Thursday, August 30, 2012

Street Intervals

After my little episode on Tuesday morning with a possible ghost, I was slightly nervous about this run.  I don't what it is lately but the darkness has really been getting to me.  It could be because I am running more miles and getting less sleep.  More sleep really is the answer to everything.

Today I wanted to fit in 10 miles before work which meant running the majority of my miles in the darkness.
But there was no other time to fit in this run today (10 hour work day + dinner with friends after work) so I just went out there and did the run - obviously avoiding the scary street.

As I ran my 2.5 mile warm up, I kept seeing shadows and thinking it was a person but this time it turned out to be a mailbox, garbage cans and a flag.  I kept telling myself to relax and not think about someone lurking in the darkness because there was no one there. 

When I reached the street I was going to do my intervals, I went right into it.  There is this really nice 0.8 mile loop neighborhood track near me that is fairly flat with super low traffic. On the first few loops, I kept doing a double take on a garbage can I thought was a person.  It was just the shadows playing games with my eyes.

As I made it through my third and fourth intervals, the stars had begun to fade and I could see a slight hue of red on the horizon where the sun was eventually going to peak over.  The darkness that I had started in was slowly turning into daylight.  The neighborhood remained quiet through my whole workout and I never saw anyone else out and about.

Thursday workout - 
6x1200m @ tempo pace w/ 1 min recovery

I am glad I didn't let the incident Tuesday scare me away from morning running.  One thing that makes running so enjoyable to me is running before most people are awake.  The quiet and peacefulness of the mornings is my favorite way to start the day.  If anything, Tuesday was a reminder to me that I need to stay safe and continue to be alert.

The street intervals weren't too long in distance but I turned this workout into a medium long run to get in the extra miles.  This is my last big week before starting to decrease miles for the half marathon race.  I have enjoyed the training but I am ready for some lighter mileage weeks. Almost end of the week medium long run was a success.  Feels pretty good to knock out a bunch of miles before even my husband is awake.  He is so not a morning person.

Running all these miles before work meant that I was a little bit late to work (thankfully my work is flexible).  I am so glad that I have tomorrow off and that I have a four day weekend (for Labor Day). I am not sure how much rest and relaxation I will get because the weekend is packed with some fun activities :-)

Happy Thursday and Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Seeing Ghosts

This morning seemed like a normal morning. 

I was up at 5am and out the door by 5:10am for the first of two runs today.  It was an easy run around the neighborhoods that surround my house but it was quite dark.  Late August means dark mornings with the sun not rising until 6:30am.  I am not ready to break out the headlamp yet so I just rely on my neighbors having their outdoor house lights on. 

From my driveway the mornings look like this...

Pre run
Slightly eerie I must say (and a little foggy).  But I know the area around my house pretty well.  I know the houses and the roads and although I vary my route up each day, I have run the area so many times that I feel pretty comfortable running in the darkness.

There is this one street that is always seems darker and slightly scary.  There are fewer houses with porch lights on and then there is a stretch of road where it is always dark.  Sometimes when I see this street in the dark, I don't even venture down it because I just feel uncomfortable - I get a weird feeling in my gut and so I listen to it and just keep going and avoid this street.

This morning, I turned down this street even though it was dark.  I wasn't afraid, I didn't get a feeling I shouldn't run down the street and I was pretty alert.  No one else was around; the road was dead silent but peaceful.  I was keeping my eyes open for anything suspicious and just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  As I ran through the particularly dark portion of the street, something caught my eye in a driveway to my left. 

It looked like a person all dressed in black just standing there.  I continued to run, trying to figure out if it was a person or not and what they were doing.  I glanced back and forth between the road ahead of me and the driveway beside me as I passed.  The person didn't look up, didn't even move, but the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I got wild goosebumps up and down my legs and arms.  I kept looking and looking trying to get my eyes to focus more in the dark and tell if it was a person, but I couldn't see it - the driveway was too dark and there was not enough light.

