Friday, December 31, 2010

WDW Half Marathon Training - Week Twelve: Christmas Fun with the Family

Happy Holidays!  I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas week.  I have to admit that training this week was a challenge at times.  When family is around it is hard to go out and run for two hours.  
It is officially taper time as there is less than two weeks until race day!  At the beginning of the week I was in Beaufort for Christmas with my Dad's family.  

Monday I went for a run down a few neighborhoods in the area.  It was bit chilly and rough at points but I ran about three miles.  It was my first run since the 10 miler on Saturday so I wanted to take it easy.  

Tuesday I did my own little circuit workout while watching some TV in the den.  I just brought along my five pound weights, so I made due with those.  I did a little bit of everything some leg, arm, and ab moves.  My workout routine has been missing some strength training so I am glad I got in.
Siblings & Cousins
Wednesday was a rest day and also happened to be the day we planned for our early Christmas.  We first opened gifts from my dad and step-mother.  Afterwards we headed down the street to my grandmothers house for dinner, presents, and to spend some time with the family.  It was a good Christmas and nice to spend time with my dad, grandparents, aunts, uncle, and cousins.  Check out some of the loot I got, including a new iPod Nano and new digital camera!

Thursday my siblings and I traveled down to Florida for Christmas with our mom.  My legs were quite sore today, I think those squats and lunges from Tuesday caught up with me.  I didn't get my run in, because I was sore and didn't feel like running.  I wanted to spend time with my family so I did that instead.  In fact, my brother, Patrick, step-dad, Andy, and I all headed out to a Magic game that evening.  We got to go to the fancy new Amway Center and it was, indeed, fancy, techy, clean, and big.  We walked around the arena, grabbed some food, and headed to our seats.  We were up quite high, but could see the court pretty clearly.  Plus Amway has this massive TV screen that displays the game.  The game was fun and full of energy, plus the Magic won - wohoo!  

Friday, Christmas Eve, I finally got that run in.  It was a mild 73 degrees out so I made a loop around the neighborhood.  I also finished with four stride drills.  I tell you what, these drills make me feel like I can go go go!  It is only 30 seconds but it is fun to see how fast you can run.  That evening I went to work a short shift at Universal Studios in the Macy's Christmas Parade.  It was a lot of waiting around, but the parade part was fun.  I walked through the park escorting a giant blue ornament.  That night we had some delicioso enchiladas for dinner, decorated a gingerbread house, and watched The Santa Clause.  

Some of my Christmas gifts
Christmas day we all got up around 8:30 and came down to open presents.  Mom and Andy had homemade cinnamon rolls in the oven for afterwards (and they were amazing!).  You probably already know I love Christmas, the season, the tree, family and friends, the music, everything, and unfortunately I woke up sick.  I blame the gloves, that they most likely don't wash, that I had to wear at the parade the other day.  Besides a congested head and runny nose Christmas festivities continued with lots of smiles, laughs, food, and good company.  Santa got lots of wonderful gifts this year for everyone in the family.  Patrick, Caroline (my sister), and I even went on a nice bike ride through the neighborhood.

I decided to move my long run to Sunday since I was not feeling feeling well, but I woke up Sunday feeling even worse so it was moved to Monday.  I still was not feeling great, but it needed to be done.  It was freezing outside, like literally freezing, 31 degrees, so I opted to run on the treadmill at the gym as to not make my cold any worse.  Eight miles were planned with a run/walk pace of 3/1.  I was not excited about going that far on the treadmill, but it needed to be done.  Luckily I got control of one of the TVs and watched the Today show while running, which helped pass the time.  This run was rough at points and the last three miles I could feel my medicine starting to wear off, but I did it.  

All in all everything worked out.  I got to spend time with my family, eat great food, keep up with my training, and had a wonderful Christmas!  I can't believe the race is so close....

How did you handle training or working out during the holiday?  Did you get everything you asked for from Santa?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WDW Half Marathon Training - Week Eleven: The Long Run When it Rained the Whole Time

Lets talk last weeks training -  I didn't really feel like exercising a few days, but once I got going it all worked out and was OK.  

Monday was a 45 minute run around the neighborhood with a 4/1 run/walk ratio.  I went on a different route through the neighborhood.  I got a bit tired in spots, but pushed through.  

Tuesday I decided to use the elliptical machine in the house and read.  I was tired and did not feel like working out and the 40 minutes seemed to last forever, but I did it.

