Saturday, December 31, 2011

Food Really Is Important...

... Ok, it's not like I didn't know that to begin with, but it's more of like I had a pretty nice reminder this morning.

Yesterday I was stupid enough not to take any food with me to work and I really didn't get anything to eat that night since it was a late shift.  I think I had like 1/2 a tv dinner and a 100 calorie bag of chocolate caramel snacks from Skinny Cow to be honest.

Well, this morning I got up and went for a run.  It wasn't long, just 3.5 miles, but I was not feeling good at all.  I took more breaks than usual and I was slower.  Yes, part of it was because I hadn't been running in a while since I had twisted my ankle, but I think another major cause was the fact I hadn't eaten and I was weak over all.

Luckily, nothing serious happened, but it was enough to remind me not to be that stupid again.  Even if I have to go through McDonalds or some other drive through, I need to eat something.  Even tonight, I'm working almost to midnight, I'm making sure to bring food with me.  Yes, it will probably be some sort of sandwich so not really dinner type food, but it will be something.

Happy New Years Eve everyone!  Have fun tonight, but be safe!

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year In Review: 2011

It's amazing that after tomorrow we'll be running into 2012 and leaving 2011 behind us.  I want to give 2011 a few minutes though because there really were a lot of things that happened this year, especially in my running.

My first half marathon was in 2010, but that was more like an experiment to see if I could do it.  My first half marathon after deciding this was something I wanted to stick to was 2011's Princess Half Marathon.  It was also when I was able to inspire one of my closest friends to join me in 2012's Princess Half Marathon.

2011 was also the year I completed the Coast to Coast challenge by runDisney.  If anything, Disneyland Half Marathon was an extra special race to me.  It marked my 1 year anniversary from my first Half Marathon (and 1 year in sticking with the sport).  It also marked my first return to California after moving to Florida a few months prior.  Plus, I got to come home with an extra medal...

I can say 2011 was the year of the gym for me.  I started running on treadmills (still not my favorite, but very doable now), and really working on weight machines as well as free weights.  I also did a lot more circuits than before to keep my fitness level up.  Running is great for cardio, but you need strength to.  As my physical therapist always liked to remind me... "If you can't do a lunge, then you can't do a half marathon".

I didn't improve in everything though.  My eating habits weren't always spectacular (sometimes the exact opposite) and thus my while I didn't gain weight, I also didn't lose any.  I've found a weight my body has apparently decided it likes, even if I don't.  That's why I've already started my New Year's Resolution of losing some weight and keeping it off 2 days early... as in today.

My roommate, Kristin, and me at graduation
Other big things that happened this year.  I graduated college with a BS in Zoology and a minor in Professional Writing for Business Communications.  I moved from California to Florida (a big move considering I went to college only about an hour away from where I grew up).  I found an internship and will be staying on after the internship ends, even if it is just part time.

2011 was a great year, there's no doubt about it.  I'm looking forward to 2012 considering I already have a few races planned out (maybe a personal best time at one of them???) and life just looks good in general at this point.  Yes, I know there's going to be ups and downs, but I'm ready to take them on... let's just see if 2012 is going to be better than 2011.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have A Merry Running Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas and is spending today with loved ones, just enjoying each other's company.

While I didn't get to run today, I did get some running presents.  It started with the runDisney technical shirt, but my parents also told me that as long as I run at least 10 miles a week, they would sponsor me for 2 running races, whether they be runDisney or not.  It's partially to make sure that I stay in shape, but I'm excited either way.  I really have become addicted to running and this is a great present for me!  So thank you Mom and Dad!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Resting Through The Holidays

I was looking forward to running right through Christmas and New Years since I'd be staying at a Walt Disney World resort, but unfortunately life didn't agree with me.  

Earlier this week I twisted my ankle.  Appearance-wise, the only issue is that I have a pretty bad scrape on my knee (my dad likened it to road rash that bikers get when they fall).  Physically, my ankle has been sore for the past few days.  It's been getting better everyday though.  I found that walking on it actually made it feel better for a while.  I didn't let it stop me from living life (heck I still wore boots with a pretty good heel on them), but it did stop me from running for the week.

