Food, Fitness, Photography

Food, Fitness, Photography

Sunday, September 17, 2017

7 is the magic number

7 is the magic number.  For this week anyway.  I didn't even attempt a long run this week.  I don't think I could handle the mental side of it if it went badly with only a week to go til race day.  I hate that my last long run pre-race was bad, but I'm glad I had some really good 7 mile runs this week, and I'm going to be counting on race day adrenaline next Sunday.  Also, constantly reminding myself I don't have to race hard next weekend.  I just have to run.  It can be a long training run if necessary.  I just really really don't want it to feel like my last long run did.

I was excited all week about how low my HR was staying even when I was running faster than usual, and I hit a new V02 max of 56 on Tuesday.  Then today when I was running I spent a bit more time in Z4 and realized that most likely the main reason my HR has been lower all week has been because of the lower temperature.  It was considerably warmer today, so my heart had to work harder.  Duh.  I'm still glad to see improvements in my fitness even if they are related to cooler temps!  It says potential good things about how my fall training will go once I don't have to battle the heat.  Gotta have something to look forward to with the cooler weather instead of just dreading being cold all the time.

This week : 
M : circuit training 33:15
run 5.5 / 8:03 / 440 ft 
T : yoga class  60 min
group run 6.3 / 7:48 / 305 ft
W : rest
R : TRX circuit 43:00
run 7.5 / 7:29 / 486 ft
F : run 7.6 / 7:55 / 650 ft
Sa : rest
Su : run 7.1 / 7:48 / 522 ft
total miles : 34

On Monday, I taught my first after-school fitness class to some co-workers.  I'm excited for this opportunity to hep others improve their fitness, have some workout buddies, and make a little extra money!  I also do a TRX workout with Gail whenever we can coordinate schedules.  We made it happen this week, and I really loved being able to work out twice, with people, this week!  It is a lot easier for me to get motivated to work out when I have people to do it with.  This week was also the beginning of Tuesday after school yoga for teachers, so I now have that set in my weekly schedule as well.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

1 step forward, 3 steps back

I've been counting on this being the year that I PR the half marathon, but I'm starting to think I need to let go of that goal.  I still have over 2 months til my last race this year, so there's still time for my body to start loving long runs again... but I'm getting pretty discouraged.  Shorter runs are going fine.  I even had a great 2x2 mile repeat run this week.  But my long run was awful.  9:00 minute pace felt unreachable to me by the end.  And that is just not how I want to feel 2 weeks out from my next half marathon!  Sometimes I remind myself that it is possible to race well even when training isn't going perfectly.  Other times I remind myself that I haven't had a truly bad race in a long time so I might be overdue for one.

This week : 
M : run 4.1 / 7:25 / 236 ft
T : run w/Corey 7 / 7:22 / 184 ft
(2 x 2 mile, 1 mile jog recovery)
W : TRX arms 16:00
run 4.2 / 8:02 / 226 ft
R : rest
F : rest
Sa : run w/Corey 13.6/ 8:23 / 623 ft
Su : run 3 / 8:18 / 135 ft
total miles : 31.9

The long run started out fine.  We were averaging 7:30-7:50 pace which is right where I wanted to be.  I kept it up for about 6 miles and then my body just gave up on me and every mile it got harder and harder to keep moving.  The hills weren't long or steep but they took every ounce of energy I had.  I didn't feel anything like my normal hill-loving self.  I don't know if my body is stressed from being back at school, or what.  School is going really well and not feeling stressful, but it is certainly different than being on vacation.  Or maybe I should focus on more 7-9 mile runs and stop trying to throw long runs in the mix with a bunch of 4 milers.  That could be it.  

On the bright side, my 2x2 mile repeats went spectacularly.  I was hoping for 6:30-6:45 pace, and hit that pretty closely.  The first one was slightly downhill, the second one was slightly uphill.  I only had a 9 second difference from the 1st to the 2nd, which is amazing and remarkably consistent given how much the uphill direction on the Creeper Trail usually wears me out.  13:18 for the first repeat and 13:27 for the second.  

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Effort-based running

This week : 

 M : TRX arms / 12 minutes
run 4.1 / 7:06 / 217 ft

T : yoga 15 minutes
run w/Ben 9.2 / 7:40 / 525 ft

W : rest

R : run 5.7 / 8:38 / 400 ft
TRX 34 minutes

F :  rest

Sa : yoga 20 minutes
run 14 / 8:07 / 853 ft

Su : yoga 17 minutes
bike w/Dan 20.3 / 18 mph / 1142 ft

total run miles : 33
total bike miles : 20.3

I've been running primarily #nowatchme for the past few weeks. This means that while I am wearing a watch and recording all my runs, I do not allow myself to look at the pace or mile splits while I am running. I decide what kind of effort I want to put in, and that is the effort I exert.  I can't look at my watch to see if my pace matches what I think it should for my effort.  I often keep my watch on the HR screen so that I can judge my effort by my HR, but not accidentally see my pace.  Some days I have the self control not to look at my watch at all.  

