Monday, October 31, 2011

Haunted Hustle Race Recap

Going into last weekend's half marathon, I knew how I wanted to race - smart, confident and fast. Overall, I think I was pretty successful and the past few months of training paid off.

This time around, I think it really helped to up my weekly mileage, run overdistance, add weekly tempo runs and incorporate a fast finish into easy runs. But it was especially beneficial to focus a lot on hill training. There were several hills throughout the course and I took advantage of every one, especially the downhills. This helped me able gain time and pass several people during these portions.

How did I do?
Here are my race results:

Time: 1:46:16
Average Mile Time: 8:07
Division Place: 27/347 (Top 8 percent)
Women: 72/1009 (Top 7 percent)
Overall: 236/1568
(Top 15 percent)

What's next?
While I'm planning to take this week off, don't think I'm slacking off this winter. Here are my upcoming races:

Are you racing this winter? If so, what are you training for?

- ST


Friday, October 28, 2011

Less Than 24 Hours Away

For the past several days, people have been asking me if I feel ready for this weekend's race. While I think it's only natural to feel a bit nervous, overall, I'm feeling pretty confident about this one. After weeks - months - of prep, I'm ready to toe the start line and finish with the time I want.

Although it's too late to make any fitness gains, here are some last minute steps I'm taking to help me race my best:

Today
  • Reminding myself of everything I've done to prepare (upping mileage, three overdistance training runs, countless speed workouts, etc.)
  • Reviewing my race strategy and visualizing how I want to run this race (going progressively faster through these three distances: 5 miles, 5 miles, 5k)
  • Drinking extra water throughout the day
  • Eating pasta for lunch and dinner

Tomorrow Morning
  • Drinking 16 oz water + 10 oz sports drink
  • Drinking a can of Ensure (my standard pre-race or long run meal)
  • Pre-race warm up: one mile slow running, 4-6 strides, dynamic stretching
In addition to these steps, I also skipped this morning's shake out run. It was a tough decision to make since I hate missing scheduled workouts, but I think it was the right decision to make in light of a bit of soreness around my left knee. Nothing major though and it should be fine by Saturday morning after a day of rest.

How do you prepare yourself for a race both physically and mentally?

- ST

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Haunted Hustle Playlist

Although I leave my iPod at home for 5k races, I think a bit of music is in order for this weekend's half marathon. So unless it's raining or super windy, here are a few songs I plan to include on my Haunted Hustle playlist. Warning: It includes A LOT of pop music!

  • Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
  • Lighters - Bad Meets Evil
  • Run This Town - Jay Z
  • You Make Me Feel - Cobra Starship
  • Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5
  • I Wanna Go - Britney Spears
  • Give Me Everything - Pitbull
  • Can't Be Tamed - Miley Cyrus
  • S&M - Rihanna
  • The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga
  • Born This Way - Lady Gaga
  • Blow - Ke$ha
  • Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO
  • Take Over Control - Afrojack
  • Mr. Saxobeat - Alexandra Stan
  • I Like That - Richard Vission & Static Revenger

What are your favorite songs for running/racing?

- ST

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

Confession: I have a minor addiction to butterscotch chips. While you can't go wrong with a few straight from the bag, when baked in a cookie they are perfection. Try these oatmeal butterscotch cookies tonight. They are easy to make - and even easier to eat!

Warning: It's impossible to eat just one.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup quick oats
6 oz butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and then combine with the other ingredients. After blending thoroughly, add in oats and butterscotch chips.

Drop tablespoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.

What's your favorite way to eat butterscotch chips?

- ST

Monday, October 24, 2011

Navigating Through Taper Week: Training Schedule 10/24 - 10/30

It's taper time! Although it's exciting to not have any double workout days and only short runs, this is by no means a week to slack off. There's still plenty of race prep that can be done before Saturday.

In addition to eating a carb-rich diet and staying hydrated, here are a few non-running things I'm doing to prepare this week:
  • Getting 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Waking up at the time I need to get up on race day
  • Limiting weight lifting/strength training
  • Cutting out alcohol, soda, artificially sweetened fruit juices, etc.
  • Eliminating fried, processed, fatty foods from my diet
As for running, my goal is to keep it light and easy, allowing my body to rest and recover before the race. The easy runs will keep my legs moving and the speedwork allows a bit of mid-week sharpening.

