Saturday, December 31, 2011

Plans for the New Year

It's hard to sit here on the last day of the year and not think about my goals for next year. The most obvious one is the one I've spent the last 6 months preparing for: The Chevron Houston Marathon!

The signs are up all over town and I get a little giddy every time I see one. It makes me want to drive by as many Chevron gas stations on my way to work just so I can see them! I think I might be going a little marathon crazy at this point!

After the marathon, I plan on sidelining the super long training runs and focus more on running doubles to prepare for the next Texas Independence Relay!
I captained a team last year and we had such a great time that we've already registered for this year's race. We're all gearing up for another 48 hours of travelling across southeast Texas crammed in a van with 11 other sweaty runners.

But in addition to running doubles, I'm also going to be spending a lot more time on the saddle. My new Cannondale is finally going to be put to the real test in April during the MS150.

It's a 2 day bike ride from Houston to Austin. The Hubby and I have joined up with the St Arnold's bike team (the local brewery in town) and we're excited to drink all the free beer we can manage and have a support team along the way.

Other than those 3 events, my schedule is pretty much empty. As much as I really want to fill up the calender with races and events, I think I'm just going to fly by the seat of my pants and take the year as it comes. I'm excited for 2012 and all the fun it's going to bring!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tis the Season

It's been a pretty busy season. Between Christmas parties, busy work schedule and even a promotion (!!!), it's been hard to get in my training. I completed my longest training run of the schedule almost two weeks ago and it's been hard to keep the motivation up since then, especially since it requires good time management.

I found myself off work a little earlier today with nothing else to do, so why not get in a run!

Before: Playing with the new camera I got for Christmas! 

The doggies want to say Merry Christmas!

I hit up Memorial park since it was such a dark night for some Veronicas. Not sure why it's called Veronicas, but it's one hell of a workout! I warmed up with a mile then stretching then got to work. 5 sets of 3 minute sprints at VO2 max followed by 3 minute jogs then a cool down back to the car. I finished with 6 miles and felt great. I really pushed it during each sprint, but managed to make the last one the fastest.

After: showing off my 6 miles and testing out the self timer.

Marathon is in 3 weeks! Can't wait!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rock N Roll San Antonio

Since the girls and I had so much fun in San Francisco last year at the Nike Women's race, we decided to do another out of town race this year. Our schedules got really busy, so we decided on a race close to home, but that would still be a nice weekend away: RnR San Antonio.

We left Houston early Saturday morning in time to arrive in SA for lunch and the Expo. Traffic was horrendous in the downtown area with all of the race people arriving and the Veteran's day parade (that was not on Veteran's Day, btw). There were roads closed everywhere and no signs for detours. We stopped to ask two cops how we could get to our hotel with no luck. We ended up on the west side of downtown at a horrible Tex-Mex restaurant, but we really were just glad to be out of the car. After lunch, we forged our way back across downtown (at least the parade was over, but they still had roads closed) to the Alamodome for the Expo. Parking was ridiculous and there were no signs to try to help you find where you could park. Then we walk a million miles across lots to get in to packet pickup. Seriously, who designed all that?

The Expo itself was actually rather fun once we got inside. We took our time browsing the booths and checking out everything. I bought a new pair of headphones (I'll try to do a review later since I really like them) and some more Nuun. We left at 5 when they were shutting everything down. There were so many people running inside after 5 trying to pick up packets. I really hope they all made it! 5pm is such an early time to close a packet pickup.

Race morning was nice and uneventful. We all got up in plenty of time to get ready. The hotel we stayed had a carb loading breakfast downstairs with plenty of bagels and peanut butter and some other stuff. We left the hotel around 6:45 and headed to the start to drop off bags and get ready. All of us were in the 7th corral and we started 10 minutes back from the gun. I like how RnR spaces out the corrals, but it seemed much more crowded than the Mardi Gras run in February. We were dodging a lot of walkers in the first few miles.

The race scenery wasn't that great. I don't feel like we ran through very much of the scenic parts of SA. Four of us stayed together for the first 5 miles, so we all got to experience the Alamo together. Three of us reached the halfway point right at the 1 hour mark, as scheduled. My goal for this race was to pace my friends, E and C into a sub2. I had just gotten my PR 3 weeks prior in Houston and the weather was too hot race morning for me to try to beat that. We'd all been training in the heat all summer, so a sub2 was doable for the 3 of us, but I didn't want to push it further than that.

Just after mile 7, C was really starting to slacck off. I told her to do everything she could to recover and keep at it. But I knew it was hot and she was feeling it. E and I kept charging ahead and I told her we'd slowly start taking seconds off our pace time. I was mindful of my Garmin and made sure to keep us on pace. I was not going to come this far and have her miss her sub2.

At mile 10, the sun came up and it started to get really hot. We were definately regretting deciding to wear black shirts at this point. E and I turned our music on and just kept going. There were lots of people starting to walk at this point. We hit mile 12 and I was really starting to hurt. I wanted this race to be over. E started pulling away from me, and I struggled to keep up with her. The last mile was pretty hilly as we ducked underneath the freeways and rounded our way to the Alamodome. I lost sight of E, but managed to keep a good pace even though I wanted to quit. I charged up the last hill, hit the 13 mile marker, turned the corner and sprinted my way to the finish line.

Final time: 1:58:18
E beat me by 30 seconds. She's a rockstar. We rested and stretched a little while we waited on the other girls to finish (C and T finished together at 2:05!).