On Monday, my legs were itching to go.  I hadn't let myself open up to a fast pace in awhile, and my legs wanted to stretch out.  I had barely been free of calf pain for 24 hours, but sometimes it is worse to hold my legs back, so I decided to let them go.  I kept the effort somewhere between moderate and hard, and did not look at my watch until it was over, other than to check the mileage occasionally because I wanted to make sure I got at least 4.  I was incredibly happy to see my average pace when I completed the run.  7:06 average in a training run without exerting maximum effort was a huge confidence booster for me.  

On Tuesday I was still feeling good and my legs still had that "get up and go" feeling.  I wasn't quite ready to put myself back on the track, so I decided to do a long hill push.  I hadn't run the 2+ mile White's Mill hill in awhile, and I was craving a good long hard climb.  Ben agreed to go with me, so off we went.  We kept the pace easy-moderate on the downhill, and after turning around at the bottom I focused on a good steady push up the hill.  Last time I did this run, I pushed too hard on the first part of the hill and died before I reached the top, so this time I made sure I was keeping something for the final push.  I felt really strong as I pushed up that hill, and was really pleased with the run overall.  
I made myself take Wednesday off because I was afraid of overdoing it and setting myself back again when I was finally feeling good.  On Thursday I had planned to do a TRX workout for Gail in the evening, so I decided to do my run before work in the morning.  I decided it would be better for my legs to not do the run and TRX back to back.  Plus, I'm always slow in the mornings, so a morning run guarantees that I won't overdo it.  I forgot to eat a little something before the run, so my stomach was yelling at me to feed it during the whole run, but other than that is wasn't bad.  

I was hoping for a minimum of 12 miles on Saturday (although I only needed 11 to hit my 30 miles for the week so I knew I could stop there if it was going poorly).  I had a vague route planned out in my head, but I hadn't mapped it, and suspected I would have to add several miles at the end of the loop I had in mind.  A few miles in, I was feeling pretty good despite the persistent rain and had an idea for a loop to add, so I did.  Coming up on 11 miles, I had a choice to run straight home and get about 13, or add a bit and get to 14.  I decided to go for the 14.  I ended up having to zig zag back and forth between two streets to get the 14 without running past home, but I got it.  I kept the effort pretty easy throughout the run.  I noticed my HR creeping into Z4 a few times, and each time I worked to steady my breathing and bring it back to Z3.  I ended up with only 12% of the run in Z4, which can mostly be attributed to hills.   I was a bit disappointed that my average pace was over 8, but after looking at the HR data I realized that 8:07 is a good pace for me, with staying out of Z4.  I'm still hoping that comes down below 8:00 soon, but I think as long as things continue to go well, it will.  

Happy face after a great hill run!

Successful 14 miler done despite the chill and rain!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Another setback

BUT I did get back to 30 miles this week, so I'm not too worked up about it.  My body is just being ornery and clearly doesn't want to do any kind of speed training.  All I have to do is think about doing speed or tempo and a new ache/pain shows up.  I now have zero official pace goals for the Bluegrass 1/2 on the 24th of September.  I just want to be able to run the race and feel good.  If I can just come out of this setback and NOT have another one...that would be great.

This week's setback was a knot in my right calf.  I felt fine until the last mile of my group run on Tuesday, and then I started getting twinges of a muscle cramp.  I immediately stopped trying to keep up with the guys and took it easy as I finished the run, but I guess it was already too late.  I'm not sure what caused the cramps.  Could have been dehydration, could have been related to the sore muscles from Wednesday's hike, could have been tweaked in Monday's TRX.  All I do know, is those muscle cramps turned into a knot in my calf that is still there today, although thankfully it seems to be almost worked out.  Today was the first run where it didn't feel like it was having a negative effect on the run, although I could still feel it lurking.

This week : 
M : yoga 20 min
run 5 / 8:10 / 289 ft
TRX 30 min 
swim 16:00 / 700 yds (rest every 50)
T : yoga 20 min
group run 6.1 / 8:18 / 449 ft
W : yoga 15 min
R : group run 6.2 / 8:41 / 571 ft
F : rest
 Sa : run 6.7 / 8:02 / 587 ft
Su : run 6.5 / 7:48 / 407 ft (3 w/Ben)
total miles : 30.5

This is what my calendar said for this week.
I don't think I ever even looked at this during the week.
I was going to do the tempo on Thursday, but scrapped it because of the calf pain.
I probably should have made myself bike at some point...oh well. 

