Sunday, November 23, 2014

35.6 miles this week

Another great week of running.  A late decision to run another half marathon put me at 6 for the year, which is the same number I ran last year.  Considering all the time I lost from training this year, that's pretty nice.

I had originally planned to take today off, but this morning I found myself wanting a run.  Then a friend asked if I wanted to run with him, and my decision was made.  I know I will appreciate it tomorrow when I spend all day driving.

This Week
M: 7.7 / 59:24 / 7:44
T: 4.5 / 31:01 / 6:53
R: 5.3 / 39:37 / 7:33
Sa: 13.3 / 1:28:55 / 6:42
Su: 4.9 / 39:51 / 8:08 (w/DD)
total : 35.6 miles

Highest mileage in over a year, and my fastest half marathon avg. pace ever?  Successful week!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Star City Half Marathon

18th overall. 1st place female. Official time 1:28:58.
My fastest half marathon of 2014! Didn't get a PR this year, but after spending more than half of the year injured, I'm just happy I got within a minute!

My watch clocked me at 13.28 miles in 1:28:55.  Strava says I ran 13.1 in 1:27:53, which is my long-awaited PR, if the GPS was accurate!  I have no way to know for sure, so I can only unofficially consider it a PR.  But it is a confidence boost for future races, when I will hopefully break 1:28 again.

I am ridiculously happy with how this race went. Finishing under 1:30 after only 3 months back in training is better than I dared hope for. I knew I was on track for a great finish throughout the whole race, but I was never sure if I would be able to keep the pace or if I would crash and burn. The first 6 miles were run with the 10k, and I went out fast. It felt good, so I decided to just keep it and see what happened. The course was mostly flat, a few small roling hills here and there. There was a long hill around mile 8, and it was perfect. It was just the right steepness to energize me and I was able to really power to the top. I had claimed second place somewhere around mile 7, and I claimed first place around mile 8.5. Both girls came into my sight at mile 6 when we split off from the 10k. I kept my focus on them, one at a time, and slowly reeled them in. When I passed the girl to take first place, I could tell she was struggling, and as far as I could tell, she didn't try to stay with me. I didn't let myself get too confident about my place in the race; there were several times when I really wanted to slow down and just hope noone would pass me, but I managed to stay strong all the way to the finish. 
    
I was very relieved that my lungs never gave out on me during the race. The temp was in the mid-high 20s, so I did end up with a pretty violent coughing fit as soon as I broke from a cool down jog to a walk. I'm so glad the cough always holds off until I stop...I could never start running again after coughing like that!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Less is More : 31 miles in 3 runs

Super happy with this week's runs!

On Monday, it was actually warm enough to run in shorts and a t-shirt.  So, I headed home as soon as school was out and got ready as quickly as possible so I could run before the temperature started dropping.  I chose a 9+ mile loop.  I forgot to take into account the fact that I would be in the shadow of a mountain for most of the run, so the run ended up colder than I anticipated, but oh well.  I could see the sunshine off in the distance.  I was running hard, and stayed strong even up the steep climbs.  As I got back into town, I was still feeling good, so I kept on running until I was getting too cold and hungry to continue.  11.6 miles / 1:27:12 / 7:30 / 859 ft of elevation gain

I didn't have time to run on Tuesday because of a last minute babysitting job, and I didn't have time to run on Wednesday because of an after-school baby shower that lasted until after dark.  By Thursday afternoon, I was really itching to run again.  It was cold out and there was snow drifting down from the sky (but not sticking to the ground), but it felt so good to be running, I ended up with 9.3 miles, and probably could have done more.  9.3 miles / 1:10:20 / 7:34 / 804 ft of elevation gain

I took Friday off because I was afraid of overdoing it.  On Saturday, I figured I may as well stick to the theme, so I headed out for another long run.  I chose a loop I have never run before.  It involved a really steep hill that I have biked before.  I spent the first several (downhill and flat) miles second-guessing my route choice, but stuck it out, and climbed the 2 mile, avg. 6% grade hill.  (11.3% grade at the steepest part).  I decided not to push my luck once I got back to town and didn't add on to the loop.  10.5 miles / 1:25:20 / 8:07 / 919 ft of elevation gain

31.4 miles this week.  That is my highest weekly mileage since this week last year, which involved a marathon.  Sad to think that I went a whole year without a week over 30 miles, but I did spend a lot of that time injured.  I spent 5+ months injured and trying to get well without quitting, and then I spent over 2 months not running at all.  And then of course there was all the time trying to build back up!

To add some new data into the mix...this week my runs had 2,582 ft of elevation gain.  Each run had over 800 ft.  In a more typical week of running, each of my runs averages 300 ft of gain.  2 weeks ago, I ran 5 times, a total of 22.4 miles, and only totaled 1,619 ft of elevation gain.  I know the longer runs are going to have more elevation gain just because they are longer, so I divided the total weekly elevation by total weekly mileage.  72 ft per mile 2 weeks ago, 82 feet per mile this week. I ran some bigger hills this week!  I'm hoping they will help me get my speed back, because I really don't want to do speed work...but I do really want to get back up to pre-injury speed!


Here are some pictures of my horse...just for fun.
I went to see her today, and she was fuzzy and happy.
I guess the cold weather isn't bothering her at all.




