Crosstraining for the WIN!

I woke up yesterday morning, emptied the dishwasher and folded a load of laundry. I always try to do those two things before I go workout. A run is my reward for getting the housework done. It works for me!

After I got the house straightened up, I got my bike gear ready and aired up Sexy’s tires. After two days of hard runs, I was in the mood for a little ride, just me and my bike. But then it started sprinkling. I checked the radar, and the rain was rolling in. Bummer. Insert BIG sad face emoticon.

I was already dressed to workout, so I headed next door to my grandma’s house to use the family elliptical in her basement. I picked an interval workout and chose low resistance. I kept my cadence high to mimic the cycling motion. I was dripping with sweat when I was done, so it must have been an effective workout. The machine told me I burned 650+ calories…WIN!

Since I’ve focused on triathlons this summer, I’ve been doing lots of crosstraining…mostly biking and swimming. And guess what, my running has gotten stronger. I’ve gotten faster without running any more miles.

When I was training for my first half marathon, I focused solely on running. Big mistake. I had more aches and pains in my legs, hips, and feet. This time around very little hurts. I’m even able to do back to back speedwork with no issues other than general tiredness. Nothing an extra cup of coffee can’t fix!

I know it’s fun to be a RUNNER, but crosstraining is amazing. And there’s lots of choices…

1. Biking – Indoor or outdoor…or a mix of both! Biking outside makes me feel like a kid again!
2. Swimming – Low impact and your shoulders will look GREAT!
3. Elliptical – Low impact…lots of sweat and calories…gets the arms involved!
4. Weights – I’m not good at this, but I need to be.
5. Yoga – So restorative.
6. Exercise DVDs – Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred is still tough for me!
7. Walking – Yep, this counts too. Especially if a cute little doggie is pulling you along.

Which one is your favorite? How often do you crosstrain?

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10 Pieces of Gear I Could Not Live Without

Hungry Runner Girl did this last week, and it was fun to see all her faves. So here are the top ten pieces of gear that, as a runner, I can’t live without!!

1. Brooks PureCadence 2 – You need running shoes to run. I used to be a Saucony girl, exclusively. And then my husband switched to Brooks PureFlow. He raved about them. I need a small amount of guidance in my shoes, so I decided to give the PureCadence a try. And oh my gosh…I love them. I have now stockpiled the PureCadence 2s because I’m not 100% sold on the 3s.

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2. Garmin 220 – I don’t know how I ran before I had a GPS watch. Outside of shoes and maybe a couple of dry fit outfits, I think it’s the best investment you can make for running. The Garmin 220 can do everything I want it to…tons of data, run/walk and pace alerts, programmed workouts, bluetooth connection, ridiculously long battery life. And it’s a pretty purple.

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3. Trigger Point Foam Roller and The Stick – A device that I can use to give my legs, back, and hips a massage whenever I want…sign me up! The foam roller is awesome for my back and hips, but nothing beats The Stick for doing my quads and calves. And it’s portable! What? A Stick in my work bag is completely normal, right? It’s every librarian’s essential item, right?

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4. Under Armour Authentic 7″ Shorts – I have LOTS of running tops that I love…far too many to count or include on here. But I’m a creature of habit when it comes to my bottoms. I used to switch between regular running shorts and running skirts, but nothing beats these bad boys. They are compression so they keep my quads happy. They are long enough that I don’t have to worry about thigh chaffing. And they make my butt look good! I wear them in all my warm weather races, as you can see below!

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5. Sockguy Socks and Bondi Bands – I know it’s two things, but these go hand in hand. They keep me comfortable during runs. The Bondi Band keeps my hair out of my face and doesn’t budge. And my SockGuy socks keep my feet happy…no blisters, except those tiny weird one that I get on the ends of my toes in the middle of heavy training plans. No matter what socks or shoes I wear, I get them. Silly little toes. The watermelon Sock Guy socks will always be my favorite. If you want to see a Bondi Band in action, look at every single picture of me running.