Then we had to make the over mile trek back to the starting line and our hotel. RnR Fail. Why have the start line in downtown next to all the hotels and then not have a way for the runners to get back except walk!? Also, bag pickup was across the parking lot from the Alamodome and you had to walk down 2 flights of stairs and then back up 2 flights of stairs to get there. Why!? I'm pretty sure I will not be running this race again.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Challenge

So if you haven't noticed, I've been slacking off a little lately. It's not for lack of trying (ok, maybe it is a little), but with being busy at work and other stuff going on it just isn't happening for me right now.

Enter: Vacation
Yes! I've been waiting for this for sooooo long! I'm not even bothered that the weather says it's going to rain the whole time. I'm just glad to be getting away and taking some much needed time off work.

In addition to my slacking off with running, I've also been slacking off in others areas, like my diet. I've been eating a lot more junk and it needs to stop.

Enter: Holiday Shred
Bobbi at NHerShoes has set up a challenge where she puts together a workout 6 days a week for 23 days. Each workout is going to last roughly 20 minutes, but can be repeated if I want to do extra. She's going to mix it up so that every muscle gets worked during the intense workouts. I'm really excited for the challenge and hope I can keep it up. I'm guessing I'll be carrying my laptop around with me so I won't have any excuses.

Here's to getting back on track before the new year arrives!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Houston Half 2011

October 23rd, I ran the first warmup race in the Houston marathon series - the Houston Half. I honestly didn't have any goals for this race. I just wanted to enjoy racing (it had been a while since my last race), have fun, and use it as a long run to prepare for my upcoming half marathon in San Antonio.

Turns out it was a great day for racing. I run the parks on these streets all of the time, so I knew what I was getting myself into. Before the race, I met up with one of the girls I train with in ATP and she was in it to race it. Normally, she's faster than me, but I thought we could at least start out together and keep each other company for the first half.

The first half went by so fast. We crossed the mat at 1:00:08. I remember thinking "ok, not great, but I'll at least beat the 2 hour mark". My friend had just put on her headphones and we both took a GU and just kept going. We didn't really speak much, just ran. The turn around for the race was at almost 8 miles where I finally decided to turn on my tunes. The two of us just started getting into a really good groove and we started passing people. I didn't look at my Garmin much at all - I was trying to run solely on feel.

I knew we were speeding up, but I had no idea how much.  Less than half a mile from the finish line, a friend of hers jumped out of the crowd and starting running with us. He was screaming at her in Spanish and I was doing everything I could to keep up the pace and try and translate what he was saying at the same time. Later I would find out that we had sped up to almost a 7 min/mile pace. We crossed the finish line in 1:55:34! A full minute PR for me!

Half Marathon #9

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Changes are a comin'

This week I've been sleeping in quite a bit. I think my mind is tricked. I keep reading everyone else's posts about how it's not that hot everywhere else, so my mind seems to think that it must be the same way here. Well, it's not. It's still upper 90's here and pretty miserable to be outside midday. My mind needs to remember when it's ignoring the alarm in the morning that it may be Fall everywhere else, but it definately has not come to Houston yet.

On the bright side, I have gotten to see more of the trails just outside of downtown lately. I usually only run these in the winter when it's cool enough to run during lunch. Looks like we've got some changes coming to Eleanor Tinsely Park.

Newly paved paths, perhaps? I'm not sure how I feel about it. Right now, it sucks because I'm having to avoid the dust and workers and run around the construction. But I also think putting in new concrete will loose some of the parks personality. You could really see the wear and tear from all the years of runners, walkers, hikers, bikers and everyone else who's used these trails over the last who-knows-how-many years. It gave it its rustic charm that I love so much.

It's my new Lulu shirt again. I'm telling ya, I'm addicted!
But I'm sure I'll love the newly paved park, too. I'll miss the little quirks though.

Monday, September 26, 2011

ATP Weeks 10 & 11

Here I am again, behind as usual.

Week 10 went pretty well for me:

Monday: 4 Miles (The group took it easy after our 15 miler the Saturday before)
Tuesday: 6 Miles
Wednesday: GSTs 1200s (had the fastest girl pace me for the last sprint - kinda amazing)
Thursday: 5 Miles Off (dang work got in the way)
Friday: OFF (picked up my bike with CLIPS!)
Saturday: 10 Mile LSD
Sunday: 3 Miles Off (practiced with my clips)

Week 11 started off really bad with tons of stress at work and no time or energy for running.

Monday: SST 3 Storms at 5am cancelled our workout!
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: SST 3 + 14 Mile Bike
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: OFF 5 Miles
Saturday: 14 Mile LSD
Sunday: 5 miles 35 Mile Bike

Sunday's ride was really fun. It is my longest distance to date and I can definately tell my body isn't used to riding yet. Luckily, the route was mostly flat, but there were some pretty windy spots that made it very challenging.

I'm glad I got out there and did it. It was a great start to my Sunday and really makes me want to saddle up more often.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ATP Week 9

So the weather was fairly cool all week. But my motivation? Right out the window. Last weeks' workouts:

Monday: GST 800
Tuesday: 7 Miles
Wednesday: GST 800 (done by myself after work, FML)
Thursday: 5 Miles
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 15 Mile LSD
Sunday: 5 Miles

So I kind of accidentally took a rest week. I guess I needed it, not sure. Time just seemed to get away with me and I had trouble getting out there. Wednesday's workout was hard since it was a GST, but also because the smoke from the wildfires had started to invade Houston. I'm very sensitive to smoke, so the workout left me coughing all night hence my lack of running on Thursday. By Saturday, I really had no excuses for skipping my long run. And I'm glad I didn't. 15 miles was awesome! It was hilly (which hurt my not-trained-on-hills legs), but we kept a great pace and it wasn't miserably hot outside. A great run to motivate me for the week to come!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Do you ever get nervous before a training run???

