11/23/14

10 mile run in the cold, Thanksgiving menu

Saturday was such a relaxing day for me. I had my long run on Friday and used Saturday as a day to unwind and have a lunch date with hubby while the kiddo spent the day with grandma and grandpa. Hubby even took an afternoon nap! Unheard of for us! I managed to get my 10 mile long run done on Friday so my weekend was nicely freed up. Hubby and I were able to go to the store on Saturday (after his napping) to pick up all of the supplies we need for our Thanksgiving. He rarely goes to the store with me and it was nice having him along to help haul all of the groceries in the house.

My 10 mile run on Friday was glorious. Even though it was very cold, something around 16-18 degrees, there was no biting wind and the sun was shining. I took it slow, enjoyed the time to myself, listened to some tunes, and felt grateful for every mile my body was doing. I love getting long runs done before the weekend!

10 mile run in the cold

On Saturday we enjoyed our lunch date of Korean cuisine before heading to the store for our Thanksgiving supplies. We always order the same things, seafood pancake and ojingneo bokkeum.

Lunch date for Korean cuisine


How is your Thanksgiving menu looking?  Here is what I'm preparing. We only have 5 total people at the table, us and my parents, so I don't need to make too much. My menu is made with as much non-GMO and organic ingredients as possible, yet it isn't what I would call perfectly healthy. The cornbread pudding will use a box of processed corn bread mix rather than cornmeal and the cheesecake will obviously be a splurge. Other than those two items, some added sugars and butters (trying to watch the amounts), the rest of the meal should be very healthy! I've thought about trying the cornbread pudding with cornmeal rather than the box of cornbread mix, but am worried it won't come out right.

  • Turkey breast (we don't need the whole bird)
  • Cornbread pudding with organic corn
  • Glazed pecans and carrots
  • Mashed potatoes using golden potatoes
  • Homemade cranberry sauce
  • Organic green bean casserole (made by grandma)
  • Martha Stewart's Pumpkin cheesecake (a new recipe to try)


As for Turkey Trots or other Thanksgiving Day runs, hubby will be the one doing them this year. Since my parents have gotten older, I've taken over this holiday to ease the burden of cooking for my mom and I just don't have time for a race that day. Hubby has his 5k PR from a previous Thanksgiving race so I've decided that this is always going to be his special "race day" :)


Happy running everyone!



-----

Christina

I'm also found here:

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11/20/14

Bitter cold and the treadmill, pets at the vet

Hello! You may have noticed a little blog design update. I was feeling a need for some new color and freshened things up a bit. With this dreary arctic blast polar vortex or whatever we're calling it, I needed happy. And oh my, is it cold. We get these type of temperatures in January and February, but I'm just not ready for them in November! I've got so much sympathy right now for everyone in Buffalo who received that massive snow dump. I used to live in upstate NY many years ago and the snow up there is no joke. I've been finding myself on the treadmill more lately, even though we don't have too much snow. There is just a bitter cold air right now that I'm not in the mood for. It's often a little warmer when there is a snowfall, oddly enough, but this is just bitter.

First things first, I'm a realist on the treadmill. Since mindless treadmill running is such a pill, I've been making every treadmill run purposeful. I try to mix it up with varied workouts. Or get my hill work and speed work tackled. I recently ran a strong rolling hill run of 4 miles at mostly steady state pacing. These type of workouts actually make the run go by mentally faster! I decided in honor of the first snowfall of the season, it was time to break out the holiday compression socks I received in the mystery grab bag a while back from ProCompression. This is the *only* Christmas nod I'm doing before Thanksgiving.

Time for the holiday season compression socks


I managed to get both the kitty and the Schnoodle to the veterinarian this week for their vaccinations. Both are doing well, but kitty has been told he should not gain any more weight. Surprisingly, the Schnoodle is keeping her svelte figure even though she tends to eat kitty's leftover wet food in addition to her own.

They were thrilled to be there.

Vaccination time

Much happier back home in the cozy "music room".

Back from the vet and resting after vaccinations


Stay warm everyone!  Happy running!



