Monday, September 29, 2014

Run 2014: Fort4Fitness Half Marathon Recap

Well, we ran the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon on Saturday and it went fantastic!!! I was really, really pleased with how I did and my time was better than I expected. My over all time was 2:03:46 which averages out to be a 9:27 minute mile! I have never, ever run that fast for that long. My long runs are usually around a 10 minute mile and that's how I have been training for the last few months so this is huge. I guess the track repeats and tempo runs really did pay off. It's been two days and I still feel giddy everytime I think about my PR for this half marathon. I'm already looking forward to pushing my training next fall again and seeing what I can do next year.

Pre race selfie.

In general though the race went really well. My pace was challenging but wasn't unmanageable by any stretch of imagination. My pace wasn't as steady as I might have liked and it certainly wasn't negative splits. I started out a little faster than I intended but that's normal for a race. It's really easy to get swept along by the crowd and adrenaline. My second mile was a 8:51 and was my fastest. From there each of my miles gradually slowed by 3-5 seconds and by the 12th mile were down to 9:49. But I picked up the pace the last mile (which was a gradual uphill slope the entire way) and finished with a 9:33. I'm mostly just proud of my ability to maintain a strong pace even though I started out much faster than I meant to. It would have been so easy to burn myself out at the beginning and I wouldn't have been able to rally back.

Justin's view from corral B. I was further back in E.

I was pleased with my decision to wear my running pack. I was able to cruise through the water stations and not get hung up by the other runners. I did snag a gatorade at the aid station on mile 7 and take a couple of sips. I then spent the next two miles chugging water and trying to get the flavor out of my mouth. Ick. The sport beans that I carried worked well for me which is what I expected. I had fifteen beans and I ate them in fives. So I ate them at the end of miles 3, 7, & 11. That seemed to be a good balance and I had plenty of energy to sprint to the finish.

Me after the race and I was very, very sweaty.

I was a little less pleased with my clothing choices. Saturday morning I ended up settling on shorts, a tank top, and my arm warmers. I was definitely cold before the start but that didn't last long. By the end of the first mile I had stripped off my arm warmers and was carrying them. About a half mile later I was ready to take my shirt off. I made it a little further but at the end of mile three I hopped up on the sidwalk, stripped off my pack and shirt, shoved the shirt and arm warmers inside, flung the pack back on and got back on my way. I just couldn't stand being that hot even though it was about 56F outside. I was sweltering. So now I know that even if it is only 53 at the start I should go ahead and skip the shirt. (Note: I did not see a single other person, man or woman, going shirtless. But Justin said he saw several of both genders up with the fasties where he was. I did however see many, many people running in long sleeves, capris, tights, or some combination of the two. People are bat-shit crazy.)

My legs did very well during this race. I wore my ankle brace of course and that seemed to go fine. I didn't have any major complaints during this run. I know I had some aching in my right ankle at a few points. And I also got a couple of mild blisters. But I was really pleased with how I felt and the minimal amounts of aches and pains that I've had since then. I wore my calf compression sleeves all day Saturday after the race and those seemed to really help.

Justin is mostly dry courtesy of his long wait for me to finish.

And Justin's race? It went fantastic. He blew his previous time of 1:56:23 out of the water and set a new PR of 1:44:37. That averages out to exactly an 8 minute mile but his fastest, and last, mile was a 7:35. He finished up in 286th place out of the 2403 finishers of the race. And those last 3 miles? Yeah, he passed 162 people! Let's just say that Justin's a badass!

So by all accounts, it was a pretty darn good race for the both of us.

After race selfie. Feeling satisfied and very proud.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Run 2014: Pre Half Brain Dump

Well you guys, this is it. 21 hours until I'll be standing at the starting line for the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon. Am I nervous? A little which is silly. Three of my last four long runs were longer than a half marathon. And the more I think about that the less nervous I get. I know how I'm feeling, I know how my training has gone. and I know that I can do this run easily. What I'm most concerned about is what on earth am I going to wear?!?!

