Thursday, December 27, 2012


A nice Christmas Day run sounded like the perfect gift to myself, but for many reasons, I didn't make it out the door that day. I'm totally okay with that, because it was a special occasion.

Even on an average day, it can be tough finding motivation to lace up your sneakers. Even though my 9 mile run this weekend was awesome, I definitely dragged my heels getting out the door.

It was cold, and I was cozy in bed. I am reading Ultrarunner Scott Jurek's book, and I was enjoying reading all snuggled up in my bed. I got through a couple chapters when I started reading about one of his morning training runs in Minnesota in winter. He talked about all the layers he bundled up in and how he ran despite sinking down in the snow. I thought about how it wasn't nearly that cold out today. It was only partly cloudy and all I'd need was a light pullover. 

One of the reasons I'm even reading Jurek's book is to pull inspiration for my training efforts. He's an amazing athlete, and I've been inspired by books written by other runners so I'm not surprised that it got me out the door.

Yesterday, before my 5 mile run, I was happy sitting on the couch watching Gossip Girl. I decided to try on a pair of running tights that were a Christmas gift. They're really loud and I lost my nerve to wear them out of the house, so I opted to put on another outfit. I put on another outfit, but still needed another little push. Cue my 26.2 headband!

This reminder helped me focus on my goal. I had to think about how these 5 miles were going to help me get to the marathon finish line. After that I went out and dominated my 5 mile run, including some steep hills in Beacon Hill. (That name is no joke!)

The ultimate inspiration though is knowing that I'm running for a bigger cause. Today, before heading out on my 3 mile run, I did some work on my fundraising efforts. That was the best reminder of why I'm running. These steps are just a small way that I can contribute to the fight against childhood cancer. 

It wasn't pretty. In fact it was a tough run. Even when it was hard, I thought about MGH and my mission. That helped me push beyond laziness and through any discomfort. This race and my training are about so much more than just crossing the finish line, and I can't think of anything more inspiring.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nine Holiday Miles

Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. I've been away from the blog for a few days, thanks to a fabulous Christmas.

Mmm, Christmas breakfast

I took Christmas as a rest day, but I got in some great workouts in the days leading up. I went to my first body pump in over a month, and on Sunday, I did a 9 mile training run.

The run was awesome. My Garmin magically picked up a signal moments after I turned it on. The air was cool but not too cold. I ran out and back along the river, and I was surprised to see how few people were out. Then I got next to the water and felt the wind. Boy, it was strong! I pushed through, promising myself a nice latte from Starbucks as my reward.

There were only a few runners out on the pathway, including a couple of guys who seemed to be holding a decently quick pace. Before I knew it, I was comfortably on their heels. I rode it out a bit, but it was a tad too slow for me, so I kicked it up to get ahead. I hope they didn't mind getting chicked!

I finished 9 miles in just under 1 hour and 20 minutes.

I was in a low-maintenance mood, so I didn't carry any water or fuel. I think 9 miles is about the most I can do without any fuel, so this weekend will mark the start of prepping for my runs with more than just my watch and my ipod.

I had Christmas Eve off, and so I decided to hit up a lunchtime yoga class. The instructor did a ton of stretches for our hip flexors. It hurt so good! I left the class feeling great. I seriously need to keep going to yoga.

It was the perfect kick-off to Christmas. Santa was good to me, bringing me several running accessories and garments.

Peppermint Stick Gu? Yes!
Crazy printed compression pants= Awesome
And of course some generous donations to my marathon fundraising. What a happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Running To-Dos

I have no clue what I did to myself on Monday, but I had a weird pain in my hamstrings yesterday. I figured I should practice smart running and skipped my scheduled 3 miles run. I worry that I'm making excuses, but I think I was really just trying to avoid exasperating the problem.

I'm fortunate enough that my office closes between Christmas Eve and New Years Day. This means next week will be devoted to Running related things!

