Monday, February 28, 2011

Jeff's Virtual 5K and The Cupcake Marathon 2011

I love the idea of virtual races.  I need motivation to keep running, but racing every few weeks can get expensive and time-consuming.  So, I'm running Jeff's Virtual 5K early this month, and I just discovered The Cupcake Marathon for later in the month.  Two great races to keep me going though March!

The best part is that you can run these on your own time, at your own pace.  You can even run the marathon over several days - that's a great way to motivate me to put in my weekly miles!  Jeff, Jason and Christel have even found sponsors for their races, so you can win prizes.  So, if you need a little kick in the pants to get out the door into this not-quite-spring weather, check out both of these great races!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Oh, and lest you think I forgot (which I did forget, but just briefly!) - I just used to pick a winner in my CSN giveaway and the winning comment was the very last one - #41! How often does pick the LAST number?  I'm not sure I've ever seen that, honestly!

So, the winner is Liz - congratulations, Liz! Get in touch with me and I'll send you the code.  Thank you, everybody, for entering!

Home Again!

We're home again - it's so good to come home! :) I've had a good week, though - got some ideas to incorporate into our curriculum, made some great contacts,  mapped out (tentatively) my doctoral project (you don't do a thesis for a clinical practice doctorate - instead, you do a big capstone project) - all in all, a very productive week.  

I also managed to work out every day at 5:30 a.m. - running on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and a whole-body weight workout on Friday.  Our organization's wellness committee hosted an informal walk/run every morning, and the group pace was a bit faster than my comfortable pace, but I hung in there with them for the faster runs.  Every mile this week was a sub 10:00 pace - some of them as fast as 9:05, which is pretty fast for me.

I also wore heels every day (which I never do - my "uniform" is scrubs and sneakers, with a white lab coat for the office).  I mention the heels only because I started having some shin pain on the left leg this morning after the workout, and I wonder if it's the fact that I ran harder for several days, or the heels, or a combination of the two.  

My goal several months ago was to break the 10:00 barrier.  I think I've successfully done that, at least on the shorter runs.  I'm now wondering if I shouldn't take a bit of a break and do a few runs at an easier pace to see if this pain goes away.  I can always pull the inclines back out, because with those you get a kick-butt workout without all the pounding of a fast pace. Tomorrow is slated as a weight workout with  short period of cardio after, so we'll see how I feel.  If I'm having pain, I'll go at a slower pace on a high incline and just make it a hill workout. Or maybe just hop on Jacob's Ladder for twenty minutes - if any machine will kick your tail, that one will!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Random Randomness

I'm sitting here watching these folks on The Biggest Loser and reflecting that, even though I think my workouts suck, that they would suck a lot more if I were three times my size.  And if they can push that hard, I can push a little harder.  That's what this show does to me - it strengthens my resolve to push myself.

I really am tired of winter.  We're having a little warm spell here in East Tennessee, but I know there's going to be at least one more cold snap before winter gives up the ghost for the year, and I dread it.

My feet are in terrible shape.  I want spring to come in the worst way, except for the whole sandals thing.  Putting ugly feet in pretty sandals doesn't help the feet or the sandals. I have one toenail that may never grow back.  I guess that's the price we pay, huh? 

Speaking of toes, chihuahuas do not like having their nails clipped.  But they do like being bribed with chicken to hold still while their nails are being clipped.  It balances out.

There's too much drama involved in a relationship when you're 19 or 20.  It wears me out, just trying to keep up! They're on again, and off again, and on again... and when they're on again they looooove each other so much that they never want to be apart. Until the next day, when they're off again.  It's like a soap opera, right here, in my own house! This is what all of you out there with little ones have to look forward to.  Just warning you!

I'm on my way to a faculty conference in Florida tomorrow.  Luckily, I have grown boys at home (see above) to look after the house and the animals (and my car, but that's another story!). I probably won't be able to post again until Sunday. In the meantime, have a wonderful week, and if you're racing this week (Disney, anyone?), good luck!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Perfect Run

Yesterday I had one of those perfect runs.  You know, the runs where you feel strong and fit and happy and the sun is shining but it's not too hot and there really isn't anywhere you'd rather be right that minute than running?  Well, some of you may have those runs every single day, but I get one about once every few weeks.  Often enough to keep me coming back, to be sure, but not often enough for me to consider a training run a "fun" experience.

