27 August 2011

You wanna know how to make me smile?

Fro-yo at Gibson's- vanilla yogurt with strawberries, kiwis, pineapple, blueberries and walnuts!
I have been trying to get to this post all week, but with this beautiful weather we have FINALLY been getting here in the Pacific Northwest heading outside has definitely trumped sitting in front of my computer!  So where should I begin...how about with a picture of my latest obsession- Gibson's Frozen Yogurt Shoppe which I have visited THREE TIMES in one week!!!  At least it is somewhat healthy since I have only allowed myself to put fruit and nuts on top.  Ok, and a couple of gummy bears one time- but only after I ran 7 miles!!  If you live in the Tacoma area go have some fro-yo at this yummy new shop in town.

I am registered for the You Go Girl Half Marathon on September 18th and I am excited to be running it for the second year in a row.  I have a couple of outfit ideas - I am just waiting to see what the weather might be like before I make a final decision.  Last year it rained, but who knows- it might be 80 degrees this year!  My friend Alyssa is running it as well which will be fun, and I know there are a lot of local bloggers who are also racing.  I will be missing my old running buddy Cynthia though, this was one of the races we did together last year and it won't be the same without her.  Darn Boise for being so far from Tacoma!
Cynthia and I before the You Go Girl last year- it was raining outside so we were killing
time in the house before heading out the door!
After the race!
Yesterday was mine and Will's 11 year anniversary and we were able to enjoy a night out together while my BFF Jaime took the kids for overnight (thank you!).  We went and hung out on the sundeck at Masa before heading over to Marrow- a new restaurant on 6th Ave- for dinner.  The atmosphere was great, it was very relaxed and the service was amazing.  They offer two menus- one called marrow for the meat eaters, and on the back one called arrow for vegetarians.  Perfect for me (carnivore) and my hubby (herbivore)!  We had the beer battered avocado and melon appetizer (yum) and for dinner I chose the marrow burger (quite possibly the best burger I have ever eaten. seriously) and Will had the cheese plate which he said was good.  I was wishing for a second stomach because I couldn't finish my burger and I really wanted to keep eating it.  Perfect spot for date night or just to go make your taste buds extremely happy! 

We then headed to the movie theater and watched Don't Be Afraid of the Dark which I liked and found to be rather creepy but Will said it was kind of cheesy.  It made me remember how when I was a little girl I was always afraid there was something scary under my bed that would grab my leg if I got too close.  So I would run and jump onto it to keep safe.  Which doesn't make all that much sense- why would I run and jump onto something if I thought a monster was under it?  Anyways...after that we finished off the night at E-9 playing a bit of trivia and visiting with a friend.  Always nice to have an adult evening!

This morning we headed out for a 9 mile run and I wanted to head down to Point Defiance to do some trail running.  I went for a run one time with a couple of friends on the trails down there and had a great time but have been hesitant to go by myself.  I was nervous about getting lost I suppose.  So I figured it would be perfect for Will and I to run together- if we got lost it wouldn't really matter!

We decided to just start off at our house and run down Pearl Street to the park entrance which is about 2 miles away.  My training plan called for a 9:39 pace but I knew I wouldn't be able to keep that up easily on the trails so I just decided to take it easy and stay at Will's pace.  And besides that- Will's training plan only called for 7 miles so I think we both compromised a little!  Once we arrived at the park it was really busy and there was even a wedding being set up in the rose gardens which is where our ceremony was! 
August 26th, 2000
August 27th, 2011- A wedding happening during our 9 mile run!
We hit the trails and and decided to follow the yellow triangle trail.  There were a few spots where large trees had fallen across the trail so we had to climb up or duck under them which was kind of fun- a miniature obstacle course along the way!  It was really fun running the trails and the miles flew by quickly.  Once we found the end of the trail and popped out on the road (still in the park) we were at 6.75 miles or so which was perfect.  We stopped really quick to refill water bottles and make a pit stop and headed back for home. 

