Tuesday Totals

25 Sep

Tonight’s raffle winner is David C!  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – there are still plenty of prizes to be won in my Team ASPCA raffle!  Or, you can just donate to The ASPCA because you’re awesome and love animals!

I’ve still been having trouble staying within my points limit lately.  I’ve become a little lackadaisical, and I think I’m enjoying the success I’ve had so far by staying at this weight (and being able to wear the same clothes) for a little while.  I’ve also been more stressed than normal, so in addition to diet and exercise my mind is on a number of other things.  And, I’ve still been reaching for a glass of wine more often than I should…in fact, I’m drinking one right now (doh!).

Totals for 9/19/12 – 9/25/12

Daily points used:  182/182
Weekly points used:  46/49
Activity points earned:  38
Activity points used:  38
Non-existent points used:  36
Points left on the table:  -36

I’m hoping for a little bit of a loss tomorrow morning, sine I was up last week, but I’m not holding my breath for anything major.

Sunday, 9/23/12

breakfast – half a sprouted sesame bagel with 1 1/2 Tbs Tofutti cream cheese, banana, coffee with hazelnut coconut creamer
AM snack – Wavy Lays potato chips
lunch – salad (lettuce, red bell pepper, shredded carrot, Gardein Crispy Tenders, agave mustard dressing, Bac’Un bits
dinner – Hickory Smoked Tofurky in a wheat pita with mustard, shredded cabbage and pickle, cauliflower florets
after dinner – 18 oz red wine, whole grain pretzel sticks

daily points used:  26
non-existent points used:  17

Monday, 9/24/12

breakfast – smoothie (almond milk, frozen strawberries, banana, 2 Tbs hemp protein powder, 6 Tbs rolled oats, cinnamon, kale)
AM snack – grapes, 6 walnuts, coffee with vanilla soy creamer
lunch – salad (lettuce, red bell pepper, shredded carrot, Gardein Crispy Tenders, agave mustard dressing, Bac’Un bits
PM snack – chipotle black bean dip with cucumber and red bell pepper
PM snack 2 – banana ginger energy bar
dinner – Hickory Smoked Tofurky in a wheat pita with dill pickle coleslaw, cauliflower florets
after dinner – 10 oz red wine, whole grain pretzel sticks

exercise – walked 10 minutes, ran 49 minutes, strength training 40 minutes

daily points used:  26
activity points earned:  11
non-existent points used:  11

Tuesday, 9/25/12

breakfast – smoothie (almond milk, frozen blueberries, banana, Vega One protein powder, 2 Tbs rolled oats, kale)
AM snack – apple, 12 almonds, coffee with vanilla soy creamer
lunch – Hickory Smoked Tofurky in a wheat pita with dill pickle coleslaw, cauliflower florets
PM snack – chipotle black bean dip with carrot sticks and red bell pepper
PM snack 2 – 2 Medjool dates with 2 tsp almond butter
dinner – Lebanese Sleek, 6 oz red wine

exercise – walked 40 minutes, ran 53 minutes

daily points used:  26
activity points earned:  11
non-existent points used:  6

Lebanese Sleek, adapted from Quick Fix Vegan.  I changed pretty much everything about the recipe – couscous instead of bulgur wheat, kidney beans instead of black eyed peas, red onion instead of yellow.  The only components I kept were the Swiss chard and zahtar seasoning, and it was pretty tasty and definitely quick!

RnR LA Half Marathon Training – Weeks 3 & 4

21 Sep

Today’s raffle winner is Molly G!  Molly, I’ve e-mailed you for prize selection.

There are still plenty of rad prizes available in the Team ASPCA raffle!  I’m a little less than half of the way to my fundraising goal of $2300, so please donate if you can!

Now I’ll catch up on weeks 3 and 4 of half marathon training.  These weeks were…okay…

Week 3

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 4 miles easy, strength                   rest
Tues – 8 x 400 w/ 200 recovery,         4 miles easy, strength
1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        walked 50 minutes
Thurs – elliptical, BodyPump                  elliptical, BodyPump
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 8 miles                                                     8 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

I missed my workout Monday evening because of our fantasy football draft.  You have to have priorities, you know :)  I knew if I ran intervals Tuesday as scheduled I wouldn’t be up for strength training, and strength training is really important to my plan to prevent any further trouble with my IT band, so I made up the four miles from Monday on the treadmill and did my strength routine.

For the 8-miler on Saturday, my goal was to run the entire thing without taking any walk breaks, and I did!  I even took a gel and drank my electrolyte drink while jogging.  I was feeling a little sore from BodyPump on Thursday, so to keep my focus I kind of ran fartleks.  I would choose a landmark and “run strong” until I reached it, then recover by jogging more slowly until I could pick up the pace again.  I wasn’t necessarily trying to go faster, but by focusing on my form and really using my legs, I naturally go a bit faster.  My average page over 8 miles was 12:05 minutes/mile, which is really great for me!

