Aug 26

Guess Who’s Back? Back Again?

IMG_2584.JPGF the Heat

F the Humidity

F VCD

Cause, I’m back!

Thank you Eminem for the wonderfully obscene “Without Me” lyrics that inspired the title to this blog post.

My last run outside before today was Saturday, August 15, and by the end of the 9.25 miles, I seriously thought I had some kind of terminal illness that was slowly eating away at my insides. There could be no other explanation for the slow pace, the overwhelming fatigue, and violent vomiting. It was bad. If I could have seen myself on that trail around mile 6, I probably would have looked white as a sheet. I say all this rather jokingly, but I went home and slept for two hours – two hours!! After a nine mile run. There had to be something wrong.

I took 4 days off completely after that run and swore I wasn’t going outside again for a long time. The following Thursday I got back on the Treadmill. Then again on Friday, Saturday and yesterday. And, this is what transpired:

Thursday – 5 miles in 41:32 (8:18)

Friday – 5 miles in 42:50 (8:34)

Saturday – 13.1 miles in 1:55:12 (8:48)

Tuesday – 6 miles in 50:02 (8:20)

So, of course, I had to re-think my terminal illness theory. There’s nothing wrong with me. I ran a half marathon comparable to some of my race times, it just happened to be inside.

I’ve been waiting for a cool day to go outside again and today was vastly better than the typical August Pittsburgh day. The humidity wasn’t at an “Amazon Basin” like percentage and the temp barely hit 70. LOVE!!!! So all morning I was excited to go run outside. I was scrutinizing what I ate knowing I was going to run at lunch time. I had yogurt. Why did I have a yogurt? I hardly EVER eat yogurt and today decided to have one. The day I’m going to run outside. I spent some time worrying about that. Worry about having enough carbs, but not too much.

Do you see the ridiculousness of this? I’m going to run 4 freaking miles. It’ll be over before my stomach can even figure out what’s happening – haha. So I stopped worrying about it. I just wanted my first run outside to be perfect, no excuses.

I ran. Outside. I felt good, but I didn’t want to look at my watch because what if I felt like I was going fast and it was really a 10:00 mile in disguise? I heard the first mile click over and I couldn’t resist, I had to look….. 8:22. Okay, not bad, but not fair either because that whole first mile was downhill. I kept going, talking to myself “it’s just like the treadmill, no harder, your legs are moving the same speed”. I thought about my upper body “keep everything above the waist relaxed, let the legs do the work, deep…even…breaths”. Listened to my music. Mile 2……. 8:38. I’m doing it, see, you aren’t crazy or sick.

I ran an 8:50 the third mile (slow incline, a hill and an a-hole in a yellow jeep almost running me over slowed me down) Yep, a guy turning right out of his company parking lot almost hit me. He ONLY looked left and then put his foot on the gas when he saw no cars were coming – never even looked right. I had to jump out of the way too quickly to even flip him the bird and he looked at me like I was at fault! Hey buddy, I’m pretty sure if you hit and kill me – it’s going to be your fault. I mean people walk all over this park at lunch time. Sheesh!

4th mile, back down to an 8:37 to finish the run. I was so happy I almost cried. All those struggles. Falling and getting back up, brushing myself off over and over and over. All of my despair, all of my worrying could simply be an issue with the weather. I can’t run in the heat and humidity.

I can’t run in the heat and humidity outside. Period. For now, I have to live by this one rule. Obviously, I can perform inside and when the conditions are good outside as well.

So bring on the fall, the 40 degree mornings, the tights, the gloves, the hats and yes, maybe even some snow. I’m ready to get moving again. I have 52 days until the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. Maybe a PR isn’t out of the question. :)

stop-chasing-wrong-things

 

 

Aug 20

Chelsea Collective Grand Opening: Women’s Fitness Apparel Done Right!

There are few things that can put the bounce back into my fitness routine like new FITNESS APPAREL! That’s why I was thrilled and honored to be included in the Chelsea Collective Grand Opening event this past Tuesday evening. I was also encouraged to bring a friend, and who better to bring than my fitness and shopping protege, my daughter, Maddie.

