Wednesday, October 31, 2012

half marathon goals

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, FRIENDS!  Does anyone have fun plans?  I'm going to dinner for a friend's birthday - so nothing too Halloween-esque.

As you know if you read my blog regularly, the Raleigh half is THIS SUNDAY.  I've been training relatively consistently, so I'm really hoping for a time I can be proud of... I've just had a hard time figuring out what that  magic number is!  I was going to include this in my Tuesday post, but it was getting too long, so I decided it warranted it's only post!

My official time for my first half was 2:13:16, which is a 10:11 pace.  That's so fast!  When I ran that race, I never believed I would be that fast... in fact, my "A" goal was 2:17:39, or a 10:30 pace.  I feel like with the speed training and a year more of running under my belt, I should definitely be able to PR.  But by how much?

My long term racing goal is to break 2 hours - which would be a 9:10 pace.  I'm definitely not there yet, and I'm fine with that - I have plenty of fun race plans in 2013 to work towards that goal.  So, some intermediate goal between 10:10 and 9:10 min/miles would be good.  Susan taught me to set different 'tiered' goals, so your A goal is like "I probably can't do this but whoa that would be great" all the way down to an E goal of "finishing".  So, after pondering for the last several weeks, I set the following goals:

A Goal: 2:03:16, or 9:25 pace - 10 minutes off my current PR would be so baller, and 9:25 sounds insanely fast to me.  Uhh I don't think this is at all reasonable.  But it's something to dream about for the rest of the week.

B Goal: 2:06:43, or a 9:40 pace - half way from my old PR prace to my longer-term pace goal, so that would feel pretty good I think!  I also think this is within reach (although by no means easy)

C Goal: 2:09:59, or a 9:55 pace - If race conditions are good, I think I should be able to run on average under a 10 min/mile, so this seems quite reasonable.  Plus, breaking 2:10 sounds cool, right?

D Goal: 2:13:00, or a 10:08 pace - If things aren't going all that well, but I could still PR, even if just barely, I would still call that a win.. wouldn't you?  If Susan lived in Raleigh, I'd still qualify:
E Goal: Finish, don't die, have fun - hey, running a half marathon > not running a half marathon, right?  So I will take pride in finishing regardless of how it goes.

So, what's my plan for race day?
I think the plan is to try to stick to a 9:40 pace for the first 6-7 miles.  I don't want to get caught up in excitement and burn out too early, plus I know the two worst hills are at miles 1.5 and 5.5, so I want to try to keep a nice even pace at the beginning.  Hopefully, if conditions are right (I'm hydrated, fueled, and weather is good, etc.), then around mile 7 I can start picking up the pace juuuust a little bit (aiming for miles in the 9:00-9:30 range), and push myself from that "B" goal closer to that "A" gooal.  Then, if I still feel like I have anything left in me, around 11.5 I'll probably start really racing and giving it 110%.

We'll see how this goals for race day - for now, I'm going to start carbo-loading by trying out a new Italian restaurant for dinner this evening!  (Happy Birthday Allison!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

weekly update #10

I spent most of Monday with CNN on in the background while I worked.  If you live anywhere along the east coast or in the north east, I hope you are safe, dry, and with power!  (Although, I guess if you are reading this, you probably have power).  The vast majority of my friends/family live in the states that had flooding and power outages... so I was definitely tracking Sandy and checking in with everyone to make sure they were all safe.  What a crazy storm!  And poor Susan had to be at work... send her some love if you get a chance!