I have a pretty basic system set up for when I run. If it's 60F or warmer then I wear shorts and a running bra. If it's under 60F then I wear more clothing. But tomorrow's weather is going to be all kinds of screwed up. It's predicted to be 53 at 8am when I'll be queing up and 66 by the time I'm done with the race. What do I even do with that?! Wear a tank top and be cold at the beginning and hot at the end? Wear just a bra and freeze before the start? Wear a bra and my arm warmers? I did that the other week and let me tell you it is not the sexiest look ever. The rest of my outfit is easy; my new balance minimus trail 10s and my favourite shorts from god knows where. Whatever I end up deciding I'll be sure to get photos of it. It's bound to be good.

I'm planning on carrying my running pack and carrying sport beans for the race. I've been training with my pack for the past month or so and I enjoy being self sufficient. I also wore my pack during the previous half marathon and I liked being able to run through aid stations. Also, I don't like drinking out of cups while I run. It should be a win win situation.

I've been having a few physical aches that I'm hoping won't affect my race any. My left leg has been sore this week and I don't precisely know why. I am still running in my left ankle brace and during my last few runs my my left calf and shin have been aching. I have also felt a little bit in the ball of my left foot at the beginning of runs but that has always settled in and gone away. My left calf has also been sore when not running and I have had some tenderness along the inside of my shin bone. I've been wearing my calf sleeves on a regular basis and that seems to be helping. I don't intend to wear them during the race however. I haven't enjoyed running in them any of the times that I have tried it.  

I've also been thinking about my goal for this race and I feel like I have a few. One: Finish the half marathon. Period. That's it. Two: Match my previous time of 2:10:27. That is a perfectly lovely time and should be quite doable. I've been consistently running a 10 minute mile for the majority of this training cycle. And three: If the stars align and I feel amazing, fantastic, stupendous! I'd love to get this thing done in 2 hours. That's what I was originally training for but like I said before I know how my runs have gone and that would be a huge stretch. That would have to be close to a 9 minute mile and that's insane. I'll be very happy with ten minute miles.

I think that's all the important things! Justin is also running the half and looks prime to set a new PR and one of the sister-in-laws is running her first 10k tomorrow too. It should be a fun day. I'll be back next week with a race recap!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Today in Langedom

Today is the first day of fall!! Or first day of fall according to some people. There seems to be some confusion on the internet world as to whether today or tomorrow is the first day of fall. I've officially decided that it's today and I'm going to celebrate it as such! The weather is perfect for fall and I have apple cider in the fridge all ready for when Justin comes home later.

Today I'm washing out root beer bottles to store for next year. This weekend was my favourite weekend/festival of the whole year; Johnny Appleseed Festival! I don't have any photos because I'm always way too busy looking at things to take any so you'll have to just imagine it! There's just so much to look at. Craft booths with everything country and kitsch imaginable. Antique booths full of nicknacks and furniture; cast iron pans and vintage pyrex were particularly popular this year. Frontier town with tents full of animal skins, wooden guns and swords, and beaded jewelery. A Civil War encampment with cannons, men in uniforms, and women in hoop skirts. And food booths, food booths galore: kettle corn, chicken and dumplings, caramel apples, fresh pressed cider, turkey legs, pies, and of course root beer. The root beer is delicious and so fun. The first time you buy root beer it comes in a beautiful glass bottle. If you keep and wash your bottle then you can get it refilled for a dollar or two. Forever. This year Justin and I refilled our bottles that we bought six years ago. It's the best part of Johnny Appleseed Festival. 

Today I'm defrosting the small freezer. It was almost empty already and I want to get it cleaned out so that I can begin filling it back up with fall things. It's almost soup season and I want to get a big batch of chicken/turkey stock made up so that I have it on hand in the freezer. Stock is my favourite way to add more nutrients to any kind of soup. Split pea and lentil soups both taste extra delicious made with stock instead of plain water and I love knowing that the stock makes them even healthier. 

