Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year-In-Review

Highlights:- Business Trips to 5 Continents (South Africa, China, Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil/Argentina)
- First Boston Qualifier, earned at the St. George Marathon
- Family vacation out West
- New hobby: Beer
- Visited friends in DC and Princeton
- Foray into Trail Racing

Weekly Mileages/Training:
Purple = Week with no race
Yellow = 5K
Orange = 10K-ish
Green = Half Marathon
Red = Marathon-ish

The first part of the year was all about trail racing.  I built up from a 7K to a 12K to an 18 miler.  It was fun, but that last one left me tired going into the training cycle for the St. George Marathon, my 4th BQ attempt.  You can see that I didn't race at all between the 18 miler in week 20ish and the marathon in week 40.  Burned out from racing.  I wasn't expecting much from St. George, since I had a week where I was injured (refer to week 30), and I was tired.  I didn't get in very many long runs.  That ended up helping, though (the lack of racing and the lack of long runs and the lack of high expectations).  I took it easy, went my own pace, and did a negative split.  The downhill nature of the course helped, too, as did the perfect temps.  In the last quarter of the year, I tried a HM, but it didn't go too well.  I spent the rest of the year just relaxing, treating any sort of workout as an accomplishment.  Hopefully, it would be a good time for my body to recuperate, although my left knee continues to yoink periodically.

This is the breakdown of the types of runs that I did:
It still looks pretty good.
Shoe Updates:
In the past couple of years, the Saucony Kinvaras have been my favorite for long distance racing.  They're lightweight and cushioned.  This year, the Saucony Virattas came out.  They're even lighter.  They're my new favorite.  I wore them during the BQ race.  Another favorite is the Brooks PureGrit, which is a trail shoe, but it's very cushioned and lightweight.  I haven't tried any of the other models in the Pure* series, but I look forward to trying more of them in the future.  I initially purchased the PureGrit because it was mocha colored, and could pass for walking-around-town shoes when I went on business trips, but they're so nice for running, that I use them on the treadmill, too.
Total Mileage: 921.5.... Since I accomplished the 1,000 mi goal last year, I didn't' feel the need to repeat it this year.  That's about 2.5 mi per day on average.
Total Time Spent Running: 5 days, 6 hours, 41 min, 51 s... about 20:45 per day on average.
Total Time Spent Cross-training: 2 days, 14 hours.  This consists mostly of body weight strength training and recumbent biking in the gym.  That's about 10 min per day on average.  This means that in all, I spend about 31 min per day working out.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dec 14-26: ATL->GVL->CHS->FLA->ATL->CHS

Like a pinball machine...

Back from Buenos Aires, spent the night in Atlanta before heading back to Greenville.

Dec 15, Sunday:
Got in a 7 mi 2 degree incline run before the drive.  Went at an average 8:01 pace (7:42 effort), breathing through my nose the whole time.  I was light-headed by the end of it, but it wasn't excessively difficult.  Having no runs in the past 3 days helped.  Did some arm and ab exercises afterwards, felt so good.  Sore, the next 2 days, from the 35 burpees. 

Dec 18, Wednesday:
The treadmill in my apartment complex is getting progressively more broken.  Before, the monitor was slanted such that you could barely tell what distance you were going.  Now, the incline feature doesn't work, either, so I was relegated to a 0 degree, 4 mi run.  I was happy just to get in 4 miles, though.  I had to tear myself out of tiredness to get it in. 

Dec 19, Thursday:
1 hr strength session.  Foam rolling today felt really good.

Friday, drove to CHS after work.

Dec 21, Saturday:
Got in a run before our drive to Disney.  4.4 mi on mostly grass, with a bit of pavement, at 8:04 pace.  It was a bit tempo-y, because of the time crunch. 

Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom:

Favorite Rides:
Expedition Everest in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom is an awesome roller coaster.  The following pics are from the Kali River Rapids ride, but you can see Everest in the background.
The Safari ride in the Africa section is the next best thing to a real safari!
Another highlight of the Disney Theme Parks: The Smoked Turkey Legs:

Monday was a rest day, since we had gone from 8am->1am the previous day.
We went to Downtown Disney, where I got a vegan Cookie Crumble Donut and a vegan Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Loaf Slice at Babycakes NYC.  They were delicious.  I ate the two over the course of 3 days.
The resort where we stayed had resident peacocks.  Here are the girl peacocks:
We were back at it in the parks on Tuesday (Xmas eve), this time, with my mom:
Epcot->Hollywood Studios->Magic Kingdom
(Dad photobombing Paddington Bear)
The Tower of Terror was awesome, especially at night.
Got to dance with a Chipmunk, who was a surprisingly incredible dancer, even in the costume:
And at night, watched the fireworks again... very crowded, so get your spots early:


Drove to Atlanta the next day, where we spent the night.  My sister's apartment complex has free coffee.  I would like in the coffee room if I lived there.... there and the gym, which is much nicer than mine.
The next day, drove back to Charleston.  My butt was numb from all that driving.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Buenos Aires, My Second Home

Back in BA for 2 weeks.

Some insane workload (as usual)... work all day, and then more all night.  I slept on the 45 min bus rides to and from the office, though.  It's thanks to my Napsac, an ergonomically-designed backpack that lets you rest your chin and give you something to hug as you sleep, haha.  It looks kind of ridiculous, but it's extremely functional. 

Sunday was a recover-from-travel day.  Visited Recoleta, and the cemetery where Eva Peron was laid to rest.  When I had heard about a cemetery, I was thinking of a normal, grassy cemetery, with white tombstones.  This, however, was an above-ground forest of all kinds of mini-buildings. 

Got up close to the aluminum "generic flower", which closes during the night and opens during the day.  We were staying in a different hotel this time, so I was happy to get to explore that side of town. 

Got in a 7K run in 41:04, 9:26 ave pace.  It was warm, and my legs couldn't go very fast.  2 degrees of incline.

Tuesday, did a 6K run in 33:18, 8:56 pace, at 1 degree of incline.

Friday, a stationary bike session at level 5/12, for 45 min, while watching soccer on TV.  320cal.

Saturday, work.

The funny thing about the southern hemisphere is that you have Christmas in the middle of summer.  You'll see Christmas decorations next to palm trees, and it's warm out.

Sunday, 7K in 37:23, 8:36 ave.  2 degrees of incline.  Went faster this time.

Also went on an outing to the Tigre River Delta, where we did a super-quick turn around a market, followed by a catamaran tour and a trip to the largest mall in Latin America.

Tuesday, bike session, 50 min, Lev 6/12, warm and sweaty.  Read Running Times, with Spanish Harry Potter on in the background.  370cal.

Wed, 7K run in 37:20, 8:35 pace, 2 degrees of incline.  1 bottle of H2O.  After a warmup on the bike while waiting for the good treadmill.

Friday, bike session for 50 minutes, 370 cal, 1 bottle H2O, running magazine.

This is perhaps my 11th time entering the country?  This time, I felt something special about this city.  It was invigorating.  It's been comfortable in past trips, since I had been many times before.  But this time, once I was there (not necessarily leading up to the trip), it was less about going back to the city for meetings (even though every trip is still exciting to me).  Instead, it was like I was re-visiting an old friend. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving in ATL

After the disappointing HM, I drove to my sister's.  We had refrained from watching Catching Fire on opening night, so that we could watch it together.  I'm looking forward to March 2014, when the DVD will likely come out, when I can start watching it over and over again at home.

Lots of Modern Family, lying down, and eating, haha... she has a DVR.  Soooo much Modern Family.

On Tuesday (Nov 26), after giving my body a bit of HM recovery, I finally got tired enough of being sedentary.  I would've preferred to go to the gym, but my sister had to take the key when she went to work, so I did a Jillian Michael's Body Revolution workout via Youtube on my iPhone.  For light weights, I used two bottles of wine, and for a heavy weight, I used a cooler.  You do what you gotta do.  During the workout, the sets felt pretty short, so I was straining maybe only once.  I felt like I had moved around a little bit, but it wasn't the same as running.  I rounded out the workout with some extra strength exercises, to help keep my knees (which are affected by hip strength) happy. 

I was sore the next day, which was nice... upper arms, and legs.  It's good to shake things up and try different workouts.

