Saturday, January 2, 2016

I'm Moving!

I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

After writing this blog for a few years, I was wishing to start from scratch, based on what I had learned along the way. I've finally decided to bite the bullet and have set up a "real" blog. (On Wordpress with a hosting service - huge upgrade!)

I really appreciate everyone who has read and commented here at MyEagerFeet. Your support has meant a lot, and I wouldn't have had the courage to start my new blog without it.

I will still be blogging about running and my 50 States journey, but I'm also going to devote a lot more time to hiking. My first post goes live tomorrow morning, and I hope you'll join me at Vitamin OH!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week Four

What amazing weather we had this week! It was in the 50's and 60's every day, and I tried to enjoy every moment outside as much as possible. It's supposed to cool down to more seasonable temperatures this week, and I know it will be a long time until standing outside is enjoyable again.

We've also made some progress on wedding planning: (I promised I wouldn't turn this into a wedding blog - but I feel much less stressed now.) I finally ordered The Dress, which gave me a giant stress headache, but I'm really excited to get like two months.

We also finally got a roofer to come do an estimate for us on a few things, namely a missing apex shingle. He was awesome and actually noted a few other problems, including an old bee hive that had pushed out part of our siding. I swear, after knowing about that plus the giant hornet's nest this summer, I might just wear a beekeeper's suit outside next year come spring.

Sunday, December 6
Winter Warm-up Hike (CVNP), 6.7 mi

It was actually cold in the morning when we started this hike, even though it warmed up later in the day to the high 50's. The hike combined three trails on a really enjoyable (and easy to remember/follow) loop I definitely want to do again on my own! The first trail was the cross-country trail, and a lot of it went through open fields covered in heavy frost. Since it wasn't horrifically cold, it was magical.

Monday, December 7
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Four, 3.1 mi easy

My legs were pretty tired from the longer hike the day before, but the story of the app kept me engaged and the run enjoyable.

Tuesday, December 8
NTC: Wipeout, 30 mins

This was a repeat of the first NTC workout I ever did, and it felt a lot better than the first time, even though it still killed me. I get a lot of anxiety when doing a new workout where I don't know exactly what to expect, so having a better idea of the sequence this time around, I felt more in control.

Wednesday, December 9
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Five, 2.9 mi easy

I set out for the run with hat and gloves, and took the gloves off halfway and could've easily lost the hat too, except I hadn't bothered to put my hair up. I'm doing a pretty good job about not over-dressing, at least based on the few other people I've seen out there, but it's still weird to go out uncovered in December!

Thursday, December 10
NTC: Body Buffer, 45 mins

This workout was so hard! It was long enough that it could really hit upper body, lower body, and core until all three were spent. I feel like this workout buffered me right into the ground.

Friday, December 11
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Six, 2.7 mi easy

The weather was gorgeous out! My legs were pretty stiff from the day before, and the gentle run really helped loosen them up.

Saturday, December 12
Extreme Hiking (Brecksville Reservation), 8.1 mi

I'm not sure what classified this hike as "extreme," other than the length, but it was awesome! The ranger led us on a circuit of the large reservation, and I'm bummed I didn't pay enough attention to be able to recreate it on my own. I wore my MSU shorts (and a t-shirt!) because it was in the 60's, and a naturalist with the Metroparks noticed, and it turns out she was a Spartan too! I spent a lot of the hike with her, and hearing all about her work was so interesting. (Which is always fun to follow up with being an accountant!)

Run Miles: 8.7 mi
Hike Miles: 14.8 mi
Weights Time: 1:15
Total Time: 8:16

I'm really pleased with how active I was this week again, even with only three days of running! I know most people keep up a long-ish run in the off-season, but the hiking so far has been a great substitute. All the hikes have had at least 600 feet of elevation gain, and they force me to work lots of different muscles, so I'm getting awesome time on my feet without as much impact. Plus, hiking is just so much fun! I'm almost a bit sad we're going back to Michigan for Christmas and New Year's, because I'm missing out on several awesome hikes!