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6. CEP Compression Sleeves – I didn’t understand the idea of these things until I tried them. I actually thought people that wore them looked a little silly. But oh man…after a long run or a hard workout, I wear these puppies for 24 hours! And if I’m having calf, shin, or ankle soreness, wearing these during a run can keep injuries at bay. After my first 10+ miler, my neon orange CEP’s helped me combat my one and only bout of shin splits.

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7. iPod Shuffle – I gotta have my tunes when I run. I don’t always listen to every word of every song, and sometimes it’s just background noise. I like the Shuffle because it’s little and clips to my shirt. Right now, I’m using Yurbud earbuds, and I like them a lot. But I’ll be asking for some wireless headphones for Christmas. I’m tired of fighting the cord during workouts.

8. Trek Madone 4.5 – I LOVE to run, but I LOVE my bike too. This summer, I’ve become a triathlete of sorts. And surprise…all the cross training has made my running even stronger! You have to change it up sometimes. And while an expensive bike isn’t necessary, it’s pretty nice. I have a Trek Madone 4.5 road bike. It has a carbon frame, which after riding once around the block at the bike store, I was sold! My poor old aluminum hybrid bike never gets ridden anymore.

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9. Water Bottles – I drink A LOT of water. If I get less than 80oz in a day, I can feel it. We have lots of water bottles. My favorites are probably the big 32oz Rubbermaid ones. I’m also a big fan of my new hydration vest, a Nathan Firecatcher. I tried a handheld, but it threw off my gait. I have a belt that I like, but it pinches my hips. The vest is great. Lots of pockets for all my nutrition and a big pouch on the back for my phone, my car key, some cash, and an extra Vapur water bottle if I want to carry more water.

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10. Peanut Butter, English Muffin Bread, and Coffee – This is essential for me. I eat it EVERY SINGLE MORNING for breakfast. No joke. It gives me enough energy for my runs and has the right amount of carbs, protein, and caffeine to wake up my brain.

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What are your favorites??

Week 5 of 1/2 Training 2.0

One of these days I’m actually going to do ALL of the workouts in the training plan.

Sunday 7/20 – 3mi Easy – 3.04, 31:02, pace 10:12
We had plans to eat out for my dad’s birthday, so I took John to the pond path to make-up for not going to Flying Angels practice. Noel had a sprint tri this morning, and he met us and ran the last two miles. Mark chased us on his bike. A great active morning with the family!

Monday 7/21 – 7mi Easy – 5.0, 50:56, pace 10:10 – 800yd swim
I was supposed to do 7 miles, but we only had an hour in the kidzone and I really wanted to get a swim in as well. Noel and I did 5 easy miles on the treadmill and then hit the indoor lap pool. I did the 800yd endurance workout I found on BeginnerTriathlete.com. I felt strong in the pool, which is a very good change for me!

Tuesday 7/22 – Speedwork – 3.6, 37:07, pace 10:18
It was HOT, so we did some shorter speedwork. Coach told us to do 300 hard and 200 easy. I was in group 2, so I did 10. It was so hot that I ended up walking most of the recoveries, which is reflected in my pace. The 300s were done around an 8:30 pace.

Wednesday 7/23 and Thursday 7/24 – Rest
I skipped the 4 mile run on Thursday because I was sore from our Wednesday waterpark adventures!

Friday 7/25 – 7mi Long Run – 4.88, 56:00, pace 11:28
Noel wanted to run outside, so we got my grandparents to play with the boys while we headed into the city where I run most often. It was a cool 84 when we started, but it quickly got into the 90s. My fingers started to well…a sure sign of dehydration for me. And Noel was fighting allergies, so we cut short.

Saturday 7/26 – Rest (Oops!) – 12.6mi Bike, 50:00, 15.1mph and 3.1mi Run, 29:00, 9:22 pace
I definitely made up for shortening the long run yesterday. We rode the triathlon course. I figured out where all the hills are and figured out what gears I’ll probably need to get into. I put my bike on the rack when we got back to the water park and headed off on a 5K run on the course. I ended up going too far and had to walk half a mile back to the car. My poor belly is SUNBURNED between this workout and the water park last week. I’m not used to wearing a bikini and having to put sunscreen on my belly.