Anyway, this past week was my LAST full week of training before the Raleigh half marathon.  It's crazy how that snuck up on me!  I'm pretty excited.  It's been a LONG time since I've done a race - over 6 months!
Training for this race been up and down.... a lot of random pains/soreness, but no specific injury to pinpoint.  I had a revelation on my run on Wednesday.  I need to slow down when I'm not doing speed work. I realized that a lot of my easy and long runs start off really slow, get into a nice pace, and then continue to speed up to a pretty challenging pace.  Easy right now is 10:30 for me, maybe closer to 10:00 on a good day - but often my 'easy' runs include 9:00-9:30 miles (and then also some 11:00 miles).  I think I need to aim for a more consistent, smooth, easy pace on my easy days so that my legs don't get worn down quite so much.  And then, when the plan is speed, I should be rested enough to really push.  Okay, I know that isn't rocket science or anything but it felt really important to share with y'all.   I'm hoping that deliberately slowing down some of my runs will result in fewer aches and pains for me.

I added in an extra run this past week and signed up for the Durham Monster Dash.  It wasn't all that well organized, but it was really fun!  Monsters and zombies hid along the 3 mile route and scared runners.  If you had a "tail" (which you could purchase for $5) they would also chase you and try to steal your tail.  Pretty fun!  Since this was a small run with limited route markings, we tried to keep with the pace of other runners without pushing ourselves, and I think our avg. pace was around 10:08.
Yes.  Zombies chased us.  It was awesome.  Anyway - my last long run was Saturday morning, and luckily M and I managed to dodge the rain.  Both of our watches were acting up (maybe a satellite was down) so my Garmin said that I had run a mile after 4:14 and about 0.4 miles.... no.  After that, the watch seemed to "find" where it really was and every mile was more accurate, I think.  My mile splits (other than the 4:14) were between 10:30 and 11:30, which is what we we were aiming for, so hooray for staying on pace!  The first 2-3 miles was pretty painful (I was feeling lazy) but after we were warmed up it was mostly smooth sailing!

recap of workouts:
Mon. 10/23: 3.13 easy miles, avg. pace 10:20.  I tried to keep an "easy" pace, but let me tell you, this run was hard to get through.  Ah well, not every day is sunshine and roses.
Tues. 10/24: spin class + strength
Wed. 10/25: 3.7 easy miles, avg. pace 10:54 - this run was much more enjoyable/managable
Thurs. 10/26: 3 mile speed work with 2 800s at 8:13 and 8:24 pace - hard, but good
Fri. 10/27: 3ish (2.88?) mile Monster Dash fun run
Sat. 10/28: long run -10ish miles, 10:30/11:00ish pace.  my garmin messed up so i don't know the exact numbers, haha
Sun. 10/29: strength training! twice in one week (barely)

Friday, October 26, 2012


I recently added Plain Chicken to my google reader, and I have to say, she has some pretty fabulous recipes.  I've recently made her Chicken Tetrazzini and her Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti, which were both incredible.  I also tried her Spaghetti Casserole, which was enjoyable (but didn't wow me as much).  Unfortunatley, I forgot to take pictures of the Chicken Tetrazzini and the Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti.
I know, I know  Anyway... the chicken tetrazzini was really delicious - I loved using the vermicelli pasta!  It's a nice switch from regular spaghetti.  I also used rotisserie chicken, which made making the dish quicker and easier to make, and more flavorful (although possibly less healthy).  This meal was Scott-approved - it had enough flavor that I wasn't bored, but not so many spices/things that he didn't like it.  I think in the future I might add more garlic powder than it calls for, and maybe mix in some other spices (onion powder and/or cooked onions? salt/pepper?) but otherwise it was delicious.

The Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti was FANTASTIC!  I did not use rotisserie chicken for this one - just regular chicken breasts that I boiled and then chopped.  The abundance of cream cheese, cheese, and Ranch dressing makes this less-than-healthy, but the flavor of the sauce is incredible.  I did use non-fat cream cheese, low fat cheese, and non-fat Ranch, which at least cuts down on the fat.  Next time you are craving buffalo chicken, I highly recommend this.  I think next time I make it, I may try to mix in more veggies - the green onions are perfect, but maybe more veggies could make this meal a little lighter/healthier.