I might just have to drag my family out on some trails there!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week Three

I know it's not related to running, but I would be remiss if I didn't start this post with the highlight of my week - Michigan State made it into the College Football Playoffs! 8 PM New Year's Eve with face off with Alabama, and I couldn't be more excited!

But back to my own sports (if you can call it that). This week went really well. I busted out the Zombies, Run and Nike Training Club apps to give myself a bit of structure. Zombies, Run is super fun! I'm always looking forward to my runs to find out the next part of the story. Are there any other immersive story apps like this? Because I want them all.

On the other hand, Nike Training Club totally kicked my butt! I wasn't expecting it to be easy, but I usually lay on the basement floor for a couple minutes after each one trying to catch my breath. Michael did a couple with me, and he agreed they were tough! I think it would be hard to do these during marathon training because they make me so sore, but they're great to build some strength for the off-season!

Sunday, November 29
Turkey Burner (South Chagrin Reservation), 5.3 mi

I drove about a half hour to the east side for this post-Thanksgiving hike. It was a beautiful day, and we hiked several different loops around the park, using the bridle trail to connect as needed. The only bummer was we didn't cover as much mileage as I hoped because of some pretty out-of-shape people that slowed down the hike. (I'm not trying to say at all they shouldn't have come out - I just wish they would've stayed in back with the sweeper volunteer, instead of hiking with the ranger and forcing her to slow down.)

Monday, November 30
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission One, 3.2 mi easy

What an action-packed intro! I was hooked on the app immediately.

Tuesday, December 1
NTC: Wipeout, 30 mins

This workout had a ton of arms, and mine felt like jelly at the end! I have to do this again this upcoming week, and I am scared!

Wednesday, December 2
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Two, 2.9 mi easy

My legs were really sore from the day before, so it was nice to run for time instead of distance. (I know - who am I?!)

Thursday, December 3
NTC: Mean Machine, 45 mins

I roped Michael into doing this one with me, and I think we both felt liked Broken Machines at the end.

Friday, December 4
Zombies, Run Season One, Mission Three, 2.6 mi easy

I had a close encounter with some deer on this run. There is a long, narrow field that cuts through our subdivision where the power lines run, and a huge buck likes to hang out there with his two ladies. He's cantankerous at the best of times, and it's the tail end of rut right now. Luckily, my head lamp picked up their eye shine when they came bounding up, but I still waited almost a whole minute for the buck to cross. I'm glad I saw them, otherwise we would've been only a foot or two apart - scary!

Saturday, December 5
NTC: Circuit Challenge, 30 mins

This workout felt like the easiest out of all three I've tried so far, but it still got my HR way up! It was a good distraction waiting for the football game, however.

Run Miles: 8.7 mi
Hike Miles: 5.3 mi
Weights Time: 1:45
Total Time: 5:49

My total time was down a lot this week because I only devoted 30 minutes to being active each day, instead of 60, since I'm moving back to higher impact activities. I also hiked less, which makes up a lot of the total!

I'm really, really enjoying this break. It's also helped me discover how much cool hiking there is within 30 minutes of my house! Without even trying, I'm able to do a group hike for fitness at least once a weekend - and it's the winter season for programs! I love hiking, so I plan to incorporate it into my next training cycle. Everything I can find on the Internet says not to, but it makes me so happy, I'm going to find a way! (If you have any tips or ideas on how to do this, please let me know!)

We've also signed up for three marathons for 2016 - the Coastal Delaware Running Festival in April, Shires of Vermont in May, and Route 66 in November. We are planning to do White River in November as well, as a double with Route 66. It will be our first, and we're looking forward to it!

Northeast Ohio has also really lucked out with some very mild weather as of late, and it should continue. The lake isn't supposed to freeze for a long time because of El Nino, so once it gets below freezing, we're going to get more snow than normal, so I plan to enjoy this as long as I can!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week Two

Week two of my off-season really flew by! I'm sure it's partly because of the holiday week, but I can't believe it's already time to start adding in running and strength training again. We were blessed with beautiful weather, and I feel like I took advantage of it as much as I could.