Thursday was another 45 minutes run around the neighborhood and four stride drills.  IT was good run and the stride drills were great.  I felt like I was running super fast.  My normal training place is kind of slow, so seeing how fast I could actually go was fun.

Friday I decided to use the elliptical for about 20 minutes while reading Women's Health magazine.  For the last ten minutes I did some arm and ab exercises.  I haven't been keeping up with my strength workouts as much as I would like.  I am going to try and get back to having at least one day of strength training back in my schedule.

Saturday was the BIG long run.  Ten miles were planned.  This is the longest run scheduled before the race in January.  It was overcast in the morning and I checked the weather to see the radar.  It looked like there could be some light rain, but mostly just clouds.  After my warm-up, however, it began to rain.  It was just a light rain, but it continued for the entirety of the run.  I was wearing some long shorts, a tech tee, a zip up tech hoodie, and my baseball cap.  My jacket didn't stay dry very long, but surprisingly my Old Navy tech shorts did, which I was happy about.  I was worried about getting cold or chafing, but thankfully that was not a problem.  I also brought along my hand held water bottle filled with 1/2 G2, 1/2 water, a six ounce water bottle, and five honey stingers.  I have never used fuel, besides G2, on a run, but since this run was going to be over two hours long I though I might need the extra energy.  

Around mile two and half I passed my mom on the way back from her 20 mile run.  It was nice to see her.  She gave me some words of encouragement and I kept chugging along.  I was running along a busy road and after three miles I turned down a quieter path.  It was a very nice area to run in that had a paved path that weaved by some neighborhoods and cow pastures.  On mile four or so I dug my hand in my pocket to get the honey stingers I packed and couldn't find them!  I checked my other pocket and they were no where to be found.  I figured they must have fallen out of my pocket earlier in the run.  I was totally bummed.  It was difficult at moments in the run to not think of how much longer I had and that I didn't have the fuel I wanted, but I tried to keep a positive attitude and sipped some of my G2.  
I turned around when my Garmin read that I gone a little more than five miles.  At mile seven the rain began to pour and it continued for the remaining miles.  My shorts couldn't stay dry any longer and unfortunately got soaked.  I finished my G2 at mile eight and kept running through the pouring rain.  I know I could have just run in the gym, but ten miles on the treadmill did not sound fun.  I also really thought it was just going to be cloudy and a little rainy, clearly I was wrong about that.  The rain did make the run interesting though!

As I continued back to our house I was on the lookout for the lost honey stingers.  I was hoping to find them soon on my way back, but I didn't find them until mile nine.  I was sure happy to have them though.  As soon as I found my bag I gobbled up three.  Now I don't know if it was mental or if the honey stingers really work that fast or well, but I definitely got a burst of energy that lasted me through the end of  my run.  In fact, I ended up running 10.5 miles, half a mile more than scheduled, because I was feeling so good.  (I honestly I think I could have gone farther too!  I think that is a good sign for the race.)  I took a long cool down walk to the house to finish the workout.  When I arrived at the front door my mom was there with a towel.  I tried to dry off a bit and made sure to stretch.    

I felt accomplished and energized after the run.  I still cannot believe I ran 10.5 miles!  I was worried that ten miles was not long enough to prepare for the 13.1 on race day, but after this long run I think I can actually do this half marathon!  Only two weeks left until the race so I am officially tapering before the race.

I am currently back in Beaufort, SC spending some time with my family.  We are celebrating an early Christmas this week here with my dad's side of the family.  I hope you are having a lovely Christmas week!

What is the longest you ran or your think you should run before completing a half marathon?  How do you fuel before, during, or after a run?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WDW Half Marathon Training - Week Ten: Cool Weather & Happy Living

The big race day is getting closer and closer!  There are about three weeks left and I am getting more excited about this race as I finish each training run.  

This week was a bit different schedule wise since I completed my long run from the previous week on Monday.  Because of that I skipped the Monday run.  So on Tuesday it was time to cross-train.  I went with the elliptical for 40 minutes.  I wore the Garmin to keep track of my heart rate and make sure I was in the right area.  I read the latest issue of Runner's World while I was on the elliptical.  

Thursday I hit the road again on a loop around and through the neighborhood.  For this run I got to try a new run/walk ratio of 4/1.  This is going to be my ratio for the half marathon so I was excited to see how this run would be.  It ended up going really well.  I find that the first run after a few days off goes really well - rest does the body good!  I walked out the door of the house and started my warm-up when I realized I forgot my iPod.  I didn't really feel like heading back so I just continued with my run.  It ended up not being a big deal.  I enjoyed the quiet time by myself and as it was just getting dark I got to see all the pretty Christmas lights on the houses.  The weather was nice and cool which made for a comfortable run.  I finished the run with four stride drills too.  