We arrived at the store, which is located at Ross Park Mall on the upper level next to Nordstrom, signed in, had our picture taken (left) and were off exploring the store. There were some brands I recognized immediately and LOVE as staples and classics like Nike, Under Armour and Calia, but also brands that were new to me like Spiritual Gangster, Zobha, Lorna Jane, Onzie and Splendid.

The first thing I’m going to do when I arrive at any fitness apparel store is scope out the running gear. There are two pieces of gear that have to be absolutely right in my mind to make every run great – a good pair of running shoes and a great sports bra that fits just right. CC has those two things nailed down! They have a huge selection of Nike running and fitness shoes as well as New Balance and Saucony shoes. I LOVE the wall of shoes!

Next up, the sports bra selection. I absolutely dare you to go into this store and not find a sports bra that fits you! When I say they have selection, I mean they have serious selection! Anything from high intensity serious bounce control bras to soft, low impact delicate beautiful sports bras. Honestly, no need to ever go anywhere else.

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As we continued to walk around, we had some refreshments (cucumber infused water) and snacks. The yogurt parfait bar was very colorful and delicious.

After checking out every last inch of the store, Madison started filling her hands, and half a fitting room with clothes she wanted to try on. I joined in and both of us had our hands full. Not only did I have some running gear, but some unique pieces for yoga as well. The fitting rooms were spacious, well lit and had a real boutique feel to them which I loved.

Our visit wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the CC Selfie Booth for a few quick snapshots!

CC provided us with some great free goodies for attending the event and we also filled a large shopping bag full of cool gear for yoga and running. This store will be on our list of regular stops from now on. LOVE the fact that they carry gear for my running obsession, my yoga practice as well as my “athleisure” needs. :)

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This party is going on ALL WEEKEND so be sure to stop by and check the store out for yourself.

Aug 19

Weekly Running Recap

I’m a few days late here with this but it was an incredible busy weekend and start to the week. Out Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and barely home during the day. Monday night Yoga and a Grand opening party last night (more on that tomorrow) All fun stuff though so I can’t complain.

Last week started out great. I was all pumped up to do my pace run on the treadmill and I actually hit the pace without much of a problem. This is my half marathon pace by the way. My 1/2 PR is 1:50 or 8:24 pace, so I am just trying to shave a few seconds off per mile to come in under 1:50. I’m not giving up that goal just yet, despite my outdoor “limitations”.

 Wednesday, It was such a nice day out so since I always have my running stuff in my car, I decided to get a few miles in at lunch time. I am going to call these reckless miles – LOL. I just felt good so ran as fast as I could, not looking at the watch, no holding back the first mile, etc. As you can see, that’s probably why I slowed down in the 2nd and 3rd miles. Although, I was coming back up the hill to my office. Either way and whatever the pace, it just felt really good to run in the sunshine.

Since I was feeling so good Tuesday and Wednesday, I decided to run outside again on Thursday morning. It was perfect! Finally, a nice cool morning (57 degrees) with lower than normal humidity. I am NOT a summer runner and I can’t tell you how anxious I am for the fall weather to arrive. The goal for this run was to NOT STOP. it’s become a bad habit of mine during my outside runs and I wanted to prove to myself that I just don’t have to do it. 5 perfectly executed miles at a 9:17 pace with no stops.

 Finally all good news right? UGH! Not quite. Saturday I was pretty excited to get out on the Butler Freeport Trail, site of the very half marathon I’m training for. It was later in the morning since we were out the evening before, about 9:00, but I wasn’t worried because most of the trail is shaded and just gorgeous. I was going to do 5 miles out (slight uphill) and 5 miles back (downhill) so I knew the first 5 miles were going to be slow. They were, slow, but steady for the most part. I started to have a slight upset stomach as I closed in on mile 5 and I was grateful to be turning around and heading back to the car. Then around mile 6, I was violently ill. I threw up – very disgusting, and had the chills. After a few minutes I did feel a little better and did a combination run/walk  back to my car. So, I wouldn’t call this a very good run. I wasn’t drinking night before and didn’t eat anything out of the ordinary so I’m not sure why I got so sick. I even had a water bottle with me and was drinking enough, so I thought. I did still enjoy the trail and look forward to going back and I did see a cute snake that I almost stepped on.