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Wednesday, since my sister had to work the next day.  I roasted a Tofurkey with sweet potatoes and onions.  I was a bit horrified when I saw that the Lobsters that my dad had gotten were still alive... maybe I will become a vegetarian one day.  If they do have to die, maybe there's some quick and painless way to kill them.

(Poor Lobby)
I considered running that night, because my body wanted to, but my body was also tired and a little bit full, so I delayed it until the next day.
Hunger Games is giving me incentive to train again.  I LOVE training scenes in movies, haha.  It's always my favorite part.  I like taking pictures of gyms that I go to at hotels and apartments because one day, it would be fun to have my own gym.  Hunger Games would be a cool theme, now that I think of it.
I did a nice 7.0miler on Thursday, at 3 degrees of incline.  It had been 4 days since my last run, which was why it felt pretty easy.  8:24 ave pace, 7:44 effort after factoring in the incline.  Did some functional arm workouts afterwards, with the nice equipment that they had in the apartment fitness room.

Went shopping T-day night.  I was most excited about this:
Which has an uncanny resemblance to this:
Friday, another nice run.  5.0 mi in 41:16, 8:15 ave, on a 2 degree treadmill.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

RACE REPORT: iRecycle Half Marathon - 2013

Sunday, Nov 10: The day after the 4K race, I did a long run in preparation for the half marathon, which was 2 weeks away.  It was, by far, the longest run I've done since the St. George Marathon in early October.  My sinuses went crazy after the previous day's race.  My body felt tired/worn/drained during the first half of the run, despite a 4hr nap earlier in the day, but I got better and did a big negative split.  My left knee yoinked only once.  This was a confidence-boosting run, and I was glad to be able to pull out the 11.8 miler on demand.  My legs felt a bit used afterwards, maybe still recovering from the marathon.  The backs of my shoulders were sore from the previous day's race.

Monday, Nov 11: Bike session.  Legs were slow at first, but it got a bit faster towards the end.  Did the session after a night-time conference call.   Sinuses finally started improving some time during the workday.

Wednesday, Nov 13: 1 hr strength session in the middle of the night, after a nap.  Considered sleeping through, but my body felt like it needed the cardio.  It had been a while since my last strength session (2 weeks!).

Thursday, Nov 14: 3.5 mi speed session at 1 degree of incline.  0.5 warmup in 4:05, 0.75 mi @ 8.5mph in 5:18, 0.25mi @ 7.5mph in 2:00, 2 x [0.5mi @ 9mph in 3:20, 0.25mi @ 7.5mph in 2:00], 0.5 mi shakeout in 3:32 progressively faster.  So tired after work that I felt like I could cry and collapse.  Decided it would be easier to just stay awake (until dinner digested) instead of napping and then forcing myself out of the nap.   Energized by the run, which wasn't perfect, but was still good. 

Saturday, Nov 16: A nice hike (about 6 mi) at Paris Mountain in Greenville, with some new and old friends. 

Sunday, Nov 17: 4.0 on the 3 degree treadmill.  8:28 ave pace.  Splits> 8:51, 36, 25, 00.  = 7:48 effort.  Mentally fuzzy, downtrodden.  Body didn't feel like exercising, either.  Felt like a hamster forced to run on a wheel, as I was running.  Not much mojo this week.

Tuesday, Nov 19: 4.5 on a 1 degree treadmill, 8:07 ave pace progressively faster.  A decent effort towards the end.  Had a night conf call before.  Took the next 3 days completely off to taper.

The Race:
This was my third consecutive year running the race.  I thought it would be like the other times, when I got 2nd overall.  I did all the usual pre-run stuff.  At the start, I talked to a surprising number of people who said that they remembered me from the previous years.  I figured that with marathon fitness and the taper, I could pull off a similar time as last year's HM PR (1:36:00, just about).  At the gun, started at a comfortably reigned in pace.  Power-walked the hills.  I executed it similarly to how I ran the previous years.  It felt like a similar effort.  Volunteers and police were fantastic, as  usual.  I thought I'd be able to pull in my competitors, gradually.  But, after passing a few, I didn't see any more to pass... the others who I had counted at the beginning as being ahead, were never even in sight.  By the time I got to the final mile, I saw that I was going to end up finishing much slower than in the past... 1:40:25... 3rd slowest time ever, maybe.  It was hilly, but I'm a pretty consistent 1:36:XXer.  I was maybe 6th woman, 2nd AG, but I was pretty puzzled and disappointed by the performance.  I was even doing the post-marathon shuffle.  My right plantar fascia was clearly stressed, too, from the super-flexible Saucony Virratas that had been great during the marathon. 