I'm sitting here at work, watching the clock tick the minutes by until I can get to the park to tackle my missed run from this morning, and I've got butterflies in my stomach. Butterflies! It's only training - not racing, but how do I convince my tummy of that?

It seems if I don't do my run first thing in the morning, my stomach does this to me. It's like it's telling me I shouldn't do afternoon runs, only morning. I don't get like this before a yoga class or before a bike ride. Only running. How wierd.

Anyways, it's a beautiful 88 degrees and sunny here. I'm gonna get some fuel and head to the track (before my motivation fails). Happy running!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

ATP Week 8

Catching up!

I had a really good week last week when it came to my training! (Finally!) I even managed to get up super early on Tuesday and get in my 4 miles before my flight to Dallas (talk about a long day!)

Monday: GST 600
Tuesday: 4 Miles
Wednesday: GST 600 + 24 Mile Bike
Thursday: 7 Miles 5 Miles
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 9 Mile LSD
Sunday: 6 Miles

Not bad if I do say so myself. Thursday I decided I wanted to sleep in, but that left the only time to schedule my run was at 5pm - at 102 degrees. I did my best, but I had to call it quits at 5 miles. I took my shirt off I was so hot - guess there's a first time for everything! (Note to self: need to do more ab work!!!)

Saturday came and so did our holiday weekend to visit family. I got up before the sun to tackle my 9 miles solo and was surprised by 75 degree temps! I ran an awesome long run with 3 miles at marathon pace and felt like I could have kept going. 

Ai, short hair!

Speedy legs!

Here's hoping this weather continues!

ATP Week 7

(I know, I know, but better late than never right? Since I started documenting my training on here, I'd hate if I missed a week just because I'm lazy. So I'm going to post this a week late and then immediately catch up with the most recent week's training.)

First week of GSTs! (That exclamation point is there to show pure fear, not excitement)
Here's the low down:

Beginning of the General-Strengthening Period

Speed-Strength Circuit: Use the Special Warm-Up (SWU), and then perform the following exercises in order. Move quickly from exercise to exercise, but don't perform the exercises themselves overly quickly - in other words, don't sacrifice good form just to get them done in a hurry. The idea is to do each exercise methodically and efficiently - and then almost immediately start on the next exercise.
(1) Run 400 meters (or 1/4 mile) at what feels like 5-K race pace (on a scale from 1-10, your effort should feel like a "9" as you run)
(2) Complete 12 squat thrusts with jumps (burpees)
(3) Do 2 chin-ups
(4) Perform 30 ab crunches
(5) Do 12 push-ups
(6) Complete 24 body-weight squats (fast)
(7) Run 400 meters at 5-K intensity again
(8) Do 10 squat and dumbbell presses with 10-lb dumbbells
(9) Perform 30 low-back extensions
(10) Complete 8 feet-elevated push-ups
(11) Do 20 lunges with each leg
(12) Complete 20 bench dips
(13) Run 400 meters at 5-K intensity
(14) Repeat steps 2-13 one more time (for two circuits in all), and then cool down with 2 miles of light jogging

This workout is hella hard and completely exhausting. Each week, we'll be increasing the amount of exercises and the length of the sprints. I wanted to puke after each day's 3rd sprint.

Monday: GST 400
Tuesday: 4 Miles
Wednesday: GST 400
Thursday: 6 Miles
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 12 Mile LSD
Sunday: 4 Miles 25 Mile Bike with group to Katy

The GSTs really took it out of me. My body was sore and tired and I needed those extra rest days. By Sunday, I was feeling great and ready for the next week's training to start.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

3 Things Thursday

1. Have I mentioned how hard core this ATP training is? I guess I just thought they were kidding when they named it "advanced training program"! Between the early morning workouts and the strain this is putting on my body, I'm tired all the time. I guess I just need to learn to juggle everything, but for now, all I want to do is sleep.

2. I think I've found my new favorite breakfast love. Pumpkin bagel with honey almond cream cheese. It is literally the best thing I've had in a while and I think I might have one for breakfast every day for the rest of my life. Thank you, Einstein's Bagels.

3. I got race envy last week reading everyone's running and tri recaps that I started signing up for a few of my own. I'm not quite ready to commit to a tri, but I added two races to the line up and am still debating on another one. I can't wait for this weather to get cooler and to get back to racing!

ATP Week 6

I'm not sure how it happened, but I seem to have miscounted my ATP weeks. I'll blame it on the stress of life and my inability to count (wait, I'm an engineer?!). Anyways, last week was ATP Week 6 and the last week of our Prep routine. This week we started the hard core stuff, but I'll get to that later. Here's how last week went down:

Monday: PREP + 6 miles Slept in and did 4 miles on my own in the afternoon Texas heat
Tuesday: 4 Miles 12 Mile bike (Hubby upgraded to clips so we had to get some practice in)
Wednesday: PREP + 6 miles, 22 mile bike
Thursday: 5 Miles Too sore from Wednesday's workouts - rest
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 10 Mile long run
Sunday: 4 Miles 8 mile bike ride to and from Crossfit

So the week didn't go exactly as planned, but there were definately some quality workouts in there. That Crossfit workout was a little more hard core than I had planned on - especially since ATP started the GSTs the next day. What are GSTs you ask? I'll get into more of it when I recap this week but stands for "general strength training" aka "workout from hell". Our coach said she wanted to see at least 3 of us puke the first day, and I was definately almost one of them!