My to-do list includes:

  • Write donation letters
  • Buy new running shoes
  • Contact local businesses about fundraising events
  • Get in every single workout (runs, strength, yoga)
  • Finalize Disney costume
  • Spend my City Sports Groupon (I'm amazed it's lasted this long) 
  • Use slow cooker (ok, so this is not at all related to running but I have yet to use it and want to be home the first time in case I have a model that burns down the house or something)
 Maybe I'll use some of my free time to check out Recycle Studio or the Bar Method. The holidays have been so hectic that I haven't had time to focus on too much on the marathon. I can't remember the last time that I've had a staycation like this, and the timing is perfect!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Returning Champions

I sat down and officially laid out my Boston training plan last night. It never seems so bad in the beginning, but talk to me again during peak week.

It's a good thing I'm ready, because John Hancock just announced the return of the defending champions.  Sharon Cherop, when you feel that breeze on April 15th, it will just be me passing you.

Cherop's Marathon Monday 2012

Me on Marathon Monday 2012

My schedule consists of two shorter easy runs sandwiching a mid-length run and then the long run on the weekends with cross training/rest on non running days. My goal is to do at least 2 days of strength in there as well as a yoga day. The running I can handle. The bonus workouts give me pause. I think I'll to be more flexible on those and schedule those on a weekly basis rather than right now (why do I feel like those are famous last words?).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Burn Results

This morning was the final morning of my Burn Challenge!

I have to admit, I did not end on a strong note. I have definitely been logging more miles (yay!) but I haven't kept up my strength training the past two weeks (outside of the Monday morning sessions). I've also been enjoying the holidays and all the treats that come with them. Between cookie exchanges, holiday candies, and decadent dinners, my eating habits haven't been totally healthy these past two weeks. This totally showed on my end results.

Final Assessment:

Sprint: I was only 4 seconds faster in my sprint. I think I must have counted something wrong the first time though, because I know I had the treadmill set to a faster pace this morning, so I should have had a much faster time. Oh well, something to work towards I guess.

Plank: I also held a plank for about 30 seconds longer than my previous one. Not a huge improvement, but I honestly think this is mostly a mental thing for me. I get so bored during planks.

Weight: I am down about 5lbs from my previous weight! Obviously, I'm really happy about this, but over all, I'm disappointed in my results. Don't get me wrong, I totally got what I put into it. I indulged in holiday treats and skipped workouts. It's easy to forget that these things add up, and the results show it.

Lessons Learned:
- I need more strength training. I know this will only help my running
- I need a plan. The first few weeks, our trainer emailed us "homework." I was actually great about getting these done. The last two weeks, we were on our own, and that's when I started skipping weight training. It was just easier to lace up my sneakers and knock out 4 miles than to research and find a workout plan before hitting the gym. I need to not only go to the gym with a plan, but have one ready to go a day or so before.
- You are what you eat. When I eat lean, green and clean, I feel great and want to workout. When I start to snacking on holiday treats and skipping my vegetables, I feel sluggish and lazy. All I have to say to myself is duh.

I don't want to over extend myself, but I'd love to sign-up for more small group training. I need that push to get me to the gym, and I need that plan to actually make the weight training happen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Going Long

There are a lot of runs involved in marathon training. The staple being the long run. 

This is just the first week of my training, so the schedule called for 6 miles. I am running the Disney half in January, which is before the schedule really picks up. The schedule is very beginner level, so I'm upping the milage a bit early so that I'll be up to 13 by Disney and can get in more than one 20 mile training run.

I'll admit, I dragged my feet getting out the door for this one. (Just how I want to start the long journey to the Boston starting line, yes?) My goal was to run 7 miles, which is pretty low milage for a long run. With milage so low, I left my Gu and water at home. I think once I hit 10 miles, I'll start packing fuel options. For now, I am enjoying the simplicity of just heading out with keys and my ipod.

I got out and waited for my Garmin to load...and waited...and waited. My Garmin has been so slow recently! I finally just wanted to get moving, and as I did 6 miles last weekend, I figured I'd run a bit farther than what I previously had done and that would be good enough. Usually my watch will get a signal a quarter mile in, so again, thought it would be good enough.