My pace picked up significantly at that point.  I still was not sure what I had seen.  Was it just another morning runner/walker or was it something else.  The fact that it had not even moved worried me and I kept looking behind me as I continued up the street.  At that point I decided I wasn't going to run down that street on my way back home, I was going to avoid it because it has really freaked me out.

I continued on my run, not seeing another soul the rest of the way.  I kept thinking back to what I had seen.  Was it really a person in the driveway or was it just something.  Sometimes the shadows play tricks on my eyes and I see things that aren't there, but usually as I get closer to that object I see that it is really just a mailbox or a sign or something.  But not this morning, I still have no idea what it was in that driveway.

Post run
When I got home, I showered and ate breakfast like usual.  As I was getting ready for work, I kept thinking back to that driveway and what I had seen.  I was curious.  I wondered what it was.  So as I drove into work, I took a mini detour to that neighborhood and drove by the house.  There was nothing in the driveway - just two cars which I had seen when I passed but nothing else.  Nothing that could have resembled a person or anything.

I may have been watching a few too many episodes of Ghost Whisperer.  It seems I have become addicted to that show and have been watching repeats on TV for the last month.

This morning was one of the weirdest/scariest thing I have come upon during a morning run.  I will most likely be avoiding that neighborhood for a while now until I feel more comfortable or until I start wearing my headlamp again. I just can't help but wondering what I actually saw this morning in that driveway.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Just for the weekend

My workout schedule each week pretty much looks the same - I switch up my running routes from time to time but besides that there isn't much variation in the days I work out and what I do.

This week the schedule kind of got mixed up because Brian and I were dog sitting for a friend.  From Friday to Sunday we had a nice little addition to the house.  She was a chocolate lab and very well behaved.  Since we had the dog, I knew she would need a walk in the morning so I decided a solo long run on Saturday would be the best - that way I could run from the house and then come back and pick up the dog.  Usually on Saturdays I meet up with either my running buddy, the running club or both!

I headed out at my usual Saturday morning long run start time and saw a beautiful sunrise.  I chose a particularly hilly route partially because I wanted to run to some new places I had never run before.  I even passed a horse farm along the way.

Once my 14 miler was done, I was back at the house and picked up the dog for a few more miles.  We headed out and explored a local trail near the house.  I thought we were going to be able to take it easy for the walk, but the dog ended up pulling me along.  She seemed to really enjoy going for walks. 

 My legs did not really want to be fast walking after my hilly run but at least the walk was on a very flat trail. 

I know that Brian and I would love to have a pet in the house but with our busy schedules I would feel horrible leaving the dog alone for so long.  It was nice to have a dog visit for just a weekend.  We were definitely spoiled though because now I will never want a dog that isn't as well behaved as this one!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Make this Tonight!

Happy Friday!

This week has been crazy busy.  Wednesday I was at work and was hit with a huge headache around 2pm.  I tried to shake it off with water and a little advil but nothing worked.  I finally left work around 4pm and went home to collapse in bed.  After a short nap, I felt slightly better.  I decided that making a good home cooked meal would help to kick the final remeants of the headahce.  After making this meal I felt so much better. 

You have to make this for dinner tonight! It is so easy and delicious.

Penne Rosa with Shrimp

12 ounces penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
8 ounces chopped mushrooms
2 medium tomatoes chopped
4 cups fresh spinach
10 ounces frozen (or raw) shrimp
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes until garlic starts to soften.
3. Add in mushrooms and tomatoes.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and release water.
4. If using uncooked shrimp, add in now and cook for 2 minutes.  Then add in spinach and and let cook a few minutes.  If using cooked shrimp, add in spinach and let cook for a few minutes then add in shrimp.
5. Turn stove down to low heat, add in penne, marinara sauce and greek yogurt.  Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated.  Add in parmesan cheese and continue to mix.  Heat until pasta mixed is warmed through and then serve!