Finally, I made the Spaghetti Casserole - and took pictures!!  I have real no complaints about this dish - it just seemed like baking it didn't add anything beyond the way I normally make spaghetti (which is cook pasta, then use a pan to cook meat and sauce, add cheese to melt it, and then mix it all together).
The one downside to this dish was that the sauce/meat/mozzarella stayed on top (and didn't sink down into the pasta) so we had to mix it up in our bowls.
Anyway, like I said - no complaints, but this recipe wasn't as much of a "wow" as the first two.
What are your favorite dinners lately?  Or favorite blogs to find new recipes?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

weekly training update #9 and baked apples

There are oh-so-many things I love about fall, and one of them is baked apple deliciousness.  Granted apple pie might be at the top of the list, but a girl doesn't always have time to bake a pie.  So recently when I found myself with several apples on hand, I couldn't stop thinking about how much better they would be baked than raw as a side dish to my lunch.

I combined various aspects of all of these recipes to try and used:

  • 3 apples
  • A heavy sprinkle of cinnamon
  • About 3-4 tsp brown sugar
  • A dash of vanilla extract
  • About 1 tsp of molasses
  • About 3 tsp honey
I used my apple corer to slice the apples, and then cut them up a little smaller.
I mixed everything together in a baking casserole and baked at 350 for 30 minutes.
This turned out well and was a good mix of a sweet dessert and a healthy snack.  It was also ridiculously easy!

Onto the running update.  This week was not so great.  Between too much work and too much fun, I didn't 

 even do my long run.  Bad Sara!  Hopefully this doesn't have a significant impact on my training.  I have this weird sense that I'm teetering between hard training that results in soreness and injury, so I've been kind of skiddish about running lately.  I hope I'm just being paranoid, but I've experienced at least some pain on most of my runs recently.  LAME.  Hopefully ice, foam rolling, and stretching will help.  I'm also considering whether or not compression sleeves might help - sometimes the pain is like the beginning stages of shin splints... my right knee has also been achy... gah, who knows!  Anyway, onto the recaps:

Monday 10/15: 3 miles on the treadmill, since there was thunder/rain/potentially hail.  i think my average pace was sub 10, but I honestly don't know.
Tuesday 10/16: strength training + spin class
Wednesday 10/17: 3.1 miles outside, avg. pace 9:53 - felt good about this one! kind of speed work but not totally?
Thursday 10/18: rest - i was worn out (not even from running, just more from school), so i restd
Friday 10/19: rest - planned to do my 10 miler but i didn't have time (work? psh)
Saturday 10/20: 3.1 miles with sabrina! (i guess this makes up for thursday's easy run that i skipped?)
Sunday 10/21: rest - also thought maybe i'd do my 10 miler, but it didn't happen

Friday, October 19, 2012

fruit tartlets

The Ramblin' Rose Women's Half Marathon is this weekend.  I ran this race last year - it was my first half marathon ever, and it was so fun (although the second half is hilly).  I'm not running it this year, but I wanted to give a shout out to anyone who is - good luck!  A special good luck shout out to Sarah - this will be her first half marathon since she became a mom!  Sarah - have fun running through our city, and good luck with those hills!  Everyone else, go wish her good luck on her blog (and enjoy the intense cuteness that is baby A)!

So, I think this blog is getting on a dessert kick.  Sorry I'm not sorry.  I lost a bet recently, and I had to make dessert for a friend, so now you get to read all about it.  I turned to my trusty Best Loved Desserts cookbook and decided to try something new and different: fruit tartlets!