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ATP Week 4

Sorry I've been a little MIA on here. It's been a rough few weeks for me and I'm having trouble juggling it all. I promise I'll be back to my normal self eventually, just bear with me. I'd love to post more pictures, but it seems I've lost my camera. My car was broken into a week and a half ago and my gym bag was stolen. Luckily, I was working out at the time, so the thief didn't get my Garmin or favorite running shoes. But he did take off with my ipod, compression socks, awesome Lulu bag and a couple of other things that were irreplaceable. I keep telling everyone around me to please be careful what you leave in your car. Theft and break-ins are on the rise and I don't want anyone else to be a victim.

Now, on to a different note - last week's workouts:

Monday: PREP + 5 miles
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: PREP + 5 miles, 22 mile bike
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 10 miler
Sunday: 4 miles

What can I say? The week started bad, got better, then got lazy. Monday and Tuesday I was in a rut and just didn't make it out. This past weekend was Hubby's birthday and we rented a house on the beach. With all the hosting duties, I never found time to get in my runs. I'll definately have to plan better for weekends when I'm so busy like that, but thank goodness there aren't too many of those.

Here's hoping this week helps get me back on track. Happy Running!

Monday, August 1, 2011

ATP Week 3

Ah, another week to cross off the list for marathon training. I didn't pull the camera out any this week (I'm getting really bad about that), but it was another HOT one. We did get a little rain on Thursday - Saturday, but it did little to cool us off. Here's how the week ended up:

Monday: 6 Miles + Prep, started with a slow 3 mile loop, then picked it up for a 9:00min/mile paced loop
Tuesday: 4 Miles Cardio weights class, Test riding bikes
Wednesday: 6 Miles + Prep, 20 Mile Bike Ride
Thursday: 5 Miles
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 8 Miles
Sunday: 4 Miles 2 Miles

All in all, I'm pretty happy. I managed to get most of all my runs in and still pick up some extra curricular activities. I'm still excited about the new bike and am hoping to be able to squeeze in more than one ride this week.

On a completely different note, what the heck is up with Google lately? I can't comment on anyone's blogs under my account and it sucks. It's been going on for way too long and I'm getting pretty sick of it. So, don't think I'm not reading and enjoying your blogs because I am - I just can't comment about it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Toy!

Meet my new training buddy:

I'm thinking "Carla the Cannondale" - the name seems to ring well. What do you think?

Hubby got into road biking a few months ago and I just couldn't help but want to join him. I tried out the Specialized Dolce, Giant Avail and the Cannondale Synapse before deciding on this one. It's the Caad 10 5 and it's amazing. We picked her up Wednesday night and immediately joined a group for a 20 mile ride. My butt is a little sore, but I'm ready to ride her again. It's going to be tough fitting in rides with my marathon training, but I'll rise to the challenge. I figure I can manage to take her out 2-3 times a week.

I still need to get water cages for her and eventually I'll make the jump to clips, but there's time for all that. I think first order of business should be learning to fix a flat. I have a lot to learn, but I'm excited!

Friday, July 29, 2011

ATP - Week 2

(Sorry I'm a few days late on posting this)

Ha, I'm wearing my new shirt again. I just can't help it - it's so comfortable! (Don't worry, I washed it)

Week 2 of ATP Marathon training is finished - only 15 more weeks to go! I only managed to get 4 running days in instead of the scheduled 6. My body just needed a little more rest, so I let it.

It was definately a tough week.
Monday: 5 miles + PREP
Tuesday: Speed
Wednesday 5 miles + PREP
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 6 mile long run
Sunday: 4 mile recovery

An ice bath? Yes, please. My muscles hurt so good!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Terry Hershey

I had to be out on the west side of town the other afternoon and had my running stuff with me, so I thought it would be a great idea to try out a new running route.

ATP marathon training started last week, which had me running 6 days a week (holy cow!). Thursdays are easy runs, but they are the second longest of the week. I had 6 miles on the schedule so I figured I'd run 3 miles out then 3 back. The trail runs along the bayou underneath all of the roads so you never have to worry about traffic. I think the trail is around 16 miles total, but obviously I didn't see all of it.

It was a beautiful day. No clouds in the sky. Just 100 degrees and 100% humidity! I didn't really want to wait around for sunset with nothing to do, so I went ahead and started my run when I got there at 6:15pm. It was HOT!

I had to walk a few times to lower my heart rate back down, but managed to still make a pretty good time. I was definately worn out when it was over.

I went on a little shopping spree the day before and picked up this outfit from Lululemon. I'm more in love with their apparel every time I buy something. I only wish I could indulge in the entire line! This tank is amazing. I love the material and how it doesn't show sweat like some of my other tops. I'm debating getting it in another color.

Like my new BIC band? It's white and sparkley and I love it.

This ATP training is pretty tough and we just started week 2. We're building strength and trying to train our legs into running when tired. So for the first 3 weeks we are doing runs from 3 to 5 miles twice a week followed by lunges, squats, burpees, etc. After that, we'll start doing those exercises before the runs and then add in hills and sprints. I'm in for a tough 17 weeks!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm In!

Marathon #2 is officially on the books!

I couldn't wait to find out yesterday. As soon as my plane from Cozumel landed, I had my phone on and was searching through my emails before I even hit customs. I'm so excited, but mostly because I'm choosing not to run this race for me. I'm working on putting something together that will help someone important in my life. I'll let you know when I get all the details worked out. :) Right now, it's time for a run!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Checking In

Sorry it's been so long since my last post, but I promise I'm still around sweating it all out. It's definately full swing summer here in Houston and I'm finally starting to adjust to the heat and humidity again.

