Having that “Aha Moment” in Your Training

Goofy photo, I know, but can't you hear him saying, "Aha!"?

Well, maybe using the phrase “aha moment” isn’t the best way to describe this post, but then again, it does describe things as a moment of clarity, or (for me) a glimpse of success.

I had two of those in my training so far this week. Monday was a gorgeous day, so I chose to run outside after work, rather than inside on the treadmill before work. Great decision! I wanted to get in four miles, so I ran a loop around where I work and where I used to live that I thought was approximately four miles. Well, about 45 minutes later I returned to my truck and saw I had run five miles. That’s right…I didn’t realize I was surpassing the four mile mark until I was coming around the circle and checked to see if I needed to push a little more before I hit four miles. When I saw I had, in fact, passed that number, I just kept running until I was back to the starting line. And I felt great!

It was that “aha moment” that I realized I was indeed improving my cardiovascular fitness and my stamina for running farther than just three miles at a time. It was a big moment for me and I was proud of myself for that run and wanted to savor every moment.

My splits for that run:
Mile 1: 8:53
Mile 2: 9:17
Mile 3: 9:13
Mile 4: 9:35
Mile 5: 8:59

Seriously!? No where close to the 10 minute mile mark I used to struggle to hold on to three years ago! Go me!!

Another fitness “aha moment” came Tuesday morning as I was practicing my “Yoga for the Warrior” with Bob Harper. There’s one very advanced move that he has his girls do called the “Bird of Paradise” in which you’ve wrapped your arms behind a leg like a pretzel, then stand on your hind leg and straighten the wrapped leg towards the sky.  When I first started this DVD, I struggled just to stand on the hind leg bent over. But Tuesday I decided to push myself because, after all, you can’t improve if you don’t step outside of your comfort zone, right?

My struggle was rewarded, as I was able to stand straight up and at least get my lower leg to a 90-degree position. No, it wasn’t perfectly straight up and down like the models in the video, but it was a step towards that and towards my strength for yoga.

I have to say, after Tuesday I’m really starting to enjoy yoga! I’m looking for more DVDs that I can purchase, but I don’t want to purchase any that might not work for long. Does anyone have any suggestions for yoga for runners and for stretching and toning?

I can’t wait to see what my next moment of accomplishment in my training will be…hopefully after I complete my 8 mile long run this weekend! We’re now two months away from the half marathon!

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This Week’s Workouts (2/19 – 2/25)

This past week was an odd one as far as scheduling my workouts. I had an agility trial over the weekend, so I couldn’t run my seven miles on Saturday as originally planned. So I took to my weather app on my iPhone and saw that Thursday was supposed to be in the lower 60s and perfect for an after-work long run. With this in mind, I ran on the treadmill Monday morning, followed by an elliptical workout Tuesday morning, and more yoga than normal the rest of the week to allow for rested legs for my longest run, to date.

Monday, Feb. 20: 4.05 miles on the treadmill for a strong run to start off the week. This was followed by a light leg workout after work and a long walk with the dogs.

Tuesday, Feb. 21: On the elliptical for 51 minutes, I did 4.45 miles, which was a nice change of pace from the wear and tear I get on the treadmill. The dogs got a bit longer walk later that night after I did an upper body workout at the gym.

Wednesday, Feb. 22: Did my one-hour Yoga for the Warrior DVD with Bob Harper. I feel like I’m actually starting to get the hang of all the poses and am getting better at the more advanced moves–yay!

Thursday, Feb. 23: Long run! Unfortunately I was only able to get in about 4.8 miles outside because of the storms coming in faster, so I moved into the gym and finished my 7-miler on the treadmill for 2.3 miles in 21.56 (I pushed it because I was so frustrated with Mother Nature).

Friday, Feb. 24: Took the day off, except for walking the dogs on my lunch break–quads felt a little rubbery, which was different for me.