Friday there was no cross-training.  I worked all day and then drove five and half hours to Beaufort, SC, my hometown.  We were celebrating my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary so the family was gathering for a surprise party.  

Saturday I got up around seven to cold weather and an overcast sky.  I had six miles scheduled so I headed out.  I had never really run in this area so I went exploring through a few different neighborhoods.  About a mile into the run it began to drizzle and it continued throughout the run.  Besides being wet and kind of cold, it was a good run.  Except I did get a stinking blister on my right heel that stings a bit.  

My sister and me- cold, but happy.
The party was later that afternoon and my grandparents were totally surprised, they had no idea.  It has been about six months since I saw my dad's side of the family.  Since then I have lost about twenty pounds and started running, so I look different.  Everyone noticed and said how good I looked, which is nice to hear, but my grandmother and aunt mentioned that I looked happier.  That meant a lot to me because I am SO much happier.  Adjusting my lifestyle has changed my life for the better.  Before all of the weight loss and exercise I had some down moments, nothing major, but I was not living life to the fullest.  The changes I have made have brought so much joy, positivity, and good health to my life.  The way I feel now motivates me to continue to live my best life.    

What changes have you made in your life that have brought you happiness?  

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Chicago Trip

Chicago Skyline
(This is a long, picture filled post, but I wanted to record it all so here we go!)  So I went to Chicago for four wonderful days about two weeks ago.  A friend and I are planning on moving there next year.  This is a huge decision and big step in my life.  Since graduation, in May, I have been living at home so that I can save money to live on my own.  I have always loved Chicago and have thought about living there for awhile.  I visited Chicago for the first time in 2003 with my aunt and sister.  We had a great time and I realized how much I really love Chicago.  
Chicago has always been in the back of my mind as a place I would like to live one day and when my friend, Kristin, said she was interested in moving there it seemed like this could actually happen.  So we have been slowly saving money and figuring out when and how we are going to move to the city.  In fact, this was Kristin's first time in Chicago, so it was kind of a test to see if she really liked the city and if we were going to move there.  We planned this trip to visit some neighborhoods, look at apartments, and just explore the city.  We had a fabulous time and I grew to love Chicago even more!  
Happily walking through the city.
We flew out of Orlando early Wednesday morning and arrived in Chicago to snow flurries!  As soon as we got off the plane we could feel the chilly wind of Chicago so we made sure to grab our coats, gloves, and hats from our luggage.  We bought our first, of many, train tickets.  The train system in Chicago is called the L because it is elevated in some areas of the city.  It is one of the best ways to get around, and we found this to be true, as we rode the L everyday.  Riding the L into the city also gave us a great view of several neighborhoods and the city skyline.  We stopped by our hotel for them to hold our luggage until we could get into our room and then went off to get food. 

We had been up since 4:30 AM and were quite hungry so we went in search of some deep dish pizza.  Lucky for us, Gino's East was only a short walk from our hotel.  The place is covered in graffiti.  Guests are encouraged to add their own message or note to the wall of many.  There is writing on the seats, walls, chairs, and even ceilings (I don't know how they got it up there!).   

Big Slice of Deep Dish Pizza!
We got there soon after opening.  Kristin and I shared a small sausage deep dish pizza.  The pizzas take about 40 minutes to make so we both ordered small garden salads, that were quite tasty, as we waited.  

Later that day we went to an apartment search place.  The realtor showed us two very nice places that were in our price range so we could get an idea of what apartments were like in Chicago.  This was great to see as we got a real idea of what kind of places we could live in.    

Thursday was our planned "Tourist Day."  We visited all of the well known tourist attractions and places in the city.  We took a double decker tour bus to get to the different locations.  The day started with a delicious breakfast at Yolk
Everything on the menu looked good.  I decided on a scrambler with mushrooms, green onions, cheese, and tomatoes.  It came with a whole grain pancake and fresh fruit.  It was delicious!  Kristin got a Mexican scrambler that was great as well.  

After breakfast we walked over to the Navy Pier and took some pictures with the statues nearby.  We then hopped on the tour bus.  The tour guide was very entertaining.  We got off at the Willis Tower to go up to the Sky Deck.  You go up to the 103rd floor in a minutes time.  My ears popped several times since we were going so high and fast.  The view of the city was spectacular.  They say on a clear day you can see the surrounding states!  They also have these clear glass boxes, called "The Ledge" that stick out of the building for you to stand in.  It was kind of freaky.  It doesn't feel right to be up that high and kind of floating out.  I stepped very carefully out onto the glass, but we got some cool pictures.  

