Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Even though I love running and training, an occasional break is important. In fact, I consider it a part of any successful training program! 

Eddie and I enjoyed being lazy last week!

Since the Rockford Half Marathon, I haven't run a single step. It's been great having time to do things that often get pushed to the side, such as happy hour, dinner with friends, hour-long bubble baths and staying up late and sleeping in. 


It was also a good time to shop for new racing flats!

It's just the type of break I needed to recharge and get ready for the next training cycle . . . that starts today. 

This cycle will last through October's Lakefront Marathon. My focus is upping weekly mileage another 5-10 miles to 50-60 mpw, increasing long run distance and doing weekly tempos, hill work and/or speedwork. 

I also plan on getting a better grip on my diet to slim down. Leaner body composition = better running efficiency, faster times and less stress on my joints. Plus, I plan on wearing these racing briefs at the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon in July! 

Gotta be fit to wear these in public!
Here's this week's plan:

Monday: 
Rest Day

Tuesday
Afternoon:
6 mile easy pace run; 45 minutes strength training

Wednesday

Afternoon: 8 mile speed workout, including 3x1600m @5k pace
 

Thursday
Morning: 4 mile easy pace run

Afternoon: Boot camp class

Friday
Afternoon: 4 mile easy pace run

Saturday
Morning: 14-18 mile easy pace run

Sunday
Rest Day


Total: 36-40 miles 

This is just the beginning. The next few weeks I'll add back miles until I reach my peak mileage from last cycle's training (50 mpw) and then slowly build to hit 60. 

What are you training for this summer?

- ST

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rockford Half Marathon Race Recap

As a distance runner, you spend spend months preparing for one key race. You can put in the training, prepare yourself mentally and do everything right to get ready for peak performance on race day. However, there are always factors beyond your control that can interfere with achieving your goals.

When this happens, the only thing you can do is run to the best of your ability on that day and remind yourself there will be other races in the future to meet your goals. And that's exactly what I did during Sunday's hot and humid Rockford Half Marathon.

 Getting it done

Here are my results:

Time: 1:50:33
Average Mile Time: 8:27
Division Place: 6/77

Overall: 83/739

I started the race with the 3:25 marathon pace group (there weren't pace groups for the half marathon). However, I quickly stopped running with them because my Garmin showed we were going out around a 6:40 pace. Burning out my legs in the first mile won't ever be my race strategy! 

I wasn't too far off goal pace at the six mile mark with a split of 48:07. During normal race conditions, I'd be confident I could make up the time loss later in the race. But during this one, things began to fall apart. I ended up getting one of those pesky side cramps and had to slow down. When it finally went away, my legs just wouldn't get going again. Fatigue had set in and instead of focusing on getting back on pace, I started focusing on running just to finish the race! I walked through all the remaining water stops and didn't start my finishing kick until about a quarter mile out. 

 Adding my newest medal to the collection

The one thing I am proud about is that I did meet my goal of leaving everything I have on the course. I know I raced my hardest and couldn't have gone any faster on that day. When I crossed the finish line, I was completely spent, which is exactly what I was aiming for. 

 Happy to finally reach the finish line

While I'm disappointed I wasn't able to meet my goal time, I'm confident I will meet it later this year. Up next, I'm doing Race for the Bacon, a new 5k race at State Fair Park. After that, it's the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon. Originally, I was planning to take it easy and just enjoy the Rock n Roll experience but now, I'm set on racing it. 

I won't stop this year until I get what I want :)

Tell me: Did anyone else race over the weekend? If so, what was your experience? Anyone else have to beat the heat?

- ST

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pay the Price

Pay the price. 

Those three words sum up my training for this weekend's Rockford Half Marathon. The winter and spring were all about running. Slow miles. Long miles. Tempo miles. Hard miles. Early to bed and early to rise - even on the weekends. I ran more miles in a week than I ever have before. There were workouts during which I felt like my lungs were about to burst or my legs were going to fall off. And plenty of strength training, foam rolling, stretching and ice baths. 

I've spent hours, days, weeks and months training for a race that will be over in well under two hours. 

And I wouldn't change a thing about any of it. 

It's been time consuming and maybe even a tad selfish. But I knew going in that in order to reach the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year, I could pay the price during training or pay the price on race day by being unprepared.  

 I think my Sparkly Soul headband will bring me good luck :)

I'm ready for a new half marathon PR, and I'm ready to race harder than I ever have before. After I cross the finish line, I want to know I've left all that I have on the course and could not have run even one second faster. I have no doubt I'll encounter a few rough patches along the way, but when they come, I'll remind myself to pay the price just one more time. 