Here's the complete agenda:

Monday

Morning: Off
Afternoon:
4 mile easy run

Tuesday

Morning: Off
Afternoon: Cross Training


Wednesday
Morning: Off
Afternoon: Speed workout (1 mile warm up, 1 x 800m, 2 x 400m, 1 mile cool down)

Thursday

Morning: Off
Afternoon: Boot Camp Class

Friday
Morning: 4 mile easy run

Saturday
Haunted Hustle Half Marathon!

Sunday
Rest

What's your favorite/least favorite part of the taper period before a race?

- ST

Sweet Potato Curry

I love Indian food, especially this time of year when the temperatures begin to drop. However, I've always been too intimidated to make it at home because of the exotic ingredients and seemingly complicated cooking methods.

Although not traditional by any means, this sweet potato curry captures the Indian flavors I love, without a lot of prep or cleanup. The ingredients are basic and one pot cooking is about as easy as it gets!

Just the right amount of spice for a chilly evening!

Sweet Potato Curry

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 large sweet potatoes, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1 can light coconut milk
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add all ingredients in order to a large dutch oven pot (or other oven safe dish with a lid). Bake for 1 hour, stirring halfway through.

I served the curry over brown rice, but it would also be good with bread or Indian naan.

- ST

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Perfect Fall Dessert For One

After last night's workout, I was craving something sweet but didn't want to eat something heavy, like a cupcake. This baked apple with ricotta cheese hit the spot, providing the perfect blend of tart, creamy and sweet. The ideal dessert for a chilly fall evening!

This only took about 5 minutes to prepare. Maybe less.

Baked Apple with Ricotta Cheese*

1 apple (I used a red delicious apple)
1/2 cup water
Dash of cinnamon
1/8 cup part skim ricotta cheese
Drizzle of honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Core the apple, dice into bite size pieces and place in an oven safe dish. Add water and dash of cinnamon on top. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. After baking, strain off liquid and add apple pieces to a serving dish. Top with ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey.

*I didn't measure the cinnamon and honey

What's your favorite apple recipe?

- ST

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Year In and I'm Still Running

It was about one year ago today that I started running. Up until that point, I went to the gym pretty regularly but spent most of my time trying out classes, doing the elliptical and on occasion, cycling. I also worked with a trainer, Anna, and we focused a lot on strength training, specifically targeting my "weak" arms and "fat" knees.

How it all started
Around this time, my boss asked a few coworkers and I if we would be interested in signing up for the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay. It seemed like a fun team building activity and running one mile at a time for a total of about 7 miles seemed pretty manageable.

When I told Anna, the first thing she asked me was had I ever run before. Sure, I had dabbled with short jogs on the treadmill or outside, but it was always for the purpose of burning extra calories, not for the purpose of actually running. After learning what a novice I was, Anna wrote me a training plan to get in shape for running the relay in January.

And that's how my love of running started! It's been rough at times (minor injuries, time conflicts, etc.) but during this past year, I've learned a lot and progressed more than I ever thought possible. I still remember my first 5k race last November and how I just wanted to finish in less than 30 minutes. I finished in 29:09, 32/92 in my age group. At my last 5k race, I finished in 22:53, 4/30 in my age group.

I knew I was a runner when . . .
It's been over these months, I've realized, I'm a runner! And believe me, no one is more surprised by this than me, the girl who once claimed to hate exercise. Here's how I knew:
  • I don't feel guilty about eating large amounts of bagels, pasta, etc. Carbs = energy.
  • Running shoes, clothes and accessories have taken over my apartment.
  • Over the summer, I found myself discussing performance nutrition and pre-race fueling on a date with a fellow endurance athlete. Sexy? Hardly. But I still found it pretty interesting!
  • I get a little too excited when a new Runner's World or Running Times is in my mailbox.
  • I wear flats more often now to save my feet for hard running workouts.
  • I find myself telling people things like "I'm only running seven or eight miles tonight."
  • My favorite websites include running calculators and running blogs.
  • These days, people actually ask me for running and workout advice.
Setting new goals
So, what's next? I want to keep improving my race times and running stronger at every distance. In 2012, I'd like to achieve the following:
  • A 6:20 mile time
  • A sub 21 minute 5K time
  • A sub 1:45 half marathon time
When and why did you start running? When did you consider yourself a runner? And, what running - or other workout - goals do you hope to achieve in 2012?

- ST

Monday, October 17, 2011

Training Schedule 10/17 - 10/23

My next half marathon is quickly approaching . . . and I can tell that I'm getting sick.