I get so upset with these lousy weekend runs outside. Most of them have been pretty crappy. But I reminded myself that two years ago when I was training for the Lehigh Valley Marathon, I was having a really hard time with training in the summer. I would go out for my 18 or 20 mile run and barely make 16 because of the heat. I remember writing a blog post called “Desperately Seeking Twenty”. The marathon turned out to be not so good too. A really hot September morning and I had a bad race. The silver lining here is that about 3 or 4 weeks later, the cooler weather arrived and I PRd my half marathon with a time of 1:50, as I mentioned above.

The point is, I’m not going to give up trying to kick ass at this race in October. I may be struggling a little bit now, but when the weather breaks, I may become a completely different runner, like I do every year. Hope is right around the corner.

Other happenings this weekend: We attended a wedding at Fox Chapel Golf Club with many of our friends to celebrate Maggie and Don. What a beautiful event! Congratulations!

Sunday, I took Cooper to watch a Triathlon in North Park. I had some friends who were doing it and I kinda wanted to see what it was all about in case I wanted to give it a try someday. I was pretty impressed and thought it was so exciting to watch, particularly the way this one was all set up. I could watch a little piece of everyone’s race. Anyway, I think it is something I would like to try if I could just learn to swim better and not be afraid to move over 2 MPH on my bike – LOL. Just kidding, but seriously, I don’t like to go too fast. For right now I’m sticking with running, but it may be something in my future. Congratulations to Kelly, Mike and Stacey on a great race!

 Have a great rest of the Week!

Aug 14

Recipe of the week – Grilled Veggie Pizza

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I don’t think I’ve met a pizza I didn’t love. I mean, I’ll even eat “bad” pizza and enjoy it. It’s my favorite food, behind almonds of course.

I’m not sure if I would call this a recipe as much as I would call it an idea. This is my “healthier”, more veggie-filled version of a pizza that’s so easy, looks pretty, and tastes delicious!

I make this often in the summer and if you’re entertaining, it looks pretty all sliced up and served on a large white plate as an appetizer.

What you will need: Whole what pita bread (4), marinara sauce or pizza sauce, olive oil and a variety of vegetables. I like to include, but you’re not limited to:

  • Bell Peppers (green, orange, yellow or red)
  • Zucchini
  • Red Onions
  • Mushrooms

Preheat your grill on medium heat, then Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees and brush olive oil on the pita bread (not too much). While the oven is heating, slice all the veggies into bite size pieces. Try to make them as uniform in size as possible so they cook evenly on the grill. Place all the veggies in a large zip lock bag and add either 1 tablespoon of olive oil with spices, or a salad dressing for some flavor. I love Annie’s Tuscany Italian Dressing. Shake the contents well until all vegetables are coated.

Place the vegetables in a basket designed for the grill. I got mine at Williams Sonoma last year, but this year’s version is comparable - buy here. Once the basket is placed on the grill, be sure to turn vegetables frequently to avoid burning and to be sure they cook evenly.

While the vegetables are cooking, keep an eye on them, place the prepared pita bread in the oven for a few minutes until the edges of the pita start to brown. Remove the pitas from the oven and spread a light coating of sauce over the tops of each.

Once the vegetables are cooked all the way through and are tender, top each pita with a generous portion of vegetables. You can leave it at that or spread mozzarella or Daiya cheese on top. I also like to top with a little oregano.

Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

Aug 10

Monday Motivation

Snoopy

Aug 09

Weekly Running Recap

Last Sunday I was on top of the world. I felt calm and in control. I had a great week running and I was at least a little consistent. I was so excited about my outside running but stuck with my plan to run inside on Tuesday. I still need to work on my speed and it comes easy inside.

So, Tuesday was a quick 4 miles @8:24.