Saturday, Feb. 25 – Sunday, Feb. 26: “Off days” as far as schedule workouts, but I was still moving and grooving with the agility trial and running two dogs–lots of sprinting, stopping, turning, etc. Even though the runs are only like a minute or so long (sometimes less, sometimes more), you can come out of there breathing hard! (Watch this video to see how much I’m moving, directing, etc., all within 40 seconds or so.)

Totals for this week:
Run – 15.6 miles
Walk –  7.99 miles

So this week I’m hoping for more structure again. I took the morning off from the beating of the dreadmill because it’s in the upper 50s and sunny today–perfect for a four mile run after work! Over the weekend I was concerned I might have some minor shin splints, but I think it was just my legs being tired from standing/walking on concrete from the weekend and they were still recovering from the long run. I’m scheduled to do 8 this weekend, so I’m crossing my fingers for some nice weather Saturday and some solid workouts throughout the week.

End of Week 4 for the Half: 7 Miles Done!

Sure the clouds look ominous, but maybe I can squeeze in 7 miles...right?? Wrong.

This week’s training for the half marathon was pretty wonky considering my weekend schedule. Normally I’d do my runs Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, with yoga DVDs Tuesday and Friday, then my long run on Saturday. However, I have an agility trial in Ohio this weekend and I wouldn’t have had the time, nor the ability, to squeeze in a seven mile run. So, I had to improvise and decide whether to run Thursday evening after work or Friday morning before work. When I saw the extended forecast for Thursday, and how it was supposed to be 67 degrees, I jumped at the chance for a gorgeous after work run! (So I ran four miles Monday morning, did the elliptical Tuesday morning, hard yoga DVD Wednesday morning, and easy yoga DVD Thursday morning.)

Little did I know that as it got closer to 5 pm Thursday as my excitement (yes, excitement) for seven miles grew, storm chances were growing as well. The projected time for the storms to arrive was around 6:30, so I figured I had a good window with my 9:30/10 minute average mile time.

That was until about the 3 mile mark, when we started seeing lightning in the distance. Still a couple of miles away from where someone could pick us up, Melanie called a friend to pick us up closer to where we were when the big rain drops started to fall. I still wanted to push to try to hit 7, but Mother Nature was not into playing along. Finally at the 4.8 mile mark on my Garmin, our friend drove by and we piled into the Jeep, headed back to the gym where we had parked. I immediately hopped out of the car and ran into the gym, determined to finish my 7 mile run on the treadmill, and I pushed it for 2.3 miles for a total of 7.1 (to go along with my 6.1 mile run Saturday…might as well since a half is 13.1 miles, right?).

Here’s the rundown of my run:
My (outdoors) splits:
Miles 1 & 2: 19:17 (avg. 9:40 per mile)
Mile 3: 9:05
Mile 4 (plus 0.8 mi nubbin): 17:29 (avg. 9:41 per mile)
Outdoor Total: 45:52 for 4.8 miles
My indoor split:
2.3 miles: 21:56 (avg. 9:32 per mile)
7.1 Mile Total:  67:48

Overall, I felt great! My hip started to bother me around six miles again, but I pushed through. I put the incline for the treadmill at 1.5 and just pushed through until the end. I wanted to be able to say I ran 7 miles, and I did it!

This morning my quads feel tired, but my hip isn’t too bad (a long stretching session, followed by some painful foam rolling helped, I hope). I’m going to force myself not to go to the gym after work, even though I’d mostly work my upper body and core, but I don’t know if I can take it too easy (won’t do much but sprints this weekend while running agility).

Happy running!!

Going Left at the Fork in the Road

Ever since I was in grade school I wanted to be a journalist, and as I grew up I focused on equine journalism because it combined my love of horses and writing. So I took that dream to the perfect school, for me, and graduated cum laude with aspirations of covering some of the largest horse events in the country and seeing my name on glossy magazine pages.