Pumpkin Soup


1 medium pumpkin
3 carrots
1/4 sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger root
vegetable stock
heavy cream
1/2 stick butter
sea salt
sage powder

Remove seeds and gunk from inside of pumpkin.  Slice off the skin.  Cut flesh into chunks.  Chop the carrots into chunks.  Steam the carrot and pumpkin chunks with the butter and approximately 1/2 c of veggie stock.  When veggies are soft, add 1 1/2 or 2 cups of heavy cream, a bit more veggie stock, and sage.  Let simmer.  Chop the garlic and ginger and brown in some olive oil, then add to soup pot.  Do the same with the onion.  Use an immersion blender to blend the soup til smooth.  

Chop a parsnip and brown in olive oil to put on top of the soup if desired. 

Apple Cider Pitas




They go well with my pumpkin soup.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Nothing quite like a trail run to make me feel out of shape

I took Monday and Tuesday off this week because I was tired, and just didn't feel like running.  I decided it wasn't important enough to drag myself out there when I wasn't in the mood.  I had hoped to take Tuesday off of school to recover from the previous rough week, but nobody could sub for me.  We were able to rearrange my schedule so that I could take Wednesday afternoon off instead.  Not the perfect solution, but it was better than nothing!  I was able to have lunch with a friend and spend some time relaxing, and then I decided I should probably get some exercise sometime this week, so I went for a run.  I thought I would do a long run on Thursday because it was gorgeous out at lunchtime, but by 3:00 it was raining and I had a sudden burst of productivity, so I stayed at work until 4:45 instead, and then just went for a quick run before dark.  I didn't have time for a decent run on Friday in between school and babysitting, so I just took it off.  I finally got a long-ish run on Saturday, though still not the 10-miler I had hoped to get this week.

Today it was gorgeous out, and I decided it was past time I headed to the Greenbrier State Forest for a good trail run.  Some new trails have been built in the last year or two, and I hadn't gotten around to running them.  It has something to do with the fact that I was always training for races and afraid to sprain an ankle.  And then there was the fact that I couldn't run all summer.  Now, I'm running again, and don't have any upcoming races that I expect to be competitive in, so I decided there were no more excuses.

I ran a familiar trail first.  1.8 miles up a mountain, then I turned around and ran back down.  Running up that mountain made me feel like I am not at all in shape.  I'm pretty sure I could have walked up it faster, but I didn't quit.   I "only" twisted my ankles 3 or 4 times on the way down.  Then I found one of the new trails and followed it until it looped back around to where I had parked.  Despite the pain in my ankles/legs from having to use muscles I haven't used in forever, I loved it.  It was nice to get out in the woods and just jog around.  I'm sure it was good for strengthening a lot of muscles in my feet as well.

check out that elevation profile...

Runs this Week
W: 5.3 miles 38:24/7:14 
R: 4 miles 28:12/7:01
Sa: 7.1 miles 54:02/7:38
Su: 5.5 miles 58:41/10:38

Cocoa-Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies



The Cookies
1/4 c butter
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c pumpkin
1 egg
1 c sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/3 c white flour

makes approx. 24 cookies
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes


The Filling
1/2 c cream cheese
2 tsp cinnamon
6-7 spoonfuls of confectioners sugar
1 tbsp apple cider




Inspired by this recipe.  I was looking for pumpkin cake recipes.  While browsing, the red velvet oreos caught my eye.  They sounded intriguing.  I've never made red velvet anything.  And I don't have any red food coloring.  But I turned that idea into these cookies.  So much for making pumpkin cake...maybe next time.

Peanut Butter Chicken Pasta


2 b/s chicken breasts
garlic powder
ginger powder
turmeric powder
1/2 c vegetable stock
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 c crunchy peanut butter
1 carrot
2 big handfuls arugula


Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and dump them into a skillet on medium heat.  Liberally sprinkle with the seasonings (If I was less lazy, I would have used fresh minced garlic and ginger). Add the vegetable stock and soy sauce to the skillet.  Stir occasionally as the chicken cooks, so that it will cook evenly through.  When the chicken is about down, add the peanut butter.  Mix well. Turn down the heat so that the chicken doesn't over-cook.  Chop the carrot into bite sized pieces and add that as well.  The pan should stay hot just long enough to soften the carrots.  Add the arugula a minute or two before serving; it tastes better if it doesn't wilt too much.  Serve over the grain of your choice.  I chose pasta of course, but I'm sure it would be just as tasty over rice or quinoa or farro or whatever. 

 boiling peanut butter deliciousness


arugula

Sunday, November 2, 2014

5k trail race

The last five days have been very long and exhausting (with some fun thrown in).  Just a quick summary for now, I will try to add detail/photos later.  I took a friend to the emergency room late Wednesday night.  It was scary and stressful, and I really did not get any sleep that night, and have not had a chance to catch up since.  I'm headed to bed early tonight and hoping I can catch up soon.

I spent the weekend at Sweet Briar College for a Sweet Tones Reunion.  Alumnae of all ages came together with the current Sweet Tones to practice all day on Saturday and then sing together in a concert that night.  It was fun, and a great experience, but it was a bit overshadowed by worries and exhaustion from earlier in the week.

The SBC lacrosse team hosted a 5k trail race today, so I ran that before I headed home.  I was the overall winner by a minute or two.  The course was not well marked at the end, and I took a wrong turn, but still ran the correct distance.  Many other runners took various wrong turns, and the race organizers just kind of shrugged it off.  So it ended up being more of a fun-run than a race.  But that's fine by me.  It was a gorgeous day out.  The only reason I didn't get lost is because I ran those trails all the time while I was a student, and I knew the general direction I was supposed to be going, and where I needed to end up in the end.