Thursday, January 29, 2009

Back on the bandwagon.

OK, so last week sucked, but I'm determined to make some real "strides" this week. So far, I'm staying focused. On Monday, I decided, on a whim, to return to our on-site after work pilates class. It's so convenient, and it'll be nice to switch up training activity a little. I had gone to this same pilates class in the past (actually, I went for about a year and a half before quitting last year when I joined the gym), and it became really clear to me early on in the class how little I've worked certain muscles since the last time I was there. Among all 18 of the women there, I think I was the only one really huffing and puffing. BUT! There was an upside: in my entire year and a half of attending the pilates class--wait, make that my entire life--I have never been able to do a single push-up. Through dance, through gymnastics, through yoga, through good fitness and bad, I've only been able to do those wussie bent knee push-ups. OK, not to knock anyone who can only do those, but when you witness everyone in a pilates class improve over time and move up and on to bigger, better, tough-girl REAL push-ups, it can get a little discouraging. (My point is coming, hang on). Point: I can do them now. Despite not really working my arms these last several months, my body, overall, is getting a heckuva lot stronger. Just from running, I was strong enough to do FIVE real push-ups on the first day of class (I hear some snickers from you, but seriously, this is a mammoth accomplishment for me). Now if I can just get the rest of my pilates muscles in shape ASAP so that the next class isn't as hellish...

No running Monday (or the 8 days before that...), but I did get to the gym after work on both Tuesday and Wednesday (and I plan to go tonight as well). After many days of not running, I think I'd already started to lose muscle mass, and I definitely felt it. I pushed through to 4 miles on Tuesday and 5 on Wednesday, but it was a real struggle. My goal is to do another 4 or 5 tonight and shoot for a longer run on Sunday. We'll see how that goes. I'm kicking myself for slacking off last week, but I've still got 13 weeks to go before the race, so I'm not too worried.

Update: Mom is out. Lil' sister's graduation is the same day as the race, so she can't come. Maybe I can convince her to do another race, like, say, the one in Brooklyn on May 30th--her birthday. Wouldn't YOU like to spend your birthday running 13 miles? Yeah, me too. EE is in though, I think. Who knows about Vaz.
Sheepishly, and without explanation:

Week 8 totals: 0 miles, 1.5 hours of Bikram yoga, 6 rest days

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yes, I'm avoiding you.

Last week was...rough. Rough in that I could barely get up enough energy to get out of bed, let alone run. I ate a lot. I slept a lot (through lunch hours at work!). I drank a little more wine than necessary. It was cold and snowy, and I had Monday off. Exercise was not on the agenda.

Because it was cold, the only time I managed to get a run in were the two days I dragged myself to the gym after work. But luckily, on those days, I was DETERMINED. On Wednesday, I ran a tough 5 miles on the treadmill, and then on Sunday...get ready for it...I ran 8 miles on the treadmill! Woo! New record! And over half way to the 13.1! I feel like I have to grudgingly admit that it wasn't actually a straight 8 miles since I'd been drinking water all morning (I'd planned to do Bikram but decided on a run instead)--I ran 2 miles, had to run to the bathroom, and then did another 6. I felt GREAT! This was really the first time I've experienced the "runner's high" I've heard so much about, and I felt like I could've kept going and going and going. I actually stopped so that I could make it to Bikram in time (my adrenaline tricked me into thinking I could really do both!).

Alas, the train didn't come in time and I didn't make the yoga class, but it was probably a good thing, considering that by the time I got home, my knees and hips were so stiff I could barely hobble up the stairs to my apartment. Seriously, I'm still kind of limping. I was planning on running yesterday after work, but my hip was still in enough pain to make that goal unrealistic. The hip's a little better today, though, so I'm determined to get some running in--I'll just have to take it a little easier for a couple of days. Still, it's amazing to know I can finally do 8 (or 10, or 12...), even if it means feeling like a cripple afterward.

This week, I'm going to focus on doing shorter runs and Fartlek, but running more often than just 2 days.

Week 7 totals (almost as bad as last week): 13 miles, 5 rest days

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lazy weekend and totals.