Week 4

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 3.5 miles easy, strength                 3.5 miles easy, strength
Tues – 10 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,        10 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,
1/2 mile w/u & c/d                                            1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        walked 30 minutes
Thurs – elliptical, BodyPump                  elliptical, BodyPump
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 9 miles                                                     4 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

Monday’s treadmill run was progressive – 1 mile @ 4.8, 1 @ 4.9, 1 @ 5.0, and 1@ 5.1.  I know that’s not very fast, but treadmill running still seems harder to me than outside.

Tuesday’s intervals were actually supposed to be on a hill.  I ran a hill alright, Leona Canyon Trail – up a giant hill on the way out, and downhill the whole way back.  I actually hiked a few of the recovery portions on the way up, and had to watch my footing really carefully on the way back.  It was a beautiful, peaceful trail, but much better suited for a hike than running intervals!

That weekend we went to Reno, and I planned on running 9 miles along the river, which I’ve done before.  The path along the river there is really quite lovely.  Thing is, I had a little too much wine the night before, and stayed up too late, and slept really poorly, and felt pretty wretched that morning.  I set out for the run regardless, telling myself that I could go 8 miles or even less if I wasn’t up for it.  I had a wedding to attend that afternoon, and I wanted to be decent company instead of a tired mess.  Upon my first few steps it was pretty apparent that I was feeling terrible, and I didn’t want to push it or get sick, so I only ended up going four miles.  I was glad that I listened to my body and didn’t push it too hard, but mad at myself for not preparing properly to do a long run.  Since I’m training for this half marathon with Team ASPCA I feel more responsibility to train properly, so I felt like I was letting myself AND the animals down.

Tasty Tuesday

18 Sep

Today’s Team ASPCA raffle winner is Janet W!  I’ve e-mailed for prize selection.

There are still tons of prizes available, including Disney tickets, running gear and all sorts of goodies, and you can enter with a donation of as little as $5.  Every dollar helps the animals!

I splurged a little over the weekend and last night, so I tried to keep my eats today tasty but clean and light.

Tuesday, 9/18/12

breakfast – smoothie (frozen cherry-berry blend, banana, almond milk, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 2 Tbs chocolate hemp protein powder, 1 Tbs cocoa powder, kale)
AM snack – coffee with vanilla coconut creamer
lunch – tofu and vegetable soup with rice noodles, soy sauce and sriracha
PM snack – orange Emergen-C, strawberries
dinner – Vegan Shrimp & Quince Curry with quinoa

exercise – 45 minutes stationary bike

daily points used – 26
activity points earned – 7
weekly points used – 2

This delicious (if a bit unusual) shrimp and quince curry was made with Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Shrimp, one of the prize donors for the raffle!

Prize Pineapple & Parsley Green Thickie

14 Sep

The first winner of the Team ASPCA raffle is Brandy B!  Brandy, I’ve e-mailed you for prize selection.

There are still plenty of prizes available, and you are still welcome to donate to The ASPCA to earn raffle entries!  If you’ve already donated, remember you can share the raffle link for an extra entry.  The next drawing will be Tuesday, September 18th!

I stumbled across the website Green Thickies the other day, and was particularly intrigued by the Prize Pineapple & Parsley Smoothie.  I’ve used parsley in fresh juices before, but never a smoothie!  Katherine pretty much guarantees that her thickies will last you through lunch, so this morning I gave it a shot.

I already have a green smoothie-for-breakfast habit, so making this wasn’t much of a change.  I made half of the recipe as written.  The only differences from my normal smoothies was that I used less almond milk and added 1/2 cup of rolled oats instead of protein powder.  It ended up being the same number of PointsPlus as normal, 4, so that was convenient.  I loved the flavor!  You couldn’t tell that there was parsley involved, it was more like a vibrant, fresh flavor.  The recipe is called a smoothie, which I guess isn’t as thick as a thickie, but it was much more thick than my normal smoothies.  Sadly, it didn’t hold me over until lunch, but I did wait to have my morning snack until about a half hour later than normal, and had less food than normal, so that was good.  I think I might try making smoothies with a combination of protein powder and oats to see if I can come up with a combo that lasts for hours.

I’ve got more parsley in the fridge, and am looking forward to another pineapple-parsley smoothie on Monday!

RnR LA Half Marathon Training – Weeks 1 & 2

13 Sep

Reminder – the first drawing for my Team ASPCA raffle is tomorrow!  Please check out the great prizes and consider donating!

I’m actually in the sixth week of training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon, but I want to go back and recap my training so far.  I’ve changed up a few things since my last training cycle, and it certainly has been interesting!