I've had to start adjusting my schedule so that I don't run during the hottest times of the day. (We don't want a repeat of National Running Day now do we?) Getting up early is a challenge for me, but I've been managing it more lately.

I'm trying to work at keeping a good base so that if I get into the Chevron Houston marathon this year, I'll be ready to start adding on the miles. I think I'm really ready for marathon #2 and hope it can be here on my turf. Please let me get in!

Don't let these pictures fool you. Sweat is dripping from every inch of my body. Gotta love the summers in Houston!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

SugarFree Finale

As many of you know, I just finished a 10-day sugar free challenge. Only natural sugar from fruits and other foods were allowed into my diet. This meant no artificial sweeteners, no alcohol, no nothing. I knew I'd had to give up coffee (since it's not worth drinking without sugar) so I weaned myself off of it before the challenge started. My only caffeine came in the form of unsweetened green tea. I started this journey to prove to myself that I didn't need these foods. I didn't do it for weight loss or for a cleanse, but just to see if I could do it.

How hard was it?
I'll be honest, when the challenge started June 1st, I'd only told one person. I think I was afraid I might fail and that's why I didn't want anyone to know. If I started cheating, who was gonna find out? The first couple of days were easy, except I did cheat once. The first day after work, I decided to run home instead of drive. I was ill prepared for the heat and started worrying about getting dehydrated, so I stopped off for a G2 gatorade. I was mad at myself for failing so early in the challenge, but I also did not want to faint. I didn't even finish half the bottle, but I thought about quitting the challenge since I'd already screwed up on the first day.

But why quit just because I made one mistake?
Instead, I started telling people around me so they could help keep me accountable. Sure, I wanted sugar and sweet stuff, but it wasn't a dire need. I managed to get through a full day birthday party with everyone drinking around me and me only consuming water. At least there wasn't birthday cake to torture me.

Was it hard?
I had to watch what I ate, but it wasn't really hard, it just required more work. I had to buy new bread, new peanut butter, etc because the brands I had contained some form of sugar. For breakfast, I ate more eggs instead of bagels or breakfast bars that are full of sugar and I found myself more full than eating the normal junk. My lunches and dinners did not change much, except I could no longer eat Subway - all of their breads contain sugar. I ate more salads (with oil and vinegar only) instead.

Did I experience withdrawls?
Yes, the headaches started Sunday night. I had a terrible one, but I didn't take anything for it. I assumed it was from the sugar (or lack of). For the next week, I still had headaches, but they would come and go, not lasting very long. When I had sugar cravings, I substituted them for other things, like pretzels or pickles (and no, my sodium intake did not increase from usual). When work stressed me out, I wanted to go home to a glass of wine but I just chose not to. Water, green tea and milk were my only liquids for the last 10 days.

What have I learned?
I learned that I can stick to a challenge. That even if something seems hard, if you really want it, it can be done. I never cheated again after that first day. Yes, I wanted cupcakes and wine and all the other things that I couldn't have, but I didn't need them. I learned that producers hide sugar in almost everything! I even found sugar in my soy sauce and in a few jars of my pickles.

How did I feel?
I noticed my energy levels rising. I was more productive at the office. I wanted to do more than just lay on the couch after work. I had more energy to work out. I stayed up later than usual. I slept sounder. I lost 3 pounds.

Am I going to keep going?
No. I know a sugar free life is attainable, but I've decided it's not for me. Yes, I want to continue to limit sugars in certain foods that don't need it. If it isn't sweet, there shouldn't be sweeteners in it. I also want to try to cut out fake sugars in general. No high fructose corn syrup or splenda or anything else. Just real sugar or maple syrup or honey, but all in moderation of course. I want to look into more natural ways to fuel my body for my workouts instead of relying on Gus or shotblocks. But I like sugar and I like sweets and there's no reason I can't indulge myself in a cupcake, cookie or frozen yogurt every once in a while.

Do I recommend you try it?
Yes. I love the way I feel right now and had no idea that it would have made such a difference. If you are interested, I would definately encourage you to try it.

So now that it's over, what am I doing on my first day off my challenge?
Going to a beer festival of course!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

National Running Day

I thought I had a brilliant idea today. It's National Running Day, so of course I had to get a great run in. Although I've run around work and around my house, I've never run from work to home or vice versus. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Houston and I thought today was the day to do it.

Wrong. Today was my first DNF. I've never quit a run before, but today was that day. As pretty as it was outside, it was also 97 degrees and I haven't run in anything hotter than high 80s this year. I also forgot my water bottle in the office and chose not to go back and get it. Bad decision. The route home is in full sun with very little shade. I started off with a great pace and lots of energy. That quickly faded when I got out of downtown and a mile and a half into the run. I was thirsty and my blood sugar was dropping and it was HOT. Two miles in I stopped at a convenient store for a gatorade to quench my thirst. Sugar Free Challenge Fail.

The G2 helped a little, but I was so hot and tired and drained and I felt like I was going to pass out. Luckily for me, I have a friend that lives halfway between downtown and home. So I called her. But no answer. So I talked myself into continuing to run, hoping she'd call back. I passed her apartment and headed on home. Less than 2 miles left. But guess who comes running my direction? My friend! I told her I was exhausted and she promised to drive me home if I could make it the 3 blocks back to her apartment. Yay!

I don't know if I've ever been so glad to be done with a run before. I felt bad for not finishing what I started, but I also didn't want to pass out from the heat and not have anyone nearby. I really want to try again to run from work to home, but maybe I'll wait until fall (and remember my water bottle next time!). After a short cool off period at home and refueling, I grabbed my bike and headed to downtown to pick up my car. All in all it was a great workout day, but I set my goals a little too high and need a little more practice before I try it again.