My plan for the race is pretty simple. I'll run the first 10 miles at goal race pace. If I'm feeling good at that point, I'll pick up the pace to run the last 5k as fast as possible. If not, I'll stick with my goal race pace and start my kick about a half mile from the finish. 

More than anything, I'm just excited to see what I can do during Sunday's race. My outfit is packed, my shoes are laced and I'm ready to give it my all from start to finish. 

It's time to find out if it's been worth the price. 

Tell me: Have you ever put everything you have into one race? If so, what was the result? Also, what are your running mantras?

- ST

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mounds Bars

As soon as I saw this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Mounds Bars on one of my favorite blogs, Eat, Live, Run, I knew I had to add it to my list of recipes to try. Two of my mother's favorite foods are peanut butter and coconut, so I decided to make these for a Mother's Day treat. They were a hit! 

 So sweet, so delicious!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mounds Bars 

19 graham crackers, crushed (2 sleeves)
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 14 oz package sweetened coconut flakes
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz chocolate chips, melted (I used a mix of semi sweet and bittersweet)
2 Tbsp peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside. 

In a large bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Pat the mixture down into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine the coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Spread on top of the baked graham cracker crust, then bake for another 20 minutes. 

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave by cooking for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each round until smooth. Stir in peanut butter until well combined. Add topping to the coconut layer after the bars come out of the oven. 

Place bars in the refrigerator to chill until the chocolate hardens. Cut into small squares and start devouring!

Note: I replaced 4 oz of the coconut with 4 oz chopped almonds

Enjoy!

- ST

Monday, May 14, 2012

Training Schedule 5/14 - 5/20

It's finally here. Race week!!

I'm in full taper mode and focused on saving my energy and speed for Sunday. This week's key workout is on Tuesday - just five miles with two at half marathon race pace. All others will cap out at four miles at an easy pace. I'm also skipping strength training this week, as well as my usual boot camp class. Can't afford to risk straining a muscle or getting injured! 

I'll also start gradually getting up earlier in the morning so it's not as much of a shock to my body on race day when I have to get up at 4am. A half hour earlier each morning should do the trick. This also means a grandma-like bedtime - as in 9 pm.

Here's the full plan:

Monday 
Afternoon: 4 mile easy pace run

Tuesday

Afternoon:
5 mile speed workout, including two miles at half marathon pace

Wednesday
Morning: 4 mile easy pace run

 

Thursday
Morning: 4 mile easy pace run, including strides

Friday
Rest Day

Saturday
Rest Day

Sunday
Morning: Rockford Half Marathon!

Are there any special routines you follow during taper week? 

- ST


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Coconut Cupcakes

It's been a long time since I've baked anything, so I was super excited to finally give my kitchen a bit of a workout. After taking a peek in my cabinets, I decided to make coconut cupcakes. These are super simple to prepare and I think the splash of Malibu makes the recipe even better!

A perfect weeknight - or any night - treat!

Coconut Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix
8 oz ginger ale
4 oz Malibu (or any coconut rum)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add liners to a cupcake pan or grease individual tins.

Mix cake mix, ginger ale and Malibu in a large mixing bowl until well combined and batter is free of lumps. Add batter to cupcake pan and fill each cup 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. 

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar and vanilla. Place coconut flakes on a small plate. After frosting each cupcake, dip the top of each into the coconut. 

Bon Appetit!

- ST

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Weekly Training Schedule 5/7 - 5/13

Two weeks. Two weeks. Two weeks!

Actually . . . less than two weeks until the Rockford Half Marathon. It's quickly approaching, but I feel ready and fairly confident that I can meet my goals for the race. There are always factors that you can't control, but of the ones I can, I know I've done my best. 

This training cycle is winding down. Last week, I hit my peak of 50 miles, including a 10 mile tempo run and 18 mile long run. Both of those key workouts went well and hopefully are an indicator that my fitness is exactly where it needs to be at this point!

Some runners make the mistake of believing they can scramble and build additional fitness the last week or two before a race. But my only focus is maintaining what I have and not getting injured. I'm actually taking a step back and scaling down the training intensity to help ensure I make it to the start line healthy and rested.

Here's the plan:

Monday 
Afternoon: 5 mile easy pace run; 30 minutes strength training

Tuesday

Afternoon:
8 mile speed workout

Wednesday
Afternoon: 6 mile easy pace run; 30 minutes strength training

 

Thursday
Morning: 4 mile easy pace run
Afternoon: Boot Camp Class

Friday
Afternoon: 4 mile easy pace run

Saturday
Morning: 8-10 mile tempo run

Sunday
Rest Day


 I hope everyone has a great week!

- ST