Since I already know I can complete 13.1 miles, I wanted to amp up my training just a bit, and luckily the intermediate training schedule provided by Team ASPCA fit the bill perfectly.  It’s very similar to the beginner plan I used last time, adding in one speed or hill workout per week, and packing in a little higher mileage overall.  Here’s the basic plan:

Monday – easy run
Tuesday – speed or hill workout
Wednesday – cross train
Thursday – easy run
Friday – rest
Saturday – long run
Sunday – rest

I got in touch with the national coach about tweaking the schedule to my needs, since I was diagnosed with IT Band Syndrome.  My ideas were to work in full body strength training twice per week, use the elliptical machine instead of one easy run for the first four weeks, and avoid hill workouts for a while.  He agreed that these were all fine, so here is what my version looks like:

Monday – easy run, strength training at home
Tuesday – speed workout (possibly add hill workouts later)
Wednesday – cross train
Thursday – elliptical machine, BodyPump (switch to easy run after four weeks)
Friday – rest
Saturday – long run
Sunday – rest
every day after exercise – stretch, ice and foam roll any trouble spots (tennis ball for the glutes), full foam roll once a week

So far this has worked pretty well, and I’ve been managing my IT band issues.  I’m still tweaking the program as I go along, which I’ll write about in my upcoming posts.  For now, here’s a look at the first two weeks.

Week 1

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 3 miles easy, strength                   3 miles easy, strength
Tues – 8 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,         10 x 160 w/ 160 recovery,
1/2 mile w/u & c/d                                           1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        rest
Thurs – elliptical, BodyPump                  rest
Fri – rest                                                            elliptical
Sat – 7 miles                                                     6.5 miles
Sun – rest                                                          rest

That Monday I ran on the treadmill, which I usually don’t love, but 3 miles was the farthest I’d gone since seeing the doctor about my leg, so I wanted to make sure I could take it easy.  We had plans after work on Tuesday, so I did my first ever speed intervals on the treadmill too.  The ol’ treadmill doesn’t have hundredths of a mile, so instead of doing 200’s, I did 160’s and changed the speed every .1 mile.  I used 5.2 mph for running and 4.8 for recover, so I wasn’t going very fast, but it was a nice way to try out intervals without fear of being totally embarrassed in public!

I missed Wednesday’s and Thursday’s workouts.  Wednesday I wasn’t feeling well after work, and Thursday I had dinner with the Team ASPCA regional manager and two other Team ASPCA members!  Since The ASPCA is headquartered in New York and the race is in LA there are bigger teams in those cities, but the team up here in Northern California is smaller and not as unified, so it was really nice to meet other people who are in the same boat.  I spent an hour on the elliptical Friday to make up for some of the missed time.

On Saturday I ran the Oakland Peak to Bay 10K, which I now realize I still need to write a recap for!  Will do that soon.  Our route ended up taking us about 6.5 very hilly miles, which was perfect.  I had a bit of knee pain on the downhills, but nothing too bad.  One of my running companions had a sore foot, so we were doing a bit of walking by the end.

Week 2

what was supposed to happen                 what actually happened
Mon – 3.5 miles easy, strength               3.5 miles easy, strength
Tues – 10 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,       10 x 200 w/ 200 recovery,
1/2 mile w/u & c/d                                           1/2 mile w/u & c/d
Weds – cross train                                        50 minutes elliptical
Thurs – elliptical, BodyPump                  walked
Fri – rest                                                            rest
Sat – 7 miles                                                     rest
Sun – rest                                                          rest

This wasn’t such a good week for sticking with the training plan.  Since I had some knee pain on the 6.5 mile run Saturday, I wanted to be cautious on Monday, and did my run on the treadmill.  1 mile at 4.8, 1 mile at 4.9, 1 mile at 5.0, and .5 mile at 4.8.  There was some discomfort on the outside of my left thigh in the third mile, but it went away by the end of the run.  I know that running on the treadmill is supposed to be “easier” than outside, and you’re supposed to put the incline up a notch to mimic having to move your body weight, but I find treadmill running much more difficult and have to keep the pace really slow!

Tuesday, I set out to do my first proper intervals.  I had heard there was a track that might be open to the public in the Oakland hills, but when I drove by there was a high school football team practicing on it.  I have yet to find any track in the entire East Bay that is open to the public and ever available, which is really frustrating!  After the track rejection, I headed to Lake Merritt, which is flat and just about three miles around.  My Garmin reads at one hundredths of a mile, so rather than doing straight eights of a mile I ran for .13 then jogged/recovered for.12.  My running interval pace ranged from 10:09 to 11:28, with all but one being under 11:00.  That’s quite good for me!  I think that slower one was going up a hill.  My recovery intervals ranged from 11:22 to 12:45.  I told myself that I could jog as slowly as necessary on the recoveries as long as I pushed myself on every run segment, and I did.  I focused on keeping good form, pumping my arms, and really using my legs.

We had plans for after work on Thursday, so I got my elliptical time in Wednesday and walked during lunch Thursday.  Friday night I noticed that my lower back was hurting around my tailbone.  I was actually really excited for my first real long run of training, but Saturday morning my tailbone was still sore.  It felt a little like a muscle strain, but not quite as bad.  I decided, sadly, to forgo running so that I wouldn’t exacerbate whatever was going on or injure myself.  I actually ended up taking four days off total, to make sure I was at 100% before running again.