 Wednesday, I got bold and since it was going to be a cool morning, decided to go out on the track for 400s. I had no expectations, just to push my pace a little bit which isn’t hard since I’ve been running so slowly outside. I was able to get down to about and under 8:30 on all laps with a recovery in between so I was happy with this. I did a total of 3 miles. (400s – 8:24, 8:32, 8:36, 8:30, 8:23, 8:23).

 I took it outside again Thursday morning. I have to take advantage of the cooler mornings. The plan was to just run easy, not worry about pace and breathe easily. My pace ended up a 9:18, which is yet, another improvement over last time.

IMG_2200.JPGFriday was a rest day. Then, Saturday happened. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my run. I met Jennie, one of the girls I met and ran with last week. I was planning on running 12 miles and I was pumped about it. I stepped outside and yes, it was much more humid than the previous week. I wasn’t going to let that dictate my run. I started out feeling pretty good and holding a modest 9:45 pace. The first three miles flew by and we stopped for water then set out for the second 3 mile loop. I was still feeling okay. Okay, not great. It was starting to get warmer and as we started into mile 7, I had a cold flash. It was hot, I was sweating, and all of a sudden, I was freezing, with the chills. I pulled out a 10:14 mile, my slowest and even had to stop to walk. I came back around and finished the rest of the 3 mile loop. At that point, I decided 9 miles was enough. Doing another 3 mile loop was not going to be good for me. Heat effects everyone differently and I just don’t do well with it. This is my third summer training in the heat and I have the same problem every summer.

IMG_2210.JPGAfter my run I went home and I was exhausted. I slept for an hour and a half and my muscles ached. You know what it sounds like to me? Mild dehydration. I threw my water bottle away at mile 20 during the marathon and I still haven’t bought one. I mean, I have about 15, but I only really like one kind and I don’t have it anymore. What a dummy. Mission: I will buy a water bottle this week! I have once again, underestimated how much I need to drink.
After yesterday, I decided to take off completely today. I took Cooper to north park for a walk and some time in the off leash dog park. It was such a great decision – look at their guys smile!

I think this week I’m going to do some more cross training and cut my running down to 3 days. That’s what I’m feeling. Have a great week!

Aug 04

This Runner’s Plate

Remember what I ate Wednesday? Well, it’s resurrected, sort of. I just couldn’t make it happen every Wednesday because my schedule is too unpredictable. Honestly, the day isn’t that important, but the reason I resurrected it is. I’ve gained weight. Okay, I know, I know, I’m not overweight by any means but I put on about 7-8 pounds and on a 5’2″ frame, it feels like a lot. I can feel it when I run. I am not obsessed with being skinny at all, but I do like to feel lean, lean and mean. Lately, I’ve been feeling slow and frumpy. With all the other running issues I have, my weight shouldn’t be one of them.

So, what do I do when I feel like I’m getting off course? I start tracking my calories, paying attention. And my biggest observation about where I’ve gone wrong isn’t that I’m eating bad food, it’s just that my eating is terribly erratic. I mean, all over the board and mostly due to a lack of planning, and sadly, my obsession with almonds. I’ll come back to the almond thing later. Some days I just eat anything I want an some days I barely eat. And occasionally when I get busy and stressed, I eat ONLY almonds. There’s that almond thing again. I have days when I eat NO carbs and days when I drink most of my meals. There’s just no balance. It’s confusing my body and making me feel sluggish.

My focus this week is feeding myself properly. It really just takes a few days for me to get back into the habit of planning my meals. This is what I cam up with and ate yesterday.

Breakfast was light and I got yelled at on my app for not eat at least 200 calories for breakfast. It satisfied me so why force it.

My morning snack was 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with fresh red raspberries. I ate dairy, yes, I told you I am really trying to eat a variety. We’ll see how the dairy thing works out. Lunch was light, a pouch of tuna, 8 crackers and steamed baby bok choy.

I had the cutest Persian cucumbers with hummus as an afternoon snack and I packed a 1/4 cup of almonds to munch on whenever. FYI, the 1/4 cup of almonds was about a billion less than I normally eat. I may have mentioned this before but if it was nutritionally sustainable to ONLY eat almonds, I would. They are hands down my favorite food. The ARE very good for you, but I DO NOT eat them in moderation. I crave them, wake up wanting them. Oh, and they absolute have to be Blue Diamond almonds. No substitutes.

