Hello from San Francisco!

Hello from San Francisco!

image

As the race gets closer (2 days!!), I find myself more and more excited. I thought I would be super nervous, anxious and a bit stressed but surprisingly I am the exact opposite (for now!) I feel confident, calm and ready to tackle this challenge. The training is done, the work has been put it and at this point all I can do is mentally prepare myself by staying confident, excited and…

image

GRATEFUL!

I don’t know what Sunday has in store for me but I do know that I already feel like a winner. Ever since last year’s race where I ended up dropping to the half marathon due to an injury, I have wanted to come back to ‘finish what I started’..and who can pass up a vacation with your best friend from college. Once it was definite my best friend from college was going to be working in San Francisco the same week as the race, I was sold. I had to go back and spend a nice vacation with her and tackle this race injury free and in its entirety.

However, I certainly had my doubts even though my body was healthy and strong.  When I logged on to register, I played around with the idea of just sticking with the half marathon because I truly felt that even if I did register for the marathon, I would just end up switching back over to the half simply because I was scared. I was scared of those high mileage runs in marathon training. I don’t know what it was about the thought of them that just made me scared and convinced I was incapable of doing them. I ended up fighting my first fear and registered for the full. My game plan was to just continue my training after the Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon at the end of May. However, I took a wee off from running after the race and focused on Crossfit. I had a 14 miler planned for the weekend after the race but I wasn’t mentally ready to get back to running. Once I skipped that 14 miler, the mental game really hit hard. I was convinced this whole marathon thing wasn’t going to happen. Not only was I already feeling defeated by the fear of those long runs but I was already bailing out on my first real long run of official marathon training.

8 weeks later from that Sunday that I skipped my 14 miler and was convinced the marathon was not going to happen, I am in San Francisco ready to take on the big 26.2.  So yes, I already feel like a winner before even making it to the start line simply because I conquered my biggest of this whole thing…the training.

Having competed in sports and races all my life, I have accomplished many things I am proud of, but accomplishing this training is definitely one of the biggest accomplishments of them all. I really owe it to a couple amazing females at my Crossfit box. I watched in amazement as they trained for the Boston marathon this past winter. They ran long runs on treadmills, on snowy roads and in the bitter cold weather. I just couldn’t believe it. Not only did 16 miles sounds like a scary and unfamiliar number to me, but IN THE SNOW or ON A TREADMILL! That’s like another level of fear right there. I was just so amazed. Every week I was utterly impressed andI admired what they were doing. When they ran Boston, I was proud but mostly jealous! They were achieving something that I so badly wanted to achieve. When I talked to them a couple days after the race they just kept saying, “Trust me Mel, you can do it!.” The more they said it, the more I believed it. And finally I was able to say it too – you’re right, I can do this. I can’t thank them enough for that and I truly believe that their support from the beginning is what allowed me to conquer my fear and is why I am doing this.

..I think this whole taper thing is also getting me excited for the race. Hell, I just want to workout! Taper week will forever the hardest training week for me. I am someone who just loves to workout and exercise. Whether it be the adrenaline from Crossfit, the relaxation from yoga or the ability to just think and sweat on a long run…exercise is my way of keeping me relaxed and stress free. Of course there are bad workouts that just fuel frustration and stress but good or bad, there is no better feeling than finishing up a workout.

Saturday was my last Crossfit workout before the marathon, Sunday I did a 10 miler and so far while I have been in San Francisco, I did a beautiful shakeout run along the pier..

image

..and some great yoga classes!

image

I wholeheartedly believe in the taper process and I know my body will be thankful for doing it come Sunday, but it’s no easy task!

On the plus side of this tapering, I get to relax and just enjoy my beautiful surroundings here in San Francisco!

image

Off to the Expo!  Everyone have a great day 🙂

IT’S TAPER TIME!!

…..yes, yes it is!  My long-runs are done and now I can go back to focusing on Crossfit and not have to worry about tiring my legs for the long run.  Deep down, that is what I am thinking but I know that this is the time where I need to be the most careful.  I have put in the effort, I have conquered the 20 21 miler and now it is the time where I need to give my body the proper care that it needs and the chance to recover so that come July 26th, I am ready to race strong..and smart!

image

Someone please pinch me!  I am still on cloud nine… I just can’t believe I did this and I can’t believe how enjoyable it was.  I ran the first 12 miles alone on the roads and at mile 12, I entered a reservoir to do the final 8 with my mom and a member of my running team.  My running partner was just starting her run  so she was ready to get moving..and by ready to get moving, I mean she certainly set a strong pace.  There were moments where I wasn’t sure I would be able to hold the pace but I did!

image

..pretty much!