I felt like I was kind of getting the hang of the swimming thing on Monday, I was actually managing to get that whole turn-head-to-the-side thing to breathe, but my legs were just dying.  My kick is the strongest part of my swim, so I got really confused as to why I was unable to kick myself efficiently across the pool.  Then I realized that my legs just wanted to be done for the day, since I had already run and done TRX.  So I called it quits and went to the hot tub to relax for a bit.  

Wednesday was day 10 in a row of my morning yoga streak, and it was also the first day of school.  I was proud of myself for getting up early enough to squeeze in some yoga before getting out the door by 7:20, but I decided 10 days was enough and I'm not going to torture myself to make time for yoga every day before school.  Consequently, I haven't done any yoga since Wednesday...  In another couple of weeks I'll be back to doing an after school yoga class once a week, so that will be good.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Make a plan. Ignore plan.

I do this a lot.  I'm always making up training schedules for myself.  Once in awhile, I actually do manage to follow the schedule exactly.  But only once in awhile.  The rest of the's just an idea, right?  Not something set in stone?  This is why I won't hire a coach for myself.  Yet I want to coach others...because I'm good at making the plans!  I just need someone more dedicated than me to actually follow the plans!  Although I'm not sure "dedicated" is quite the word I'm looking for.  I am dedicated.  I get done what I need to eventually.  Life just gets in the way sometimes and messes up the order and timing.

This was the plan for the week : 
(purple is yoga minutes, blue is running miles)

Here's what I actually did : 

Monday : yoga : 25

Tuesday : yoga : 20
TRX : 34
run : 5.5 / 7:50 / 400 ft

Wednesday : yoga : 40
hike : 5 miles
swim : 26 / 1100yds (rest every 50)
bike (group) : 18.4 / 14.7 mph / 1050 ft

Thursday : yoga : 20
run : 9.6 / 8:46 / 420 ft
(4.5 solo, then with group)

Friday : yoga : 25

Saturday :  yoga : 20
horseback ride on and off for 7 hours

Sunday : yoga : 15
run 10.8 / 7:53 / 587 ft

total bike miles : 18.4
total run miles : 25.9
total swim : 1100 yds

I was super proud of myself for doing yoga first thing in the morning EVERY SINGLE DAY this week.  I found a different "morning yoga" video on YouTube each day.  I tried to pick the gentler ones so I wouldn't feel too horribly in need of a shower afterwards.  I meant to also do a more strenuous video at least once this week, later in the day, but that hasn't happened yet, so it probably won't happen.  I'm sure I'm benefiting just from the gentle stretching each morning though!  The trick will be trying to keep that routine once school starts and I have to be out of the house by 7:20 every day. I did start work on Thursday this week, but I didn't have to be in til 9 on Thursday or Friday.  

I don't remember why I didn't bike on Monday.  I think I just decided that my legs needed rest and that they didn't need to deal with hills on a bike.  If I could have ridden without coming across a single hill I probably would have.  Oh yeah, I remember what else happened.  I decided to dust my bedroom, and do a little vacuuming, and somehow that turned into cleaning and re-organizing my entire kitchen.  That took several hours.  It definitely needed to be done, but it also definitely threw a wrench in my day.  I had intended to go into work in the morning.  I ended up going in the afternoon instead, once I had finally finished the kitchen.  

Tuesday's run was a "shakeout" right after I did TRX.  I didn't let myself check my pace at any point during the run.  I just did whatever felt good.  I did try to throw in a good mix of hills so my legs wouldn't get too "bored."