Today I'm making our favourite white chocolate chip scones. With our running schedule ramped up we're currently eating two snacks a day in addition to our normal three meals. One of those snacks is usually a muffin/scone with a thick slab of butter in the middle. Is it the healthiest snack ever? Maybe not. (Well, the butter is healthy but the sugar in the muffin is not so much.) But they give me energy to get through our late afternoon runs and they're super super yummy. If you haven't tried this recipe yet you need to. They're amazing.

Today I'm still thinking about all the delicious things that we ate this weekend: the root beer at Johnny Appleseed Festival, the first apple crisp of the season, and two new recipes. We made an Asian Chicken Cabbage Noodle recipe that was a little bland but was a good starting point. I need to tweak with the recipe a little to ramp up the flavor but it was really simple to throw together and not bad as it was. And we also made a tomato basil soup recipe that was amazing! I'm hoping to share that recipe with you later this week. 

Today I'm loving this recent post by my lovely friend Stacey. Stacey's an interior designer in Fort Wayne, IN and has the most impeccable taste! I love following her blog and seeing all the beautiful things that she picks out. She posted a collection of mid century modern looks inspired by a show called Blacklist and there are several items that I would love to have in my house!

Today I'm enjoying my new phone. I've been eagerly looking forward to the iPhone 6 coming out... so that I could buy an iPhone 5s for cheaper! Since that happened recently I ordered a 5s and it came this past week. It's not much different than my 4s but it's lovely to have a phone again. Those three days without one were definitely different! 

Today I'm looking forward to the Big Bang Theory Season 8 premiere. We watched Season 7 this weekend and are finally caught up! Season 8 premieres tonight and I'm assuming that it won't be available online for a while but I'm looking forward to getting to see a new episode every week as they come out!

Today I'm contemplating the best way to wash windows. We have seventeen windows with storm windows and they're all pretty filthy. Since they're predicting beautiful weather this week it seems like the perfect time to wash the exteriors of the windows. But the question is how? Since I have storms in addition to the sashes they're extra complicated. I'm predicting that this activity will take up a decent chunk of time. If you have any suggestions let me know in the comments. I'm open to any advice you might have!

And there you have it. A short list of things that I'm doing and thinking about today. Welcome to my brain! I hope that your week is off to a great start!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A week in my kitchen: 9/18/14

Joining up with Heather from Beauty That Moves to share photos from my kitchen this week.

A sampling of photos celebrating real foods and all the work, and fun, that happens in the kitchen everyday.

*  *  *  *  * 

  • Hot dog buns this week. They may not look as perfect as the ones from the store but they taste much, much better. I bought a bunch of bratwursts at the local meat market also. So we have quite the feast planned.
  • I bought and grated four and a half pounds of parmesan. That should last us quite a while but it's good to have the freezer stocked up. It's perfect for a quick mug of stracciatella soup or alfredo sauce.
  • As much as we try to take care of it, sometimes the cast iron just needs a little scrubbing and reseasoning! The longer we cook with it the less often I need to do that though. I hardly ever even get it wet anymore.
  • Butter and honey are the perfect start to every yeast dough! This recipe also had three cups of milk that got warmed up as well. I think that would be the perfect drink. A mug of warm cream with a teaspoon or so of honey mixed in, and just a hint of vanilla. Yum.
  • My south facing sink is beginning to get direct sun again. It won't be too long until I have to dig out my baseball cap to wash the lunch dishes :-)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Run 2014: Weeks 21 - 27

Week 21:
July 29
     2x800 @ ~2min per lap
July 31
     7.04 in 1:06:17, average 9:25
August 2
     13.13 in 2:12:45, average 10:07

Week 22:
August 5
     4x1200 @ ~2min per lap
August 7
     8.26 in 1:17:43, average 9:24
August 9
     10.02 in 1:39:43, average 9:57