About 5 minutes in, my watch asked if I was a. indoors or b. over 100 miles/km farther away than its last use. The answer was no to both, so I knew that time would be about all I could really track.

I stuck to running along the Charles River, cranked up my music, and zoned out. I was actually brainstorming fundraising ideas, when I stumbled over a tree root and almost face planted on the sidewalk. Luckily I caught myself and stayed mostly upright. Phew!

About 30 minutes into the run, I turned around. Heading back it was pretty windy which wasn't fun. Surprisingly I kept up a quick pace, and plugged along even though I started getting a tad bored with my route. Clearly, I'll need to explore some new route options during the upcoming weeks. 

The best part was that about a quarter mile from home, I saw my-coworker and her husband. It was great to chat with them, and if I hadn't stuck to this route, I wouldn't have seen them!

I used Daily Mile to track my milage, and while I didn't turn around at a very notable point, I figured I ran approximately 7.5 miles. Not too bad!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

1st Team Meeting

Last night I attended the first team meeting for the Mass General Marathon Team!

I really couldn't be happier about being selected for this team. It's an amazing cause, and the staff members seem so dedicated and happy to help. It was great to hear from all of them, and to learn more about what our funds raised will go towards.

The meeting was held in an auditorium at the hospital, and they gave us a packet with forms, a training plan, staff contact information, and a few other resources. I'd say about 40-50 people were at the meeting, which is about half the team.

They went over some administrative stuff, but basically walked us through what kind of support they provide to the runners and gave us fundraising ideas. We also learned about the Patient Partner Program and watched a few videos. I was near tears at several points during the meeting!

There wasn't much interaction among the runners, but it seems like there will be plenty of training runs and other activities where I can get to know my teammates. I think one of the benefits to running with a team will be having other people to keep me motivated and focused during the fundraising and training. They'd also be great people to bounce ideas off of or even collaborate with!

I still can't believe that I'm actually going to run the Boston Marathon! I totally geeked out while filling out the application. I suppose I shouldn't get too excited until my registration fee is out of my checking account, but still, I swear holding the application was magical.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Running and Painting

Before heading out to a Dress for Success fundraiser last night, I got in a 3 miles run. I'm not going to lie, a big part of me didn't want to go. Luckily, it was cold enough and dark enough for me to bust out my new "what the fluff" pullover.

You know you're bright when your door woman makes a comment about "wow, that's yellow." Good. I can't tell you how many times last night I didn't see a runner until we were practically on top of one another.

Since I was tight on time, I wanted to know how long I was out of the apartment for rather than my run time, so I didn't pause it when I stopped to cross streets and such. I kept getting stopped at lights, so that was really annoying, but I must have been going pretty quickly, because I know I lost at least 5 minutes to stops, and I did a little over 3 miles in just 30 minutes.

I am so glad I went for my run last night. The city was beautiful with all the white Christmas lights sparkling away. Plus they were filming some movie near the Common so there was lots of activity.
I totally loved the pullover by the way. It was so cozy, and helped me stay warm at the beginning of the run, then as I warmed up, I was able to unzip these underarm vents. That was just enough to totally cool me down! Plus, I felt I was visible for when I had to maneuver around traffic.

After the run, I showered and prepped for the event at Paint Bar. The picture for the night was of a dress on a dress form. We got there and were able to set-up and grab a drink before the instructor started.

The instructor led us through painting the background bits, and I followed just as she said. We took a 15 minute break for things to dry, and I wasn't crazy about the model painting, so I thought about how I wanted to customize it.

Hung out to dry

I ended up opting for some different colors, and I'm really happy with mine turned out. I thought all my friends' paintings looked amazing! Its funny how different they came out even though we were making the same thing.

I really have too much fun at these things. Pretty soon my apartment will be filled with my artwork.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Quick Workouts

If you're like me then the holidays have you crunched for time! It can be tough to get in workout, but I find this is the time of year when I need it the most. Not only for my waistline but for my sanity!