She was such a great running partner and it was so nice to have someone to distract me from the miles.  Once I start running with someone, my ear buds get tucked away into my bra and I no longer can hear my lovely Nike App girl telling me my miles and my splits.  It is definitely a nice to break away from concentrating on the miles but eventually I get curious.  A couple of times I asked my mom and my running buddy what mile they were on and then calculated what mine would then be.  I must make myself look real good when I ask what mile I am on in the midst of one of the most important training runs 😉  We finished the run at my running partner’s car a little past 2o miles.  I was going to have her drive me home but I knew I had a little more left in the tank and being so close to home, I decided to finish this awesome run strong and ran home! I actually arrived at my driveway at mile 20.87. No way was I going to end there! I turned around, ran the end of my street and back just so I could hear that Nike lady say those two beautiful numbers..2-1 miles!!! She has never sounded so beautiful 😉

I had a solid 45 minutes to relax and get my stomach back to feeling OK before heading to a day full of 4th of July parties.  I tried to hydrate as much as possible prior to leaving so I wouldn’t feel dehydrated and nauseous later.  Lets just say, BBQ food, chips and lots of sitting and talking is NOT proper race recovery.  By the end of the night, my legs were screaming in pain and everything felt swollen.  I even experienced some mid-conversation hip flexor cramps…nothing like gasping for air and grabbing your hip while someone is telling some important story…

I felt a little better on Sunday morning but my right knee was in a bit of pain.  I learned from an injury last year that knee pain is often a result of tight hips, hamstrings, or quads which then tugs on the knee.  Yoga was definitely in my Sunday morning game plan along with this bowl of blended berries.

image

There is nothing I needed more after a 21 miler followed by lots of 4th of July junk food than a good stretch at yoga and detoxifying fruit bowl.

During yoga, it was clear that my right knee pain was due to an extremely tight right hip.  Any position that stretched the hip flexors is where I experienced the most pain but thankfully those were the positions that loosened them up and I walked out of Yoga with a much better feeling in my knee.

Lets talk food because since being on summer vacation, I have had time to whip up some pretty delicious dinners around here..but clearly still not enough time to post more blog posts! oops.

image

If you are craving pasta but do not want all the gluten or carbs…this is definitely the way to go.  I think it even tastes better than pasta!  1 serving is 1/4 of the fairly large batch and has 20 grams of carbs and 25 grams of proteins.  We are also a fan of the Black bean pasta.  We made a homemade tomato sauce with onions, mushroom and basil with some shrimp.

image

It made another appearance later in the week with chicken and brussels sprouts.  This time no sauce, just sprinkled swiss cheese and nutritional yeast.  I am telling you, this pasta is the way to go.  It is so delicious just plain or you can jazz it up with various marinara sauces or avocado sauces.

Last Wednesday I came home from a farm stand with LOTS of Parsley and the last time I did that, it sat in my fridge and rotted.  This time around I knew I had to use it ASAP so the first thing that came to mind was GUACAMOLE.  I used Running on Veggies guacamole recipe that uses a cup of mashed peas.  It is perfect.  You double the volume with less that fat and more vegetables and you can’t even taste the peas.

image

Guacamole is not a main course, though it should be!…so I decided to pair the guacamole with some homemade Fajitas using crockpot shredded chicken.

image

Easiest meal right here!  Just chicken, salsa, bone broth, carrots, onions and parsley..set the crockpot for a few hours and boom..delicious shredded chicken.

I am currently finishing up this blog post with a nice coffee in my hand overlooking Cayuga Lake in Ithaca.  It is not time to fish a bit and then hit some wineries.  I planned on getting in a nice run around the lake today but my legs are recovering from yesterday morning’s Crossfit WOD…

image

This was definitely one of those workouts where you are just fighting to hang on.  The humidity certainly didn’t help..I think I am still trying to catch my breath 24 hours later.  Despite the pain and exhaustion, after 26 minutes of work, I made the Crossfit Board for fastest time!  My 12 mile run around Ithaca will be postponed until tomorrow so I can tackle the hills with rested legs 🙂

Stepping up my Recovery Game

Happy Friday..and only 1 1/2 days until Summer vacation!

If it weren’t for those unnecessary Snow Days, I would be done by now!

image

Not much has been going on this week, just working on finishing up the school year strong!