7 miles into our run- I couldn't resist the photo opportunity
with the wedding in the background!
Hot and sweaty runner girl!
As we ran back past the rose gardens the wedding ceremony was happening and I couldn't resist the photo opportunity- 11 years ago that was us getting married and today we were running 9 miles together in the exact same spot.  Pretty cool.  The rest of the run home was 2 miles back up Pearl Street- which is basically one really long, never ending hill.  My legs were jello and the temperature had definitely climbed up to about 80 by that point- which is hot around here!  We finished about 1/4 mile from home and did a cool down walk the rest of the way.  Overall- a fun, exhausting long run for the week!  Last year Will followed me on his bike while I ran 12 miles so it was great to have him as an actual running buddy this year!     
The stats from our run- see the lovely elevation changes?  So fun though!
Wondering how the title of my blog post fits into this whole thing?  It is a line from a song that I am completely obsessed with right now.  At first I couldn't quite put my finger on where I had heard it and then I remembered- it was the song the Rainbow Socks Girls (a ragnar team) played on their boombox -they even had a little dance to it!  Listen to it HERE -but I warn you it is kind of addicting!  Love it.

22 August 2011

Key Run Workout #3- Long Run

The main goal of a long run is to improve your endurance by raising aerobic metabolism.  The pace is typically 75-90 seconds slower per mile than your 5-K pace and the distance can vary from 6-20 miles depending on your goals.  The typical long run will start out with a few miles easy in the beginning as you get warmed up, pick up the pace in the middle to make up for the slower pace early on, and finish nice and strong so that the average pace is on target with your goal.  The alternative is to hold a pace just a bit slower than goal pace, then hit the last 3 miles hard to make up the difference- kind of like "finishing strong" in a race situation.  The recommended cool down is 10 minutes of easy walking, which I typically don't have the patience for, but I am working on it!  When I am done with my long runs I tend to want to sit down and relax.

Yesterday's long run on my training plan called for 10 miles at an "easy, relaxed" pace, which was kind of nice.  After 3 weeks of staring at my Garmin every 10 seconds to make sure I was running at the correct speed it felt odd to just go run however fast or slow I wanted.  The hubby and I have been taking turns going first on Saturdays for our long runs- lucky me that yesterday it was my turn to go first because it was pretty warm outside!  I headed out the door at 9am on one of my typical routes- down to Wright Park and back. 

Even at 9am it was quite warm outside- I was happy to do 3 laps around the park and enjoy some shaded areas, that's for sure!  I still found myself staring at the pace on my watch quite often, worrying that I was running slower than I should be.  The I would tell myself it didn't matter- it was supposed to be easy and relaxed!!  So I would ease back into a nice, gentle pace and just remember the joy of running.  Except that I was hot and sweaty- that part was less joyous! 

One thing I noticed about running around the park though- what is it with people walking next to each other, taking up the entire path and not moving aside for somebody running at them?  I had to run around people multiple times which is very annoying.  Also, I am not afraid of dogs- I love dogs.  But if your dog looks like it might bark at me, lunge at me or chase after me as I run by and the leash is slack enough for them to touch me if they wanted to it makes me very uncomfortable.  Animals can be unpredictable, especially if I startle them by running up behind them.  Ok, enough about my pet peeves- for now anyways!

The last 3 miles were pretty warm and mostly in the direct sunshine as I headed home from the park.  I ran out of water about 1.5 miles from home and debated stopping at the library to refill.  But I decided to tough it out and instead opted to focus on a new mantra that popped into my head- "I'm almost done!"  which I sing-songed all the way home. 

I am always impressed with how sweaty I get these days, mostly because I never used to sweat.  Honestly.  Never before in my life has sweat dripped off of me the way it does when I run.  It may sound gross, but I am fascinated by it.  I think that is why heat affects me the way it does, my natural cooling system doesn't work all that well.  Or something like that. 

So my long run for the week: 10 miles, 1:39, pace 9:55- easy, relaxed and sweaty!  This run also put my miles for the year at 654 which means I have 346 left in order to reach my goal of 1,000.  Which means as long as I run at least 20 miles per week until the end of December I should make my goal easily!