Total for the day:
Weights - 60min
Run - 4 miles
Bike - 5.5 miles

June 1st

It's day one of the 10 day sugar-free challenge and I'm already worried that I won't make it! How terrible is that?! I had already weaned myself off of coffee (because honestly it's not worth drinking without sugar), so I started the day with a hot tea. But what do I eat for breakfast? My normal morning meal consists of bagels or muffins or FiberOne bars - all sugar laden and not a viable option for the next 10 days. Instead, I had two scrambled eggs. Now it's only 10:30am and I'm starving! Time to raid the kitchen to see if there's anything edible that doesn't have sugar in it to fuel me for my lunchtime workout. I've got my fingers crossed!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

3 Things Thursday

1. I must be crazy. I just signed up for a 10-day sugar free challenge! Oh, help my husband who will have to live with me during that time! See the side bar for more information about the challenge - and do it with me so I won't be miserable alone! Misery loves company :)

2. I didn't get my crossfit workout in yesterday. Turns out I had tons of errands to do before the weekend and it started raining. I did lift plenty of heavy boxes full of beer, so that should count as something!

3. My next half is finally on the calender - Rock N Roll San Antonio in November! It'll be an excellent girl's trip and I can't wait. (But, I definately need a few 13.1s before then!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Building Strength and Smelly Workouts

I'm starting a new workout regime. Well, not too new, but challenging myself to be stronger so that I can get FASTER. I took a look at all the races I've done since I started running (check out if you haven't already) and realized I haven't done a 5k in almost 2 years. Woa! Turns out, I really do like the longer distances better and have been racking up in the 10k and half marathon departments. So it's time for another 5k. The goal: Heights 5k Run, June 4th.

The plan: Back to boot camp at least 3x a week. I'm cheap and don't want to pay for a boot camp, so I'm starting my own. Monday night I went out to the park next to my house and did 30 minutes worth of circuits that we used to do in boot camp over the winter. I finished off with a one mile jog to cool down. I thought at the time that the workout was easy, but 2 days later I'm still feeling it!

Yesterday I hit up the BON running club for what I wanted to be an easy 2 loop run. At the end of the first loop though, my legs were screaming and I called it quits with 3 miles. I can't complain, but I really wanted to get in 6 miles. What I do want to complain about though? My Providence race shirt. It's a men's fit, but actually fits fairly well (not like my RnR Mardi Gras). However, it SMELLS. It smells like rotten, burning eggs. So much so that when I picked it up at the expo, I refused to try it on. I wouldn't even wear it after the race with my medal like I usually do. I came home from the trip and washed the shirt twice. I put it on yesterday after work and headed to BON and I could smell it on myself. Even my sweat after the run did not mask the stink of the shirt! I like the shirt and really want to wear it especially since I'm so proud of my performance during the race - but how do I get rid of the smell??

On today's plate: Crossfit. Oh, help me now.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Providence Half Marathon

This weekend was Half Marathon #8 that almost wasn't. My poor little doggy had back surgery the week before and our trip almost had to be cancelled. Luckily everything worked out in our favor and we still got to make the trip to Providence to visit friends and for me to run my first race after turning 29.  I really wanted to rock this race, but my workouts haven't been the greatest lately. I was starting to get back on track until the doggy got sick and I had to put running aside for several days to take care of him.

I decided on the trip up to Rhode Island that I would just run for the fun of it. Our friends live outside of the city in Warwick, so I hadn't seen that much of Providence before. It would be a great sightseeing race. I didn't really worry about carb loading or cutting back on drinking or anything else I would have normally done before a race. I even stayed up until midnight Saturday night!

Sunday morning, I woke before the alarm and started my routine. I even left the house earlier than planned and started the 15 minute trek to Providence. I found street parking downtown, finished my Click protein drink and ditched my sweats before walking to the start. It was cold and sunny, so I knew I'd warm up fast once the race started.

Since I just planned on running and not really racing, I lined up in the middle of the 9 minute group. For the first time in any race I've done, everyone lined up correctly! I never saw anyone walking except for on a few of the hills. It was so nice not to do any dodging! After the first mile, I looked down at my Garmin and noticed I'd completed it in 8:46 - really fast for the first mile. But I thought, I feel really good - why not run how I feel and just ignore the Garmin? So I did. I didn't look at my watch again until mile 6, which was under 55 minutes.

I felt great! I just ran on feel and nothing else. I took one GU at mile 7 and a Powerbar Gel (yuck!) at mile 11. The hills were not as challenging as I expected, just long. There were two that were really steep, but short. I never walked once during this race. I started with a water bottle in hand that I carried and sipped from until mile 8 when I threw it away. After that, I stole sips from the water stations, but refused to walk for them. I always walk through water stations, so this was new to me.

My cheerleaders (Hubby and our two friends) we right before the 12 mile mark, but weren't expecting me so early so the camera wasn't ready.

I started to get pretty fatigued after mile 11. I knew I could finish, but my legs were getting really tired. I flipped through songs on my Shuffle searching for something that would power me through. I finally gave up and settled on something Destiny's Child. I really need to work on my running playlists! Right before I turned the corner to see the finish line, "Taking Care of Business" came on - how appropriate.

The last .1 mile was uphill to the finish. I could hear the announcer telling the runners at the bottom of the hill that the clock just hit 1:56. What!? I charged up the hill and crossed the finish line - nothing but smiles on my face!

Final time: 1:56:34
Average Pace: 8:54

Me, Hubby and the Rhodies - it was their first spectating experience!