I paid my dues with freelancing, interning at one of the premiere horse associations and publications, and then started on ground level at another top international horse association and its publication. Ready for a new step, and another area of the horse industry to dominate, I moved East five years ago for a horse health publication that was another world than I was used to. Instead of writing a lot, I did more on the back-end–illustrating the magazine with photos, curating newsletters, and cutting my teeth on social media. It wasn’t the direction I saw myself going, but I was still learning and my name was still printed on a glossy magazine page.

Just like where I was exactly five years ago, desperate for a change and a step in a new direction, I’m back there again. Being a righty (right-handed person), when it comes to a fork in the road, I typically go to the right–it just comes natural. So when I was presented with two options (hence, a fork in the road), I wavered between two different directions that, quite frankly, the girl I was seven years ago would never have thought I’d have to go. After all, the choices you make at 20 years is the choice you stick with for the next 20 years, right? Wrong. Circumstances and life can change, and that’s what happened to me.

Unfortunately the job market isn’t what it was five years ago, so when it’s time for a change, you can’t expect to have a plethora of options at your beck and call. I was lucky enough, though, to be part of a company that set its sights on the future of publishing and what it needs to do to regrow from the economic downfall. With eyes forward in the company, two positions were created to help with a new digital media group and I was given the options for my new path. Would I be back to covering prestigious equine events? Far from it. Would I be back to at least writing? Only if I’m freelancing. Instead, I turned left and chose a path that some may not have seen me do–working on the back-end of web sites as a web producer (a glossy computer screen, rather than a glossy print page).

Am I nervous about my decision? Heck yeah, I am! This is virgin territory for me and I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% positive that I made the right decision, but I know that a decision and a change had to be made, and it had to be made rather quickly. I am excited, though, for the opportunity to learn many new skills and see if my passion can be ignited again, like it was seven years ago. Everyone needs a new start at different times in their lives, and this is my latest re-start.

Meanwhile, on a fitness side of things–all the stress of “the decision” has killed my healthy eating, cumulating with today’s Mardi Gras celebration at work. I’m hoping I can calm down the nerves and get back on track, but I’m worried that the transition phase at work will only increase my stress and nerves…not what I need right now. Any tips to manage work stress, eating, and training?

This Week’s Workouts (2/13 – 2/19)

Week 3 of my half marathon training ended on a high note Saturday with my longest run, to date, of 6 miles through the rolling countryside of Central Kentucky. I ended the week feeling stronger in my running, which is great! I felt great after my run and after a little foam rolling and stretching, my hip didn’t hurt and on Sunday I felt almost like I could run some more (but I fought the temptation and actually had a rest day–yes, me!).

Remember that I walk the dogs just about everyday on my lunch hour, plus I try to walk them when I get home from work/gym if the weather is decent, which it has been lately!

So, here were my workouts for the past week:

Monday, Feb. 13: This was an odd treadmill run because I was having a little bit of stomach problems (ugh) and then half-way thru my run the power went out in the gym, so I am not sure exactly how long I ran, so I just pushed for 4.25 miles that I knew for sure I did (in 41 minutes). That evening I walked the dogs 1.46 miles (on top of the .74 mile walk at lunch).

Tuesday, Feb. 14: Performed Work #2 on Jillian Michael’s “Yoga Meltdown” before work, then did 2.3 miles on the elliptical after work to burn off some of the Valentine’s Day chocolate I had consumed during work.

Wednesday, Feb. 15: Four mile run: 5.8, 6.0, 6.2 (2.0), 6.4 (at 2.0) on the treadmill.

Thursday, Feb. 16: Three mile run on the treadmill at 6.2 mph, 1.5 incline, plus a one mile walk at 2.0.

Friday, Feb 17: Did hour-long yoga workout with Bob Harper on his “Yoga for the Warrior” DVD before work. After work, the girls and I walked the loop around the park for their conditioning program.

Saturday, Feb. 18: Ran 6.12 miles in 60 minutes 1 second and felt great–the course was hilly, but not unmanageable. We did walk some, but only for a few feet. Came home to my foam roller for about 10 minutes and a nice long stretch.

