etc. By driving myself down to the race course and running it every weekend for the entire month before, all of those unknowns were now simple facts that I don’t feel anxious about anymore. I think I’m going to try to adopt this plan-ahead process for all races going forward!

IMG_4138

I got to Asbury at around 8:30 – the sun was shining, the air was getting warmer by the minute, and I was feeling unstoppable. I set out in the same way I would on race day – back and forth on the boards in Asbury, then straight through the casino building south to Ocean Grove, Bradley Beach, over the Belmar Bridge, and down the boardwalk until I hit about 4 miles, and back for my 7.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day to run: the boards were packed with other runners, bikers, walkers, and generally nice people that were just as thrilled about the weather as I was!

IMG_4125Just breathe it in!

I was determined not to let my previous week’s long run cloud my mood, so I didn’t look at my pace until I turned around – and was so happy to see that I was averaging almost a FULL MINUTE FASTER per mile than last week!

IMG_4127

That’s one happy (and overdressed) runner right there.

I was jamming out to some new tunes (thank you, Kendrick Lamar) and turned into a full-out whack job by the 10K mark, singing along to my music and even run-dancing a bit. I’m sure the locals appreciated that. But who cares?! I crushed those 7 miles in 1:26 at an average pace of 12:04 per mile – holy crap!

IMG_4131

I know better than to expect a SUPER awesome performance like that again this weekend, but who knows? It was definitely the perfect confidence-boosting run I’ve needed this training cycle. I didn’t know what to expect going into the “two-halfs-in-one-month” plan that I basically created on the fly. But 4 days from go time my knees are feeling great, my legs are feeling strong, my confidence is high, and I’m nowhere near as burnt out as I have been before other races. I feel more like a border collie, with tons of energy and excitement about getting to that boardwalk starting line and showing myself how strong I’ve become!

How about you? How has your training been going? Are you loving the spring race season? Tell me everything!

My Favorite Interval Training Workout

Now that I’m feeling confident in my running, I’ve starting incorporating more strength training into my weekly plans to improve my overall fitness. I’ve mentioned these strength workouts a few times here, and since some of you have expressed interest in them, today I’m going to share my favorite HIIT workout with you!

This is a combination of a workout I found in a magazine and a “tune up” workout a fitness instructor friend of mine created. It’s a quick, 6 set routine that I need virtually no equipment for – just a chair and a pair of dumbbells of my choice. It can be done almost anywhere and hits almost every area of the body (arms, back, legs & abs) and depending on what level I want to tackle, I can fit this into just 20 minutes!

HIIT Workout

Just Starting Out: Do each move for :30, rest for :30 between sets. Perform sets 1-6 twice.

Feeling Strong: Do each move for 45, rest for :15 between sets. Perform sets 1-6 three times.

Superman Strength: Do each move for :60, rest for :10 between sets. Perform sets 1-6 a total of 4 – 5 times

Set 1: Chair Squats & Decline Push-Ups

Chair Squats: Squat as close to the chair as possible without sitting, then return to standing position.

Decline Push-Ups: Get into plank position with feet up on the seat of the chair, then perform a pushup.

Set 2: Bent Chest Flies, Chair Step Ups (one set = both legs)

Bent Chest Flies: Sit on chair and bend over at waist with a dumbbell in each hand (I use 7.5 lbs). Without moving the torso, engage the core and lift arms straight out to the side and back down.

Chair Step Ups: Using one leg, step up on seat of chair and stand, then step back down and return both feet to floor. Repeat with other leg.

Set 3: Triceps Dips, Split (Bulgarian) Lunge (one set = both legs)

Triceps dips: Sit on the chair and hold the seat, then slide off while still holding the seat and dip up and down off the chair, focusing on the muscles at the back of the arms.

Split Lunge: Stand facing away from the chair and rest the top of one foot on the seat. Lunge, and repeat.

Set 4:  Seated Leg Lifts, Hip Bridge

Seated Leg Lifts: Sit on chair and hold onto the sides of the seat. Lift legs up in a crunch position and lean back, then alternate between tucking legs up to chest and straightening them.

Hip Bridge: Lay down on the ground with knees bent and feet on floor. Lift hips up slowly, hold for a few seconds, and release.

Set 5: Incline Push-Up, Calf Raises

Incline Push-Up: Face the chair and grab the seat with both hands, extend legs and lower hips for a straight back, then perform a pushup.

Calf Raises: Stand on a slight ledge (or just stand), and raise onto tip-toes, then back down.

Set 6: Straight Arm Planks, Burpees

Straight Arm Planks: Get in the same position as the decline pushups in the first set, but hold in a plank for the time allotted.

Burpees: Chances are you know how to do a burpee. But if you don’t, just watch this – and accept my hearty apology for introducing you to this move from hell.

For a super full body workout, you can also add a 15 Minute Cardio Boost after this workout too:

  • Warm up 3 minutes
  • Sprint 1 Minute
  • Run 2 minutes
  • Sprint 1 Minute
  • Run 2 minutes
  • Sprint 1 Minute
  • Run 2 minutes
  • Cool Down 3 Minutes

I’ll admit that doing both workouts one after the other will be tough at first, but it’s ultra fat burning and when I was doing this 3x a week I saw big results!

Keep in mind that I’m in no way a professional. I’m not a registered personal trainer or physical therapist, and I take no responsibility for pulled muscles, injuries or sprained anythings. Keep in mind: this is just a workout that I like to do, and I’m sharing it for entertainment purposes only. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness or nutrition program. I just really enjoy this workout and wanted to share it with you guys!

Let me know how you enjoy it – now I’m off to go do this myself! 🙂

Taper Time

I’m down to 3 days away from the United NYC Half Marathon, and I just have to say one thing: I am FREAKING the heck out.

My logical side says – calm down! It’s 13.1 miles! You’ve run that a  handful of other times. You’ve had more long runs this training cycle than in any other cycle before it. Hell, you’ve even run double digits in driving snow and wind, you can do anything! You’ve even ran during your vacation last weekend, when by all accounts you earned a few rest days.

IMG_3028

But really, how could you NOT run in a gym that time traveled from 1982 to be with you?

You’ve added strength training and cross training and only strayed from the schedule twice when you were too sick to run. You’ve run on the treadmill, outside, done hills, sprints, squats – you’ve done everything right!

IMG_3197Including that last long run on Sunday that kind of sucked.

By all accounts, I’ve got no reason to panic. So WHY am I lying awake until past midnight every night, having stress dreams about missing the starting gun, and unable to eat more than a few bites of food at a time? Why do I find myself wanting to binge on cupcakes and Reese’s cups until I physically can’t run on Sunday?

IMG_3167Sweet, delicious Reese’s…

The short answer? Probably because I want to run my best race yet. Because I’m a perfectionist and my Type A personality can’t handle the stress of the unknown.

But what it all comes down to is this: it’s normal. I do the same thing with every half I’ve run before, and every time it’s gone amazingly well. And if I did a poll, I bet most of you experience some degree of taper-time nerves too. Maybe not to the semi-insane degree that I experience them, but still nerves.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, today I’m taking a half day off of work, and I’m going to relax for an hour at home before I head into the Expo in the city to pick up my bib and attend a special Invite-Only Instameet Party hosted by NYRR tonight (eek!), and I’m going to have a glass of wine when I’m there. I’m going to soak up every minute and breathe and smile. Then tomorrow I’m going to take my last shakeout run, Saturday I’m going to rest and get to bed as early as I can.

And on Sunday, I’m going to run my best race yet. I guarantee it.