In fact, sometimes people will say, "But you like running!" Well, yes and no.  I really like the way I feel after a run, and those perfect runs (like yesterday's) are amazing, but most days I'd really rather sleep in than get up early and drag my butt out for a workout.  Many times it isn't fun, but the results are wonderful and so I do it anyway.

But yesterday - the temperature was about 60 degrees, and the sun was shining.  There was a little wind, but not too much, and I was running with two buddies.  One of them is several months into her pregnancy, so we tend to let her set the pace - yesterday she felt comfortable at about a 10:30 pace, so that's what we ran.  

We ran about six miles, which was as far as our mama-to-be wanted to run.  Then we said goodbye to her, but we wanted to put in a few more miles, so Kim and I ran four more, still holding steady at about a 10:30 pace.  We finished our run in about an hour and six minutes, which represented an 8 minute PR for ten miles for Kim - isn't that wonderful?!

Kim didn't want to brag about her accomplishment, but I think that she deserves to brag.  She's lost over 80 pounds and she runs nearly every day, steadily getting stronger and faster.  And fellow runners are the only ones who can truly appreciate the effort that goes into knocking almost a minute per mile off of your long run pace. So, since Kim won't brag, I'm bragging for her - thanks for a perfect run, Kim, and congratulations on your PR! And thanks to the rest of you for letting me ramble.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway if you haven't already, and here's hoping we all have a wonderful, fabulous, injury-free, perfect running week!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

CSN Stores Giveaway

You all may know that I'm a fan of CSN stores.  I got my lovely foam roller from CSN, and last year I did some of my Christmas shopping through CSN. The prices were great, delivery was quick (and shipping is often free!) and I didn't even have to leave the office.  Which is good, because it's my second home.  The office, not CSN stores. :)

Which brings me to the giveaway - CSN stores has generously offered a $35 code to one of my readers! You can use your CSN code on anything from foam rollers or fitness equipment to the Le Creuset French Oven I've been drooling over. (Yeah, the hubs and I are foodies!). Wouldn't a lovely batch of boeuf bourguignon taste better out of this little beauty??

To enter the giveaway, just follow my blog.  That's it. Let me know in the comments that you're a follower, and I'll make sure you're entered in the drawing.  Oh, you want extra entries, do you?  Well, alright - blog or Facebook or Twitter about the giveaway for an extra entry. Stop by the CSN store linked above and tell me what you like for another extra entry. Leave a separate comment for each entry, so that I can make sure you get credit for everything.

I'll draw a winner on February 27 and do my best to post that the same day.  Good luck!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Incline Work

Who had the bright idea of all this treadmill incline work?  Because, let me tell you, that person needs a smack upside the head! Oh, wait - that was me! Yeah. I'm an idiot. Anyhoo, I've worked up to 4-5% incline now. It still stinks.  I know it works, though, as evidenced by my recent excursion through the very hilly backroads of Strawberry Plains, Tennessee.

Melissa and I are four weeks into Body for Life, and we can definitely tell a difference.  There are little muscles peaking out here and there!  I love feeling strong and fit again. We'll probably do two cycles of the program (24 weeks total) and see where we are at that point.  Well, I'll do 24 weeks and drag Melissa kicking and screaming along with me! The weights are not her fave - she's a cardio girl.

Oh, and I have a little problem. My clothes don't fit any more. Yep, it's true.  I wear scrubs most of the time at work, and those can be baggy and nobody cares, but we have a faculty conference next week and I am scrambling to find appropriate clothes that fit. The petite departments around here contain clothes that look like my grandmother OR my teenage nieces should be wearing them.  As much as I love those gals, their clothes are not suitable for me at this stage of the game.

I know, I know - half the people in the world would love to have my problem. I'm not whining - at least not much!  But I leave for the conference in a week and the pickings are pretty slim in the wardrobe department.  Anybody know a good tailor?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Commenting Difficulties

Well, for some reason I am having trouble leaving comments on some of your blogs.  If you are on my blogroll and you didn't get a comment from me this evening, it was not for lack of trying! I'll try again later in the week.  Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

When You Run With A Cold...