We had the staycation this weekend, so as expected, I didn't get any running in. In fact, I barely got out of bed. I did see two movies and eat a lot of delicious brunch food, though.

Friday morning was the last day I ran, and it was the same un-fun morning run to Fort Greene Park and back. I am starting to REALLY hate that route! I'm starting to really love running in the mornings though, because I tend to be groggy for hours and hours after waking up, and the run gets the day off to a quicker start. I also really love leaving my apartment while it's still dark outside and seeing the sun come up as I run. But man! I really hate that 3 mile route, and need to find a better option. Maybe I should only run in the mornings when I'm at J.'s house and can go up to Prospect Park. I think a big reason I'm struggling with the Fort Greene route so much is that it's just so BUSY. Cars honking, people walking, garbage to leap over. Busy, busy, busy, even at 6am. It's pretty jarring after 3 weeks in quiet little Romeo. Ah, well.

Week 6 totals (disappointing): 11 miles, NO yoga, 4 rest days

This week will be better, I promise!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Back on the old treadmill...

Well, I returned to the gym yesterday despite being totally exhausted just from sitting at my desk all day. I want to go back to my 12 hours a night of sleep coupled with 3 hour mid-day naps. Sigh. It had to end sometime.

I don't have anything very interesting to say about this gym experience. I went there determined to run 5 miles, and was really bummed to realize I'd left my little shuffle at home. It meant a very long-feeling, boring run and a concerted effort to keep watching the news to take my mind off of the seconds crawling by, but I completed my goal. 5 miles in 58 minutes at a 1.0 incline, with speeds ranging from 4.8 to 6.6. I find it harder to keep up my speed on the treadmill--both because I'm bored and because I'm paranoid of falling. I threw a little fartlek in there for a change, but my recovery period was longer than expected, so I think that ended up actually slowing down my overall time as well. Still, it did feel rewarding to be really running and really struggling for 5 minute intervals. I was wiped out after the 5 miles, and barely made it home!

Vaz and I had planned to run together for the first time in Central Park tonight, but she's home sick and it's rainy and disgusting out. I was hoping for 3 miles today...I may head back to the gym if I'm feeling ambitious, but I think I'd be just as happy heading home for a nap after work. I am such a sleepy head all the time! I've gotta fit two more runs in at some point this week, though, and J.'s home (hooray!), so my mind is otherwise occupied. If not tonight, Friday morning.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Back in the city.

Well, I've returned to New York and am trying to get back in the swing of things (read: working all the time) after almost 3 weeks of lounging. As predicted, I wasn't able to get in a run on Sunday, but it wasn't due to work so much as it was because I got home from the coffee shop, had dinner, and then went to bed at 6pm...yep. Had to soak up those last few hours of vacation in style.

I got up early this morning (after only 12 hours of sleep) and did my 3 mile route to Fort Greene Park and back. I feel like no matter how many 5 and 6 milers I work up to, that run will never get any easier. Still, I am picking up speed a little bit. I'm averaging about 10 minute miles now, as opposed to the 12-13 minutes I was at a month ago. Little by little...

I feel pretty good about the totals for last week. I'm going to aim for a little further this week, but we'll see. I no longer have the luxury of peeling myself off the couch whenever I feel like it for a mid-afternoon jog. Aiming for the gym tomorrow and a run in Central Park with Vaz on Wednesday. The weekend is going to be pretty loungy, since J. and I are reuniting for a mini-staycation.

Week 5 totals: 13.2 miles, 11 hours of yoga, 3 rest days (4 no run days)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

More slacking, sort of...

Well, I ended up not running Thursday. Or Friday. Three days in a row of no running for no other reason than I was too lazy and concentrating on soaking up the last few relaxing days of my vacation.

I went to yoga both Friday and today, though--for 2 hours each--so at least I was getting something in. It was rough leaving that yoga class this morning. I'm going to miss Peggy, and I'm really going to miss being able to take advantage of free yoga for multiple hours a day.