Recipe from Back to her Roots.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Triple Double

Just call me crazy.  Seriously.

But let me give you a little background first.  So this summer for me is jam packed.  From July through October, I am home for a total of about 5 weekends.  That's like one weekend a month.

Add on top of that the fact that I am knee deep in half marathon training (for a September half) and things get complicated.  And so I have been really packing the miles into my week days in order to keep my weekends free and flexible.

Which brings me to the Triple Double.  Originally this phrase meant something different to me - when I played basketball in high school and college it meant that I possibly had played a really great game and scored above 10 points, grabbed over 10 rebounds and had over 10 assists.  Three categories each with double digit stats. 

Sad to say I never got that in basketball.

Anyway.  This week happened to be quite challenging for miles since I was going for over 55.  A friend at my running club suggested I do a double run on speed work days because it helps you to become faster.  So Tuesday, I laced up my shoes at 5am for 4.5 miles and then again at 5pm for mile repeats.  The mile repeats went well - not sure running in the morning helped or not.

Wednesday morning came around too quickly and although I had 7 miles on my plan which was sort of doable before work, I decided to give myself a little break and run 3.5mi in the AM and 3.5mi in the PM.  Then Thursday came and I had to fit in 9 miles total which was really pushing it for pre-work miles and I had already been late once this week so I decided to only try for 7 in the AM with some interval paces and then come home to finish with 2mi in the PM.

Phew.  I am tired just typing that out.  But surprisingly it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  My legs responded to the running and I actually felt better for my morning runs.  The morning runs were of course slow like usual but the afternoon runs I felt good and even speedy at times.  Doing the interval workout this morning was not easy and although I wanted to hit my true interval pace, I just kind of went with it and let myself go slower and hit the paces my body let me. 

So three days of double runs is done and I am tired.  Not sure I will be pulling off this kind of workout schedule again for a while, but to make this weekend possible it was worth it!

What's the most intense thing you have done to make your schedule work??

The Triple Double Schedule:
AM 4.5 miles @ 8:53 pace, PM 9.25 miles w/ 5x1600 @ 7:43 pace
AM 3.5 miles @ 8:55 pace, PM 3.5 miles @ 8:32 pace
AM 7 miles w/ 2x(1000,1200,1000) @7:42 pace, PM 2 miles @ 8:37 pace

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Recipe Hoarder

So I am kind of a recipe hoarder.  If you could see my computer and open my internet you would see a TON of open web pages of recipes that I am waiting to try.  Every day I seem to find a great recipe for this or that and I just want to try them.  Once I try each recipe (and it turns out good), then I write it down into my recipe book.

I have been saving zucchini recipes for over a month in order to take advantage of the time when our garden would be over flowing with zucchini. And it seems like the time has finally come!

Post workout (mile repeats = fun) dinner last night, I had zucchini lasagna (using the zucchini as noodles) pre-made in the fridge and all ready to go in the oven.  I used my aunts recipe and it turned out really well.  Yay for leftovers for lunch!  This recipe was really good - very healthy and I felt better after eating it since there weren't any noodles.  But the lasagna was less structured without the noodles which made cutting and serving slightly difficult - but still tasted delicious.

 Zucchini (no noodle) Lasagna
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb italian sausauge, casings removed
5-6 cups marinara sauce
2 1/2 lbs zucchini (~2 zucchini)
1 cup carrots, cut up
1 egg
1 cup part skim ricotta
1/2 cup parmesan
1 cup mozzarella
1/2 cup parsley, chopped (optional)

Heat oil in a skillet. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink.  Add 4 cups of marinara and let simmer for about 7-8 minutes.

Slice zucchini length wise into long strips.  Option - Roast zucchini in the oven on broil for about 3-5 minutes each side.  ( I have never done this and it still turns out ok)  Slice carrots and set aside.

In a big bowl (or food processor) mix ricotta, parmesan, egg and optional parsley.  Set aside.