I'm also very pleased that my bothersome right leg seems back to normal. Two weeks ago, I would notice some twinges while hiking. It wasn't pain, or even discomfort, but I could tell it still wasn't quite right. But I realized after my hike in Friday that I hadn't felt it at all. If running this week aggravates it again, I will back off, but I'm feeling very hopeful about my recovery!

Sunday, November 22
Hiking the Hills (Cuyahoga Valley NP), 6.3 mi

This was a very enjoyable hike on a portion of the Buckeye Trail, and it included lots of hills, as the name suggests! It sounds like one ranger leads a similar series of hikes year-round (though the name changes based on the season), so there were lots of repeat hikers, and the rangers was very popular. We also got to do a short off-trail section, which was pretty fun.

Monday, November 23
Yin Yoga for Neck, Shoulder, & Upper Back Tension Relief
Yin Yoga for Deep Relaxation and Stress Relief

I knew I would be doing more hiking in the days ahead, so I made sure to spend some time on my mat.

Tuesday, November 24
1 Hour Yin Yoga Full Class - All Levels Total Body Stretch

Wednesday, November 25
60 min walk

I got dismissed early from work at 1:30 (woohoo!), so I made sure to get out for a long walk in the sunshine. It was very pleasant in the 50's, and it was great to get some vitamin D. Afterwards, I did some Thanksgiving cooking, with a lot of time on my feet, so I was pretty tired by the time I went to bed!

Thursday, November 26
Yin Yoga for a Deep Stretch - 45 Minute Full Class for Flexibility

We didn't have to leave for Thanksgiving until 12:15, so it was nice to have a lazy morning.

Friday, November 27
Black Friday Hike (Cuyahoga Valley NP), 5.9 mi

This was another hike on a section of the Buckeye Trail. We finished about five seconds before it started raining. Thanksgiving is fun, and a great time to see family, but it was so nice to take a couple hours for myself in the morning and spend them outside in the fresh air.

Saturday, November 28
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips and Hamstrings
Yin Yoga for Neck, Shoulder, & Upper Back Tension Relief

I did these videos while watching some late-night college football, which seemed like an excellent way to close out our three day Thanksgiving celebration. (Obviously, I had today off too, but I've mostly spent it taking care of stuff around the house!)

Walk Miles: 3 mi
Hike Miles: 12.2 mi
Yoga Time: 4:02
Total Time: 9:47

I'm really pleased with how much active time I had again this week! I don't know why I ever thought I would have to be a couch potato if I stopped running, because it's not true at all.

I did consider whether I truly wanted to add in running and strength training this upcoming week, or if I only felt compelled to because I had set that timetable before the marathon. While going for walks and doing lots of yoga has been super fun and relaxing, I have found myself craving a bit more intensity. It's been a bit harder to fall asleep a night, and I've missed the feeling of breaking a good sweat.

For this week, I am planning to run three days, strength train three days, and hike one day. I downloaded the Zombies, Run app, as well as the Nike Training Club app, and I'm hoping these "programs" will give me enough structure to keep me happy, without making me feel like a slave to a training plan!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week One

This week marked the beginning of my "off-season" from training. We haven't signed up for 2016 races yet, but our first race is pretty well decided. I won't need to jump back into marathon training again until January 4th (starting around the New Year makes me happy because I'm OCD like that!), so that means I have six whole weeks to fill.

I was worried about feeling lost, but so far I am having an absolute blast. After focusing on training for so long, it's fun to use my fitness to be active - just because. I'm waiting at least two weeks to start running again to allow my leg time to fully heal, and I'm more than okay with taking more time off running if needed. My goal is to be 100% again when 2016 hits, and if not running is what I need to do, not running is what I need to do.

Until then, I have been going for walks, hitting up my yoga mat, and fitting in hikes when I can (which basically means the weekends, since it gets dark at 5 now...). While I have the itch to run, it's also nice to give myself a break. I've been listening to an audiobook on my walks (I can't focus enough on them when I run), I've been watching funny videos while doing yoga (I know, I know, not the best way to do yin yoga but it makes me happy), and spending a lot of time on my feet at a low HR while hiking. I'm also developing some new hiking callouses to go along with my running callouses, so my feet will look absolutely spectacular soon!