This was by far the most complicated thing I have ever made.  It took two days, haha. Day 1: First, I made dough from scratch.
 Which then had to be refrigerated.  I also made lemon custard.
Which also had to be chilled.  And by the way was so delicious - it tasted just like a lemon bar.  I had a lot leftover.  I still don't know what to do with leftover lemon custard.  Any ideas???  I probably will have to just throw it out soon.  Anyway... Fast forward to day two, and it was time to roll out the dough and make the tartlets.
Basically, I rolled the dough and cut it up into 24 pieces, and then smushed it into the mini cupcake pan.  I also used a fork to poke several holes in each mini tartlet before baking them.  Then, I let them cool thoroughly....
Next up, I put a spoonful of lemon custard in each tartlet.
Finally, top with berries....
Yum!  These were really, really good.  Like, Allison, Scott and I devoured all 24 in one sitting while watching New Girl good.  I think I baked the dough just a bit too long, and the tartlets were not shaped as nicely as I would have liked, but the custard was delicious, and fresh berries are fantastic.  Scott isn't a big dessert person, so the fact that he ate nearly a dozen of these is a testament to the success of the tartlets.  
Definitely not the EASIEST thing I've ever made, but, it wasn't terrible.  I'd definitely make these again for a special occasion.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

keep your fingers crossed for me....

GUYS, I juts found out that the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is looking for two "Social Runners" to blog, tweet, and post on facebook about their experiences leading up to the race (and about the race).  This blog was STARTED as a way for me to get geared up to train for the 10 Miler, which I did for the first time in 2010 - I even talk about it in my very first blog post ever.  Holy crap, I WAS MADE FOR THIS JOB.


Anyway, I just applied, and I guess they will tell the 'winners' in November.  Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

weekly training update #8

For the first time in God knows how long, I did strength TWICE in one week!  This should impress you.  I also downloaded an app to track my strength that I will start using this week, so we'll see if that keeps me motivated/excited.  I'd ideally like to get up to 3x/week strength training, but if I can do 2 consistently for the next few weeks I'll be pleased.

This week was a speedy week for me - my average run paces were 10:19. 9:39, 9:23, and 9:38.  Maybe this is a good sign for a half marathon PR in November?  We shall see.  I've had some random pain in the last week too, which has me slightly worried.  My knee hurts - mostly when I extended my leg or move it funny - but not WHILE I run.  While I run, my calves have felt really tight.  I've tried to stop after a 5-10 minute warm up to stretch, which seems to help somewhat, but I still feel some tightness no matter what.  I've been trying to stretch more and I'm wondering if putting my knee brace back on would be helpful.  Sigh.  Mostly, I just reallllllllllllly do not want to be injured again to the point where I have to stop running for weeks/months.  That would suck.

Given my soreness, I was a little leery to do a super long long run this weekend, although I had 13 miles planned.  So when my friend Allison offered to run outside with me, I decided to switch up my plans.  She was willing to run about 3 miles, so we went to the East Campus track to log two-ish laps.  I haven't run around East in so long - M and I used to run there most every morning but now that I've moved it's not as convenient.  It was fun to run there again and I was pleased to see that the hills no longer felt hard - my new neighborhood is much hillier so I've become acclimated to hills (at least somewhat)!
We finished a 5k in 31:26, or 10:09 pace.  I was trying to keep those 3 miles nice and easy, and so I was pretty happy (although our first mile was speedy!).  After she left, I decided to really push myself and time a 5k on my own - it's been a long time since I timed a 5k and I wanted to see what I had in me. Conditions were not totally ideal (even though the weather was gorgeous!) since I had forgotten water, was thirsty, and had literally just finished a 5k, but I still managed to do ok!  I finished in 27:59 for an average pace of 9:02.  Certainly a 5k PR for me!  (My last "5k test" was in July, and my time was 29:56 - it was probably much hotter too so that's a factor, but 2 minutes off a 5k is still sweet).  I would love to see what ideal conditions and race adrenaline would produce - so I think I might look for a November or December 5k... any suggestions? (Especially a Durham area race!)