Heat oven to 350F and coat a 9x13 in pan with non stick spray.  With remaining marinara sauce, cover bottom of pan then lay zucchini slices down with carrot slices and then add in 1/3 ricotta mixture.  Add meat sauce on top and continue layering with zucchini and ricotta mixture until pan is full (~3 layers). Top with more sauce (meat sauce or extra sauce - whatever is left) and then add mozzarella on top. 

Cover pan with foil and bake in oven for 30-45 minutes (more time if you did not broil the zucchini).  Take off foil and cook 10 more minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Once out of the oven, let lasagna stand for about 5 minutes before cutting - will be a bit messy but delicious!

Just to give you a little idea of how crazy and possibly out of control my "recipes to try" collection has become, here are a few more zucchini recipes.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Stuffed Zucchini with tomato and mozzarella 
Black Bean and zucchini Quesidillas
Zucchini Lasagna (w/ noddles) 
Zucchini Pizza Bites
Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Tots
Cheesey Zucchini Rice
 Zucchini Casserole
Tomato-Zucchini Bake
Zucchini Chips OR Zucchini Fries

Oil Free Chocolate Zucchini Walnut Muffins
Triple Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Zucchini Almond Butter Muffins
Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

More Options
10 Ways to use zucchini 
35 Zucchini Recipes
Extra - another Zucchini muffins recipe plus more

As you can see this has kind of gotten out of control!  This is just one section of the many, many recipes I have waiting to be tested out, hoping to make the cut into my recipe book! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Crazy numbers lady

For years I lived garmin-less.  I lived in pure random number ville. 

I had a little timex watch and ran many a 4.22 mile or 5.31 mile route.  There was nothing uniform or even about my weekly mileage - I ended each week with how ever many miles I managed to get in.  And it didn't bother me.  I was proud of my 24.7 miles per week and I never knew of any other way to live.

And then for my 25th birthday (March 2011), my husband gave me a garmin and my whole world was turned upside down.

At first I continued with my ways - running random routes and never caring that I didn't run exactly 5.0 miles or 6.5 miles but slowly I began to change.

My garmin was telling me that I only had to run 0.08 more miles to get to 4.0mi well then I would do it.  I may have run past my house, down the road a bit and turned around in a neighbors driveway but I got my exact 4 miles! And it was usually dark out so no one saw me.

I began to enjoy the whole numbers, maybe its my logical/math/engineer brain or maybe I am just a little crazy but seeing 40 exact miles for the week made me happy.  Or maybe I am just uptight because who really cares what exactly my garmin says because honestly it probably isn't that accurate!

I know other people do this too - my running buddy is just as crazy as me because she often runs loops around cars with me post running club workout to get in the exact miles.  But it is hard to admit that I am that psycho about my mileage.

Now there are times when I don't always act like this - I run 6.25 miles or 5.9 miles, but I always make sure to even out that mileage by the end of the week.  Its just a game I play each week - my own little numbers game. I don't know if I can ever change now that I have lived like this - even if I didn't have a garmin, I would really try to map out routes that brought me back home with an round whole number.

So if you see a crazy person running around the parking lot.  Thats me. I am trying to finish off the last 10th of a mile to get my 8 total miles.

Why does it matter. I don't know. It shouldn't but I just like even numbers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Losing motivation

In a couple of weeks (exactly 7), I will be racing my second half marathon of the year.  Even though I ran my first half in May very well, I was in the middle of marathon training and so I felt I held back a bit in order to save my legs for my final hard week of training before taper. (My half marathon was 4 weeks from my full)

I've tracked a lot of miles this year so far and its only the beginning of August.  I have passed many milestones and run faster and farther than I ever thought I could. 

And it is beginning to get to me.  I have said many times in the past few weeks, I don't know how people train for 2 marathons in one year.  I had a 20 week training schedule for the marathon with 5 weeks of building miles and 15 weeks of training.  Now I have a 12 week training plan for the half but I am finding it hard to find the motivation to log all the miles.