The rest of our afternoon was full of shopping and more sightseeing.  We stopped at the big Macy's, Garret's Popcorn, Millennium Park, etc.  
One of the Christmas window displays in front of Macy's.
Modeling some interesting hats at H&M
The obligatory mirror shot in the Bean.
And we had a fabulous lunch at Epic Burger.  
My Epic Burger
Oh my goodness this was an excellent meal!  It is an eco-friendly place that uses grass-fed beef, organic veggies, bio-degradable silverware and napkins.  The burger and fries were oh so tasty.  I would eat here all of the time if there was one nearby!

Thursday night we went to The Second City to see a show: The Absolute Best Friggin Time of Your Life.  We took the L across town and walked into the small theatre.  It was a relaxed atmosphere where they served drinks and food while you watched the show.  It was an ensemble piece that was written by the cast.  It was a wonderful show that made us laugh out loud several times.  The show was extra long because it was one of the cast members last night.  We didn't get back to the hotel until one in the morning. 
At The Second City show
Friday we scheduled a neighborhood tour with a Chicago Greeter.  It is a great free service in which a local volunteers their time to show people around different areas of the city.  We met our greeter, Susan, at the Chicago Cultural Center to begin our tour.  We all took the L over to the Ravenswood/Lincoln Square area and walked around the neighborhood.  Susan showed us around the town and had tons of information about the area.  It was a wonderful tour that gave us some insight into what life in Chicago could be like and where we will be living.  The neighborhood was cute and it is just a short train ride to the city.  (I wish I had taken some pictures of the area, but unfortunately I didn't.)

Later we headed to the Lincoln Park area and walked around the shops.  We stopped by Molly's Cupcakes and picked up some cupcakes.  Kristin got a red velvet one with cream cheese frosting and I got the pumpkin spice.  Plus I had to bring some mini cupcakes back home.  They were pretty tasty.  I think the speciality ones are the way to go though.  

In downtown Chicago the Christkindl Market was happening so we headed over to check it out.  It is a German festival that began in 1545 and came to Chicago for the first time in 1996 and since I love the holiday season I had to check it out.

There was a huge Christmas tree put up and a Menorah for Hanukkah.  We had a lovely time walking around to all of the tents set up and checking out handmade ornaments, statues, wood carvings, scarves, jewelry, toasted nuts, spiced wine, pastries, etc.  There were even a few carolers walking around.  

Saturday was our last day and we woke up to find 3-5 inches of snow on the ground; it made the city look beautiful.  
We walked through the snow to Lou Mitchell's for breakfast.  
The place was pretty busy, but we managed to squeeze through the restaurant to get to our table.  As we passed the hostess stand we were offered a small donut hole that was delicious.  After taking off our hats and jackets I began to look at the menu.  They had a little bit of everything and it all sounded good.  Our waitress came and when we asked for a recommendation she said everything was good and she has yet to find something that isn't.  Kristin got cup of coffee, that is touted as being "the best," and she agreed that is was "really good!"  I decided on to get one scrambled egg, potatoes, turkey sausage links, and a pancake.  After we ordered they brought us a small bowl with an orange slice and a prune, plus they gave us each a fun size milk dud.  When the food arrived it was pretty big.  My one egg looked like three and Kristin's two looked like five; they were very fluffy.  The pancake was great; they probably had the best maple syrup I have ever tasted.  Since the meal was big we didn't end up eating it all, but what we had was so good; we left with full bellies.  

After breakfast we walked to Harpo Studios.  On our way we passed a cute dog park covered in snow and decided to stop and take some pictures; it was just so pretty.

We also made some tiny snowman. 

Then we arrived at Harpo Studios!  Everyone was off until the new year so we just walked around the building and check out the Oprah Store.  The store had lots of O printed things from bags to dishes to clothes and it was all pretty pricey.  I ended up grabbing t-shirt that was on sale.  
I also found out there were Trader Joes stores in Chicago and I had to stop and pick up some fruit bars.    There are no Trader Joes here in Florida so whenever we visit somewhere there is on we stock up on some of our favorite products.  