After yoga today, Mom and I went for a jog. We tried a new route (actually, I tricked her into a different route that I knew so that she could go a little further and I could stick to the first part of my longer route). Mom is so fit and is already making speedy progress! She went 2.6 miles at a faster pace on a route full of hills. I was very proud of her, and already getting excited about the race that's months and months away. Peggy and her daughter want to come out for the half, too, and I hope that ends up happening. The more the merrier, and the more likely it is that Mom and I won't give up. We're already planning all sorts of pampering rewards for ourselves, should we finish.

As Mom turned left up the hill to finish off her 2.5, I turned right and continued on to reach my 6 mile goal for the break! I was ready to give up at about 4, but I'm really glad I kept on going. That was the main thing I wanted to accomplish over this holiday (well, that and lots of work, but I totally failed on that end so I feel pretty good about the 6 miles). My knees are old and rickety from the loads and loads of dance and gymnastics I did when I was younger, and they tend to hurt a whole lot on stairs and lunges, but they don't really hurt when I run at all. However, about half an hour after I finished the 6 miler this afternoon, both knees were throbbing in pain. It eased up after about 20 minutes, but they still feel a little shaky. I'll have to keep an eye on that going forward.

I have to go back to work at the coffee shop in about 6 hours, and then the rest of tomorrow will be dedicated to an edit letter and a nap. I'm not optimistic about fitting a run in, but I'll hold off on the totals for now.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Run, yoga, run.

I've really tried to get back on track this week. So far so good. I've still been doing a ton of yoga, but I've been getting some good long runs in, too.

On Saturday, Mom and I got up early for a vinyassa/yin yoga class with Peggy. Then, feeling all zen and warmed up, we set out for Mom's first run. It was incredibly foggy out and we could only see about 25 feet in front of us before the wall of fog blocked everything out. It was a little disorienting, but we did a steady 2 miles in no time--a full mile further than Mom thought she could go! As I said, she's already in pretty great shape, so it was no surprise to me. And, since she said if she could do 2 miles by January she'd be in, we are now both officially training for the half. All of her friends heard about our plans and decided they wanted to run a half with their daughters too, so she's got some great support for training in Michigan while I train in New York.

I was feeling pretty good later that day, and felt like I needed to get some more mileage in since I'd done close to nothing last week, so I ended up running another 4 miles for kicks (43 minutes). After that, I was good and tired.

Sunday was Christmas with Dad's fam, so was a rest day for me. I did get in a vinyassa class in the morning, though. I'm becoming a yoga addict.

Week 4 totals: 5.6 miles, 9 hours of yoga, 2 rest days (4 no run days)

On Monday, I did gentle flow yoga in the morning. Later, it was the ideal temperature for running--brisk enough so I didn't overheat, but warm enough that I wasn't at all cold--so I set out with a longer goal in mind. It was, however, really, really windy, and I struggled a bit because of it. BUT I still managed to break a new barrier--5 miles! I'm started to realize that it never gets any harder (it doesn't really get easier though, either). Your body just keeps adjusting and when you go further, it begins to feel exactly the same as running a mile less. Same tiredness in the legs, same slight shortness of breath, but it just took a little longer. Regardless, I was really proud of myself. I also ran it in 53 minutes, so I'm getting a bit faster, too. Hooray!

I think part of the speed and mileage increase is due to my little ipod shuffle, which I love. I got it for Christmas, put 125 fast-paced songs on it, and it's really changed the way I run. I know that according to trainers, you're not supposed to run with music because it takes the focus away from your body and your breath and the cars coming at you, but honestly, it's really helped me out. When I focus on my body and the struggle, I want to quit when I've barely started. But singing along to songs I know helps the time pass, and the quick beats get me going a bit faster than I'm used to. Praise the shuffle!

On Tuesday, Mom and I ran the same 2 miles we did before, but picked up the pace a bit this time. Mom found it a little harder this time (probably because she'd been on her feet at work for 12 hours the night before!), but still finished like a champ. She's already planning ahead to use my routes when I'm back in NYC.

The rest of the day was dedicated to yoga. I can't stop! When yoga is free, I want to get as much in as possible. I went in at 4:45...and emerged ultra-relaxed and flexible 5 HOURS later. Yeah...I don't know what I'm going to do when I can't keep up this vacation lifestyle next week in the city.