Luckily, I was walking... A LOT.  That got me a boost for the Holiday Booty Buster Challenge.  In fact, with all the walking I was doing I actually had one of my best weeks when it comes to the amount of points I earned.  Today, I got down to the gym at the hotel and got on the bike for a while.  Ended up making my knee a bit sore (probably cause by the scrape and hitting it on my fall), but overall it felt good to sweat again.  I also got some weights in there so I'm almost back to my normal routine.

My Christmas present to myself will be a day another day off of running followed by maybe a 1 or 2 miler.  Something short just to start working on strengthening my ankle again.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Off The Sidewalk

When I lived in California, I loved running on some well established trails.  Most of the ones I ran on went right by the ocean, offering a pretty awesome run.  Moving to Florida, that's been one of the biggest differences for me.  There are some sidewalks where there are enough houses, businesses, or apartments, but they can sometimes be spotty.

My first experience running off the sidewalk was a few months ago and there were so many holes hidden in the grass that I didn't want to try again.  Well, today I took a different route and decided why not?  I had seen people running on the grass next to the road in front of my apartment and I knew it would eventually hit sidewalk up by one of the hotels.  So, I cautiously took to the grass and ended up running about 1.5 miles on the grass.  The area I ran on didn't have as many holes as the first time I ran on the grass and it really wasn't too bad. There was a small bump for a hill at one point, but overall it was flat and barely sloping.

I was originally planning on going 8 miles today.  I had spent all week thinking about it.  However, I ended up only getting about 6 in... I believe I need to get some new socks as I keep getting blisters on the arch of my foot.  I even used some body glide, but it only postponed when the blisters would start forming.  I have some other shocks I'm going to try next week, so hopefully I know which ones to go get.  Plus, this means another trip to the reebok outlet, which has quickly become my favorite athletic store.  I got my Easytones for $30! and I would have gotten a second pair for $15 and there were other amazing deals I had to resist from partaking in.

Since I didn't get my 8 miles in today, I spent some time on the stationary bike and got a good few miles in on there.  It wasn't hard, just a nice spin time to cool down.  Looks like I'm back to doing brick workouts and I'm definitely not complaining about that cause I love my brick workouts!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Warm Weather Running

It's December and I have yet to get any really cold runs in.  The main reason is that I live in Florida and it really hasn't gotten that cold yet this year (which I'm sure the manatees and turtles are happy about).  We've had a few cold days here and there, and most mornings are foggy and a bit nippy, but nothing too bad.

I've only worn my leggings out twice, and both time I really didn't need to.  Actually, one time I shouldn't have and turned back early because I was too hot.  Heck, I'm still wearing shorts to work pretty much everyday, all I need is a light jacket really.

Still, I do miss the colder runs.  I've never had the pleasure (or nightmare depending on how you look at it) to run in the snow, but when a marine layer would come in during the winter, it could get cold back in California.  Those are the runs and workouts I miss, even if I wouldn't admit it at the time.  For some reason I just do better in the cold, it's been the case for swimming and now for running.

Hopefully soon I'll be wearing all of my cold weather gear... I mean, it's almost Christmas!  Even though I grew up in Southern California, I know it's wrong to be wearing shorts and t-shirts this far into December!  

We'll see how the weather is this weekend and whether or not I can keep my leggings out for a bit longer or if they go back in the draw...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reindeer Run 2011

Today is my normal run day, but I definitely didn't do my normal run.  No, I got to run through Sea World Orlando for the Reindeer Run 2011.  I had a great time and got to see the park for the first time!  

As you guys know, I had started looking for smaller races to do between half marathons and last week a friend of mine at work told me he was doing the Reindeer 5k and that it was a run through Sea World.  I jumped on the chance to join and today we finally got to do it.

There was pre-registration, but I didn't really pay attention until it was too late so I arrived early and signed up at the event.  The website had said that you might get a shirt if you register the day of and so I was hoping to get there early for a regular shirt.  Well, they beat my expectations... I got a tech shirt!  There wasn't really a goody bag, but I was more than happy with a 1/2 ticket to Sea World, the tech shirt, and food at the end.  The race was only $35 so I wasn't expecting too much.

The run started just outside of the park and the first mile was around the parking lot.  As one would expect, there really wasn't much to see.  Then the second mile was inside the park and you ran past all the major areas.  You past Sea World on Ice!, Shamu Stadium, Dolphin Nursery, Blue Horizon, etc... I wish you could have seen more, but I totally understand how that could freak out the animals if a few thousand runners kept running by.