You shouldn't be surprised if you wake up the next day and the cold is worse.  I started coughing right at the finish line of the half marathon and have been coughing ever since.  But it's going to be 55 or 60 degrees outside today, so I may have no choice but to get out and do a slow recovery run in all that warm sunshine! Hey, it's therapeutic, right? (Cough, cough, hack hack!) Hope you're getting some warm sunshine wherever you are today!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Well, I just finished the Strawberry Plains Half Marathon, and I PR'd it! By about 14 minutes! My time was 2:15:10 for 13.18 miles (by Garmin - official results will be ~2 minutes slower because I paused Mr. Garmin for my potty break). It did take a little bit to get going again after the stop, but if I hadn't stopped heaven knows what would have happened.  There aren't many leaves on the bushes this time of year, if you know what I mean! 

Now, to be honest, when I was running in the late 90's and early 00's, I probably had faster runs than this.  I was in the Army, and I was pretty fit, and I know my times were faster because my two-mile PT test was always under 17 minutes.  Which is not blazingly fast, by any means, but it is a respectable pace.  However, I never really kept track of times back then. I just ran.  So, it's probably a PR solely because I didn't record the faster runs in those days.

However, it's a definite PR for the me of today, and that's really what matters, isn't it? Here are the splits:


Mile 7 was a GU break and right at mile 10 was a potty break, so mile 11 was a little slow - I had to get into my running stride again.  Mile 13 was slower simply because I'd been pushing it, and by that point I was just about pegged out.  That was okay, though - you know you've had a good run when you really think you might throw up at the finish line.  Presumably it's a great run if you DO throw up at the finish line, but that hasn't happened to me recently! 

The course was gorgeous - through lots of farmland and by a winding river - but it was very hilly.  This is East Tennessee, and one thing we have here in abundance is hills. However, since I've been doing a crapload a lot of hill training, the hills weren't so bad.  I didn't walk any of them, although plenty of people did. The big one was right around mile 7 - it seemed to go on forever! But I just kept plugging away, and that strategy worked.

Overall, I am pleased with my race today and I think this is evidence that my treadmill training strategy (which sucks, if I haven't mentioned that already) is at least effective.  I think I'll keep it up for another few weeks and then see what happens.

I just want to give a shout out here to all the folks who volunteer for races - my husband, my son and my son's fiancee all got up this morning and went to the race with me as volunteers.  About 90 people worked hard over two days so that some 700 others could enjoy a nice race on a gorgeous day.  Hug a volunteer, people!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dreadmill Work

It's winter, and I work long hours.  That means that the bulk of my weekly runs are on the treadmill, because I leave home when it's dark outside and get home after dark in the evening.  And I was getting to the point where I actually preferred the treadmill to a run outside. You're in a sad state, my friends, if you'd rather run on the treadmill than out in the fresh air - at least if the external temperature is over 35 degrees fahrenheit!

You may remember, too, that I want to get faster.  Running the same treadmill run every week will maintain my fitness baseline, but I won't see any improvement.  So, I did a little research and came across this little gem: Treadmill Effort Chart. And I realized that running on the treadmill without an incline is easier than running outside.  I preferred the treadmill because it was easier than running outside - my innate lazy nature was coming out! I had to nip that in the bud.

So, for the last month I've been doing my treadmill runs on an incline for as long as I can stand it.  I can hold a 3% incline at a 10:00 - 10:30 pace for 35 minutes now, and I expect to increase that to 45 minutes over the next month.  It sucks. Massively. But I am getting stronger and more fit, and I hope I'll see some good results when I get back out on the road again this spring.

I have a half-marathon this weekend, but it's going to be cold so I don't think it will be a true test of my training.  I think I'm going to have to wait until March or April to see if there's any benefit to all this incline running.  I hope there is, because I'd hate to waste all this misery!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Turning a Corner

If you've ever been really fit, and then let it lapse (for way longer than you meant to!) and then regained that fitness, you know what the title of this post is about.  There's a point in your training that you know you're on your way back. You just feel it - your clothes fit differently and your muscles have a different tone and you even move differently.