Week One Totals:
Run: 19.62 miles
Bike: 12.6 miles
Swim: 0.45 miles
Total:  32.67 miles (Solid week!)

This week I go back to my regular work schedule, which should make it easier to get all my workouts in. Noel and I sat down yesterday and mapped out our entire week…workouts, boys’ activities, meal plan…the whole nine yards. If we can stick to it, the week will go smoothly. Bring it on!

Week 3 of 1/2 Training 2.0

The SICK continued into week 3, so I took more time off than I wanted. I will say that I am sick a lot less now that I’m running. Running seems to cure a lot of my ailments. My body is stronger. But this upper respiratory garbage really did a number on me.

Here’s week 3’s summary:

Sunday 7/13 – XT
I should have made this a rest day, but I really wanted to ride my bike. I did 10 miles in an out and back to the high school. The first 5 were easy because my legs were still sleepy from the Titan 10K, but then I pushed it on the back half and averaged 15mph.

Monday 7/14 – 6 miles and OWS
Not sure a two-a-day was the greatest idea, but then endurance athletes aren’t known for their great ideas sometimes. I did 6 tough miles at the gym, first five on the TM and the last mile on the track. My body just didn’t want to run. That evening we went to a park with a big pond for an open water swim sponsored by Noel’s tri club. It was my first time swimming in lake water since I was a kid. It went well.

Tuesday 7/15 – REST
I woke feeling like absolute garbage. I took the day off work even.

Wednesday 7/16 – REST
We celebrated 9 years of wedded bliss. We had planned on a 9 mile bike ride or a 9 mile run. My body said NO.

Thursday 7/17 – REST
More like restless.

Friday 7/18 – REST
Noel went on a long bike ride instead of his long run. I had every intention to go on my long run when he got home. I was fully dressed in run clothes and my stomach revolted against me. DUMB SNOT!

Saturday 7/19 – 7 miles
I got my long run in. Not the 8 on the training plan, but I got 7 in before my stomach got unhappy. Under a 10min/mile pace. Big gains!

This week is a maintenance week. I’m hoping to get in at least two bikes and two swims too. My first triathlon is coming up August 3rd and I signed up for a second one on August 23rd.

Titan 10K Race Report

After the Firecracker 4 Mile, I figured I was done with running races until October. WRONG! I like several local Wichita area road races on Facebook, and Titan 10K posted a picture of their race shirts…Brooks singlets…ladies cut! I’m a sucker for a race with a ladies cut shirt…and a tank…I was in!!

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The race was set for Saturday July 12th, with a 7am start. I was looking forward to the weather, because it was supposed to be fairly cool, very uncommon for Kansas in July. My body had other plans however.

Thursday I woke up feeling off, and by Thursday evening I had developed a sore throat. When I woke Friday morning, it was VERY sore and radiated into my ears. I called the doctor and got in right away. I got hooked up with a z-pack, which I’ve had good results with in the past. I spent almost all of Friday lying in bed with the dog, a book, and the TV remote. By about 9pm, I told Noel that I was definitely going to run, but I would take it easy. I didn’t think a PR was even in the realm of possibilities.

I woke up Saturday feeling ok. The boys were at the lake camping with the inlaws, so it was just Noel and I. We got ready and headed to the race start. It was held at Wichita South’s high school stadium. The race benefited South’s athletics. Every high school should do this!

Noel and I did some dynamic warm-ups and reunited with all our running family members. The more I get into the Wichita running community, the more it feels like a family. The starting line was in the parking lot. Noel and I lined up and Karlee from Running Connection came by and took this shot. It’s my new favorite shot of the two of us!

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Noel took off and said, “See you at the finish line!” I had big plans to take it easy. I had turned my 4:1 run/walk ratio back on and planned on using it. My calves and ankles felt tight when I slowed to the first walk, so I just slowed to an easy jog instead. I walked the second and third intervals. I jogged the fourth. Then I got tired of leapfrogging with people, so when my watch beeped the next time I just kept going. A 9:30min/mile run felt really good.