We’ll get to weeks 3 and 4 next time!  In the meantime, please check out my Team ASPCA raffle!

Team ASPCA Raffle

4 Sep

I’m excited to finally announce my current project – I’m running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon with Team ASPCA.  Because half marathon training isn’t enough, I’m taking on fundraising too!

The ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States, a mission close to my heart.  I’m really happy to be a part of Team ASPCA and honored to be raising both awareness and funding to support the ASPCA’s programs.

As part of my fundraising, I’m hosting a raffle!  Head on over to the Raffle Page and check it out!  The list of prizes is really awesome, if I do say so myself, with an estimated value of over $1,100!

To entice you, here’s a pile of some of the prizes, just waiting to be shipped.  The bottom right box might be of particular interest to some people…

If you need any further persuasion to donate and enter the raffle, here’s my cat.

And a goat in a neckerchief!!!

Weight Update

27 Aug

My posts have been pretty running-centric lately, which makes sense since I feel like running has been taking up all my free time!  I haven’t really talked about my weight loss (or lack thereof) or cooking lately, so I figure I owe an update.

My Weigh In Log has been updated.

Here’s the past 24 weeks.  Kind of looks like a roller coaster, yes?  I’ve had some great weeks and significant losses, and some not-so-great weeks that resulted in gains.  I’ve kind of been bouncing around between 148 and 152 for a long while now.  I could make excuses and say that I’ve been busy (I have) and that other things have gotten in my way, but the truth is that I’ve become a bit lazy with my eating.  I’ve fallen prey to my nemeses, salty snacks and red wine, way too often lately and it shows.  Having lost about 25 pounds since I started Weight Watchers, I feel pretty happy about where I am and am kind of enjoying being this size for now.  The bouncing about has been a bit frustrating, but it does accurately reflect my efforts, and these past few weeks I’ve been waiting to kind of naturally come back to re-commitment and full effort, eating-wise.  You can see that I had a good result last week, a 3.6 pound lost to put me at 148 pounds, but I have a feeling I’m going to gain a bit this week, so the struggle continues.

Training for my next half marathon (which I’ll post about really soon) is still taking up a lot of my after work hours, so meals have been of the fast-cooking or no-cooking variety.

Corn tortilla quesadillas with red onion, zucchini, squash and Daiya Pepperjack shreds, cabbage and carrot slaw with hemp oil and lime juice.

Potato, black eyed pea & squash soup with corn broth and fresh dill.  My original plan was to just include fresh corn in the soup, then I thought I might be able to puree the corn and give the soup a creamy “chowder” feel without adding any milk-type product.  Worked like a charm!  I didn’t even have to add any water to the corn in the Vitamix, it pureed beautifully on its own.

Blackened seitan salad with Cusabi Dressing.  I adapted a cusabi recipe I found online, using reduced-fat Vegenaise and plain soy yogurt, and sadly, it wasn’t great.  Either my wasabi is old, or I just didn’t get the proportions right.  Luckily, the blackened seitan was fantastic.  I used the blackened seasoning mix from Appetite for Reduction, and just roasted the seitan with a bit of spray oil until it was hot and a little crunchy on the edges.

Clean-out-the-fridge tofu scramble with leftover grilled potatoes.  The tofu included shallot, mushrooms, tomato, broccoli, shredded carrot, and alfalfa sprouts.

Potato and black bean skillet with vegan ground beef, squash, greens, and cheesy green chile sauce.  I seasoned the dish with cumin, dried cilantro, and oregano, and it was actually creamier than it looks.  At the end I added a sauce made from thinned vegan cream cheese and green chiles, which made it really tasty.

Dave and I made a giant pot of minestrone one Sunday evening when he wanted soup.  It had carrot, celery, zucchini, white beans, kidney beans, green peas, kale, and quinoa pasta shells.  We based it off of this recipe and added fun stuff like fresh basil and red pepper flakes.

Kale salad two ways!  First, with creamy hemp-red bell pepper dressing (which was really delicious on its own), shredded carrot and red cabbage, and black lentils…canned lentils, the ultimate busy person’s shortcut.  Second, with tahini dressing, shredded carrot and red cabbage, edamame and sesame seeds.  I love shredded red cabbage in kale salad so much, I don’t think I’ll ever make it without!

Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder from Vegan on the Cheap, with avocado, lime, Way Better sprouted blue corn chips (which I love), and steamed broccoli.

So soups, salads, scrambles and skillets have been the way lately.  It’s a big bonus whenever I can throw everything in one pot or pan!

I’ve decided to stop posting my entire daily menu for every single day because it was taking up way too much time, but I’ll definitely still be posting food and a daily menu here and there.  Hopefully I’ve posted enough already that someone looking to find out what kind of vegan food you can eat on WW can get some good ideas!