I still enjoy running but training all year long is demanding mentally and although my body is holding up pretty well physically, mentally I seem to be less in the game than I was before.  I kind of felt this way before the marathon too during taper but I thought it would go away once I took some time off from running post marathon.  Well apparently, it didn't.

Even though this is a half training schedule, I am actually logging just as many (if not a few more) high mileage weeks than for the marathon although it is a more compressed schedule.

And its tough, it is tough fitting in the miles and finding the time to run when my summer is already jammed back (and I don't even have kids yet - I can only imagine how that will make things even more complicated).  But I really want to run this race in September because this is the race that destroyed me three years ago when I was going for a big half marathon PR.
So I have been trying to trick myself lately into feeling motivated to do the hard workouts and the longer easy morning runs. And there has been only one thing that has really worked -

Running new routes.

This morning I was up at 5am to pound out 6 miles before work.  I had planned a route that I had never run before and although I was tired, I was slightly excited to explore.

As I started out, my legs were heavy and sore but I told myself to just get to mile 2 which was the top of this giant hill and if I got there and felt totally dead then I could turn around, run down the hill and go back home.

But I got to the top of the hill and I was excited about the route, I wanted to see the remaining 4 miles.  There is just something special about running in the dark.  The half moon was slightly lighting my way, the sun was slowly dawning and spreading oranges, reds and yellows across the horizon.  Some of the houses I passed has lights on inside while others were completely dark.  I often wonder as I pass houses, what the other people are doing awake before 6am...Do they have to be at work early? Are they getting in an early workout? 

There is no other time like running between 5 and 6am.  Traffic is super light and the quietness is relaxing.  I usually never remember my thoughts from a run - I think I have pretty awesome ideas but I always forget them by the time I get home. 

It helped that the sunrise was spectacular this morning - of course I hardly run with a camera - but the mental image of that sunrise will be stuck in my head at least for a few days.

I am not sure how the next few weeks of high mileage are going to go but I am hoping that changing up my routes will help to get me back into the game and feeling motivated to run the half in September. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Favorites: Climbing Mountains

Happy Friday!!  Hope everyone is having a good day! This will be the first weekend I have been home in about three weeks and I am excited to have a relaxing, non busy weekend!

Last weekend, Brian and I traveled to a place I have gone every summer since I was born.  It is the Adirondacks where there are mountains and lakes galore.  The mountains are high and the lakes are clear and it is so quiet and peaceful to be there.  Over the past few years Brian has decided that he wants to climb the 46 peaks in the Adirondacks.  The 46 peaks are 46 mountains that have elevation over 4000 feet.  Actually not all of them are that high, but most are and they are all a challenge.

This summer we climbed our 3rd peak and it was tough.  The mountain was 3 miles up, starting at 1500 ft (compared to my home which is about at 500-600ft) and climbed to over 4600 ft.  I wore my garmin so I would have the elevation profile!

We started out early because it was a 3 mile climb to the top.  We took it slow and careful because there were some steep places, and it took us about 3 hours to get to the top.  We had lunch and then turned around to come home.  It took us a little less than 3 hours to get down.  I really hate going down, it is so much harder and some parts were scary because they were so steep.

The view from the top was not as good as it could have been because there were tons of clouds, but as we decsendded the clouds began to clear and we got a semi good view.  Even without the view it was amazing to climb up that high.

Last time I did a 4000+ ft elevation mountain, I was so tired the next day.  My legs were sore and I was beat.  BUT this year was different, my legs (mostly my calves) were sore but otherwise I was good.  I even did a short shake out run the day after.  Check out the pictures, shown in order of our accent, top of mountain and descent.

Cloudy at the top of the mountain
At the top with Brian and my uncle

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer RunMute

During my spring marathon training, I needed to fit in a lot of miles on a Thursday so I decide to run to work.  Since then, I have been trying to find a time to fit this in again.