Another large task is learning how to recover from Sunday long runs, while still strength training during the week yet also staying rested for the next long run. It is TOUGH.   I thought taking Monday off would be enough time to recover from Sunday’s 16.5 miler but my legs were still feeling pretty tight on Tuesday.  However, it didn’t stop me from waking up early for 6am Crossfit.  Who can pass up a 5:30 sunrise like this…

imageAfter Tuesday and Wednesday morning crossfit, my body was definitely in the need of a good stretch so tried a new Yoga class Wednesday evening.  This class – Yin Yoga – focuses less on the muscles and more on reaching the tendons and joints.  To do this, you hold less intense positions for a longer period of time.  The goal is to have no pain while in the position and just allow the body to naturally release itself with time. (5 minutes per position)  My instructor talked about how most of the poses revolve around loosening up the lower back because the practice emphasizes the role that one’s back has on controlling the rest of the body.  Aside from the class being from 7:30-9 – way past my bedtime – it was a great class! Most of the moves can be done while laying on the floor watching tv so I have a feeling this 7:30 class will turn into my own class on the floor of my living room at a more reasonable time.  😉

Since my long run probably shouldn’t be my only run for the week, I figured I would pass up Thursday morning crossfit and run instead.  I set out for only 6 miles but there is something about those delirious morning miles that always makes me want more..maybe I am just trying to procrastinate going to work.

image

The good thing – I got in a nice semi-long run, the bad thing – I had about 30 minutes to get ready and eat breakfast. That being said my breakfast was a classy, ‘throw-everything-in-your-Greek yogurt’ that had to be devoured on the go!

imageBut don’t worry, I made up for it at night with a delicious vegetable omelette topped with some melted Swiss Cheese and nutritional yeast.

imageSince I ran 7 miles in the morning, I planned on just relaxing after work… but let’s be honest, that plan never actually happens.  I had an itch to workout after a long day of work so I took on afternoon crossfit as well.

image

Don’ t be fooled, I did NOT do the prescribed 125 pounds.  My tired legs stuck with a challenging but manageable 85 pounds. It is safe to say that today is rest day because my legs are ready to recover and prepare for another challenging long run tomorrow!

Speaking of recovery..I finally made a purchase I have been thinking about for a LONG time.

image

AN ELECTRIC MUSCLE STIMULATOR!!  I always used this to help with muscle recovery when I was a college athlete. It always helped with increasing blood flow and flushing out lactic acid.  The price for this is pretty high but when I came across the code for a HUGE discount, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  Using this stimulator to loosen up my lower back and piriformis will make it so I don’t have to get frequent massages so maybe it will all even out 😉 right?!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

That Evening Race Struggle and a NEW Long Run Record

Happy Tuesday!

I ended Thursday’s post about my road trip after work to New Hampshire for a 6:30 5k race.  The Hollis Fast 5k. Well fast for others, not so much for me.. When I told co-workers that I had to leave work a bit early because I had a “race in New Hampshire” on a Thursday evening, they looked at me like I was crazy.  And when I proceeded to say to tell them it was only a 5k, the judgement got stronger.  But I can’t disagree because IT IS CRAZY!  It was a USATF certified race so my running team was competing.  It is rare, very rare, that I would be down for traveling an hour and a half on a Thursday evening to race a 5k but when you have a great team that is committed to racing and the success of the team, along with a great car load of people to ride up with, it is worth it.  However, just because it was worth it, doesn’t mean it was easy.  It was pretty darn hard to muster to up the energy to just get my legs moving once we arrived let alone race!  I was waiting for adrenaline to kick in, but it wasn’t happening.  I was definitely nervous when I got to the start line.  I don’t know if it was because I knew my time mattered tremendously because I was racing for a team…or because there were so many tiny, fast runners  decked out in uniforms surrounding me which was quite intimidating..or because I knew that in minutes I would have to go full speed for 3 miles and my legs were not in the mood to do that.  I
think it was a mix of all three of those reasons but despite the nerves, as soon as that gun went off, I took off down the road…way too fast.  My first mile was a 5:43 and since my average mile time was 6:21, that only means one thing…

image

.. I definitely started out too fast and hit a wall.  It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t entirely enjoyable, but it was over fast!  Though I didn’t have a PR, many of my teammates raced a PR!!

image

The face says it all…don’t make me move fast, I just don’t wannnaa!