Sunday, November 15
1.2 mi walk
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips & Hamstrings

We flew home around 9 AM from Atlanta and were home before 12, even with a stop to pick up a pizza, which was a nice travel day for a change. We had plenty of time to unpack, do laundry, and run to the grocery store. I made sure to fit in a walk and some yoga - both were slow and gentle after racing the day before, but I felt surprisingly good Monday!

Monday, November 16
1.4 mi walk
Yin Yoga to Restore and Reboot

Tuesday, November 17
1.4 mi walk
Yin Yoga for Anxiety and Stress

I read some creepy SAR stories posted online around Halloween (I don't why I thought this would be a good idea, since sometimes even the old Scooby Doo can be too scary for me), and I've been getting the willies about going to wooded areas alone ever since. This is a bit of a problem because I'm surrounded by woods when I walk and run. I decided to face my new, stupid fear by walking through the wooded patch right by my house.

My new headlamp is excellent, but I didn't realize how creepy seeing eye-shine would be. Two deer were standing right off the path, on eye level with me, and picking up their eyes just about gave me a heart attack. But I did feel less creeped out afterwards. (Though I had some rational fear because I'm pretty sure one was a buck and it is rutting season, the last thing I want is to get gored!)

Wednesday, November 18
1 Hour Yin Yoga Full Class - Total Body Stretch for All Levels

It was incredibly windy outside and started pouring as soon as I got home, so I opted to just spend the evening on my mat.

Thursday, November 19
3 mi walk

I went for an hour long walk Thursday since I didn't go out Wednesday. It was still pretty windy and cold, but not nearly as bad as the day before.

Friday, November 20
Yin Yoga for a Deep Stretch - 45 Min Full Class for Flexibility

I didn't quite get in a full hour of activity because MSU had a basketball game at 7. Yes, it is now the time of year when our random basketball schedule dictates my life! However, I did fully get into square pose (which apparently is the real name for what I've always called half lotus) on my right side, which blew my mind. Maybe I'm getting a bit more room in my hips.

Saturday, November 21
Extreme Hiking (Mill Stream Run Reservation), 6.8 mi

This was my first group hike out of several I have planned in the coming weeks. It was at one of the two mountain biking trails in the Cleveland Metroparks system, which made it interesting for hiking, since it is built specifically for biking. (Hiking, in either direction, is always allowed when it's open, though the bikers have to go one direction. I'm surprised this is the case, because it seems like a recipe for disaster, especially when the leaves are out and visibility ahead on the trail is super low.)

I spent half the hike stuck behind a group of three of the loudest women ever and can now tell you about all their drama. My favorite was when one of them complained that someone who wanted to join her masters rowing team was too out of shape, yet none of them could keep up with the ranger. It was interesting to count how many people sidled past them when we took a break. Once I snuck around them, the hike was much more enjoyable.

I'm really glad there was a ranger leading this, because the trails were confusing, plus we took a hikers-only connector trail that is not on the map. I'm not sure I would call the hiking "extreme" after what I've done in other parks, but hiking on a trail not specifically designed for hiking was a fun challenge. It sounded like the ranger changes up the configuration, so I will definitely check this hike out again when it's offered.

Walk Miles: 7 mi
Hike Miles: 6.8 mi
Yoga Time: 3:36
Total Time: 8:56

Looking back on this week, what I'm most surprised about is my total time, which is near what I get to during peak training weeks. But I feel so good after nine hours this week because it was also spent on low to no impact activities done at a low HR. I've always thought taking a break would mean having to spend lots of time on the couch, but that's not the case at all.

This coming week I have three hikes scheduled, so I will probably spend some extra time on my yoga mat. The rumor is I get to leave work incredibly early Wednesday, so I will probably get outside some extra time then and enjoy the (predicted) sun.