Santa was out to cheer runners on, as well as some Sea World trainers, and even a drug dog (although I have a feeling he was doing a pre-opening sweep of the park...).  Santa's cheering helped get me to the end.  I finished the race in 28 minutes and 14 seconds!

At the end of the race there was a post-race party that had water and some sports drink, hot chocolate and cookies, goldfish, and more cookies.  They had a nice center area you could relax, or two more pavilions.  One pavilion had registration for the "Rudolf Run", I'm assuming a mile dash for little kids.  The last pavilion had some booths, a stage where they handed out top 8 finisher awards and had a costume contest.  There was a picture spot out so I got a picture with my friends who I went with.

They even had animals out with trainers walking around.  We saw a opossum and heard there was a penguin somewhere.  Then, they brought Clyde the sea lion out!  I got really excited since I used to work at a marine mammal rehabilitation center and sea lions were our main patients.  They let us get pictures with him so of course I had to get one!  

The only things that I think they could have worked on is placing out their water spots a bit better.  One water spot was at mile 1 and the next was at mile 1.5-ish.  Then you didn't get water until you finished. Luckily it was only a 5k, but it would have been nice to have the second water stop between mile 2 and 3 somewhere.

I'll definitely be remembering this race for next year.  It was a great way to get my weekly run in and work on my speed. Plus I can't really complain since I did get to run through Sea World before the park opened...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Benefits of Cross-Training

So by now it's really no secret I'm a huge fan of cross-training.  I've been cross training since I was swimming.  We would run, complete circuits, and just try different things.  On my college swim team we would have yoga twice a week (which I absolutely loved!).

Runner's World had an article about the Eight Benefits of Cross-Training.  Reading through them I had to agree with all of them and have heard each reason (all except #8 because I'm not there in life yet) from either a coach or a trainer or a physical therapist.

One reason I really like cross-training because of it means I'm always doing something different.  I'll have my run days, and then maybe I'll get on a bike or walk up hill for a while.  Then there's weights which add a whole new category of variation.  It's hard to get bored with cross training, which is usually my biggest problem with training (ironic since I used to swim 1000s and 1000s of yards straight when I was a distance swimmer... and that's the definition of boring).  When it comes to weights I tend to focus on body areas; arms one day, then abs, maybe quads, and I mix it up.

Another great thing about cross-training is that one muscle group might be sore, but with cross-training you can focus on a region that's ready to go while the sore area gets some rest.  Yes, it'll probably still hurt more than when you're totally rested, but not as bad as torturing that sore area.

My final reason for loving cross-training is the strength training you get from it.  Running is great cardio work, but not so great for strengthening muscles.  Due to some knee issues I used to have a problem doing squats, but when I tried to use that excuse (yes, it was an excuse) my physical therapist pointed out "You can't run a half marathon if you can't do a squat".  So guess what... I started doing squats.  Now squats and lunges are in my circuits in one form or another.  The increase in strength has really started to make a difference in my running as well.  My quads don't get as nearly as tight nor as soon in my races so I'm extremely thankful for that.

Cross-training is like my not-so-secret training weapon.  I love it and it's an essential part of my training, no matter what I'm training for.  I'm always looking for ways to mix up my cross training some more and who knows what I might find in the future (zumba?  kick boxing? pilates?).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Busy Busy Bee

So I've been a busy bee over this last week. I finished up a 10 day work week and then to celebrate my first day off I got in a 5.5 mile run, walked the last .5 of a mile, completed a circuit, and did a lot of stretching.

While my week was busy and spent mostly at work, I was able to get at least 20 minutes of circuit work in.  A few days I got in a short run, maybe a few miles on the stationary bike, and stretching.  I've continued to stretch for at least 20 min every day and my calves are doing pretty well.

It also helps that I have a pretty active job.  I'm standing and walking most of the day.  A few days a week I help one of the other teams out where I'm lifting heavy objects for a while so I even get some unconventional weight lifting in.  The fact that I don't have an office job has helped me stay active on weeks where I work a lot.

I've also added another 5k run to my plan.  Next week I'll be doing a Reindeer Run with some of my friends.  Then the week after the Reindeer Run I have the Jingle Bell Run, so this should be a fun few weeks.  After those weeks it's time to start celebrating the holidays!