Fitness Friday — FINAL Half Marathon Training Update!

It’s here you guys…my race is THIS WEEKEND.

holy shit

CUE MAJOR FREAK OUT

After 14+ weeks of training, buckets of energy supplements and protein powder, hours of knee brace wearing, and many many early mornings…my half marathon is here!

To see why I chose to sign up for a half marathon, click here… and also be sure to check out training updates #1 and #2 and #3!

On Wednesday during my lunch break, I went to pick up my race packet (I knew they’d be slammed later in the week so I went as early as possible), as well as Tyler’s and Chris’s…

shamrocknshirts

forgot to customize my bib…. #fail

As I picked up our shirts, bibs, shamrock tattoos, and all.the.safety.pins, it really started to hit me. I’m running a HALF MARATHON this weekend.

I’m not going to lie to you guys- I’m really really nervous. I have had crazy dreams every night this week, which I’m convinced are anxiety-fueled.

But as I’ve talked to more friends who have run half marathons, my nerves have been calmed little by little. I know that I’m ready for this. I’ve been training diligently since December, and I’m on track to hit my pace goal. Here’s where I was last time I checked in:

Half marathon progress 2014-02-11

And here is my completed training plan!

Screen shot 2014-03-13 at 11.43.06 PM

It was so weird only running 2 miles yesterday, you guys. I really wanted to go 3, but I convinced myself to stop at 2 because I knew I would be walking to work and that I had dodgeball later in the evening. Tapering is important!

Thoughts on my Last Weeks:

aches & pains

I’m happy to report that my knee pain has been minimal these last couple of weeks. It gives me a bit of grief from time to time on my shorter runs — probably because I’m running faster and on pavement — but otherwise it’s all good in the hooood. There were a couple of times where I was a little sore on Friday/Saturday or Mon/Tues from dodgeball on Sunday or Thursday evenings, but that’s nothing a little stretching can’t help!

This week, I ran a super speedy 5K (26:57, a new PR!) on Tuesday, skipped my Wednesday weight work out in favor of 45 more minutes of sleep and 8 Minute Abs, and a quick 2 miles yesterday. I’m hoping the extra rest will be a good thing come Sunday morning!

I’m thinking about taking Tyler on a bike ride tomorrow so he can see the course (it’s on a bike trail), but I’ve been reading that vigorous activity is to be avoided the day before the race. Any insight??

lifestyle changes

cleaneats

I have been consciously trying to put only good things into my body for the past 2 weeks, and I think I’ve done a good job. I ate lunch out again (see bottom left) at a new vegetarian restaurant in town, but chose a grilled cheese with garlic & swiss chard and a side of beans. Protein! Fiber! It could have been worse 😉

There may have been a couple of orders of fries in there (and more than a couple of spoonfuls of Nutella…), but hey, I’m not super woman! Nor do I claim to be. I feel much stronger and healthier knowing that I’m not restricting myself. Plus, lately I’ve been rationalizing any extra food I consume during the day as HALF MARATHON FUEL.

As much as it pains me to not celebrate St Patrick’s day this weekend (my Irish grandma would be ashamed), especially with Tyler coming to town to visit and run the race…Abstention (or at least moderation) is the name of the game today and tomorrow.

I did indulge in some drinks last night after dodgeball because it was the last night of the season and I’m taking next season off- but I am so glad I did, because I had a great time with my friends as always! And I was home in bed before midnight 🙂

Plus, how could you say no to hanging out at the bar with that adorable minion face?!

race day

We are in Wave #2 starting at 8am on Sunday. Not too early, which is nice! The high temp for the day is going to be 80 degrees (yippee!) but I’m anticipating it will be high 40’s-low 50’s when we run. Regardless, I’m probably going to run in shorts and a tank top because sista gets sweaty!

I think the race is going to be extremely fun, with 13 live bands playing all over the course. So much for that running playlist I made, right? The reason I signed up for a half was in large part due to how much fun I had doing the Run to Feed the Hungry on Thanksgiving- it was an extremely popular race with tons of onlookers, participants, people cheering, live music, mimosa stations… I’m expecting this race to be a lot like that 10K. There are 4 waves worth of runners, so it’s going to be a packed course!

Here are some things I’m going to try and remember for race day:

  • Don’t start too fast– this was a problem for me in my 1st 10K because I wanted to pass everyone up
  • Use the aid stations– I’ll also have some PROBAR energy chews, but dehydration is no joke
  • Focus on finishing, not the time– Though my goal is 2:00:00, I know that the real accomplishment is just finishing. I’m also going to have to try not to push myself too hard to race the boys I’m running with, haha.