So... what could it be?
- Been really tired lately
- Work's been psychologically stressful (along with the usual physical and mental stress)
- Still in post-marathon recovery?
- Not much training, although I should still have some marathon fitness left over

Eh... it's ok.  At least I got a good forced long run in.  Had delicious BBQ after the race (one of my favorite parts of the race).  And... I plan to be back next year, ready for redemption. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

RACE REPORT: Kegs n Ks 4K - 2013

Training before:
5.5 miles on a 3 degree treadmill @ 8:21 pace, on the Tuesday before the Saturday race.  Work was taking precedence this week, with a fair bit changing, so I didn't do anything on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. 

The Race:
This was a unique race, beer-themed.  I wish I lived close enough to Milton, DE to participate in the Dogfish Dash.  This was a pretty cool substitute.  They had a great tech t-shirt (Will Run for Beer) and a pint glass as swag.  You could fill it up after your race.

I realized 20 minutes before race start, while I was still at my apartment, that the race was going to actually start in 20 minutes.  Thankfully, there was a parking spot waiting for me.  I warmed up on my way to the packet pickup and stashed my stuff before heading to the line to do some dynamic stretching.  Lots of adrenaline used, even before the start.

I didn't partake in the pre-run beer, and I had no intention of drinking during the run, either.  I was in it to run fast.  The crowd wasn't too big, since it was a first annual event, but the group made up for it in enthusiasm. 

We took off at the start, and I fell behind a couple.  They were running strong, the guy built like an elite triathlete/marathoner, and the girl with excellent running form.  There were some rolling hills.  They stayed about 50m ahead for almost the entire race.  I did gain on them a bit when a beer stop ended up not having any beer.  I haven't done speedwork in months, although I did play a game of ultimate Frisbee last weekend, where I was more intent on running my heart out (and diving around) than playing well.  Marathon fitness was still in the bank, though.  I finally caught up at the last moment, in the final sprint, which was a short but steep uphill.  Good for 1st girl, 2nd overall. 

It was publicized as a 4K race, but it was actually a bit shorter.  I ran 13:47.  My arms were really not ready for all the pumping that it had to do in the rather sprinty race.

Afterwards, there was good live music.  There was also a keg toss competition.  I think I got last place, haha.

(the prize - a cool trucker hat, and a Thomas Creek bottle opener keychain! :))

Looking forward to next year's event.  Will run for beer!

DC, Dela-where?, and Princeton

A happy, happy week...

Thursday, Oct 31 : Flight to DC, to visit a friend. 

Friday, Nov 1 : Drove to Milton, DE, and Rehoboth Beach, DE, to visit Dogfish Head Brewery and Brewpub.


Steampunk Treehouse

Beer-infused food
Power-walked to the beach, to touch the ocean before driving on to Princeton
Went to Pton for a conference on finding good community post-college.
It was good to catch up with friends... figuratively and literally.
(2.9 in 30:53, through some trails I wish I knew about back in the day)

Life post-college can be tough.  Some of us are in transition, at short-term gigs like internships or grad school, making it less enticing to go through the trouble of putting down roots.  Others may be more settled in one place, yet it can be a challenge to find community.  In the Real World, you don't live within walking distance of all your friends, and you don't get to navigate through shared experiences 100% of the time like you do in college. 
However, God has plans for us wherever he puts us.  The Body of Christ is a supernaturally assembled being.  What else can bring together such diverse people who wouldn't otherwise come together?  We must be the strangest looking family, but God calls all people.  And  not only that, we each have a special role to play, where even the most seemingly weak person or trying person is the most indispensable.  We all have some part to play in his perfect plan.  We also need community for the accountability, because we're all prone to wander, and if we don't address the muck inside each of our hearts, we can become hardened towards God's truth and grace.  From personal experience, I also know how peoples' mere presence can be a comfort and assurance in difficult times.  I'm very thankful for the family that God has given me.   Even those who I just met during this trip, I feel like I could've known them all my life.  Such are the ties between brothers and sisters in Christ. 
Monday, Nov 4:
Drove back to DC on Sunday.  Explored the Museum of Natural History on Monday.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oct 13-30: Life Post-Marathon

Sunday, Oct 13:
Napped and ate all day... call it recovering.  Felt good to run.  My body had been craving running yesterday.  It had been 1 week since I ran last, at the marathon.  I did 5.0 at 8:34 pace on a 2 degree treadmill (8:12 effort). 