My half marathon plan for this week was a little flexible and I didn't really feel like doing another speed workout so I decided to run to work.

Since this was my second time, I was much better prepared than last time...

I brought my shower items and work clothes with me to work on Wednesday.
I left my purse at work and only brought home things I wanted to carry on the run.

This morning I was up early to get myself ready.  I usually don't eat before morning runs and although my average morning run is 4-6 miles, I decided to try this run without eating partially because I saw the RW article and my running buddy never eats before runs less than 13 miles.

I packed up my nathan hydration pack (my review of pack) with keys, ID, credit card, Gu chomps (just in case), water, and my phone and headed out at 5am.

Mostly awake
 It was dark out! I always am surprised that the mornings get so dark in August but this morning was not so bad since there was a full moon. Running when it is dark can be scary but I am pretty used to it now because I have run all my routes in the daylight and I tend to stick to neighborhoods as much as possible.  If I ever feel uncomfortable going down a dark street or I have a gut feeling that something isn't right, I switch my route up. 
Full Moon!
 As I began my run, my legs felt pretty heavy and dead.  Everything felt great except my legs.  A part of me could not help but thinking "Oh man I still have so many miles to go".  To block out those negative thoughts, I kept telling myself that it would get better in the next mile or when I got over this hill.

It didn't really get much better, but the sun was slowly rising as I pounded out more and more miles and before I knew it I was about half way to work.  There were some pretty sights to see while I ran but I cannot take good/non blurry pictures on my phone while running.

The last few miles were definitely more difficult because it was humid and I was thirsty.  I didn't want to stop to take out my water (wasn't using the bladder in the pack) because I needed to get to work. After 13 miles I rolled into work just before 7am and of course I saw one of my co-workers.  He was slightly impressed that I had run to work and also grossed out a bit because I was soaking in sweat.

Super sweaty shorts!
A quick shower (yay for work showers!) and I was at my desk ready to work.  Sort of.  I grabbed a nice breakfast and a large coffee from the cafeteria and inhaled it.  I was starving!  One of the best tasting breakfasts in a while possibly because I was just so hungry from the run.

Yummy Bacon, egg and cheese on an english muffin with Iced coffee!
I am thankful that running to work is an option for me but it sure was a humid run.  And it definitely was not the easiest run - and once again I blame the Olympics because my sleep has been horrible this week :)

A weekday long run is pretty fun even if it isn't a run to work.  I strongly suggest trying it.  Kind of makes you feel pretty awesome for the rest of the day because you cranked out a ton of miles before most people are up!

Hope you all are having a good week! Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

what I ate (this) wednesday

I have to say that the Olympics have taken over my life.  I am not running, sleeping, or working, I am watching the Olympics.  It really is sad because it is summer when I should be doing other things besides watching tv but I am addicted.  Especially to Ryan Lotche, well to be more specific Ryan Lotche's abs. 

Anyways, seeing as the Olympics have become such a big part of my life (for two weeks) something else has to be cut back and unfortunately that has been sleep.  I am pretty good about keeping a strict bedtime of 10pm since I usually get up between 5-6am.  But the Olympics have ripped my usual routine to shreds and I have been seeing 11's on the clock before bed lately.  Not exactly the best idea as I am increasing my mileage as I train for the half marathon in September.  But its only for two weeks, right?

Since I posted yesterday about clean eating, today I guess I am showing you the (almost) total opposite.  I am lucky to have a pretty decent cafeteria at work where they make some pretty (semi) healthy and delicious dishes for lunch.  Since I was too busy watching the Olympics last night to pack myself a lunch, I opted to buy today. So here is what I ate today for lunch!

Grilled pesto chicken on flat bread (with roasted red peppers and provolone cheese)

O.M.G. was that a good lunch.  I love pesto.  I don't eat it enough.

I think I could easily make this at home on a weekend and it would be just as good!

Now with a full belly, I just have to make it to the end of the day.  I may need more coffee!

Happy Wednesday!