Bad Bass Half Marathon Report & A New Injury

18 Aug

I signed up for the Bad Bass Half Marathon, scheduled for two weeks after my first half marathon, before I ran my first half marathon.  It maybe wasn’t the brightest thing to do, but I felt like I could take advantage of all the training I had done by running two races (with just enough recovery time in between).  Plus, the long loop around Lake Chabot promised some pretty views and interesting trails that I’d never seen before.  Plus, Brazen Racing always has cool shirts and medals!

(all photos courtesy of the Brazen Racing volunteer photographers)

Before the race, I debated a lot on what gear and fuel to bring.  There were only four aid stations spread well apart, so I knew I’d need hydration and some fuel.  I wanted to go a little au naturale though, without the full race belt, so I settled on my handheld water bottle with electrolyte drink and one gel tucked in the pocket.  The one time I’d run with the handheld before all the sloshing annoyed me, but it didn’t really bother me this time; I think I was so focused on watching my footing the whole time that I didn’t notice.

If you read my Napa to Sonoma race report, you know that I dealt with some unexpected and unprecedented left knee pain.  I didn’t want to exacerbate any possible injury, so I took it really easy in between, running only three times for a total of 8.5 miles.  I felt a little bit of discomfort outside my knee at the end of each run, but not sharp pain, so I thought I’d be okay.  Boy, was I wrong!

I’m in the black pants, dark gray shirt and black headband.

The race started at 8AM, on pavement for the first two miles.  I didn’t have a whole lot of energy that morning, so I hung toward the back and let lots of people pass me.  Within two miles, my knee was already hurting and I knew I was in trouble.  I thought about turning around but really hated the thought of being a quitter, especially without having tried to get through at least a few miles.  I trudged forward.

I had read previous year’s race reports and looked at the elevation chart, and knew there was a giant killer of a hill at three miles.  When we made a sharp turn just after mile two and headed up a big hill, I thought maybe I had read the map wrong and this was it.  We went up about 200 feet over a half mile, and most runners, myself included, slowed down to hike most of it.  I had made a deal with myself before the race that since it was “just for fun”, I could hike whatever portions of it that I wanted to without feeling bad.  At the top, we turned and came down an even steeper decline.  Since my knee was hurting, I tried to keep my steps easy and quick, and walked some of the steeper downhill sections.

At mile three I was surprised that our course joined up with the 10K course.  They started 25 minutes after us but had run a mile less, so the back of the half marathon pack (i.e. me) met up with the front-middle of the 10K runners.  They all had a lot more spring in their step than me!  We went across a single lane suspension bridge (which I did not trust was designed to hold all those people at once), then made a turn and headed up the REAL hill, the one that goes up 400 feet over about a mile.  Most everyone was huffing and puffing and hiking their way up.

Just before we went up the hill, I heard what I thought was a goat.  There are a few companies around the bay area that rent out a herd of goats to eat up brush, and I guess the park had them on lease.  I really wanted to stop and turn back and see the goats but knew it wasn’t a good use of my time or energy.  Luckily, one of the photographers visited them!

I love you, goats!

The 10K turnaround was at the top of the massive hill, and I got to see the leaders rushing back down the hill, which was neat.  All of us hikers cheered them on.

The photographer told me to smile.  This is what he got…

Coming into the race, my goal was 3:00.  Going up that monster hill, getting passed by all sorts of people, my goal became to not finish last.  At the top of the hill, it changed to just finishing even if I was last.  Around mile 5.5 we came to an aid station and I saw I actually wasn’t last, so the goal changed back to not being last.  I drank some water and took my gel and carried on.  From there on out, I don’t remember much detail.  Some trails were wide and grassy, some were narrow and woodsy, and it was mostly overcast and a little muggy.  I chatted briefly to other runners and hikers who weren’t part of the race, and mostly just focused on continuing to move without wiping out on downhills.  There were lots of smaller hills, and eventually I was hiking up any and all inclines.  At some points I regretted not bringing my phone or a camera, as the views were pretty nice.  Here’s one captured by a volunteer:

The middle third of the course was near a marksmanship range, and at times the sound was so close that I was actually a little worried I might get shot on accident.  It was not a pleasant sound, and I was thankful when the trail turned away, only to find that it looped back around, and for many miles I would come around a turn or over a peak and hear the gunshots again.

At the third aid station I took some water and orange slices.  I don’t remember much about this portion other than being in pain and wondering how much longer it would take, and thinking this race that I was doing for fun was not, in fact, very much fun.  I did wear my Garmin, so I at least knew what distance was left at any given time.

After what felt like many more miles, I came to the fourth and final aid station, with only two or so miles to go.  I was feeling quite hungry by that point and the sun was coming out, so I came to a full stop and ate a piece of banana, some orange wedges, and a few cups of water, since my handheld was empty.  There was a bit of a decent afterward, which was tough on my knee but easy on the heart rate, and I could feel the food and water sloshing around in my stomach, which upset it a bit.

After a short while I came to a section I recognized, which is where I go to run hills sometimes.  I knew the path pretty well from that point on, and it was all paved, so I at least knew I would be able to finish.  My ambition to run at all was almost completely gone, and I found myself actually begging for hills as an excuse to walk.  I jogged what I could very slowly, and eventually saw the boathouse and knew that I was almost done.