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I just kept plugging away, walking here and there, walking through aid stations. I ate half a bag of cherry cola Stinger Energy Chews at 34 minutes. I could see Noel about a quarter of a mile ahead of me. I never really lost sight of him, but I never expected to catch him either. I was really surprised when I came up on him, right at the 5 mile marker. Poor guy was hurting. He said his stomach was not happy, and he had lost his breakfast at about mile 4. He waved me on and told me to go get that PR.

The last quarter mile was on the stadium’s track. I just went for it. I imagined I was at track night, pushing my way through a 400. My pace slowly climbed from the comfortable 9:30 to right at about 8. I crossed the finish line at 1:01:24. I didn’t know at the time, but Noel was right on my heels.

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Since Noel wasn’t feeling so great, we didn’t hang around. It was a great race nonetheless. Even sick, I managed to PR by a minute and a half over my Easter Sun Run time.

I really love 10Ks. It’s definitely my favorite distance to race. 13.1 is challenging. 5Ks are tough because they are short and fast, but they are over quickly. I can’t imagine what 26.2 will be like. 10K is just my cup of tea. It’s long enough to feel like I’m really pushing myself, but not so long that I have to put a lot of time into training. When I started running, it was almost my dream to be able to jump in and run a 10K NBD. Boom…done! Now I’ve got my sights set on a sub-hour 10K. Not sure I’ll find another one to run by the end of 2014, so Easter Sun Run next spring is going to be A LOT of fun!

Week 2 of 1/2 Training 2.0

Another week gone by, another week with only two blog posts. Oh well. I’m still doing better than I have in years past when I attempted a public blog.

Week 2 was a bit tougher. I missed a workout due to SICK! Starting Thursday afternoon, I started to feel tired. I chalked it up to my monthly visitor and a long week at work, but by the time I got home from work it was clear it was not just tiredness. I had a very sore throat that radiated into my ears. I was running a low fever. And I was bummed because we had a 10K on Saturday and I had a BIG PR planned. I headed straight to the doctor on Friday, got a z-pack, and spent the rest of the day laying in bed. I was feeling better by bedtime, so I figured I would get up and go to the 10K and see how I felt. I’ll leave you in suspense for the race report, but it’s another goodie!

Week 2 Summary…

Sunday 7/6 – Rest
I deserved a rest day after the mini triathlon Noel and I did on Saturday. I wasn’t even tempted to run at John’s run practice that evening. I even wore run clothes just in case, but chatting with other parents on the sidelines was much more appealing.

Monday 7/7 – Easy 5mi
It was supposed to be an easy 5 miles, which Noel and I opted to do at the Y on treadmills so the boys could play in the kidzone. I have a hard time with easy runs on the treadmill because I’m tempted with the buttons. I turned the 5 miles into an “easy” progressive tempo, ramping up the pace .2mph every mile with a quarter mile recovery at 5.0mph in between. I did the last quarter mile at 7.0mph to practice my kick. I can’t believe I’m finally using those numbers on the TM. I thought I would be forever stuck in the 5s!

Tuesday 7/8 – Speedwork
Tough workout at track practice. We did 400s and instead of splitting us into three groups, he just split us into two. Group 1 did started every 3 minutes and group 2 started every 4 minutes. I wanted to try and keep my 400s under 2 minutes, which I managed to do with group one for the first six. Only having a 1 minute recovery started to wear on me and I started to get that pukey feeling so I dropped back down with group two. I did 11×400, including a 1/2 mile warm up at an overal 7:54 pace. PRETTY DARN GOOD for me!

Wednesday 7/9 – Rest
I wanted to squeeze a bike ride or a swim in, but it just didn’t happen. We took the boys to the wildlife park instead.

Thursday 7/10 – Rest
This was a scheduled rest day that turned into a sick day.

Friday 7/11 – SICK

Saturday 7/12 – Titan 10K
Titan 10K. Time 1:01:24. Yeah…that’s a PR. More on that tomorrow or Wednesday!

Week 3 is a ramp up week. We’re about to head out for 6 mile Monday run. I’m going to try and take it super easy. Probably my first 10+ min/mile pace in a while. My ankles, shins, and calves are sore, so I’m rocking the calf sleeves today!