I might be a year older, but I just crushed my PR!

It almost feels like a dream, like it never happened, but then I look at the awesome medal and smile all over again!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's gettin' hot in here...

I think it was around 86 degrees when I started my run today. Luckily for me, I started an hour before sunset so it was getting cooler at least. Spring is almost over here in Houston, and it's time to start getting used to the heat again. I went out to run a few hills over the Shepard bridge and a couple of miles around the neighborhood. I still had a little left in the tank towards the end so I decided to add in a few sprints since I missed my interval training this week. I sprinted the last 3/4 of a mile home - sprint one block, jog the next. It worked really well! My last sprint was 7:30min/mile!

Gotta love this heat! I started dripping sweat right after this picture was taken!

Happy Running!

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Bridge!

Today I snuck out of work in the afternoon for a run. They've finally opened the new pedestrian bridge over Buffalo Bayou and I was dying to run across it!
Isn't it pretty?

I wish I could run in the afternoon everyday!

See our silver people statues? At night they light them up and they look pretty cool!

I managed a 3.3 mile run in 33 minutes with 3 hill repeats thrown in there. Yay for Fridays!

Good luck to everyone running Boston on Monday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yasso 800s

I've been doing pretty good over the past week at getting in my running and still getting in some other workouts. I tackled a 7 mile long run on Saturday that went fairly well. It was definitely a struggle, but I expected it and managed to finish. I even joined Hubby on a bike ride later that day. He stopped at the park to do some exercises, but I played on the monkey bars and swing set instead. (I fit in great with all the kids!)

Since my next half marathon is in less than 3 weeks, I feel like I really need to step up my running. So I'm going back to the days of marathon training and thinking of sprints and hills. Yesterday, I attempted my first set of Yasso 800s. I was at the gym with Hubby and we started with an elliptical warmup and then leg weights. He moved onto arms, but I decided to hit the treadmill.

Warmup: 800 meters x 10:00min/mile pace
1: 800m x 8:00m/m, 400m x 10:54m/m
2: 800m x 8:06m/m, 400m x 10:54m/m

3: 800m x 8:06m/m, 400m x 10:54m/m

4: 800m x 8:00m/m, 400m x 10:54m/m

5: 800m x 7:46m/m, 400m x 10:54m/m

Cool down: 800 meters x 10:00min/mile

Not bad for my first stab at it! I really impressed myself. At first, I thought I would just do as many as I could, but after the first one I realized I needed a real goal so I didn't talk myself out of quitting too early. I set my mind on 5 and just kept going until I got there. My stomach wasn't quite in it, otherwise I might have made it one more. Maybe next week, we'll see. I definitely really enjoyed it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Yay for Running!

Hi again! After my last craptastic race, I decided to take a little time off from running. Don't worry, I've been spinning, weight-lifting and yoga-ing in the place of running. As much as I love other activities, nothing really fills the void that running leaves. So last night since Hubby ditched me for our gym date, I laced up my running shoes.

They had been so unloved! It was a nice 78 degrees and sunny out, I just couldn't resist. I figured a nice stroll around my 4 mile loop would be a perfect starting point. I'll be honest - I was hoping that since I had been doing other activities, my body would just jump at the opportunity to be running and go really fast. That didn't happen. My whole body felt heavy and I had to concentrate on my form so my feet wouldn't keep kicking my ankles. Other than that, it was actually a great run. I powered through it even when I wanted to walk.

Can you tell I'm excited to have just finished 4.25 miles?

I guess I'm officially back in training for my next half marathon - Providence here I come!

By the way, all these talks in bloggyworld about fall races is really giving me an itchy finger! I want to sign up for so many!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Gusher Half Marathon

This past Saturday was the Gusher Half Marathon in Beaumont, TX. I signed up for this race last year sometime because I really wanted the medal. I put it on the calender and kinda just forgot about it.  After last weekend's insane mileage and my crazy workload at work, I hadn't even gotten in a recovery run or adequate rest time. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting much out of this race. I was just going to take it easy and run it.

I had planned on getting up early race morning and driving the 1+ hour to Beaumont on my own and just drive back when it was over. But Hubby offered to go with me Friday night, so we drove over in time for packet pickup and I settled in for a good night's rest. The hotel offered a shuttle to the start, so I'd planned to be up and ready by 6 am. Umm...never trust a hotel alarm clock. The nice shuttle driver called at 6am wondering where I was and woke me up. I was actually having a dream that it was 7:30am and I had missed the start of the race!
So I threw on my clothes as fast as possible and ran out the door. I realized that I left Marvin the Garmin at home on the charger, but there was no time to fret about it now. Nor time to debate about the skirt I bought yesterday to run in. I just put it on and ran. Hubby was going to have the luxury of going back to bed.
Turns out he couldn't go back to sleep, so he ventured out to catch me at the start. It was very nice of him to come out (and even take pictures!). The race was very small, but was pretty well organized. Last year was the first year they put it on and I heard that there were no mile markers and they ran out of water. They definitely fixed those kinks this year.
The race started on time and we were off. I saw 3 guys wearing the Marathon Maniacs shirts. Kinda makes me want to join the Half Fanatics, but I'm not sure. Today I was definitely not a fanatic. In fact, I wanted to drop down to the 5k. The only thing that kept me going was my pride and the medal. My muscles were still sore from last weekend and I could tell from the beginning it wasn't going to be a good run. My lungs have been tight since last weekend and I coughed a lot during the race. We weaved around the college and then out onto the closed off highway for about a 4 mile stretch. Highway? Boring. I did that last weekend! Haha. The turn around was in downtown Beaumont and they had us weaving through the streets to pick up extra miles. Downtown was the prettiest part of the race and the sun was starting to come out. But then we hit the highway again and it was boring all over again. I couldn't wait for the finish line. Since I didn't have a watch, I was totally running on feel and I knew I was going slow.