I dodged geese and headed toward the finish line.  Most of the crowd had already dissipated, but there were a few nice people still at the finish line cheering me on.  No finish line photo – the photographers were already done, hah!  My official time was 3:21:26, and I am happy to report that I was not last.  I was second to last in my age group, and ahead of a few other people in other age groups too.  My average pace was 15:09; according to the Garmin my fastest mile was the first (11:25), my slowest mile was the fourth (up that monster hill – 19:01), and most other miles were between 13 and 16 minutes.

I grabbed a piece of bagel, some banana and a coconut water, got my bag and headed back to the car.  I had not realized that I parked so far away, and the walk back was all uphill!  Longest walk of my life, my legs were SO stiff and tired.

Me and mah medal.  (You can see my other medals in the back, I really need to get some sort of display mechanism now that I have a few!)

And, of course, the Brazen medal and shirt are always cute.  I had seen that some past year’s medals had a hook in the fishes mouth, and I was really glad it was hookless this year, as that would’ve made me sad.

My residual knee pain and stiffness wasn’t quite as bad as after the first half, but I knew I needed to get to the bottom of it, especially since I was about to start another round of half marathon training (more on that soon).  I went to see my doctor, who called in a physical therapist (I love that she’s not afraid to ask for a second opinion), who confirmed what I was thinking – it’s an IT band issue.  I’ve had left hip and glute issues ever since I started running but never had that telltale knee pain before, so I pretty much knew it would be my IT band, but wanted to get confirmation.  The PT said that strengthening would help, and to continue things I was already doing like stretching, icing and using a foam roller.  He said that as long as I was cautious and preventative, I could continue running, so that was really good news.  So far these past few weeks I’ve had a little discomfort in my mid-thigh and knee, but no sharp pain, so I’m taking that as a good sign.  I’ve worked a second strength training session in each week, aimed at strengthening my legs, glutes and core (with some arms and back thrown in for good measure).

I’ll write again soon about my next running endeavor, which is very exciting!  I’ll also do some catching up on food and weight loss stuff, since this blog has been all-running-all-the-time lately.

Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon Report

27 Jul

When I started training for my first half marathon, I thought I could finish in under three hours.  A few weeks into training, I set my “A” goal as 2:45.  With a few miles left in the race, I surprised myself by realizing that if I kept pushing I could finish in 2:40, and I barely made it…my official time was 2:40:01!

I headed up to Napa on Saturday with my friend Becca, who is the one who convinced me that I could run a half marathon in the first place, and her friends Ashley and Desi.  We first stopped by the expo, which was small but well organized.  We picked up a few samples, and I bought Run The Edge and met Adam Goucher!  I’m still fairly new to running culture and don’t know about many running celebrities, but I know his name and that his wife Kara is about to compete in the Olympics.  He was really nice, and I look forward to reading the book.

We were really hungry but didn’t want a heavy lunch since we had an early dinner reservation, so we stopped by Oakville Grocery and had a little picnic.

I took carbo-loading as an excuse to have a big strawberry lemonade, and it was fantastic.  To kill some time before our hotel check in, we drove up to Cain Winery, just to see the building and the view.  Desi apparently has the hookup though, and we ended up with a suprise private tasting, even though they were technically closed!

After checking in and getting settled, we went to Mustard’s Grill for an early dinner.  I had called ahead to ensure that they could provide me something vegan.  The waitress offered a vegetable pasta or a bean tostada, and I figured I’d go with the typical pre-race dinner of pasta.

Doesn’t look like much, but this was a really flavorful penne dish, with lots of little bits of onion and garlic.

After dinner we toured the gardens outside the restaurant, then headed back to the hotel to turn in early.  I hadn’t been nervous before, but after the lights went out and it was just me and my thoughts, I started to get a little excited.

The alarms rang at 5AM the next morning, and we got ready quickly to catch a bus to the starting line at 5:30.  Breakfast was a Trader Joe’s whole wheat cinnamon roll (tasty) with some peanut butter, and hotel room coffee.  The bus ride to the start line took about ten minutes.  I meant to take a picture of the porta potties, it was the most porta potties I had ever seen!  One pit stop, to the will call registration to fix an issue with Becca’s timing chip, a final pit stop and bag check, and it was time to walk to the start line.

Becca, Ashley and me

I lined up near the back by the 2:45 sign.  Some pre-race announcements, the national anthem, and we were off!  Well, the leaders of the pack were off…we in the back shuffled forward slowly until we got to the start line.

(I took these photos during the race by holding my iPhone above my head and seeing what happened.  For the most part, they came out pretty well!)

The first half mile of the race is known as “butt burner hill”; it’s a slow, steady climb.  It was tough to start out going uphill right away, but it honestly wasn’t too bad.  Good way to get your heart rate up!