Week 23:
August 12
     1000, 2000, 1000, 1000
August 14
     7.03 in 1:05:07, average 9:16

Week 24:
August 23
     10.28 in 1:40:58, average 9:50 

Week 25:
August 25
     10x400 @ 2min per lap
August 27
     7.02 in 1:11:34, average 10:11
August 29
     15.02 in 2:39:08, average 10:36

Week 26:
September 3
     17.08 in 3:25:57, average 12:03
     (Ran 15 walked 2.08. Justin knee problems)

Week 27:
September 9
     4x800 @ ~2min per lap
September 13
     15.16 in 2:48:09, average 11:06
     (Justin knee problems)

Overall Thoughts:
Things have been very hit and miss for us the past few weeks. Work has been insane for Justin and time has been really crunched for the last few weeks. It's been challenging to get the runs in and we've been extra tired. For the most part though, when we've been able to run things have gone pretty well. My ankle has been fine. I've done a few shorter runs without the brace and my ankle is usually really tired and a tiny bit tweaky. Because all our tempo and track runs are so long I don't feel like this is a good time to wean myself off of the brace. Running 5-7 miles braceless isn't exactly easing into things. So for now the brace remains a fixture.

I worked on breaking in a new pair of running shoes over the last few weeks and ran my long run in them this week. This pair is New Balance Minimus Trail 10v2 and I'm a fan. They have a much wider toe box and feel great. The pink Merrells in the photo above are getting quite worn and I will probably relegate them to normal shoes very shortly.

The track runs are still going great. I've consistently hit all of my desired paces either spot on or just a few seconds faster than assigned. This has been lovely and reassuring despite my long runs being slower than preferred. Tempo and long runs have both been alright. Sometimes they go great, sometimes they're hell. I'm not really sure what makes the difference.

September 13th was our first run this training cycle that I needed a shirt. It was actually cold enough that I wore shorts and my UnderArmour quarter zip which is insane. I love that thing and it's been a staple of my running wardrobe for the past few years. It's been wonderful to finally have fall weather here and I'll be curious to see what the cooler weather does for our runs.

Justin has been having some knee pain on our last two long runs. The track run in between didn't hurt him at all though. He's currently trying to pin point exactly where it hurts so that we can work on figuring out what's causing it. We'll have to see how that goes.

As for now, we're two weeks out from the Fort4Fitness half marathon so we're going to begin a little bit of a taper. It'll be interesting to see how that goes!

Fort4Fitness: 2 weeks
Huff: 14 weeks

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A week in my kitchen: 9/11/14

Joining up with Heather from Beauty That Moves to share photos from my kitchen this week.

A sampling of photos celebrating real foods and all the work, and fun, that happens in the kitchen everyday.

*  *  *  *  * 

  • A trip to the farmers market to stock up on peppers. Justin cut them all and we now have seven varieties of peppers pickling on our counter. Note that they're arranged from mildest to hottest in the second photo. 
  • I finished using up a batch of homemade vanilla so I drained two more. This time we made two varieties; bourban and vodka (regular). I've already made a decent dent in the regular vanilla. We go through it really quickly. I plan to start two more batches today. 
  •  We're getting lots of veggies from the farmer along with our milk, eggs, and meat ever week. It's always fun to see what comes! This week it was tomatoes, spaghetti squash, and watermelon.
  •  Justin discovered copycat Chipotle recipes online and, surprisingly, they're real food recipes that aren't full of junk. This week we made burrito bowls and they were delish. 
  • Not exactly from my kitchen but this past week I had the most amazing strawberry milkshake ever. If you find yourself in NW Michigan make sure you hit Country Dairy. It's about 30 miles north of Muskegon and they make all they're own milk, cheeses, and icecream in house. We stopped there twice last week and stocked up on cheeses and milkshakes on our drive home. The milkshakes didn't last long though ;-)