Yesterday was one of those days. I only had about 30 minutes between the time I got home and the time that I had to be out the doors, so I threw on some workout clothes and did the HIIT the Beach workout from the Beach Babes DVD. I was surprised to find I was sore today. Guess I must have pushed myself during those 20 minutes!

This got me thinking about some of my favorite workout to do when I'm short on time. Here are a few of my go-to options.

Workout DVD
My favorites are the Beach Babes or Jillian Michaels-30 Day Shred. I love these because you can go on auto-pilot and just follow along. Plus you know they only last 20 minutes, so you don't have to watch the clock. Plus they're fun, and a great option when you don't even have the time to get to the gym.

Speed Work
I am a big fan of hard and fast speed sessions on the treadmill. By upping the intensity, you can really get sweaty in a short amount of time. There are a ton on Pinterest, or you can easily make up your own. Bonus points if you throw in some hills.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is basically when you have high-intensity bursts of work. So say you do 30 seconds of burpees followed by a minute of strength training, then 30 seconds of jumping jacks followed by another minute of a different strength move, then 30 seconds of jumping rope followed by yet another strength move. (I think you get the point) Anyway, these are easy to customize and just like the treadmill workouts, you can easily get tuckered out even with a short workout!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2012 Reading Challenge

So back at the beginning of the year, I set a goal for myself. The Goodreads website had up something about their 2012 Reading Challenge, so I put in 52. I figured a book a week would be an attainable goal.

I definitely wasn't used to reading books so quickly (I think I read a little over 20 books in 2011), but I knew this would be a way to force myself to read more at home. I got off to a slow start, but while on my honeymoon, I practically read a book a day. This helped me catch-up. I think the Kindle helped with this too, because often I'd have some down time between when I finished one book and purchased or checked-out another. With the Kindle, it's really easy to just start something new.

Flash forward to the end of the year, and I'm now just a few books away from my goal. I've looked back on the books I've read this year, and I was shocked to see only one running book on the list! How can that be? Some of my favorite books have been about running. Dean Karnazes' books are funny yet inspiring. Born to Run was eye-opening. Bart Yasso's My Life on the Run was so entertaining that I've retold some of the stories to other runners.

Anyway, I'm especially in a running spirit with Boston around the corner, so I am going to make sure that at least one of my remaining books in 2012 is about running.

Luckily Goodreads has an entire list of Running (non-instructional) Books on their website. I'm thinking Marathon Woman by Katherine Switzer, but there are many great ones to pick.

Have you read any great running books?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tis the Season

I have "liked" the Mass General Marathon Team's facebook page, so we are now official. 

I'd love to say that I haven't been writing because I've been savoring all the good news, but that's actually not the case.

It's been a crazy week. Some of it stressful but some of it totally fantastic. I ended up breaking my running streak on Friday. Between working and traveling that day, I just ran out of time. As tempted as I was to start running laps in the airport, I was worried TSA might frown upon that and that could have put a kink in the festivities. Anyway, let's focus on some of the fantastic things, shall we?

  • I went to the Boston Common Christmas tree lighting last week, and it was really fun. A lot more crowded than I remembered it being a few years ago, but still a great way to kick-off the Christmas season!

  • On Friday, I traveled back home, and my dad and I watched the BU vs. BC hockey game. So much fun to watch with my dad, and it didn't hurt that BU won.

  •  I went to my friend Katie's baby shower. She's such an awesome friend who went above and beyond her maid of honor duties, so I'm happy I could be there for her. She and her husband are two of the most wonderful people that I know, so I'm happy there will be a little one of them in the world. Come to think of it, they should really have like 10 kids.
  • Last night, my mother-in-law invited the women in the family over to decorate gingerbread houses. She, my sister-in-law, and I had a blast designing our houses and chit-chatting. It was the perfect end to the day. And because I know you're all dying to see my masterpiece...

 The roof is totally my favorite part. I know what you're thinking, and no, it is not for sale. I'm sorry.