I also mentioned in my last post how I couldn’t stop smiling over my new long run record of 14.24 miles.  Well I have stopped smiling over that because I have something EVEN better…

image

On Sunday I tackled 16 miles! I can’t believe I did it!  I am beyond proud of myself because this type of mileage is something I have feared for a long time and each week I am proving to myself that it can be done!  I have heard from many people that the key to surviving the long run is having a running buddy.  Well unfortunately, I do not have a running buddy for a couple of reasons.  I haven’t really ever wanted one.  Part of my love for running is the ability to just be alone, listen to music and just drift off into my own little world.  Of course there are those runs that are miserable and the only thing running through my mind is the seconds/miles remaining…but for the most part, my runs are usually peaceful and is my time where I can think through things and jam out to some great tunes.  I also have no interest in wasting the little breath I have on talking.  The thought of trying to hold a conversation with someone while gasping for air does not sound appealing, but is also my biggest problem. I don’t know how to slow down!  That being said, though I like my alone time during my runs, as the miles are creeping up, I am starting to realize that I do not need 16 miles worth of alone time.  I have been contemplating the idea of recruiting someone/people to run certain legs of my long run with me so that I can get my alone time in but can also have someone to distract me from those negative thoughts that start to arise around mile 13.  A couple of members from my Crossfit box told me that their club team was planning on a 6 mile run around a local reservoir on Sunday morning at 8:30.  THAT’S PERFECT! I can have 10 miles to myself and then jump in to group run to help me slow down my pace and motivate me through the final 6 miles.  It all sounded great but I wasn’t sure if it would all pan out the way I had vision in my head.

I had the morning all planned out before I went to bed.  If I wanted to make it to the group run by 8:30 with 10 miles already in the bag, I would have to leave the house by 7:10…making for a glorious 6:30 wake up call on Sunday morning.  My run started out fine, but I was noticing some tightness in my left calf from the race on Thursday.  The tightness was subsiding which resulted in me questioning this whole 16 miler.  I was convinced around mile 3 that this would end up just being a 6-10 miler.  Not bad, but  not what I had in mind.  But then around mile 4 my calf just slowly loosed and it all felt okay.  It was like the clouds parted and I had a burst of confidence. Dramatic, I know. I made it to the group run a little behind schedule but just in time and exactly 10 miles in!  I stopped to take a quick breather and get into their group huddle and before I knew it, I was back running and ready to tackle this final leg.  The pace was a bit slower, my music was put away and I was just enjoying the beautiful scenery of the reservoir and the conversation of the people around me. I ended up doing the final 6 miles with two older men whom I  never met before.  I still am not a huge fan of holding a conversation while running but it wasn’t horrible.  I actually think I enjoy running with people just to listen to other people’s conversations…slightly creepy but it’s interesting! Another 6 miles later, I broke off from the running group and ran home clocking a little over 16 miles! 🙂

image

I write this with so much excitement and pride.  I can’t believe I am conquering mileage that I feared for so long…and it’s actually enjoyable!  I already have a 17 mile route planned out for this Sunday and maybe a partner who is willing to bike the final 6 with me! I am trying not to let my excitement get the best of me because I am well aware from past experiences that things can come up and throw a giant curve ball in your game plan.  I am doing everything I can to prevent any injuries or possible disturbances in my training by resting, taking care of my body and stretching every night.  I am incorporating yoga into my schedule in addition to running and Crossfit so that my body can remain flexible and loose despite the heavy lifting and running.  I can only hope that with proper care and nutrition, my training will continue to stay strong and I will make it to that finish line on July 26th!

Have a great rest of the week!…only one more week until summer vacation 🙂

Can’t wait to enoy more of this view..

image

Longest Run to Date and a Racecation Planned

Ironic that my last post was about setting PRs and the frustration I have been experiencing with not having set a running PR in quite some time…then BOOM, without any expectations, I set a running PR.  No, no, not some outrageous race time but my LONGEST RUN EVER!!!

image
Owe it to my new Brooks Launch running shoes..

Like I said in my last post, I have been focusing most of my time on Crossfit and have only been getting in super short runs later in the day if I have time.  Two weekends ago, I had a 14 miler planned but not a single bone in my body wanted to do it.  I don’t necessarily get excited for long runs but I don’t usually dread them like I was dreading that 14 miler.  Instead of forcing something that I just didn’t want to do, I ended up skipping my long run and doing yoga at my Crossfit box followed by a Sunday WOD and some extra lifting.  It was exactly what I wanted to do.  My body needed a good stretch and I was in the mood to lift and workout with people.  Being my first week of marathon training, (yup, MARATHON IS BOOKED.  Will explain later!), I felt a little guilty about bailing out on a long run this early into training but sometimes you just need to let yourself break away from the plan a bit and do what you want rather than what you feel you should do.