Totals for this week:
   Run -20.3 miles
   Walk -11.34 miles

End of Week 3 for the Half

After yesterday I finally feel like I really am in training for a half marathon! I ran my long run with a friend who had trained for the same half marathon I’ll be running in last year, and we ran six miles. Before then, the longest I had ever run was five miles, so I was pumped for the six miles and the route I was told would be hilly, but fun.

One of the perks of living in Central Kentucky is the scenery. I hear a lot about the bicyclists enjoying the scenery on their rides, but you never really hear from the runners. Let me tell you, those six miles seemed to go by rather quickly (well, minus the hills) when you get to run by royal Thoroughbred farms like Darley and Mill Ridge. The gorgeous weather didn’t hurt, either. (Note to self: Learn how to dress for the weather! I wore my long “winter” running pants, a long-sleeved compression shirt, and a 3/4 zip fleece shirt. I was sweating by the end of the first mile, and after three miles I had wrapped my fleece around my waist.)

The run was great, and the fact that we were “running to food” (running to meet another friend at Panera Bread Co. for a late breakfast), it made it more enjoyable with a friend. We did walk every once in a while, which was what I needed–I need to learn to pace myself and having a partner say, “I need to walk” or “let’s push to the top of the hill, then we can walk” was exactly what I needed. I still finished the six miles under an hour, which is great for me!

Here are my splits. I forgot to hit “lap” on my Garmin a couple of times, so I had to average the two miles. I’m going to try to be better about my splits as I can.

My splits:
   Miles 1 & 2: 18:46 (avg. 9:23 per mile)
   Mile 3: 10:40 (very hilly part, walked a little)
   Miles 4 & 5: 19:47 (avg. 9:53 per mile)
   Mile 6: 9:55
   0.12 Mile nub: 8:17 pace (1.02 seconds)
   Total: 1:00:10

Not bad, huh? I’m pretty impressed with myself! Next week is seven miles, but I might have to change around my training schedule for week four because I have an agility trial in Ohio Saturday and Sunday and I won’t be able to run seven on Saturday. I’m stuck with either running my normal schedule on the treadmill (M-4, W-4, Th-3) and skip the long run, or run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before work, and try to fit in seven miles on Friday (possibly half on the treadmill and half around the track in my gym [16 laps=1 mile…kill me!]).

I’ll recap the rest of my week’s workouts a little later.

Recipe: Easy Sweet Potatoes

One of our favorite and easy-to-do sides Matt and I like to have at dinner are microwaveable sweet potatoes. It’s so easy to pick up a few individually wrapped sweet potatoes at the grocery, then we pop them in for about 10 minutes as we prepare dinner–boom, they’re done! (We also use the individually wrapped baked potatoes, but that can be another post.)

One night I experimented with the sweet potatoes. Usually I just add some generic I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (ICBINB) and a small sprinkle of brown sugar, but I wanted to try to cut back on the sugar and add some extra nutrients to this side. So I tried just using a small amount of the generic ICBINB, then sprinkled half a packet of Splenda, cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg. This simple combination just took our sweet potatoes to another level, and I actually cleaned off my potato skin!

Real easy steps:

After cooking the sweet potato the recommended amount of time, I opened it up and prepared to dress it with the generic I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, half a Splenda packet (sorry it's hidden by the potato), and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Ta da:

The finished product: A healthy, but delicious sweet potato perfect for any meal!

Looks delicious, and easy too, right? (I apologize for the graininess of my photos–I’ve been using my iPhone for these food posts, and they’re not turning out as nicely as I had hoped. )

Do you know why cinnamon is a great tool to have for healthy eating? According to some sites, a few of the benefits include: a great source of fiber, iron, manganese, and calcium; has the ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections; having 1/2 teaspoon a day can lower LDL cholesterol; and it can have a regulatory effect on blood sugar (perfect for those suffering from Type 2 diabetes).

So try to incorporate cinnamon more in your day: add it to your oatmeal, or even your cold cereal; sprinkle on apples or yogurt; the possibilities are endless!

What other simple recipes do you have that uses cinnamon?