Yesterday I did absolutely nothing, exercise-wise, and it was kind of great.

Today the yoga studio is closed, but I'm aiming for another 4-miler, if I can ever get out of bed.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hello again.

It's been quite awhile since I've updated this thing, for three reasons: 1) I'm on vacation, 2) I haven't really been running much, because 3) I've had the flu. I've gotten some other exercise in, though--a LOT of yoga.

I got to Michigan last Thursday night, the 18th, ready for two and a half long weeks of relaxation after a crazed period of ultra-work before the holidays. I managed to get in just before a series of snow storms hit the mitten state; that night, we got about twelve inches, and we got another three the next day. We had a brief break in snow on Friday for the temperature to drop down to 8 degrees with a negative 20 windchill. No running for me. I did manage to get down to my mom's yoga studio down the street, though, where lovable hippy Peggy teaches a combination of Vinyassa and Yin yoga ("Harmony yoga"). Since I'm my mom's guest, she gave me a week unlimited for free, so I've been determined to make the most of it. I went Friday, Saturday (9am!), and Sunday mornings. I wasn't expecting to be so sore...I've done Bikram in the past, but Vinyassa and Yin exercise completely different muscles. The poses are also more difficult, since your body's not already stressed from extreme heat. I finally understand why EE finds Vinyassa so appealing. Maybe I'll have to join her in NY sometime.

After yoga on Saturday, I did get in a run. We google mapped out a route through my neighborhood, which is very hilly and was still snow-covered. The temperature had climbed to 15 degrees, and I was determined (at that point) to stick with my training schedule. I trudged up snowy hills (okay, and occasionally down) for 3.4 miles, and collapsed in my doorway at around 40 minutes. I was dizzy and nauseated, and really have to learn to drink more water.

Sunday was too cold for any outside activities, so I stuck with just the yoga. That night, I went with the sisters to Ypsi. I had planned to use Weezie's gym ID and go running there, but last minute Christmas shopping and catching up with D$ ended up taking over my life. I did go to Bikram, though, on both Monday and Tuesday.

And then, dun dun dun! I got the flu. D had it worst of all, but Weezie and I got the remnants. Still, it kept me off my feet for Wednesday and Thursday (though didn't stop me from eating lots of bad things on Christmas), and I've still got a pathetic little cough.

Today I felt healthy enough to get back in the game. Mom and I went cross country skiing this afternoon, eager to beat the warm temperatures (60s!) predicted for tomorrow, when everything will melt and the Christmas spirit with it. We skied 3.8 miles in a rather pitiful 2 hours, during which I fell on literally every single hill we careened down. Skiing requires some semblance of coordination, and I don't possess much. When we got home, I set out to run a quick 2 miles, but once I got going, felt like I could do that same 3.4 mile route that I did last week. I made it, wheezing only a little, in 36 minutes. Getting better. Still, the totals are kind of laughable.

Week 3 totals: 5.4 miles, 6 hours of yoga, 3 rest days (5 no run days)

This week so far: 3.6 miles, 3 hours of Bikram, 2 rest days (4 no run days)

I still have tomorrow and Sunday to get a few more miles in, though, so we'll see. Mom begins her training with me tomorrow! She's been dreaming about running, so I'm optimistic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ultra Quick Update

This week is insane, and I barely have time to update this thing let alone get any running in. I did manage a quick trip to the gym on Monday, though. I only had a few minutes to spare, so I just did 2 miles at a quick pace (for me) of 10 minutes a mile. I don't know how people can sustain faster speeds than that for more than half an hour or so; at just 20 minutes, I was pooped.

Rest days Tuesday-Thursday this week. Hopefully I'll have the willpower to resume training on Friday, my first day of vacation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Progress! End of week two.

Sadly, I did not make it to Bikram on Saturday as planned. Instead I lay around with J. for the majority of the day, ate a ginormous brunch, and then when J. left for his flight, I went home to nap some more.