On Wednesday I had every intention of running and biking, but then I decided that since it was my last day of vacation, I also needed to go on an adventure.  Blog post here. My adventure ended up being a 5 mile hike.  I made the mistake of telling someone I would be back in time for lunch, which meant that I got really rushed towards the end of the hike.  Like, I realized I wouldn't be back til 2 if I didn't really hurry, and that my friend might start to freak out that something had happened to me.  So I ended up walk/jogging the 2.5 miles back to the car.  In my chacos.  Which were wet from the creek crossings.  So now I have a bunch of rubs on my feet, and my calves have now almost stopped screaming at me.  But hey, my calves probably needed the workout.  Anyway, I made it back to cell service by 12:40 so all was well.  After lunch, Gail somehow convinced me to go to the pool with her to swim laps.  I've been avoiding this for ages.  I want to be able to swim...but I just can't get the breathing thing down.  I've inhaled so much water in my life it freaks me out to even think about trying that sideways turning breathing thing.  But, I went to the pool with Gail.  As I got in the pool, I realized I had forgotten my inhaler.  Because why not make this breathing thing even harder on myself?  After inhaling a tiny bit of water, I decided I was definitely going to use a nose clip.  That thing is a life saver.  I did about 20ish laps with a kickboard, just kicking myself back and forth across the pool as fast as I could with my arms straight out in front of me, and trying to practice turning my head to breathe.  I had to rest for several minutes between each lap to catch my breath.  Then I did a few laps trying to do some approximation of a breast stroke, which I decided would be easier to master the breathing for.  Turns out I can only think about 2 things at once.  So I can get the arms and the legs right, or I can get the arms and the breathing right.  But at least I was making it back and forth across the pool without a kickboard.  I did flip to my back a couple times to just kick and catch my breath though.  In the end, I survived my first ever experience "swimming" laps.  And then I decided I couldn't ditch my bike ride like I had clearly ditched my run, so I went to the group bike ride.  To which no one else showed up.  But there were a couple people who had randomly shown up to ride together at that time, and they let me join them.  So that was nice.  

On Thursday I was not feeling so great, and it was 80+ degrees out, but I was already way behind on my mileage for the week so I had to go for a run.  I decided to time my run so that I would get 4-5 alone and then be able to jump in with a group starting at 5:00 to get some more miles with them.  I ended up getting 4.5 alone and then dragging myself behind the group for the rest of the run.  I felt awful, but I made it through the whole run so, yay miles!

I accepted that Friday would have to be a rest day and that I would get the remaining miles I needed on Saturday and Sunday. 

Sue had texted me earlier in the week to say she would be at a horse show near me and would bring Pony if I wanted to ride.  Of course I said yes.  How could I say no to Pony visiting me instead of me having to go visit her?!  The show was only about 15 minutes away from  me!  I got there around 11, and ended up spending the next 9 hours on and off  my horse, riding back and forth between the trailer and the arena where they were having a cattle sorting show.  I spent lots of time just sitting on Pony watching the show.  It was a fun time, and it was great to spend some time with Pony!  But it meant that I did not run.  So...another rest day, more or less.  

I accepted that I was not getting 30 miles this week.  I briefly toyed with the idea of trying to get 15 today, but then I saw that it was going to be over 80 by noon, and closer to 90 by 5, so I scrapped that idea.  I realized if I wanted anything close to a long run I would have to get up early and run before church.  I got up at 5:15.  I hit snooze til 5:30 because I could not get myself up.  I did yoga til 5:45.  I had breakfast.  I finally got out the door at 6:45.  If I wanted to go to church in Abingdon, I had to be home by 8:15 for the 9:00 Mass.  There was a 10:30 option in Bristol, but I didn't want to drive that far if I didn't really have to.  So I got as many miles as I could by 8:15 and called it good.  I think it helped me run a bit faster than I might have otherwise though.  It actually ended up being the best I've felt on a run in awhile, and I was pleased that I averaged under 8:00 pace.  And since it wasn't super long, I shouldn't need too much recovery.  I hope to be back over 30 miles next week!  

So awesome that Pony got to come visit me!

Sue offered to take photos of us.  
Pony was much more interested in eating grass than in posing.

In other news, I found out that the gym near me (with the pool) is only $140/year for teachers.  And they have TRX hooks on the wall, in addition to a pool, so I think I will actually get a gym membership!  Then I'll have to learn how to swim efficiently and use it for cross training, AND I will be able to do so much more with TRX because I won't be confined in my hallway anymore!  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gentry Creek Falls 8/16/2017

Wednesday was my last official day of summer vacation.  Tuesday night after run club someone told me about a great waterfall that wasn't too far from Damascus.  I looked into it when I got home.  Google Maps told me it was over an hour away, but further research showed that the actual trail head was much closer, and Google just doesn't know where it is.  Google was trying to take me to the actual falls, from the other direction, instead of taking me to the trailhead.  So, after determining that it was more like 35-40 minutes in the car, I decided it would be a good last-day-of-vacation adventure.
obligatory adventure-selfie

And an adventure it was!  Thankfully I had learned that there were many creek crossings on this trail, so I was prepared with chacos and running shorts.  There were too many crossings to count!  And, with all the rain we've had lately, the creek was up and moving.  The water was moving fast enough that not only was it sometimes hard to maintain balance while placing each foot, but it was also hard to see where to step, because the movement of the water blurred everything underneath.  Several of the crossings were up to my knees, and at least one was over my knees!