This past Sunday, I knew I had to stick to my schedule and I felt ready to take on the long run, especially because the weather was perfect.  With almost 2 weeks of little running since my last half marathon, I had no idea what to expect.  I set a goal of 10, a reach goal of 12 and if some miracle happened, then the intended 14 that I missed last week.

imageAh yes, I still smile when I see those numbers.  How did I do that??  But seriously…I wish I knew what made this run so perfect.  My legs felt fresh despite 5 straight days of working out before going into this run, my mind was relaxed and everything just felt great. I just kept tacking on more miles because my body and legs were willing to take it and not fighting against me for once!  Once I knew I was going to hit my reach goal of 12, I went a little further for 13 and though I could feel myself starting to weaken, I was way too close to that miracle so I slowed my pace down a bit and just remained controlled.  I reminded myself that a mile is just  my quick warm up around the block before Open Gym crossfit.  I can handle that!  And sure enough, I did 🙂  This was so needed.  I needed this running boost to remind myself that I can do this!  When I look at my training plan, those high mileage runs scare me, but I just need to take it one mile at a time.  I also need to remind myself that not every run is a good run and sometimes your legs just want to give up after mile 1.  Don’t force it.  If the run isn’t there, then save it.  Wait for the moment when it is.  It may not be part of the plan, but the plan will work itself out if it’s meant to happen.

Speaking of this whole marathon training thing that I keep mentioning…

image

I am making my way back to San Francisco this summer 🙂 I received this same confirmation email a year ago but only made it to the Half-marathon finish.

image
San Francisco Half-Marathon 2014

Lets see how it all plays out for Round 2.  I am excited..nervous…scared…but also relaxed.  I know that the trip will be amazing regardless of what happens.  If I don’t feel marathon ready then I will just switch to the half marathon and enjoy everything that race has to offer…THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE.  And even if NO running happens, I can enjoy a wonderful vacation with a great friend in a beautiful city.

Running wasn’t the only huge accomplishment this weekend but because I haven’t had many of those in a while I will boast about that the most 😉 On Saturday, I finally reached the highest double unders amount for my Crossfit box!  This has been a goal I have been trying to reach for weeks now and I am so happy it finally happened! 102 consecutive Double Unders! 

Funny story about reaching 102. On Friday I decided to try and set a new personal best seeing as I had been at 83 for a couple of weeks and Double Unders were in Friday’s WOD.

imageI made it up to 99! A new personal best (as of Friday) and a tie for first place at my box.  I walk in on Saturday and saw I had been bumped to 2nd because a phenomenal double underer (definitely not a word..) in the later class ended up hitting the whole 100! She is actually the person I learned double unders from.  I starred at her form and just tried to mimic it…a little creepy but true..and helpful!  Since I was still on cloud nine from my 99, I did not expect to have to tackle this challenge again but being only 1 away, it had to be done.  I didn’t get it on my first try but my legs were willing to jump 102 more times 🙂  I suspect this will lead to a little Double Under competition 😉 but what better way to stay motivated and continue to better my previous score!

Lets get to the good stuff and talk food…

image

Friday nights always call for burgers and a sad attempt (fail) at grilling artichokes.  When it comes to burger night, things get a little territorial so thankfully we had some chives to make sure our burgers are not mixed up 😉 I am a huge fan of the Trader Joe’s grass-fed 90% lean beef, mix in some onions and Flavor God spices and top it off with melted shredded Swiss cheese. Instead of buns I use one slice of toasted Ezekiel bread and just leave the top open and load on grilled onions, mushrooms and avocado!

image

This is has been a recent post-workout favorite!  If you are a chocolate lover like me, this is right up your alley.  I mixed my Vega-Sport Chocolate Protein powder with just enough Almond Milk to make a gooey fudge.  Chop up some fruit…apples, strawberries and bananas are my top choices...and just dip/SLATHER them in chocolate.

image

Lastly, after a cold and rainy 3-day field trip to Cape Cod last week, the only thing I wanted for dinner was grilled, HOT, food!  That is exactly what went down…Salmon, broccoli, brussel sprouts, chopped sweet potato fries.  Just what I needed after 3 days of cold food!

I hope everyone has a great rest of the week!  I will be road tripping it with my team tonight for a USATF 5k race in New Hampshire.

Wish us luck! 🙂