Hubby stuck around while I ran and waited for me to finish and caught this video. I'm definitely not sprinting to the end, but I'm still giving it everything I had. There just wasn't anything in the tank. At least I'm running and not walking, right? 

 This picture pretty much sums up how I felt for most of the race. Actually, to be honest, this picture is worse. My lungs tightened up almost completely when I finished and it took a bit to suck in a good breath. FML

But slow and steady wins the race, right?, but they do get an awesome medal!

Final time: 2:10:07
Good enough for 14th in my age group. Maybe I will try the race again next year - if I'd run 1:59 like I have 3x before, I'd have come in 4th!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Texas Independence Relay

As I've mentioned on here before, I got the wild and crazy idea last fall to put a team together to run the Texas Independence Relay. When we started organizing the team in October, we had 12 runners (the max and desired amount). Through the months until the actual race, we lost runners due to injury and other time commitments. 2 weeks before the race, we had 10 runners - still doable, but we were looking for more. By one week out, we were down to 9 and three days before, 8. 8 runners who did not train for a relay and only one of us had ever run more than a half marathon.
But we were determined. My team: Give Me Liberty or Race Me to Death! We raised money for Team Red, White and Blue - helping wounded veterans getting reintroduced into society (we are still raising money and if you feel like helping our cause click here.
This race starts in Gonzales, TX - home of the Battle of Gonzales that started the was for Texas' independence from Mexico. The fight started over a cannon that Mexico had given the people of Gonzales and now Mexico wanted it back. Gonzales refused and said "Come and Take It!"

We drove the 2 hours to Gonzales Friday night and slept on the floor of the gym at the local college. This relay gives teams the ability to have anywhere from 8 to 12 runners and their choice of legs to run. There are 40 legs total, so that meant each of us had to run 5 legs (no runner could run one more leg than another).
Saturday morning came bright and early. Start times were given to each team based on their average pace so that most of the teams would finish between 1 and 5 pm on Sunday. Our official start time was 7:08am. With the firing of the cannon, we were off.
The first 1.12 miles we ran as a team. It was a nice little warm up around Gonzales. After that, my team split off and I kept running into the first leg. The run took me out of Gonzales and onto country roads towards the next town. 4.25 miles later, my team was there to greet me at the checkpoint and off the next runner went.
The beautiful county roads of Texas. It was really exciting waiting at the checkpoints for the runners to hand off. There were about 200 teams participating and most of them had themes and costumes. My team is already thinking of ideas for next year.
C about to overtake another runner. It was pretty fun in the beginning counting all the runners you would pass, but then the faster teams started to catch up and all we did was get passed!
My van had the second leg of the night. We started running around 1:30am in Wallis, TX and got to run the tema all the way into Houston and watch the sun come up. Running at night was so cool. There were other runners arond you for the most part, but it felt like just you and the stars.
Once we made it into Houston, we had some of our friends (some of them runners that could not be on the team this year) meet us at Memorial Park at one of the hand offs.
This was supposed to be my last leg of the day. D handing off to me in Memorial Park for the "Captain's Leg". I run pieces of this route all the time since I live closeby. The leg was 5.5 miles and was taking me into downtown along the bayou. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for running, but I was a little spent from having already run 4 legs.
Off I go. You can't tell here, but the course once I got to the bayou was lined with little Texas flags marking the way. It was a sight to see and helped push me a little. I ran past a guy walking to take his jacket off and he commented on my race bib. I stopped and walked with him and explained the race. He and his friends had wanted to do it, but never got around to signing up. I told him I was hurting a little and that this was my last leg and he offered to run me into downtown. What a nice guy! Turns out he was in the middle of a 20 mile training run for Boston! I stayed with him for about 2.5 miles, but he was trying to keep a 9:30 pace and my body just couldn't do it with the hilly course so I let him pull ahead.
I finally made it into downtown with only a couple walk breaks and handed off to H. Like the baton? It's a slap bracelet!
We had some time to kill, so silly pictures were definately called for. We were about 28 hours in at this point!
We did lots of stretching and relaxing between runners. And The Stick definately came in handy - there were even fights over who would get it next.
It was a long weekend and we were all tired and exhausted, but we did our best to encourage each teammate along the way. We always stopped and offered water and cheered a lot. D got the priveledge of the last leg and C and I were there to run him in the last 150 yards.
We've finished! Actually, we are on our way to the finish line. Just like we started, we finished together. This time we walked it though. It was 0.38 miles from the checkpoint to the monument and we relished every second of it.
204 miles, 8 runners, 32 hours 42 minutes and 10 seconds. We were rock stars!
The race ended at the San Jacinto Monument on the east side of Houston.  After 5 months of fighting Mexico while Davy Crockett was making his last stand at the Alamo, Sam Houston was signing the Declaration of Independence at Washington on the Brazos (where the monument sits). Texas was free from Mexico and was now it's own country.

This was the 4th running of this relay and is always held on the weekend Texas celebrates it's independence day (yes, we still celebrate even though we are part of the US now). Our medals are mini replicas of the monument (it will soon be a little statue for my desk). My team was awesome and everyone ran great times (much better than we predicted)! There were PRs all around - I even unofficially broke my 10K PR from the weekend before! We will definately be back next year - with 12 runners and awesome costumes!

My total mileage for the weekend? 26.2 miles. But that definately hurt much worse than an actual marathon!