-----

Christina

I'm also found here:

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11/18/14

Preparing for winter runs

I've been so happy with running lately and I feel like my body is responding positively. I know the majority of runners I follow as well as the elites go through highs and lows, injuries, setbacks, and then come back and have a strong season again. It's just part of the life of a runner. That being said, we're all trying to minimize the setbacks as much as possible! I keep analyzing the last several months where things have been going well and trying to understand what has been working for me personally. I'm also trying to prepare for the upcoming winter runs and figure out this cold season's best strategy.




I've written about this before, but wanted to bring up this topic again. I began following more "masters running" guidance after the disaster of last Spring where all I could handle was a little 10k - and that was run with pain. I knew at the time that my body was trying to tell me something. It's been a good 6 months now where I've altered my approach to more masters wisdom and it is working well. I've proven that my body needs more time to heal/repair after each run. It just does. I'm older now, my body is changing, and I need to adapt. Two half marathons later with no lingering problems and I'm feeling strong and have my confidence back. I know there is always a chance for another injury or problem; that is just part of being a runner. However, I'm focusing on staying positive!

Back to treadmill running

Last week was spent working on purposeful runs. As we head into the holiday months, I want to focus on maintaining some speed. Long runs get trickier to manage, sandwiched into snow days. I've been thinking of how to approach this winter to make improvements on dealing with the weather and maintaining my current running fitness level. I don't want to lose all of the progress I've made!

  • Focus on slightly longer distances on the treadmill. I have run up to 16 miles before on the treadmill and I don't enjoy that much (who really does?!?!), but I do want to make mental peace with 6-7 or so miles on it. I know I will need to do many of those distances on the treadmill throughout the winter. I've had a few 5-6 milers lately on it and been ok with it. In fact, I've turned them into really solid runs. Last week I ran a 3 mile marathon pace run with rolling hills + 3 x 1 mile repeats at steady state for a strong 6 mile workout. I enjoyed that workout on the treadmill!

  • Use the Yaktrax outside when necessary and keep those runs *very slow*. I think one reason I developed that bad achilles area injury last Spring was because I hit snow-packed runs too fast. After all, running in Yaktrax in the snow/ice is similar to "trail running" to some degree. Slow those down!

  • If necessary, break up a longer run into two runs over a course of two days. I know, not ideal. But in the awful Winter months, you have to do what you have to do. I rather split a long distance over the course of two days rather than have two runs in one day. Since my body needs more time to repair, I feel that is a safer approach for me personally. Double runs in one day are just an injury waiting to happen for me. Another lesson learned from last Spring.


On a separate topic, my Teavana tea tumblers arrived in the mail. I was pleasantly surprised at the message on the tumblers and didn't realize they came with it. I love it! I AM POWERFUL!

Teavana tea tumbler gifts




Happy running everyone!



-----

Christina

I'm also found here:

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11/15/14

How being an introvert shapes your running

I've had a few friends bring up the topic of "being an introvert" lately and it's been lingering in my thoughts. I'm an introvert and always have been. I've known this as far back as elementary school. Being an introvert doesn't mean you don't want to be with people; it means that the type of people you are with matter. Being an introvert doesn't mean you can't handle a crowd; it just means that you have to expend energy while dealing with a crowd compared to extroverts who gain energy from that same crowd. Being an introvert doesn't mean you are shy; it means that you are perfectly fine with solitude and find it relaxing. I found it interesting when I stumbled upon a short article that Dean Karnazes wrote for Runner's World - he is an introvert!

I often think my being an introvert shapes how I run:

  • I don't enjoy group runs. I do enjoy the energy from runners during a race, pulling each other along mile after mile because of the notion of commiseration, but I don't like it for training.
  • I don't enjoy late night evenings. After all, it messes up my morning time for running!
  • I would prefer to swim laps for cross-training than be in a spin class. Or just do yoga and strength work at home. Alone. 
  • I don't want to be with a big group on race day. I just prefer one friend or my hubby at the most so I can concentrate on the big task at hand. Group activities drain my energy and I need my energy on race day!