While not ideal, it does leave me with enough time to recover if I tweak my training a bit. Instead of the 38 miles I originally planned for this week, I'll dial back to 25 miles and not do any doubles. While it sucks having to go off plan, I know it's the right thing to do if I want to race my best.

Here's what this week's training includes:

Monday

Morning: Off
Afternoon:
5 mile easy run + Strides

Tuesday

Morning: Off
Afternoon: 7 mile combo run (1 mile warm up, 2 miles @ half marathon tempo pace, 2x800 meters, 4x400 meters, 1 mile cool down)


Wednesday
Morning: Off
Afternoon: 3 mile fun run @ Performance Running Outfitters

Thursday

Morning: Off
Afternoon: Boot Camp Class, 3 mile run including hill repeats

Friday
Rest

Saturday
Rest

Sunday
Morning: 7 mile tempo run

Friday, October 14, 2011

Do Your Race Times Make the Grade?

Ever wonder how your race times compare with runners at different ages? Or how they stack up to the standard for your age and gender? You can find out with this handy age grading calculator from Runner's World.

Warning: This is a tad addictive, especially if you start calculating what times you need to achieve the next level of competitive racing.

For example, to move up to the regional level, I need to increase my age-graded score by five percentage points and race a 5k in 21:09 (6:49 per mile pace). Is this doable? Certainly not overnight, but in time I think it is, especially with an increase in mileage and more speedwork.

On that note, I have 15 miles to run tomorrow morning. What are your weekend running or other workout plans?

- ST

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What I Eat, Part 1

My friend and fellow runner, Sara, recently asked me to do a post about what I eat during the day. Although it's kind of embarrassing to admit how much I eat (it's a lot), I know every calorie goes toward getting the most out my workouts. This amount might be too much or too little for some people - but it's what works for me.

Note: I'm not a nutritionist - the information in this post reflects my personal experience. If you need nutrition advice, consult a professional.

A typical day
Breakfast: 1/2 bagel with peanut butter and apple jelly

Mid-morning snack: String cheese, 1 oz pistachios, raw veggies

Lunch: 1 cup tomato soup, bean burrito*, banana

Mid-afternoon snack: Granola bar, 1/2 of a 100 calorie pack pita chips, handful of gummy candies

Dinner: Spaghetti with meat sauce, steamed broccoli, Greek yogurt with sliced strawberries

*1 Smart and Delicious tortilla, 1/2 cup vegetarian refried beans, 1/4 avocado sliced, 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, salsa

I should note that what I eat and when I eat it varies if I'm doubling (morning and afternoon workout) or if I'm racing. More on this to come in future posts.

In the meantime, what do you eat during a typical day?

- ST

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Get Motivated!

Sometimes, I'd love to bag my workout. I think about how nice it would be to lounge around all evening watching television, catching up on the stack of magazines in my living room and maybe baking up a batch of my new favorite dessert, Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies.

But then I think about how these things won't help me achieve my goals and could actually end up setting me back. At times like these, I find the best way to get motivated and back on track is checking 0ut my favorite websites, blogs and online articles.

Here are a few that currently inspire me:
  • Ask Lauren Fleshman - Have a running question? Lauren has the answer.
  • Great Lakes Running Series - After I'm done with my next half marathon, I'll be training hard for this series.
  • Combo Track Workouts - These workouts from Running Times Magazine are bound to hurt - but also yield great results over time.
  • Daily Mile - I'm hooked! If you run, bike, swim or just workout for fun, you should join this website.
  • RW Daily - Tidbits related to running, including tips, interviews and sometimes truly bizarre stories.
  • Performance Running Outfitters - My favorite running store. I can't wait for cooler temps to try out the Mizuno arm sleeves I bought last weekend.
  • Fit Milwaukee - A great local resource dedicated to a healthy lifestyle.
  • ESPN's Bodies We Want - If this doesn't inspire you to run that last interval, I don't know what will.
What websites do you read for an extra shot of motivation?

- ST

Monday, October 10, 2011

Training Schedule 10/10 - 10/16

Week two at 38 miles! I'm looking to my tempo run as the most challenging workout with the 14-15 mile run a close second.

Here's what else this week's training includes:

Monday

Morning: Off
Afternoon:
6 mile easy run; 45 minutes strength training

Tuesday
Morning: Off
Afternoon: 7 mile tempo run


Wednesday
Morning: 5 mile easy run
Afternoon: 1 hour strength training, including Tabata Protocol

Thursday

Morning: 6 mile hill run

Afternoon: Off

Friday
Rest

Saturday
Morning: 14-15 mile easy run

Sunday
Rest

What's your most challenging workout this week?