I kind of made up for it with Sunday, though. Mainly because EE is my roommate, and she is hardcore. After work in the morning, I was planning another evening of work/lounging, but EE suggested we go for a run together. Now, in the past, I have been very hesitant to run with anyone, but particularly with EE. She is a dynamo and runs fast, far, and often. I didn't want to slow her down, or kill myself trying to keep up. But EE is all about me pushing my limits, so she ran (slowly) with me and became my short-term, very encouraging coach.

And we ran...4.4 miles!!! I shattered my previous longest distance of 3.7 miles. It was a really nice night, and we went up to Prospect Park and back. Though I struggled, it wasn't TOO bad. I have to learn to spit. Phlegm just builds and builds, and when I attempt a hearty runner's loogie, I end up with a shower of spittle all over my face. Sorry. That's gross, but true. Anyway...We started out slow and steady (maybe even a little slower than I usually go), and most of the way there was uphill. EE tried to coach me on breathing, but I'm not very good at following directions and ended up patheticly hyperventilating. When we reached Grand Army Plaza, we ran in place for a little bit to catch our breath (or for me to catch my breath--I don't think EE was really struggling) and watch the Christmas tree lights change colors. It was beautiful, and really felt like a reward for all of that uphill action. Then we headed back, and the half mile downhill helped me get my confidence back.

By the time we were on level ground, EE decided it was time for a little heart work out, and thought we should do some fartlek training. Fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish, and involves running hardcore (though my idea of "sprint" may differ from other people's) for a little while (in my case, a block), and then slowing it down for a block to let the heart recover. It was HARD, and because I am a wuss, we only did it for six blocks (three sprints), but I did find that I was able to keep up a slightly faster pace even after we stopped the fartlek. And EE is very encouraging and lavish with her praise for my minor successes, so she had me feeling pretty proud of myself for each small accomplishment. In fact, she celebrated my first 4.4 mile run before I'd actually completed it, at about 6 blocks from home. But it was just what I needed to really push through, and together we sprinted the last 4 blocks (the liquor store sign next to my apartment glowed like a beacon of hope on the horizon)...and then I felt like death upon arrival at 53 minutes (somewhere between 11 and 12 minute miles). Still, I felt great about finishing, and breaking the 4 mile barrier. I want to get to 6 by the end of Christmas break.

EE says she's super energized after a run, and I do have that initial adrenaline rush right after, but about 20 minutes later, all I can think about is sleep (but this isn't much different from how I am the majority of the time, so who knows?). Ani came over and EE made us a delicious meal and then we tried to work, but I was crashing from the start.

Week 2 totals: 14.1 miles, 3 rest days

This week is going to be a lot tougher to schedule, running-wise. I leave for Michigan Thursday evening, and nearly every second of time before then will be devoted to work. I brought gym clothes today in case I can squeeze in a short run before getting back to work on my edit, but other than tonight, I don't think I'll be able to exercise again until Friday. I guess I'll just have to make up for it in the latter half of the week. I don't want to dip under my 14 mile total...


Friday, December 12, 2008

Quick Update (because I'm swamped)

I've run the last two days, and both runs have felt more difficult than any other since I started training last week. On Wednesday afternoon, I took a mid-day break from work and followed the same route that I ran last Saturday: to Fort Greene Park, around the park, and back--about 3 miles. And I felt like hell from the moment I started running. I felt like my legs wouldn't work at all, and even crawling along, I was immediately exhausted. At just three blocks from my house, I considered just giving up and going home, but I tried to repeat the old "90 percent will" mantra, and kept going. I made it to the park, and then the sky opened up and it started POURING. And, weirdly, my run got a lot better after that. I guess I had the motivation I needed to keep going and speed up the pace (I wanted to get home ASAP!), and it was a really warm day, so the rain actually wasn't too miserable. Made it back at 33 minutes; 11 minute miles this time instead of ten, but hey, at least I finished.

Yesterday was gym day, and I logged another solid 3 miles on the treadmill in 34 minutes (1.5 incline, speed of 5.3). It sucked pretty much the whole way, but again, I was just glad to get through it. I'm not sure what's up with my body...It seems to be rebelling after adjusting so well to regular exercise at first. Two bad runs after a rest day. Hmmm. I had a glimpse of what it might be like to enjoy running on Monday--until they closed the gym, I really felt like I could keep going forever. I really hope I can get back there soon.