I used to wrestle with this, thinking something was wrong with me, because it seemed many runners gather up each weekend and have group meets, runs with buddies, mommas all meeting to stroller run, etc. Why wasn't I seeking that out? I have done a run with someone every now and then and enjoyed it. But overall, not so much. I much rather have my quiet time for reflection, focus on my own personal running needs and goals, and have that ME time that we parents don't get enough of. I need to focus on my personal running rather than get sidetracked by someone else's training needs.

"People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure." -via The Rise of the New Groupthink

An extrovert will most likely disagree with my thoughts on this post, and I expect that. An extrovert needs people and groups for energy. Group runs for an extrovert can be motivating and stimulating. It just isn't helpful for everyone, particularly us introverts.

The holiday season is approaching and I thought this was quite funny ... and rings true :)




Happy running everyone!



-----

Christina

I'm also found here:

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11/12/14

Veterans Day, cold weather gear, new Yaktrax

Happy belated Veterans Day wishes to everyone from my military family! We spent the day at our daughter's school for her Veterans Day convocation and then managed to pick up our "freebies" offered by various businesses. Thank you to Marcos Pizza for our evening meal of free pizza, Handels ice cream for the free scoops, and Starbucks for a free hot tea that I chose. We had hoped to use the free car wash offered by Mikes, but it began raining, darn it. Nevertheless ... thank you to all those businesses that give us this treat each year! Now I need to go run off some of those treats. And brrrrr, it really did get cold.

Isn't my retired war veteran hero handsome? It still fits because he is a runner. Seriously. Still fits. The schnoodle loves a good photobomb.

My retired hero


Ok, back to running. I do need to run off that food, but we sure did enjoy it.




It's looking like about 31 degrees here for today's run. I'm planning to get around 5 or so miles in. The tricky part of weather change is trying to remember just how much layering you personally need. I was overdressed the other day when I ran around 42 degrees and remembered that I heat up pretty quickly on a run. However, at 31 degrees, I'm pretty sure I'll need double-layers on top.

I've been looking at some new running clothes to see if there is anything out there I might want to try for the upcoming winter. I haven't purchased anything new in so long because I don't seem to need much of anything new. However, I am on the hunt for a few new things and will update my blog when I make some decisions. For now, my usual trusty Brooks Utopia running jacket is my favorite when it gets *really* cold. I'm not sure if they are making it anymore? It's a great item to have in a runner's collection of necessary gear! Other items in this pic that I love using are my Smartwool neck gaiter and my Nike Pro Hyperwarm tights. One thing I love about these tights is that they are soft, warm, and don't feel restrictive. I'm very picky about tights and don't enjoy ones that are compression based. I can wear compression calf sleeves under these tights easily if I need them. I've used this gear for several years now and it all works so well.

6 mile run outdoors in 10 degrees


Something new I will be trying this winter is the running version of Yaktrax. I was offered a free pair to test out and received them in the mail the other day. I have the original "Pro Yaktrax" and use them when the winter weather calls for them, however their "Run" version really appeals to me. They are designed a little differently and meant to give you more of a feel as if running on the dry surfaces we typically run on. I'll update this blog when I give these a try. I'm expecting to use them in January and February, but with this early burst of cold, who knows, I might be in them earlier than expected!

Run Yaktrax




Happy running everyone!


-----

Christina

I'm also found here:

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11/10/14

Return to running after race weekend, a new piano, hot tea

Brrrr! Am I reading the words "polar" and "vortex" again in the news? Ugh! I'm really not looking forward to winter running. I enjoy the change of seasons, somewhat, but the brutal and harsh winters are something I can do without. Darn it. Hopefully things don't get as bad as they did last winter! I had my first run post Monumental Half this weekend with a 7 mile easy run. I didn't mean to wait a whole week before running again, but I got busy last week and then it rained the day I had originally planned to run, etc. Excuses, right? However, no big deal. It was a well-deserved rest week anyway. I think it is important to plant some true rest weeks into your running year. It helps the body repair and rebuild while giving your mental training a little break as well. My first run back after the rest week was tight, but my legs loved the run and enjoyed that good burn. For some of us "older" runners, a week off now and then is really necessary!