My Healthy Valentine: Why I Love Running

I follow a great group of runners on Twitter by following the hashtag #runchat. If you’re a runner and you’re on Twitter, I totally recommend putting that in your search bar. They have hour-long chat sessions every other Sunday and the next one is Feb. 26.

One #runchat challenge this week is to post the Top Ten Reasons Why You Love Running. I still consider myself a newbie when it comes to running, but I have grown to love it. So, here are my reasons for my love of running:

  1. It gives me time just to myself. I love running outside on a gorgeous day by myself because it’s just me and my music and I decide where I go, how far I go, and how hard I run.
  2. I know every step I take running I become healthier for it.
  3. It’s unexpected of me. I used to hate running…no seriously, even when I played volleyball in high school, I’d figure out a way to shorten my route on our three-mile conditioning runs in the summer. I even threw shot put and discus on the track team because the throwers didn’t run. Now, as an adult, I love to run.
  4. It’s always a challenge. I like challenges, and running has become the ultimate challenge for me because I have had a lot to overcome–asthma, injuries, etc.
  5. I feel victorious. To go along with #4, I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I complete a run. When I run to the top of a long, tall hill, I actually applaud myself for making it up that hill and keep going. Little victories keep us going.
  6. The sense of excitement I feel preparing for a race. Now, so far I’ve only competed in 5Ks (my first half marathon is in April), but I love how I feel getting ready for a race and when you line up and wait for the shotgun to signal your start.
  7. It’s flexible. A running workout can last as long or as short as you want it, and you can just about do it anywhere. Some times I try to squeeze in a two mile run after work before I have to be elsewhere (agility classes, volleyball courts, etc.) and there’s nothing better than to push myself for two miles outside when I have a tight schedule–it’s relaxing to me!
  8. Gotta love the music. I love music, and this gives me a reason to put the earbuds in and just rock it out to my own collection without having to make others happy with what I’m listening to.
  9. The clothes. I’ve discovered a love of workout clothes thanks to running and the need to have lightweight, breathable, but fashionable clothing. Now if only I could find cute running shoes in my size and that fits my needs!
  10. I feel a little less guilty to have that handful of M&M’s in the office after a good four mile run before work. Though I’m still trying to figure out a balance eating plan that helps satisfy all the hunger pangs I tend have on my running days.

Do you love running? Or maybe there’s an activity you love. If so, please share your reasons for your love?

Wedding Planning: Start then Stop, Start then Stop

I had an incredibly relaxing weekend this past weekend. It was colder than what we’re used to (it’s been a rather mild winter this year so far, anyone else?), so we spent the majority of the weekend inside. I have to say it was pretty refreshing to not have to do much, which is very rare for me.

So a good part of Sunday, for me, was spent watching my “girly shows” that include “Say Yes to the Dress” and “My Fair Wedding.” I never watched these shows until I got engaged–true story! Now, I can sit and watch episode after episode. Anyone else feel the same? But I can’t help but wonder if I’ll continue to watch these types of shows after my wedding day? Who knows, but until then, I’ll accept this as one of my guilty pleasures.

So when you watch “My Fair Wedding,” you see David Tutera help overwhelmed brides and bringing them the wedding of their dreams. Of course, you know they go from DIY budgets of maybe $10,000 to a crazy budget of who knows how much (my guess–$100,000) of gifted dresses, catering, decorations, venues, etc. (Of course, as my dad always says, “I can’t wait to see the taxes they’ll have to pay on those “gifts.”)

It leaves me thinking about my own wedding planning. Now, granted, I haven’t done that much–which upsets me and I start to feel more overwhelmed than anyone will ever know. I think the reason why I haven’t really done much planning is because I don’t really know where to start. I know it’s important to get the vendors scheduled, and we’re slowly working on that (I do have a photographer now, remember?), but there has to be more, right?