For dinner, I wanted a bag of almonds, HAHA, just joking. (not really) but I ate a regular meal instead. 1 cup of prepared whole wheat angel hair pasta, marinara sauce and two Gardein meatless meatballs. I had some fresh baked wheat bread from Market District and couldn’t resist a piece. :)  .All that food totaled 1,283 calories which puts me over by 26 calories for the day. I am not worried about that because I can burn those off going up and down the stairs with laundry. However, that doesn’t leave me with a lot of options in case I get hungry before bed. I could do one of three things: 1) go to bed directly after dinner – LOL or 2) walk the dog to buy some back more calories 3) eat vegetables as a snack which can fill me up without packing more than 20 calories on.

I love the app I’m using to track my food because it tells me exactly what I did right or wrong on any given day. (MyNetDiary)

 Have any great breakfast, snack or any cool meal ideas? Please share. Have a great week. 

Aug 02

Weekly Running Re-Cap

Another week of half marathon training down. It’s funny, it doesn’t really “feel” like I’m training for everything. Just running miles and trying to feel good about them. I’m in the habit of posting my runs and the “cliff notes” version of my running journey on Instagram and let me tell you, what a great support some of you are out there. I love it and thank you!

After last Sunday’s run, remember the run where I had a breakdown? That run. Well, after last Sunday’s run, I decided I needed to get a grip and run inside a little. I have no fear, anxiety or breathing issues when I run inside, so that’s what I did to start Week 3 of training.

Monday is technically a rest day, but I’ve been doing hot yoga with Madison on Mondays. It’s a level one and two class, super challenging and very mind calming. I especially like this type of cross training because It forces me to slow down and focus on my breathing for a whole hour and 15 minutes. I also paid close attention to the concept of my Drishti Gaze, a gazing technique that deepens your awareness and focuses your mind. It can’t hurt right and it is very calming. The ONLY problem with yoga on Monday night is that I don’t get home until late and have to get up early to run on Tuesdays.

I had 5 miles to run on Tuesday and ran at mid-pace: 8:40. I didn’t have any breathing issues, but I felt so tired. I looked at my sleep history over the past 10 days and realized I hadn’t slept more than 6.5 hours once. No wonder I felt tired. At this point, I don’t even know what my sweet spot is when it comes to sleep, but after Tuesday’s run, I decided I would sleep in on Wednesday, work from home and run late in the day.

I did sleep in on Wednesday. As a matter of fact, I slept 9 hours!! unheard of for me. I guess I really needed it. I thought it would give me super power, strength and extra sharpness while I worked, but it didn’t. I really didn’t feel that much better. I think it has to become more out a routine. Anyway, I ran another 4 miles inside later in the day on Wednesday. Everything felt fine, but no super powers.

Thursday, it was back outside. New attitude though. I am no longer allowing myself to dread these runs and anticipate a problem. I’m more comfortable with the fact that I need to run slower right now. It’s a temporary thing, and it won’t last forever.

Friday was a rest day. I was tempted to run just a couple miles, but decided to save my energy for the weekend. I signed up to do the Steel City Road Runners group run on Saturday morning. I needed a change of pace, new routes and maybe some running companions. Great decision. I decided to start with the 10:00 minute pace group. This way, I was under no pressure at all to keep up. We ended up running closer to a 9:30 pace but it ended up being fine for me. I was so occupied talking (yes, I talked to people – lol) that I hardly thought about my breathing at all. Everything just came naturally and I really enjoyed myself. I went 6 with the group and decided to tack an additional 2 on by myself. Great run. And, made a couple of new running friends. :)

Today I was scheduled to do a half marathon pace run inside for 4 miles, but it was such a nice morning, not a bazillion degrees, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do another run outside. I ran the exact same route as the day before and ran 3 seconds faster per mile. Any improvement is a win for me at this point. Today I enjoyed the solitude – sometimes it’s nice. I wasn’t anywhere neat half marathon pace, but I don’t care. I just loved being outside and comfortably running.