I've reached that point this week.  Now, I'm not going to tell you that I consider myself "fit" right now - I still have a ways to go before I'll be satisfied.  But I've turned a corner, and fit is just down the block! I can see it! I know I can get there from here! Up to now I wasn't so sure - I was beginning to think that letting my fitness go for anesthesia school had been a grave mistake, because it has been much more difficult to regain this time. If you're over 40, think very carefully before you put your fitness on a back burner! The rebound at this age is not much fun.

If you've let your fitness lapse and you despair of ever regaining it, hang in there and keep training.  If you hit a plateau, shake things up with some new moves.  Do something completely different from your usual routine: find a workout buddy with a different routine, or take a spin class, or borrow a new DVD, or hire a trainer for a session or two. Most importantly, keep moving!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Groundhog Lied

Thank you, Google!
I think the groundhog lied - we're expecting snow tonight, and more cold and snow next week.  My Seasonal Affective Disorder is in full swing, and it feels like all I do is sleep and eat and work and exercise.  Which is an improvement, because usually in the winter all I do is sleep and eat and work. Lather, rinse, repeat, ad nauseum, until I wake up in the spring.  I'm sure I was a bear in another life!

But General Beauregard Lee didn't see his shadow, and we're supposed to have an early spring.  All I can say is, it can't come soon enough! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Newbies in the Gym

I was working out this morning (at 5:15, because Melissa and I are idiots like that) and watching one of the newbies at my gym work on the elliptical trainer in sweats and a heavy cotton hoodie. And I was pretty warm in my short-sleeved tech tee, so he must have been dying under all those layers.  Maybe he wanted to sweat some weight off?  At any rate, that's what got me thinking about newbies in the gym.

We all know what January and February bring - all the New Year's Resolutioners come out to the gym in droves. And they hog the machines, and they don't understand letting someone else work through, and they just get in the way.  And most of the regular gym-goers grit their teeth until March or so, when the rush dies down and most of the New Year's Resolution crowd has gone back to their former ways.

I think, though, that we should all welcome and encourage new people to come to the gym, or join us on the trails.  Even if they slow us down a bit at at first, and even if they get in the way.  Here's why: even the most athletic of us was new to the gym or to the trail once.  We've all been there! Maybe somebody was kind enough to mentor us, or maybe we soldiered through on our own, but we were all the newbie at some point.

Additionally, obesity and inactivity costs money.  And we all pay - to the tune of $147 billion a year or so. Some researchers predict that if we keep going on our current path, half of the US will be obese by 2020. Think about that - half of the population.  It's mind-boggling! And, yes, a person can exercise regularly and still be overweight, but I really think that a lot of the health psoblems associated with obesity are also a result of inactivity - if a person who is overweight is exercising regularly, I think it's safe to say that they'll have fewer complications than someone who spends the day on the couch.

It's also true that fitness feels good! But it doesn't necessarily feel good while you're getting there, and if you've never been fit you don't know how good you're going to feel when you do get fit and healthy.  Wouldn't it be great if everyone in America could feel what we feel after a good race? Maybe that newbie just needs a little encouragement so they can get past the initial aches and pains and start feeling the rewards of their hard work.

Finally, the more people engage in a given activity, the more resources are alloted to that activity.  So, if a large part of your community takes up cycling, for instance, it's a pretty good bet that more cycling trails will be built, and there will be more cycling events to participate in.  Numbers = resources, and which of our sports couldn't use a few more resources? And I can assure you that those of us at the back of the pack are perfectly happy to support those of you at the front of the pack - and we do so, by paying entry fees into races we have no hope of winning, and by buying merchandise from the vendors that sponsor you, and by simply admiring you as you race ahead.  More newbies means more dollars to go into the prize pots, and more sponsorships for elite athletes.

As to gym and trail and race etiquette, well - that can be taught.  So, consider taking a newbie under your wing this year.  Teach them to share the trails and the gym equipment, and teach them to line up appropriately at the start of a race. I think you'll find that helping someone else has rewards of its own!