I’m trying to get my bridesmaids organized, but it’s hard when my sister (matron-of-honor) has such a tough schedule working third-shift (9pm-6am) as a 911 dispatcher five nights a week and then works as a reserve K9 officer for the local police department one day a week. That leaves her with one day to relax and get things done that she can’t get done in the few hours before her shift throughout the week. So, it’s hard to try to organize a day (or weekend) to get everyone together to try on dresses and just hang out. So that worries/stresses me some already.

I’m trying to figure out the decor for the reception, but it’s been hard to know how much is enough or too much. I had thought I’d be able to purchase my linens from a friend’s daughter who was married last year, complete with the burlap runners I have been talking up for a while, but I found out last week she sold everything already. So, I’m out of luck with those and now I need to decide if I should purchase linens or rent them? Also, now I need to find bulk burlap and see if I can talk someone into helping me make table runners with it.

Then there’s the thought of…what else can I do with burlap? I found a tutorial for burlap flowers that I thought about using for my bouquet, but I’ve since changed my mind. Maybe make small burlap bags for the favors (homemade chocolate chip cookies from my mom and homemade brownies made by Matt’s mom–our two favorite treats)? Use burlap as “ribbons” to intertwine around for decoration? Anyone have any other ideas?

I had found some very cute, very me wrought iron candle votive holders with Texas stars at Tractor Supply Company before Christmas and I thought keeping an eye on them for after Christmas sales would work. Well, I was wrong. They were all gone when I went to try to purchase them. I had thought to use those as candle centerpieces, so now I’m back to square one with that as well.

So, it seems like right when I feel like we’re getting things rolling with the wedding planning, it stops. Then we start talking more about it…then it stops. It’s a frustrating and overwhelming for me, which doesn’t make it fun.

I wish I could afford a wedding planner…or that David Tutera would stray from his California weddings and come to Lexington to do mine. What do ya say, David??

This Week’s Workouts (2/5-2/11)

This week wrapped up Week #2 for my half marathon training, so I started to get more focused on my running than anything else, though I want to get back into doing more weight training again.

Here were my workouts from the past week:

Just a portion of my runs/walks from the week, via RunKeeper

Monday, Feb. 6: A solid 4 miles in 40 minutes on the treadmill in the morning. I then did some weights at the gym after work followed by a 2.1 mile walk with the dogs.

Tuesday, Feb. 7: Yoga morning–performed workout two on the Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown DVD. That’s a bit more intense than Workout One, and I pushed myself to do the harder movements. After work I did an intense weight training circuit for about 30 minutes that left me soaked in sweat and loving it! (I miss those intense workouts–need to get those in more.) Another long walk with the dogs (1.7 mies) after the gym.

Wednesday, Feb. 8: Ran 4 miles on the treadmill again in 39 minutes 30 seconds. I started off running 5.8 mph for the first mile, then 6.0 for the second, 6.2 the third, and 6.4 the fourth. Let me tell you, that fourth mile was rough to keep it going, but it was a great workout.

Thursday, Feb. 9: Ran 3.2 miles on the treadmill for 31 minutes and 50 seconds. Then I walked 1 mile on a 2.5 incline in 14 minutes 47 seconds.

Friday, Feb. 10: Performed Bob Harper’s Yoga for the Warrior workout–more yoga than Jillian’s was, which is a little harder for me. But it was a great workout. The dogs got a 1.36 mile walk when I got home from a stressful day at work.

Saturday, Feb. 11: LONG RUN! The weather was redic–12*, which felt like 2* with the hard wind gusts, so I headed to the gym to run my 5 miles (which ended up being 5.3 miles). Running on the treadmill for five miles isn’t new to me, that’s that farthest I’ve run on the treadmill, I just don’t want it to be something that happens very often. I felt good through the run until towards the end when my right hip started bothering me again. I hope this problem goes away…soon.

Totals: 16.5 miles running, 11.98 miles walking (1 on treadmill, rest with the dogs)

This week starts Week 3, which means I’ll run 6 miles on Saturday, and the weather looks good, so I’m hoping for a fun outdoor run for the farthest I’ve ever run!