After butt burner hill, the next two miles are mostly downhill, a decent into Napa Valley.  The course was still pretty crowded, and I tried to go with the flow without going too fast.  I was feeling a little tired after two miles and reminded myself that I needed to run my own race and not pace myself off anyone else, as tempting as it was.  I decided against listening to music for the race, so that I could fully enjoy the course and the experience, and I mostly just listened to other people’s conversations.  The TeamChallenge members in orange were very loud and enthusiastic in cheering for each other.

mile 1 – 11:44
mile 2 – 11:06 (too fast!)
mile 3 – 11:35
mile 4 – 11:46

At four miles, I took a short walking break to take a gel and some electrolyte drink.  The fifth mile was a gradual downhill, but I was starting to feel fatigued and begging for the gel to kick in.

The sixth mile started to go back uphill, and I was not happy about it.  My left knee was starting to bother me, my breath was heavier than I wanted it to be, and I wasn’t even halfway done.  Somewhere in that mile though, I got a boost of energy.  I had planned to walk briefly at 6.5 miles to drink some water, but I was feeling really good and decided to keep going until mile 7.  I think it’s really important to have a race plan, and equally as important to change it up according to how you feel.

The seventh mile took us from vineyards to residential farms, and while the vineyards were absolutely beautiful, it was a nice change of scenery.  There was a guy standing on the balcony of this house waving to runners.  There were also some kids handing out cookies, and a couple in front of their house with some Guinness to give out.  There weren’t a whole lot of local spectators, but the ones that were out were great.

There was a live band at the mile 7 water station.  I walked for a short bit and drank some water.

mile 5 – 12:24
mile 6 – 11:49
mile 7 – 12:04

I don’t know why I felt the need to give thumbs up’s to the photographers.  Maybe to convince myself that I felt okay?  Because I wasn’t feeling so okay by this point.  Notice that I didn’t take any more pictures after this point.  I decided to keep the iPhone in its pouch and just focus on finishing, and my knee pain was growing worse by the mile.

At mile 7.5, I was stopped by the highway patrol to let cars cross the course, and I lost about 10 seconds waiting.  A break should’ve felt good, but I really just wanted to keep moving since my next scheduled walk break wasn’t until mile 9.  Miles 8 and 9 were more houses, farms, dogs barking, and knee pain.  The country roads were pretty worn down, and the whole race I felt like I was weaving back and forth, trying to find some flat pavement, and I was starting to get really annoyed by it.  I took my walking break at mile 9, along with another gel and some electrolyte drink.

I honestly don’t remember much about mile 10, except that there was a wine station, another live band playing a Doobie Brothers song, and that the 5K course joined up with our course.  The wine station was offering a sip of Gewürztraminer, a cold, sweet white wine.  I knew the wine was going to be a game time decision for me, and at that point it sounded repulsive.  I also didn’t want to slow down for anything, I just wanted to keep going.

mile 8 – 12:31
mile 9 – 12:04
mile 10 – 13:00

It was at that time that I realized I could break 2:40 if I averaged about 12:30 for the rest of the race, which seemed totally do-able at that time, since I only planned on one more short walking break.  The next miles saw more spectators, and even though they were mostly cheering for TeamChallenge members (and ignoring those who weren’t), it was a nice positive change in energy.  After 11 miles I walked for a minute or so, as my last planned walking break.  My knee was really, really hurting and I was basically limp-jogging.  Lots of people were walking, and I was determined to keep running as much as I physically could.

At mile 12 I decided to take a quick unplanned walking break and stretched my lower back.  I needed it to mentally prepare myself for one more mile.  We entered into a park, and I could tell we were finally in Sonoma, which gave me a mental boost even though I was in quite a bit of pain.  I tried to pick up the pace but didn’t have much left in me.  Two more turns and we were on a city street, and I could see the finish line in the distance.  There were many more spectators, and lots of walkers on the right.  My Garmin showed 2:38, and I knew I needed to book it to finish within 2:40, so I went for it.  I ran at what felt like a sprint at the time, although in reality it wasn’t very fast!

(I don’t normally cross my arm across my body like that; I think at that point I was using my entire body to compensate for my knee pain…)

I watched the seconds tick away as I neared the finish line, and stopped my Garmin at 2:39:59.  I was exhausted and in a lot of pain, but absolutely elated.  Coming in five minutes faster than my “A” goal felt like absolutely smashing it!  My official chip time was 2:40:01, which I am okay with because I can still say “I’m a 2:40 half marathoner”.

mile 11 – 12:05
mile 12 – 13:01
mile 13 – 12:38
last .1 miles (.2 according to my Garmin) – 2:14 (11:09 pace)

I wasn’t thrilled with the food options at the finish line.  There were bananas, Greek yogurt, and sample bags in which the only thing I could eat was a sample sized bag of Mary’s Gone Crackers and a Clif protein bar.  I needed more sustenance!  Luckily, some of the drinks being given away at the FRS tent were vegan and had a good supply of carbs, and Zico was there handing out coconut water.  I got my finisher’s wine glass, found Becca and Ashley, took off my shoes (revealing some pretty nasty blisters), and sampled some wines before we hopped the shuttle back to our hotel.  My knee was incredibly stiff, I had to take stairs one at a time for the rest of the day, and if I sat for 10 minutes or more it hurt really bad to bend it.  I don’t know why my knee was so bad, it didn’t hurt like that on any of my long runs in training.  I think it might’ve had to do with the unevenness of the road and zig-zagging to find flat ground, and maybe taking the downhills too fast in the first few miles.