Anyway, 6.2 is no 13, but even today I was still feeling some soreness and nagging knee pain, so I think I'll just not stress about the somewhat lower mileage.  I have a pretty crazy weekend coming up, so I will probably do my long run on Friday this week, and aim for somewhere in the 10-13 range (since 10 is on the calendar, but I kinda skipped the 13 miler).

and here are some stats/details from the week:
Monday 10/8: 3 mile run, avg. pace 10:19 (rainy and cold!)
Tuesday 10/9: spin class + light strength
Wednesday 10/10: 4 mile tempo run, avg. pace 9:39 (tempo miles avg. 8:44)
Thursday 10/11: 3.2 mile run on the treadmill, avg. pace 9:23 + strength
Friday 10/12: rest day
Saturday 10/13: "long" run, total of 6.2 miles in 58:25, avg. pace 9:38
Sunday 10/14: rest

Friday, October 12, 2012

creative lunches

So, I broke down and bought an iPhone.  I'm still getting the hang of how to use it and what apps to get - any input would be welcome!  I especially would love any suggestions on (1) apps for listening to music/streaming music and (2) apps for tracking weight training (e.g. how many reps of what exercise I did and with how much weight).

Anyway, today is all about creative lunches/sandwiches.  I recently saw this article, which suggest 9 2-ingredient sandwiches (plus bread).  They all look intriguing, so I decided I should try some of them.

One problem I ran into is that the article suggests specific types of bread for each sandwich - and seems to infer that the right bread will really add a lot to the flavor combinations.  I don't eat a ton of bread, so I'm unlikely to go spend money buying an entire loaf of cranberry-walnut bread, rye bread, or baguettes!  The ingredients in general were not things I tend to have in my kitchen all the time - olive tapenade, apple butter, and five different types of cheese for the 9 sandwiches.  Not a huge deal, it just means if you want to make one of these sandwiches you have to plan ahead.

The first sandwich I tried was the Goat Cheese Olive Tapenade Sandwich, but slightly altered.  I had trouble finding Olive Tapenade, so I bought Kalamata Olive Spread instead.  I also substituted goat cheese with cream cheese, because that's what I had.  And of course I had no cranberry-walnut bread, so the first time I made this sandwich, I had it open-faced on half of a cinnamon raisin bagel.  Verdict?  Pretty good! I really liked the sweet bread with the tangy olive spread.... even though one of my friends told me there is no way cinnamon and olive belong in the same sandwich.  Oh well!
Left: Saveur's sandwich.  Right: My attempt, crappy cell phone picture
After the success of my first creative sandwich, I decided to make a Peanut Butter Bacon Sandwich.  It might sound strange, but it was deeelicious, and pretty simple.  I just fried some bacon in a pan, toasted bread, spread with peanut butter, topped with bacon.  Yum.  Scott was also a huge fan.
Recently, we were at a Greene Turtle and Scott ordered the Ultimate Ham and Cheese, which is basically like grilled cheese with apples and ham.  The apple slices were such a fun twist that I decided to try it at home.  I cooked the apples a little bit and used the leftover bacon and some shredded mozzarella to make this ultimate grilled cheese.  I think it went well, although next time I would use different type of cheese.
 While creating the apple-bacon-cheese sandwich, I thought about how good that bacon and peanut butter sandwich was and how much I like peanut butter on sliced apples.  The natural next step was a peanut butter, apple, and bacon sandwich.
Another hit!  The sandwich making frenzy has been fun.  The only downside is that most of these sandwiches would not be easy to pack and bring to work, as I don't think they'd be quite as tasty.  There are several more in that article I want to try eventually - ricotta and honey is next on my list!

What are your favorite lunches recently?  What is the best sandwich you ever had, and what do you think made it so good?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

weekly training update #7

The theme of (the first half of) this week was lethargy.  I was sore, tired, and worn out.  I'll blame my period and the spike in humidity, but who knows.  I was feeling slow and worn out.

Then by Thursday, I was a mess.  My quads were so sore I could barely make it up and down stairs.  When I tried running, my calves ached and felt really tight.  I planned a 4 mile tempo run, but after my 1 mile warm up I decided to call it quits and let myself rest.

Saturday my long run plan was 8 miles, but I overslept and by the time I got started I was short on time ... plus it was heating up!  I was up in DC again so I returned to the Mt. Vernon Trail.  This time I decided to run north, into Old Town.  I wanted to go see the monuments and whatnot, but I didn't realize quite how far it was from the place I parked.  Oops.  So, I ran 3 miles north into Old Town, and juuust as I was about to near the airport, it was time to turn around.  On the way back I ran closer to the water (rather than just down the main street), so at least I got to spice things up!