Since I didn’t customize my bib, I’m also planning on writing things on my body…Possibly some kind of mantra on my hand, maybe my name on my arm/shoulder. We’ll see how I feel on race morning 🙂

Wish me luck!!!

For those in Sacramento wanting to watch the race, there’s a great page on the Shamrock’n website listing all the best places to spectate. Hope to see you there!

Any last minute advice?

Do you have any good (succinct) workout/running mantras that inspire you?

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Confession Time: Why the Scale Sucks

Today I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons and her Thinking out Loud link-up!

Rather than simply thinking out loud like the topic suggests, I am taking a page out of my dear friend Becky’s book and using the link-up as an opportunity to reveal a confession or two.

My confession: I am insecure about my weight.

When I started running in January 2011 (just 1.8 miles 2-3 times per week, mind you!), I was unknowingly embarking on a ~1 year long weight loss journey. That increase in cardio activity, paired with calorie counting/nutrient tracking, was definitely the key to my weight loss success.

I reached my ideal weight a little over a year ago. When I say ideal, I mean it was the weight I was at when I realized I had lost 2 pants sizes and was truly happy with how I looked (and more importantly, how I felt!). Starting at 136 pounds and a size 8, I plateaued at about 119 pounds and a size 4 sometime in 2012 and stayed there for most of 2013. I was coo with that, and I feel like it’s a pretty good size and weight for my body type. (P.S. Here’s my before and after pics just for funsies!)

colorrun1

at the color run in august 2013 looking quite svelte!

Since so much of my weight loss success was tied in with my running, when I decided to run a half marathon a few months ago, I figured, if anything, I’d lose some more weight.

WRONG!

Over the past 3 months, I’ve gained about 8 pounds. For those of you keeping track at home, that would mean that I have gained back half of what I lost after college. At first, this felt like a huge setback. Some part of me (brainwashed by society, no doubt) kinda liked the fact that I was under 120 pounds. Anything with a ‘teen’ in it sounds skinny, right?

But the reason I decided to run a half marathon was not to lose weight. Upon further reflection, the main reason I signed up to run the half was to feel strong. The question I’ve found myself asking myself is: What makes me feel stronger: a number on the scale, or being able to run 11 miles without stopping?

after my sub 60 min 10k!

after my first sub 60 min 10k!

Um, NO BRAINER people. I feel like a bad ass any time I run for over an hour. Every hill I climb, every curb I hop over, and every mad dash to the end of my run…makes me feel amazing.

One of the most recent times I was able to weigh myself, I looked in the mirror first. Was I happy with what I saw?

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a picture of the picture on saturday to send to my BFF and pretend i wasn't on a plane coming to see her!

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a pic of the pic on saturday to send to my BFF on snapchat to pretend i wasn’t on a plane coming to see her! #SNAPCEPTION

The answer was still yes. Since I don’t have a gym anymore, I do a lot of ab work. My legs are freakin’ tight and lean from all that climbing, hopping, and mad dashing. I proceeded to step onto the scale, see that I was still 8 pounds heavier than “normal”, and….did not really care.

The problem with relying on the scale to track my progress is that as my mileage increases, so does my muscle mass. Most of my weight gain is muscle. The only clothes that fit differently are my jeans around my thighs — which are HUGE and hard as rocks now, by the way.

What really put everything into perspective was the realization that even though I am only about 8 pounds away from my 2010 weight, I am still 2 sizes smaller. Basically, all of my weight is compacted into a smaller package than before, even though I weigh more now than I did 4 months ago.

There are other added benefits to building muscle that outweigh any disadvantages (pun intended). According to a recent issue of Women’s Health, one of the biggest misconceptions about women and building muscle is that if you stop weight training, it turns into fat. The fact is, muscle tissue and fat tissue are two completely different kinds of tissue: muscle by nature requires more energy to metabolize, meaning the higher ratio of muscle-fat your body contains, the more energy (calories!) it will have to expend to keep things running.  Sounds like a good thing, right?

This is a big reason why, though I still track my food pretty often throughout the week, my focus is less on calorie counting to lose weight and more on replacing all of the calories I lose on my workout days with calories from healthy protein sources. I am trying to teach my body to run 13 miles at once…the least I could do is properly fuel it!

So that’s my confession: I am not always happy with the number I see on the scale. But I am happy with what my body is capable of, and I feel so great physically most of the time that it is hard to let a big little number keep me down. 😉

How do you track your fitness progress?

Have you ever experienced muscle weight gain?

Fitness Friday — Half Marathon Training Update #3!

Haaaaappy Friday! Here I am with what may be one of my final half marathon training updates! Only 4 weeks left till my race, and I am feeling extremely confident and excited!