I will try to get my Chickamauga race report up this week, but in case I don't, I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 14 (Lots of Rambling, Little Running)

I'm once again really bummed to report that my bum leg derailed yet another week of training. I did specifically opt for more rest, hoping to feel better for my race on Halloween. I ended up only running on Saturday and rested the other days.

I did feel much better on Saturday, but still not really the same. The pain is now tolerable enough to run, and I can run much more normally, rather than limping and hobbling along. However, that certainly doesn't mean I'm healthy.

I don't want to spoil anything for this coming week's recap, but when I tried to run yesterday, my heart rate was once again sky high, I assume from my body processing the stress of the leg while trying to maintain what is normally my easy pace. I think the leg will stretch out and be better after about 5-7 miles, but it's not ideal.

Obviously, I'm pretty upset and disappointed that I put in such a good training cycle and was in such good shape, only for it all to fall apart at the end. I'm still contemplating what my race strategy will be, and I have some ideas about how I will tackle marathon training in the future, both of which I will hopefully cover in future posts. Either way, the chiropractor thinks weak and inactive glutes are the root cause - which seems perfectly reasonable to me - so I will be making some sort of home glute routine to try to prevent this from popping up again.

However, I thought I would be more distraught than I am. Even though running long distances can sometimes feel like a chore, I guess I really do love the training, if not getting a pay-off at the end doesn't bother me all that much. I know I will be able to complete the marathon under the time limit and most likely can't cause any significant harm. If I couldn't race at all, I would be much more upset!

I do have, most likely, a six week "off-season" coming up after Chickamauga, and I'm already planning fun, active things to fill it with, which I think is really helping my mental state. There's so many cool outdoor things to do here, and I feel like I've ignored them all because of marathon training. This could probably be a whole post by itself, but I plan to take a lot more advantage of these opportunities in the off-season, and hopefully find a way to incorporate them even when I start training again, ie - maybe do a ranger-led hike instead of run.

I'm also beginning to contemplate what I'll have to do once it snows. I'm thrilled to work so close to the Towpath now, but it is not plowed in the winter. I also have a feeling the farm roads around our house where I have been doing almost all my running will be lowest priority on the plow list. I don't mind running in our neighborhood, but the most you can do in a loop is about two miles, or three via an out-and-back. This is fine, but this will probably get really old!

Luckily, there are lots of options for winter sports really close by, plus lots of chances to get instruction! I would love to learn how to snowshoe and cross-country ski, because I think they would be really good, fun substitutes for running, and are much lower impact. While it looks like snowshoes can bit a tad pricey, cross-country skis are way cheaper than I ever expected, so if I want to invest in these as choices, it won't break the bank. There are super affordable rental options nearby for both (like $5/day for snowshoes and $15/day for skis affordable!), so I plan to try them out once we get some snow. Skiing under the stars on the Towpath after work sounds pretty magical to me!

Run Miles: 3.1 mi
Total Time: 28:04

Sorry for this post and its many tangents, but I feel like it was a lot more interesting than regaling you with all the ways I'm icing my leg with a bag of carrots. If you do winter sports and have any tips/suggestions/ideas, please let me know! Because basically the only thing I can do right now is snow tube - not exactly perfect cross-training!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dead Sprint 5K Recap

I've talked about it many times on the blog before, but one of my favorite running things is holiday-themed races. I'm on the fence about doing the Cleveland Turkey Trot because we're helping Michael's aunt with Thanksgiving this year, and I don't want to be cavorting downtown if I'm needed elsewhere. And since Halloween is on a Saturday this year, I decided I needed to work in a race for that holiday!

My goal and/or hope was to PR this race. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that didn't happen. I'll analyze the race a little further on in this post.

The race was held at a bar called West Park Station in Cleveland, though it is basically in the swankier West Side suburbs, rather than Cleveland proper. The race didn't start until 9 AM and was only a half hour away, so I was able to sleep in relatively late for a race day (about 7:30 AM).