We had been going and going all four days and it finally caught up with me late Saturday afternoon.  That darn IT band began to act up and I was getting tired.  By then it was time for us to head to the airport so we walked to the L.  On our trip back we happened to catch the Christmas train.  You know I love Christmas, so this was right up my alley.  The train was covered in lights and Santa was on a flat bed in the middle of the train.  Inside they played Christmas music and had little North Pole and Christmas themed ads on the top of the train.  It was a packed ride, but fun!  

We had a marvelous time on our trip to Chicago and I am even more excited about moving there.  (And good news Kristin loved Chicago too!  I knew she would!)  I am still working to make sure I have enough money for the move, but we are organizing and planning everything out.  I am excited to see how everything works out!

Have you ever been to Chicago?  What do you love about the city?  
Thanks for reading if you made it to the end. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WDW Half Marathon Training - Week Nine: Traveling & a Garmin!

This week I was in Chicago to explore the city and neighborhoods.  I am planning on moving to the city next year and wanted to scout out some possible places to live.  We did TONS of walking, which was fabulous, even in the freezing weather.  I will be sharing the adventures we had in the city later this week, but lets get to the training information.

Monday I went to the gym and ran for 44 minutes on the treadmill while watching the Today show.  My legs felt good.  I got a bit tired halfway through, but made sure to finish strong.  My IT band and knees have slowly been feeling better as long as I stretch and foam roll, so I am happy about that.  I was really worried when I found out about it.

Tuesday was cross training.  I decided to split it up into a bike ride, where I went around the neighborhood and listened to Christmas music; it was lovely.  I then did a few ab and arm moves when I got home to finish up the 40 minutes scheduled.  

We flew into Chicago Wednesday.  It was a rest day, so I just enjoyed walking around the city.

I had planned on running along the river by our hotel Thursday, but it was really quite cold, like 25 degrees, and I didn't exactly know where I was going to go, so I headed to the hotel gym.  I ran for 48 minutes with a r3/w1 ratio.  The gym was hot, like really hot.  I brought pants and long sleeve shirts, because I thought I would run outside, but I had to roll up both my pants and sleeves.  I was sweating like crazy.  Other than the heat, the gym was very nice.  Every machine had its own television, so it was pretty cool.  The run was tough at points because of the heat, but I pushed through.  I followed the run with four stride drills that went well.  I wore my compression socks the rest of day while walking around the city and it definitely helped my sore legs.  

Friday I headed back to gym with some crop pants I bought on sale at a giant Sports Authority, in hopes it would help with the heat.  I probably should have tried the pants on, because they were a bit tight in the waist, oh well.  The gym was still hot, but I wasn't in there that long, only 30 minutes.  I split the cross training up between the elliptical and some arm exercises with weights.  

The snow outside our hotel Saturday
I had a long run of eight miles scheduled for Saturday, but it snowed overnight and there was 3-5 inches on the ground, so I was unsure about running outside.  We had walked around the city a lot, which was great, but I was tired from our adventures so I decided to hold off on the run until I got home.  

When I got home I found out that my new Garmin Forerunner 305 had arrived in the mail.  Meghann at Meals and Miles tweeted last week that WalMart was selling it for $99, which is quite a deal!  It is an early Christmas gift for myself and I am so excited about it.  This device  does so many things!  It even has a heart rate monitor so I can really keep track of my HR while training.  I used it for the first time on my eight mile run.  
I was a bit nervous (as usual) about this run.  Two weeks ago I tackled seven miles, and boy, that was a struggle.  My IT band acted up, it was hot, and I was tired, not a great run.  I know not every run is going to be perfect, but having a bad run stinks.  I guess the only good thing about a not-so-great run is that you learn what works and what doesn't.  It is only one run too, so you know that not every run will be like that.  This week however I am happy to say that it was a really good run!  This is my first time, like really running, in cooler weather and it was just so nice!  Because it was my first time going eight miles, the run/walk pace was 3/2.  The weather was cool and breezy, which made for perfect running weather.  For my previous long runs I had been mapping out a course, but with the Garmin I can just run and check my watch to see the distance; it worked out wonderfully.  I thought it was going to be much colder so I overdressed a bit and had to loop back by the house at mile two to quickly change into shorts and drop off my jacket.  I also topped off my water bottle.  My legs felt really good throughout the workout and I completed eight whole miles!  (Ahhh, so crazy and awesome!) 

I am heading to my hometown of Beaufort, SC this weekend to see family so I will be running in another new place!

What is your favorite weather to run in?  I am curious since I will be moving to Chicago, if you run in cold weather, what are the clothing essentials you wear?