Derby Firecracker 4 Mile Race Report

Oh man! What can I say about this race! It was awesome beyond words. My best performance yet. I felt like a real runner with a real race pace, especially when I look back at how well my races have progressed since the Easter Sun Run in April.

The race started at 7:30am, so I set my alarm for 5am. The race is only about 15 minutes from our house. A 5am alarm would have given us plenty of time to hit snooze twice, drink coffee, eat PB toast (for me) and bagel (for him), hit the bathroom, collect our race kit, and go. “Would have” being the key phrase there. Instead, I bolted upright at 5:50, realizing that the sun was already hitting my face. OOPS! We rushed around and still managed to get out of the house by 6:30 so we could get a good parking spot and do some dynamic warm-ups. Thank goodness my parents had kept the boys overnight so we didn’t have to juggle them as well.

The race starts at High Park in Derby. I have spent A LOT of time running in High Park, and I consider Derby my home running turf. Home turf advantage! The temperature was ideal, and the humidity was actually low for a change. We did a few snowballs and warm-ups, hit the bathrooms, and then got lined up at the starting line.

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Image courtesy Derby Running Club.

I didn’t really have a plan going into the race. My running has been really strong for the last month or so. I have been consistently training under a 10min/mile pace, so I figured I could muster at least 38 minutes. I left the run/walk on my Garmin and told Noel that I would probably walk if I felt like I needed it. I tried not to start out too fast at the gun, but it’s tough when people are passing you like crazy. The first interval beeped and I plowed through. I knew the pace was fast, but I figured to beat 38 minutes, I needed to keep the run at or slightly under a 9min/mile pace. I clicked the first mile off at 8:50. Noel questioned my ability to hold that pace, but I just gave him a shrug. I walked at the 9 minute interval beep and told Noel that I would probably walk every other interval.

At about 1.5 miles, we closed in on a man pushing a stroller. He noticed our GoRun shirts and started asking us questions about the scheduled runs that the store coordinates. Sorry, dude…I’m racing. No chatting!! We passed him. I hope I could keep him behind me and manage to pass the other stroller that was in my sights. At this point, I left Noel behind. This was kind of exciting. He’s usually a few steps ahead of me when we do a training run together. He just motioned me on and told me to run my race. I clicked off mile two at a 9:09.

Right after the mile 2 marker, there was a sign that said “Water Station Ahead.” I got excited because I had been fighting cotton mouth for about a mile. I wanted that water! But I kept running, expecting to see the station. It wasn’t until mile 2.3 or so that we actually got water. Race directors…move the sign a little closer! I walked through the station, which resulted in mile 3 being ticked off at 9:24.

We entered the park and I knew I was going to break 38 minutes easily. The question now was by how much. My legs were getting tired. I wanted to hold off as many people as possible. I felt cool to actually be racing people, instead of just running to finish. I held off both of the strollers that I had passed. One older gentleman who used to lift weights with Noel played leap frog with me in the last mile. He finally passed me. I should have held him off though. Right as I approached the turn for the finish line, out of the corner of my eye, I see a familiar race singlet. NOEL! I thought I had lost him, but he said I was always in his sights. He came up strong. Between thinking he was going to pass me and seeing the clock reading 36:5?, I turned on the jets and hit a sub-7 pace for my kick at the finish.

We checked our official time, and yet again we crossed at exactly the same time. 36:57. A 9:14min/mile pace. A HUGE PR and an amazing accomplishment for yours truly. I should also mention that a big goal of mine has been a sub-30 5K. I have done this two or three times in training, but never in an actual race. When I hit save on my watch, little miss Garmin 220 told me my new 5K PR was 28:19. Now I’m just itching to make that sub-30 official. I’ll have to find a 5K in September because my August is already full with triathlons.

We milled around and chatted with two of our Derby runner friends. I think of these two ladies as speedy, and they finished right before us. One of them wondered out loud what I would be able to accomplish in October at my next half. Only time will tell, but I think all signs are pointing to a big PR and a big goal for the spring!