We haven't been running our heat (to save money), so it felt really cold when I got up, and I grabbed my hat and gloves, but when I stepped out of the garage, it was actually very pleasant! It was 50 degrees, but it didn't have that "chilly" feeling. I ended up running in just shorts and a t-shirt and was very comfortable, though almost everyone else was layered up. It's been seasonally warm here, so I think we're all still in that stage with overdressing on accident.

I arrived at the race site around 8:30 AM and parked at the Walgreens next door (shh...) and waited about two minutes for my race packet. I got the last small shirt (score!!), but they were ordering more shirts for the sizes they had run out of, which I always appreciate. I was planning to wear the shirt to pass out candy, so I was really glad they had my size! They are long-sleeve cotton shirts, which I think are my favorite type of shirt to get from a race - so comfy and cozy!

For a unisex, it fits surprisingly well!
I took my stuff back to the car and got my bib pinned on. I then dipped back into the bar to use the indoor(!!) bathrooms. The bar was also hosting a discounted mimosa/bloody mary bar for runners after, but I didn't stick around for that (which it turns out I should have...more on that in a minute).

They sent us out to the start about five minutes before hand, and while it was a little cool waiting, and I was far from miserable. I ended up standing next to this guy who asked for the time, which I was happy to provide him, but then he kept craning his head to look at my watch about every 30 seconds, which I had pick up satellites, so the time wasn't even showing anymore. It was strange!

The race started without much fanfare. I'm very happy with where I placed myself, since I have a history of starting too far back. I only had to weave around a few people, then I was in a good spot. I wasn't sure of how fast I could run, so I hung on to a guy pacing about 8:50. He was going very sure and steady and seemed comfortable at that pace, so I two stepped behind him for the first mile and a half. The pace felt hard, but I was able to keep my breathing under control.

However, after about the halfway point, my legs were just done. I lost my rabbit but was surprised to see I was holding about the same pace - he must have sped up (because he had a better pacing strategy than hanging with a random stranger, ahem).

After the second mile, the wheels came off. I'm sure it's been the time off due to injury, but my legs could not turn over and my heart rate was sky high. I kept backing it off incrementally to see if I could catch my breath, and I ended up dropping to an almost 10 min/mile pace. There was a point where sitting on the curb and crying sounded good. It sounds so melodramatic now, but I just hurt at a pace that should've been comfortable.

With a half mile to go, we turned back to the main street, which would take us to the last .1 of the course. I felt like slowing had allowed me to recover fairly well, so I started to pick it back up. I imagined "changing gears" and picked it up in spurts, letting each increase settle in before going again. It was hard, but with my heart rate back under control, I felt better.

The last .1 was a straight shot and I focused on doing a controlled acceleration through the finish.

Time: 28:04

There was water, bananas, and granola bars easily accessible right across the line, and I helped myself and watched people finish for awhile. A lot of people dressed up, and it was really fun! But I felt really tired and nauseous. Now that I've had a chance to think over the race, I've started questioning whether it was really a physical issue that held me back, or if it was more mental. But, to me, wanting to puke is a good benchmark, so I feel like I did really give it my all.

I'm disappointed I didn't PR, and I just left the race afterwards, instead of staying for awards. I told myself I was cold, but I easily could've grabbed my coat from the car and gone back inside. The racing company posts results in real time, and I thought fleetingly I should check them, but I moped my way home instead.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I saw later I had placed third in my age group! I'm hoping I might be able to pick it up at one of the Fleet Feet stores, but we'll see.

I'm feeling a little down because I was hoping a big PR would prove I had gained a ton of fitness this training cycle. However, I realize I should have recognized that taking a few weeks off throughout to treat my leg, while being the smart decision, would affect my performance. I also need to keep in mind I've been training for a marathon, not a balls to the wall 5K, as it were.

I am taking heart in the fact that my last .1 was at a 7:20 pace, and it didn't feel like a wild out-of-control sprint. For reference, the last bit of the Jog into Spring 5K, where I got my current PR, was an 8:35 pace and felt like death. I think I have more speed than I showed today, I just didn't have the endurance to put it all together.

Hopefully I will be able to clean my running up the next two weeks for Chickamauga!