- ST

Adventures With Tater Tots

Earlier this year, I participated in a tater tot eating contest with my friends Jess and Tierney. The contest worked like this: Participants were seated at a long table and were given a few one pound baskets of tots. We then had six minutes to eat as many as possible. The winner ended up eating more than three pounds. I ate . . . less than one pound. It was kind of embarrassing to not even finish one basket but I think if it wasn't timed I would have done a lot better. I've always been a slower eater.

Anyhow, after the contest, I had to go on a bit
of a tater tot hiatus. The thought of eating more was rather sickening. But that all changed after my friend Alysha from She's on the Run introduced me to Tater Tot Casserole. After just one bite, I knew I had to have the recipe, which combines tater tots with a cream sauce, cheese and fried onions.

Pass the tots, please!

I've prepared this simple casserole a few times now, and it makes a great vegetarian main or side dish. Try serving it with a green or fruit salad.

Tater Tot Casserole

1 32 oz package tater tots
1 16 oz container light sour cream (I recommend Daisy brand)
1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1 6 oz can French fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch-baking dish. Arrange tater tots in the prepared baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine sour cream, cheese and soup. Pour this mixture over the tater tots. Sprinkle onions over the top of the casserole.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

Have you ever participated in an eating contest? If so, how did you fare?

- ST

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why Do You Run?

Not too long ago, someone asked me why I run and train as much as I do if I don't stand a chance at ever participating in a major race, say the Olympics. My first thought was, if I were training for the Olympics I'd have to more than triple my current amount. My second thought was, who's to judge a right or wrong reason to run?

Most of us will never be Olympic contenders. Many of us might not even get an age group win at a local race. But should that ever prevent us from training as hard as we want? It may be time consuming, but it's a choice we make on how to spend our extra hours.

Whether it's 12 miles on an early Saturday morning, multiple 400m or 800m speed repeats on a Monday afternoon or even that extra set of core exercises, I enjoy nearly every challenging training session. Naturally, I want to get faster so I can compete better at local-level races, but making any podium would just be an added bonus for doing something I love.

So my response to that person's question is, I love the run. And in my opinion, there's no better reason.

Do people ever question the way you train? If so, how do you respond?

- ST

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

The only thing better than eating a chocolate chip or Oreo cookie? Eating an Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie.

Cross section of my new favorite cookie

Although they look complicated, these cookies are actually quite simple to make. Especially when you use prepared dough (i.e. Toll House slice n bake). So, give this recipe a try this weekend, or better yet, tonight - 30 minutes from start to finish is all you need for delicious, home-baked cookies!

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

12 Oreo Double-Stuffed Cookies
32 oz Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place Oreos on two cookies sheets, leaving plenty of space between each. Divide chocolate chip cookie dough into 24 balls. One by one, sandwich each Oreo between two balls of dough until they are completely encased. Bake for 9-13 minutes.

Do you have any simple cookie or dessert recipes I should try?

- ST

Training Schedule 10/3 - 10/9

While I enjoyed my recovery week, I'm ready to get back to full training. For the next month leading up to the Haunted Hustle Half Marathon, this means running 38-mile weeks.

Mini confession: While I like sticking with my training plan as closely as possible, there are some days I end up doing more or less - sometimes an extra mile or two or taking things slower than planned. I'm definitely not one to advocate being lazy or skimping on workouts - but sometimes adjustments are necessary. Trust your body - it knows what it needs!

That being said, here's this week's training plan:

Monday

Morning: Off
Afternoon:
Speed workout (1 mile warm up, 4 x 800m with 400m recoveries, 1 mile cool down); 45 minutes strength training

Tuesday
Morning: 5 mile easy run
Afternoon: 3 mile easy run
; 45 minutes strength training

Wednesday
Morning: 6 mile easy run
Afternoon: Shock Treatment Class (boot camp style class)

Thursday
Morning: 7 mile tempo run
(1 mile warm up, 5 miles @half marathon pace, 1 mile cool down)
Afternoon: Boot Camp Class

Friday
Rest

Saturday
Morning: 12 mile easy run

Sunday
Rest

How many of you write training plans? Do you follow your plan exactly or end up making changes as the days/weeks go by?

- ST