Monday, Oct 14:
1 hr body weight strength session.  Trouble sleeping last night, maybe from the excessive napping.

Wednesday, Oct 16:
1 hr bike session.

Friday, Oct 18:
4 mi @ 8:53 pace at 3 degrees (8:10 effort).  Felt more difficult than it should've.

Sunday, Oct 20:
Run at the park, in the morning, pre-breakfast, because still full from late night eating (insatiable hunger).  Stopped a few times because a dog off-leash was a big bother.  Good thing I wasn't in training mode, or I would've been more irked.  Chilly at the start (50 deg), but I warmed up enough for the sports bra after 2 laps.  Calves sore today.  Slow start.  5.3 at 9:21 pace.

Monday, Oct 21:
5.0 at 8:26 pace, 2 degree treadmill (8:05 effort).  Legs were shaky driving home today - hard to keep foot plantar-flexed on either pedal... the run was ok, though.  Needed it, due to work.  Glad I did it, despite feeling blah prior to the run.  Needed it mentally.  Felt great afterwards. 

Tuesday, Oct 22:
1 hr bike session.  Same as last time - not very intense at all.

Wednesday, Oct 23:
1 hr body weight strength session.  Had record rep counts in many of the exercises and felt great.  I felt like I could do a fast short-distance race (up to 10 mi).  Work is tiring... I feel like if it wasn't for good overall health, I might have gotten sick.

Friday, Oct 25:
4.0 at 8:15 pace on a 2 degree treadmill (7:55 effort).  Monitor on the treadmill is broken, so you have to try very hard to see the distance.  My tummy was still digesting dinner, so the last mile was harder, cardiovascularly.

Sunday, Oct 27:
6.0 outside in the park, 8:56 pace.  Legs sore most of the day (same yesterday).  Had another active dream again.  Legs were feeling fresher, in time for the run, though.  It worked my cardio system a lot, even though it wasn't that fast.  Left knee cartilage complained a wee bit a few times, but not too bad.  Happy overall.

Tuesday, Oct 29:
4.0 at 8:19 pace.  For the past two days, my body has felt hot, while my hands have felt cold.  I've felt like I'm on the cusp of getting sick.  Too much work to do to afford to get sick, though.

Wednesday, Oct 30:
1 hr strength session.

Friends from our company from other countries visited, the week I got back.  I was really excited to see them again.  It's like the United Nations... South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Australia, China... all represented. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Grand [Canyonless] Adventure

Post-Race "Active Recovery"

We crawled through a natural cave at Snow Canyon state park near St. George.   We only went part-way, before we turned back.  We only had one light among us three, and it was hard to see which way you were supposed to go.  It was really cool and scary at the same time.  Parts of it were very narrow.

Snow Canyon was probably my favorite of all the parks, because of the diversity of trail types and rock formations that you could find there.
Zion national park was closed because of the Gov shutdown, but people could still drive through.  One day, I hope to go back, to explore "The Subway".
Monument Valley wasn't closed, since it's on tribal lands.  It's so distinctive and incredible to see those natural moments sitting out in the middle of desert.
Canyon de Chelley was still open for driving.  The White House trail led to pueblo ruins!
Sedona, AZ, was a nice city.  We stopped by a craft beer store and a vegan restaurant - win and win.  It also has lots of good hiking.  Cathedral Rock has incredible views at the top.  There's also a secret side-trail that is super-windy.
It actually snowed while we were in Flagstaff, AZ!  It never snows this early in the year.  It's crazy, that our car was covered in red desert dust one day and a blanket of snow the next.
On our way back to Vegas, we drove along Route 66 and stopped at Oatman, AZ, where wild burros, descendants of the ones released in the mining days, roam free.
Finally, we ended the trip with a day in Vegas.  I'll take natural beauty over Vegas any day.