The medal is AWESOME.  It is both a corkscrew and a wine stopper.

I ate the Clif protein bar on the way back to the hotel, and didn’t have time for a real meal before our afternoon wine tasting appointment.  I wasn’t really hungry, so I wasn’t too worried about it.  After the first wine tasting though, I was starving and ate the snack pack of Mary’s crackers to tide me over.  One more wine tasting, and I was starting to feel it all wearing on me.  We decided on Bistro Don Giovanni for dinner, which came highly recommended by a few different people.

The waiter brought out fresh bread with this spicy spread of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and red pepper flakes, and I devoured four pieces.  I wasn’t going to order an appetizer since I figured bread would be enough, but when the waiter mentioned they had gazpacho I knew I needed to go for it, especially since we’re in the middle of summer and the tomatoes in Northern California are fantastic this time of year.

There was a spicy cauliflower rotini dish on the menu that the waiter confirmed would be vegan without cheese, and it was really delicious.  The pasta and cauliflower were cooked perfectly.

Even after all that food, I still felt like a bottomless pit.  When we got back to the hotel, I had some Barbara’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter Puffins mixed with pretzels.  It was sweet and salty and wonderful, and I finally felt satisfied.

My knee was extremely sore the next day, although it felt better when I was walking around.  I played tourist in San Francisco and Berkeley Monday and Tuesday, and was ready for a short, easy run by Thursday, with only a small amount of discomfort in my knee.

Next up?  The Bad Bass Half Marathon tomorrow morning, around Lake Chabot.  That’s right, I signed up for another half marathon two weeks after my first half marathon, with confidence that I’d be recovered enough to do it.  I had planned to run four or five times in between and only got three runs in, so I guess on the bright side I’m well rested?  My plan is to take it easy and just have fun, enjoying the scenery around the lake.  My goal is just to finish, earning an automatic trail half marathon PR.

Half Marathon Training Week 12

23 Jul

I finished my first half marathon!  I’ll write a full race report soon, but for now I wanted to do a quick post about the last week of training, since it seems weird to just skip over it.

What was supposed to happen
Monday – 45 minutes elliptical
Tuesday – 2 miles
Wednesday – 3 miles
Thursday – rest
Friday – 1-2 miles
Saturday – rest

What really happened
Monday – rest
Tuesday – 2 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 3 miles
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest

So yeah, the week didn’t go as planned exercise-wise.  I think it had a lot to do with lady hormones.  Monday I was starving and exhausted when we got home from work, and not in a way that could be fixed with a snack or quick nap, or even both.  I made dinner right away and even had a bowl of cereal before bed too, and that was after already having an extra snack that day.  Stupid hormones!  At least I made good food choices.

Tuesday I planned ahead and took extra healthy snacks to work, and felt well enough to knock out two miles on the treadmill.  Wednesday, the hunger and tiredness monster struck again, and rather than go for the scheduled run, I picked up sushi and stayed in.  I wasn’t happy that my week was becoming discombobulated, but sometimes you just have to listen to your body, and this was definitely one of those times.

By Thursday I was feeling back to normal, and got three miles in, which was good for my confidence.  I meant to take it particularly easy but ended with an 11:26 average pace, which is pretty good for me.  I guess I was excited to be out there!

I also tried to hone in on my eating, hydrating and rest that week.  I upped my carb intake a little early on, without upping my caloric intake much.  As luck would have it, all three of my coworkers were sick at some point, so I made sure to avoid contact and washed my hands a lot, and drank a few Emergen-C’s just in case.  I read up a little on how to properly carbo-load, and the impression I got was that it was more important to up your carb intake the few days before racing, rather than having one giant carb-tastic meal the night before.  So, Thursday and Friday I had one and a half servings of overnight oats with berries for breakfast, which had more carbs than my usual breakfast smoothie, and Saturday morning I made the largest green smoothie known to mankind.  It took up two and a half pint glasses, and I enjoyed the whole thing!

I took carbo-loading as an excuse to eat pasta, which I don’t have too often, even though it was whole wheat pasta.

This is the Fusilli Roasted Vegetable Primavera from Appetite for Reduction.  It was really delicious and super easy to make.  I added chickpeas and some mushrooms that were laying around the fridge, which I would now consider necessary if I made it again.  I would also consider the optional fresh basil and red pepper flakes (my addition) non-optional.  I also had veggie pasta for dinner the night before and night after the race, so yay pasta!

Race recap to come very soon, and then I have an exciting announcement about my next big endeavor!