Today is a rest day, and tomorrow, back to Bikram.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Treadmill, take two.

I am really not cut out for treadmill running. It's somehow boring and terrifying at the same time. In addition to being a clutz, I am someone who cannot really walk in a straight line and sort of zigzags through daily life, so it's--and I know this sounds utterly ridiculous--kind of a real challenge for me to run straight and actually stay on the treadmill. I also have a lot of trouble with the steady pace that the treadmill enforces, so when my mind wanders--and how could it not with the same exact thing in front of me for 45 minutes?--I start to slow down and end up stumbling.

I went back to the gym last night after work, and was pleasantly surprised to see Monday Night Football on one tv to my left. The trouble was, I couldn't seem to look slightly to the left without my feet veering left as well, which of course resulted in several more near-death experiences. I finally gave up and zoned out staring at the anti-drunk-driving poster straight ahead.

I set out to break my 4 mile mark for the first time, and was well on my way...when they closed the gym and cut the machines. I've got to start getting there earlier. A bit of a bummer for sure. I ended up running 3.7 miles over 40 minutes at a 1.5 incline and speed varying between 5 and 5.7. My body was so sore/tired/miserable after what I did to it at Bikram the other night--my lower back was screaming!--but I pushed through. Almost there! I was feeling really motivated to get up this morning and finally get to 4, but after staying up until 2:30 working last night, I couldn't drag myself out of bed.

I'm still not on track for improving eating habits, and am forever reaching for the cookies. Today's a rest day, and a chance to ultra carb it up with F. over a pierogi dinner. Mmm, pierogi, how I love thee.

Tomorrow: work from home and take a run break over lunch.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Weekend, end of week one.

Well, I had planned to go to the gym on Friday, but since I got there just as they were closing (the Web site lied!), that didn't really work out. So instead of doing yoga on Saturday, I decided to get some running in. After lazing about the entire day, I finally headed out at dusk. I ran to Fort Greene Park, once around the park, and back, which I think is just over three miles. I'm trying to pay more attention to my body's reaction, and it's definitely taking some time to adjust to regular exercise. My ankles felt really week from the start and I was tripping here and there for the first quarter mile or so, but with the Colorado mix I made for EE blaring and a specific route in mind, I got into a nice rhythm. When I started to head back from the park, I realized it had only been 20 minutes and that I could probably make it back in 10 if I pushed myself a bit. I was surprised to find that I was able to do it without feeling like death, and actually sprinted that last couple of blocks. 30 minutes for 3 miles. Improvement! I'll admit that I spent a good while after congratulating myself. This was probably the first jog that I have somewhat enjoyed. It wasn't the thing I'd most like to have been doing, but my body felt good, the distance felt manageable, and seeing progress was really uplifting.

This morning I worked at the coffee shop, and then after passing out a J.'s for an incredible three hour nap, I went to Bikram. Gah! Hell. It's been quite awhile since I've practiced (maybe since Mom came in June....?), and it was a total nightmare. Despite drinking 72 oz. of water today (a record for me since I generally live in a constant state of dehydration), I was nauseous the whole hour and a half, and holding each pose was a struggle. Might've had something to do with drinking heavily last night and dancing for hours in honor of Vaz's birthday... But I got through it of course, and did feel really great after--except for the fact that I had to face a longish walk in bitterly cold and windy weather. I plan to return next week. Even with a rough class, I realized how much I've missed going to yoga regularly. EE is also trying to suck me into vinyasa though, so we'll see.

I've been trying to eat better and drink more water, but old habits die hard and I can't seem to resist the sugar. I also need to do some grocery shopping to keep me from eating out all the time.

Tomorrow: gym. I don't want to take a rest day in the new week until I've gotten at least one treadmill workout in.

I wasn't going to tell anyone about the race or the blog--mainly because I'm not sure I can really go through with it, especially if Mom drops out--but I'm finding that telling people makes me feel more obligated to follow through. Not to mention that EE and Alvina are both crazy running people and have a lot of great advice to share.
Week 1 totals: 8.7 miles, 1.5 hours yoga, 3 rest days

Til next time...