Post race easy 7 mile run


I was so busy last week! One of the items on the agenda was shopping for a piano with grandpa ... for my daughter. She is very happily beginning piano lessons and grandma and grandpa wanted to contribute to the purchase of the instrument. Yay! We thought long and hard, looked on Craigslist, and decided that based on the asking prices there, we might as well go with a new digital console piano. We went with the Williams Rhapsody, a perfect piano to last many years for the beginner child. I didn't want something that would need to be replaced within two years and this piano should see her through the end of high school, if not beyond. If she wants to continue with piano into her adult years, we will probably help her upgrade to a new one, but this one should work well for many years! It's been a while since I've seen my daughter truly excited for an activity and I have high hope she'll really enjoy this and become good at. I'm very big on helping children find their own passions, rather than us adults telling them what their passions should be :)

Early Christmas gift from grandma and grandpa

Now that the cold is coming, hot tea is very appealing to me. I really want to work on cutting out coffee and replacing it with tea. I'm not a huge coffee drinker, just a cup or two in the morning and that is it, but I want to change that to black tea. I always have trouble needing to use the restroom too quickly into a run and would like to see if less caffeine will help. I've cut out coffee before so I know I can do it, however, it is a process. I need to switch to half caf/half decaf and then migrate to tea. I do love an afternoon hot tea during the cold months and usually do an herbal detox or other digestive type tea, but I've lately been enjoying a hot chai and this Stash chai is one of my favorites!

A favorite Chai tea lately


I did a little Christmas gift shopping from Teavana and ordered some of the their tea tumblers. I often let my herbal teas steep long and drink them throughout the afternoon. These tumblers seem a perfect way to do that.


Happy running everyone!


-----

Christina

I'm also found here:

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11/6/14

Running thoughts for Spring 2015

I used to think far ahead with my running goals and I think that is normal in the early stages of running. There are many attainable goals because everything is a PR, a first, or just plain great for finishing. After a while, however, one becomes stuck in a zone or a plateau. I doubt there is a single runner out there who has never been in a zone of no-progress. Most runners I follow via blogs or know in real life have all settled into a zone. Their times will fluctuate plus or minus a 10-15 minute range depending on various factors such as weather, digestion, time of month for women, the course, etc. I think it is more rare to get out of this zone than it is to get into it.

I'm kind of in that zone now. I know there is more speed in me because when I want to work for it, I find more speed. I shaved 7 minutes between two Halfs this Fall, so I know I can do it if I just do it. The question I have for myself, is how much do I want it? I mentioned a while back that my main priority with running must now be enjoyment. If I'm not enjoying it, the faster times aren't worth it to me. I can honestly say, I have really enjoyed this Fall running season and perhaps that is why I managed to budge my time down in a short period. Nothing ached, my body felt good, I was following the Masters' running approaches, never felt over-burdened, and did really well. I needed this after an awful injury-laden past Spring! I just wish there was one more Half marathon nearby to see if I could knock even more time off on the Half time, but we're getting ready to end the Fall season and then our winter sets in. And you know, it's time to hunker down...



This leads me to ponder the Spring of 2015. I am not sure yet what I want to do. I'm enjoying working on my Half times and there a quite a few nearby Spring Halfs to choose from. There is still the faint calling of the 26.2 distance again. That little voice in the back of my head that always whispers, telling me I have a couple more Full marathons still left on these legs. It's a mixed-emotion for me, but as I've mentioned, enjoyment is the key.

Chris Rock's marathon thoughts were quite funny last Saturday night :)



The next year might truly be the first running year for me where I just kind of wait and see how my body is doing before committing to any events too soon. Other than watching the races on social media as they report how close they are to sell-outs, I may just wait and sign up for things later than I usually do. The only two Spring marathons I would consider are the Illinois Marathon or Carmel Marathon. I'd prefer the course and date of the Illinois Marathon more, but the Carmel Marathon means I don't need a hotel. I'm also eyeballing visiting a friend and running the Flying Pig Half so that would mean I'd probably just run the Carmel Half two weeks prior. Not quite sure yet how I'm going to proceed! Decisions, choices, gah!



What are your plans for the Spring of 2015? Any plans yet?


-----

Christina

I'm also found here:

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