The long run felt SO HARD, so when I managed to finish 6.5 miles at a 10:01 pace I was fairly surprised!  This run started rough and apparently (according to my splits) got much easier as it went... my splits were: 10:46, 10:39, 10:16, 10:04, 9:06, 9:23, 9:41(0.5).

Hopefully having a relatively light week in terms of mileage and speedwork will lead to a better week ahead! I'm now less than a month away from the Raleigh Half, so I'm starting to think about what a reasonable time goal would be.

In compleeeeeeetely unrelated news, today my phone had a date with a bowl of tomato soup.  I'm working on drying it out right now, but I may have to replace it tomorrow.  Womp womp.  I'm thinking about whether or not to join the Smart Phone world... any advice out there?  I have Verizon, so I am debating between an iPhone and a Droid.  Opinions?

Monday 10/1: Easy run, 3.1 miles, avg. pace 11:36... recovering from that baller 12.8 mile run!
Tuesday 10/2: spin class + strength
Wednesday 10/3: Easy run, 2.6 miles, avg. pace 11:26... super humid, super tired, cramps
Thursday 10/4: SORE.  Tried to run.  Made it one mile and decided that some days, you gotta listen to your body and rest.
Friday 10/5: Rest day
Saturday 10/6: 6.5 mile "long" run, avg. pace 10:01... speedy!
Sunday 10/7: Rest day

Monday, October 1, 2012

weekly training update #6

As per usual, I did no strength training in the past week.  Womp womp.  But I did do a really fun farklet run on Wednesday:
Look at those crazy splits!  7:54?  WHO AM I?  I know it's only for a quarter mile,  but I'm still pretty pleased.

Saturday, I did my long run on the Mt. Vernon trail in Alexandria, which I had always wanted to try and was recommended to me on twitter by Anne.  I initially was going to run from Alexandria north towards DC (to see the monuments! woo!) but my MIL recommended that I run south - so I decided to try that.  It did not disappoint!  Unfortunately I didn't run with my camera (that always seems so stressful - holding it for 2 hours? yuck!), but it was absolutely gorgeous, so I stole some photos of google images to share with you:

Thanks Google, for helping me find photos.
Fall wasn't quite in full force, but I did see some leaves turning
I can't wait for another chance to run on the trail!  Makes me miss DC SO much.

My plan for my long run was to go 12 miles - 6 out and back.  But I stopped for water at 2.4 miles and forgot to press 'start' again on my watch.... oops.  To make a long story short, I accidentally went 12.8 miles but I felt pretty fantastic the whole time - I was in SUCH a good mood!  I tried to keep a pace that felt easy the entire time, but I ended up going a LOT faster than my usual long run!  My first mile was 11:24 (always hard to get going!), but then I sped up: miles 2-4 were all right around 10:30, and then my mile splits were 10:09, 10:11, 9:57, 10:37, 10:23, 10:11, 10:04, and 9:31!  Great end to the running week :-)  I stretched a ton on Saturday and took a much deserved rest day on Sunday.  I'm definitely getting pumped about my upcoming half and potentially PRing, especially after such a fabulous long run!

Recap by Day:
Mon. 9/24: Easy run in the afternoon, 4.11 miles.  Felt super easy and awesome, avg. pace 10:23 (splits: 10:37, 11:04, 10:07, 9:55, nubbin 0.11 8:34).
Tues. 9/25: Spin class... which was deceptively hard.  No strength - oops.
Wed. 9/26: Farklet, 3.1 miles, average pace 9:50.
Thurs. 9/27: Easy run, 3.1 miles, average pace 11:02
Fri. 9/28: Rest
Sat. 9/29: Long run - 12.8 miles, average pace 10:20
Sun. 9/30: Rest