I have a planned set of runs for this week, but I reserve the right to change it, modify it at any time. I have the power to set the course. I am going to start getting serious about working my core. I’ve been lax with that and I think it’ll help me get where I want to go. I found a 15 minute workout on Runner’s World that I can probably stick to. I mean, who can’t find 15 minutes??

I see so many inspirational quotes all week on social media. Yesterday, this one really struck a cord with me. This will be my story. :) Have a great week.

 

Jul 27

Monday Motivation

motivate

Jul 26

Running with Vocal Fold Motion Disorder

It’s been a couple of weeks since I got my diagnosis. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, it could have been much worse, so I’m trying to keep that in mind. I’m also still able to run regularly (good thing), and I have been. I’ve also attended a couple therapy sessions. I’ll discuss those first.

THERAPY FOR VOCAL FOLD MOTION DISORDER/VOCAL CORD DYSFUNCTION (VCD) – Respiratory Retraining

I went into the “lab” at the voice center and ran on the treadmill while the therapist gave me some direction. Imagine you’ve been doing something for so long without thinking about it then BAM! someone says you have to do it differently. Now imagine it’s something that you typically don’t even think about at all, something that just happens naturally, except the way you do it causes a physical problem that hurts your air intake. Boo, that’s me. I feel like if I try to explain it in detail, it’s going to be very confusing, but I can try to give you a quick run down. I start running, I reach a hard part in the run (i.e. it’s starts to get hot, I start to try to push the pace, I come to a hill) I get anxious and my breathing pattern changes. I stop breathing from the diaphragm and start doing this throat, jaw, upper respiratory breathing thing that tightens the muscles, and causes the vocal cords to remain closed during inhalation. There are other factors that might be causing the problem, but anxiety about running well, and performing at a certain level seem to be a significant factor, which makes me feel a little like I need to spend some time in a padded room.

Another tricky thing about this is that it pretty much only happens outside. I can run 1-2 minutes per mile faster indoors. Again, enforcing that this is some kind of severe mental block. I’m just at a loss for how to overcome it. I have breathing exercises to work on. I practice while I’m not running and I practice when I am. When I’m not running, I concentrate on the “sensation” that breathing from the diaphragm gives me. So, when I go run, I can remember the sensation and try to duplicate it.  This is all fine and good, but you know how strong the mind is.

Despite all this, I keep running. I run indoors, I run outdoors. I even did a race last week. I ran ridiculously slower than my average 5k pace and still won a first place age group medal, which left me completely baffled. I couldn’t even enjoy it – my pace was a 9:39. Nothing against anyone who runs a 5k at that pace, not at all. It’s just not whst I’m capable of doing so it’s frustrating. Madison, however, took third in her age group (15-19) and it was her very first 5k! I was so excited for her. She ran a 26:18 and it completely made up for the fact that I struggled. I’m so pumped that she has taken an interest in running.


I’m still sticking with my half marathon training plan and doing the best I can. Despite the issues, I’ve hit all my miles so far. The paces outside are very slow, but I’m doing my best to get them done. Today I ran 10 miles and I struggled from mile one on. Sometimes remembering all this breathing stuff, relaxation techniques and form adjustments makes my head explode. I see how much effort I’m putting in and the pace on the watch is not what I expect. It’s hard not to want to quit, luckily I truly love to run. Stacey ran 5 of the miles with me today and kept my brain occupied for a while which was fantastic, and the only reason I got through it.

One of my best running friends keeps telling me that I need to treat this like any other injury. I need to give my body time to heal and re-adjust. So, here I am being patient and working through this. I have the following races on the radar which will take me through fall:

August 8 – Brookine Breeze 5K

September 27 – Pittsburgh Great Race 10K

October 3 – Run Shadyside

October 17 – Buffalo Creek 1/2 Marathon

October 25 – EQT 10 Miler

It’s killing me not to be running a fall marathon this year, but I’m obviously in no shape mentally or physically to train for one. Hopefully by January I’ll be ready for another training cycle.

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