To see why I chose to sign up for a half marathon, click here… and also be sure to check out training updates #1 and #2!

Before I get to my update…I was really touched to have several friends tell me this week that my blog/running chronicles inspired them to start the Couch-to-5K program. I sometimes feel like my blog only serves as a journal for me and an accountability tool. I post things like my training plan and budget online not because I want to brag about how far I can run, or how little I can spend on groceries, but because it makes me more likely to stick to it.

So when my friends told me they were starting to run, I felt touched that I inspired them, but I also kind of felt like a phony — a lot of the time, I honestly still feel like a beginner myself. I decided to look as far back as I could at my MapMyRun stats. I couldn’t look all the way back at January 2011 when I started… However, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t that much of a difference in my distance and pace between June 2011 and June 2013.

Screen shot June 2011

June 2011 — 21 miles total, max distance 2.5 miles, 9:39 min/mi pace

Screen shot June 2013

June 2013 – 18 miles total, max distance 3.3 miles, 9:30 min/mi pace

This means in my first 2 1/2 years of running, I only increased my distance by about 1.3 miles, and stayed about the same speed. My running progress clearly did not happen overnight right when I started running, and I think it’s important for me to share that.

Fast forward to today — since June, I have increased my furthest distance by almost 8 miles. If you had told me in January 2013 that I would run 2 10Ks before the year was over, I would have never imagined that that was possible. Just goes to show how much I know 😛

ANYWAY, on with the training update!

Funny story- when I went to update my training log, I noticed something that I’m guessing none of you did either… I totally left an entire WEEK out of my training plan!

Check it out – after week 8 it skips from January 26th to February 3rd! Whoops.

Anyway, that’s all corrected now. I decided to cut week 1 out of the spreadsheet and start with the week of December 9th, since that was the week that I actually registered. Check out my progress:

half-marathon-progress cropped-2014-02-11

A couple of things to note: I had a bad head cold weeks 7-8. Running actually seemed to help because it loosened up the phlegm in my throat/chest, but I decided to skip my early wake-up to lift weights on February 1st. It was TOTALLY worth it!

Overall, I’m extremely happy with my mileage (and pace! I was taking it easy yesterday and ended up averaging 9:08/mi… what the what!?) and I’m feeling confident about only training to about 11.5 or 12 miles before the race.

Thoughts After 10 Weeks (or is it 11?):

aches & pains

My knee pain is pretty much 100% gone (!!!). It hurt on my runs this week only because I bruised it up pretty good at dodgeball on Sunday 😉 Note to self: invest in knee pads!

However, fun development- I have a black toenail now. It was really painful for a couple of weeks but now it’s just ugly. I really hope it doesn’t fall off before the race! I have been pretty nervous about it so I embarrassingly went to my friend Chris (who signed up to run the race with me and Tyler! Yay!) and warned him I was about to gross him out, then asked if he had ever had a black toenail. His response: “I have one now!” LOL #runnerproblems

the course

IMG_3573 IMG_3303

The entrance to the bike trail, and the hill of death that I’ll have to endure at the end of mile 7

Nothing new here! I have pretty much mastered most of the course. I don’t think there’s any part of it that I haven’t ran (or biked) on. That is an awesome feeling.

IMG_3767

abandoned bike trail on my 11 mile run in the RAIN

One thing I am a little bit concerned about on race day is whether I will be able to keep up with Chris, and whether Tyler will be able to keep up with me! Haha. Chris came with me on a long run last month and we run at a pretty similar pace, but he has already completed 13 miles several times before. Tyler is only up to 9 miles in his training, but he is a fit dude so I have no doubt he’ll be fine! Can’t wait to push and challenge each other during the race…and enjoy a beer together at the end. 🙂

lifestyle changes

I couldn’t believe how much more energy I had for my 11 mile run having gotten a full 8 hours of sleep and not drank the night before. Lately it’s always been one or the other — I either have a few drinks on Friday night, or just don’t end up getting a good nights sleep. But both at the same time? I need to make this happen more often!

I have definitely been cutting down on the weekday drinking (no more wine with dinner, sigh)…it’s just better for me in general, and easier on my budget! I can also confidently say that I am following the 80-20 model of healthy eating- most of my meals are extremely clean and involve Greek yogurt/fruit (breakfast) or beans/quinoa/bread/veggies (lunch and dinner).. Breakfast and lunch are clean every day of the week, and I’d probably say on at least 4 days my dinner is homemade and plant-based as well.

That’s it for now! Have a great weekend, friends!

What is your greatest running (or fitness) achievement?