It wasn't too hard to find the trail head, thanks to the directions I found at  I was coming from the north, rather than from the south, so I took 58E to 91S to Gentry Creek Rd.  It would have been helpful to know how far down the road the trail head was.  I tracked it coming back, the trailhead is 3.1 miles from 91.  The last 1.3 miles is on a 1 lane dirt/gravel road that winds its way through the forest until it dead ends in a clearing.  It looks like there are a few different trails going out of the clearing, the blue blaze trail is the one you want for the falls.  There was at least one point along the trail where I came to an intersection of trails and couldn't see any blue blazes.  I went with my instinct which said to always choose the trail that follows the creek.  My instinct was correct.

The trail was gorgeous as it wound it's way along and back and forth over the creek.  Sunbeams came down through the trees to illuminate pockets of the forest floor.  2.5 miles down the trail I found the twin falls cascading over a cliff.  As I was photographing them, I had to constantly wipe the spray off my lens.  I had heard that you could climb up above the falls for another angle to photograph, and also that if you continued on up above the falls you would come to a gorgeous 360 view of the surrounding area.  I started to attempt the climb, but the trail was steep and covered in a wet mulch-y mud.  I think I could have scrambled up it, but it was so steep I was worried I wouldn't be able to get back down safely.  I didn't want to risk myself or the expensive camera equipment I was carrying on my back, so I decided to save that adventure for a drier day.

I thought this was cool, the spray off the waterfalls 
being carried by the wind through a sunbeam. 

To see all of the photos, visit GMcD Photography

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Time to take a break

But not from running of course!  Just from the training.  Ever since I hurt my back in July and took a week off from running, it's been hard coming back.  There was the terrible flat-ness in MI that made my legs angry, and then I got back home and my body just doesn't want to run hard anymore.  It's been super frustrating, but it's time to accept that I need to back off.  Sure, I'm 6 weeks away from half marathon that I could potentially do really well at, but I just have to keep reminding myself the real goal race isn't til November and if I want to be strong I can't keep pushing myself too hard.

So for the next 2 ish weeks, the goal is just to get back the joy in running.  I have minor distance goals for each run, but no pace goals.  I'm not going to purposely run fast, but I'm not going to purposely run slow either.  I've found my legs are angrier after being forced to run slower.  I also think part of my problem is all this time on the couch since I got home from my roadtrip.  Not working is weird.  I went into school 4 days this week more to get off the couch than because I really had to.  It was nice to get a head start on setting up my classroom and thinking about lesson plans, but it wasn't necessary.  I think getting back to work and being on a normal daily schedule will probably help my running too.

This week :
M : yoga 50 minutes
T : group run 6.1 / 7:39 / 348 ft
W : workout 30 minutes
group bike 23.1 / 15.2 mph / 1355 ft
R : group run 7.5 / 7:58 /522 ft
F : run 6 / 8:01 / 449 ft
yoga 20 minutes
Sa : bike 24 / 17.4 mph / 1348 ft
Su : run w/ Corey 14 / 8:30 / 869 ft
total bike miles : 47.1 
total run miles : 33.6

We had planned mile repeats on Tuesday, but none of us were feeling up for it so we just ran instead.  And then we planned a tempo run for me on Thursday, but I wasn't feeling up for it and no one else wanted it enough to pull me through so again, we just ran.  

Today's run was brutal.  I probably should drop long runs while I'm trying to just enjoy running, but I feel like I've lost so much of my endurance in the last 2 months and I don't want to lose any more of it.  I wanted to keep my endurance after the marathon!  The plan for today was about 12 miles.  I really wanted a change of scenery for the long run so we went to Bristol.  I filled my camelbak 3/4 full.  I didn't want to need it, but I've been feeling so drained on runs lately I figured better safe than sorry.  I ended up wishing I had filled it the whole was empty with 2 miles left in the run.  I had planned about roughly the first 6 miles of the run point to point, and then figured we'd run around Steele Creek park, see where we were mileage wise, and head back on a shorter route than how we got there.  It ended up being much sunnier and hotter than either of us expected (I got rained on during my run Friday and during my ride Saturday!) We were both feeling the heat by the time we got to Steele Creek.  We decided to run the shaded trail around the lake for a break from the sun.  Then we had to climb a looooong hill out of the park.  With little shade.  I actually thought I might pass out at one point.  How did I make it to August without acclimating to running in the heat?!  I was dragging more and more with each mile, but I did make it back to the car without giving up.  On the bright side, running 14 instead of 12 this weekend means I can do 8-10 instead of 12 next weekend.  Or who knows, maybe I'll just feel really good next weekend and do more. You never know. Maybe it won't be as hot.