Sunday's are an optional cross-training day with the Run Less Run Faster program and I typically try to get 2 or 3 in each month.  Last weekend I managed to get an hour of spinning in, but yesterday we decided to go finish up back to school shopping and I ran out of time.  I almost always work Sunday mornings from 5:30am-2pm so it is a matter of finding the time and energy to head to the gym on a lazy Sunday evening!  Besides- back to school shopping should be considered a form of cross-training- especially now that there are TWO supply lists!  And why is it so hard to find a pink pearl eraser and black flair pens??? 


19 August 2011

Key Run #2- Tempo Run

A tempo run begins with easy running for 1 to 2 miles before the faster "tempo" phase of the workout.  You should gradually increase your pace so that you are close to tempo pace at the end of the warm up.  The tempo portion is typically 3-5 miles at 10K pace or slightly slower (yes, there is a detailed pace chart for this run too!) and the workout ends with a nice 1 mile cool down.

The purpose of a tempo workout is to improve endurance by raising your lactate threshold.  Lactate threshold is a measure of metabolic fitness and lactate's accumulation in the blood is used to evaluate the intensity a runner can keep over long long periods of time.  Basically, the higher my lactate threshold becomes, the longer I can run at a high intensity. 

The first week on the program I wimped out and used the treadmill to force me to keep the fast pace.  All I had to do was push a button and keep moving my feet so I didn't go flying off the back of the machine.  Last week I knew I had to face the music and hit the pavement, and luckily I found the perfect spot to do these tempo runs.  Tacoma is quite hilly, with plenty of turns and stop lights on most of my usual routes and I didn't really think that would work for these tempo runs.  Then I remembered Dock Street down by the Museum of Glass- it is relatively flat, there is only one stoplight (that I hardly ever have to stop for) and is a perfect one mile stretch!  Oh, and the scenery is nice and there is a bathroom if I need it with a water fountain.  Perfect, perfect, perfect!!

The view from the parking lot where I start my tempo runs
The awesome scenery (minus the chain-link fence) of downtown Tacoma!
So yesterday morning I headed down there for the second week in a row- my agenda was a 2 mile warm up, 3 miles at "short" tempo pace (8:39) and then a 1 mile cool down.  The weather was perfect, sunny with a nice breeze and as I got out of my car I was actually a bit chilly - but that only lasted for about 2 minutes though.  My 2 mile warm up was good, but I wasn't feeling too speedy and I was a little bit nervous.  I tried doing some strides and picking the pace up in the last half mile and my legs just felt a bit heavy. 

Basically I run one mile down, turn around and run one mile back.  Over and over.  Tedious?  Maybe a bit, but it is actually not too bad- I enjoy the scenery and the people down there are really interesting to watch.  And I can use my car as a fuel/water station instead of carrying everything, so that is nice too.  Mile 1- 9:35, Mile 2: 9:15.

Railroad tracks and cool buildings near the 1 mile turnaround
Then it was time for the tempo portion- I set out and for some reason couldn't get a grasp on an 8:39 pace.  I don't know what it was, but it just would not appear on my Garmin.  It kept staying in the low 8's, sometimes even 7:57 or so and I was forcing myself to take it easy- I had to run several more miles!  So I just ran and kept repeating to myself "I am strong, I can do this" over and over.  It felt good.  Mile 3- 8:27!  I turned and headed back towards my car- it was easier in this direction because the wind was blowing the same direction I was running.  I just kept running and the pace felt almost good to me- uncomfortable but not like I wanted to stop.  Mile 4- 8:25! 

Don't be alarmed- there wasn't a black hole where I was running- just my big thumb in
the way of the camera lense!   
Well, now there was only one tempo mile left so I just decided to run it with what felt like a difficult pace.  Into the wind this time, my mantra turned into "I am strong.  The wind is strong.  I am stronger" and I just kept pushing myself.  My legs were jello and my breathing was hard when my Garmin finally beeped- Mile 5- 8:13!  I was well under my planned 8:39 tempo pace for each mile, not sure what to make of that.  I slowed my pace and started my final mile back to my car, happy to be done with yet one more awesome workout!  Mile 6- 9:19.  Excellent.
I know you have been missing a photo of my lovely, bright red and sweaty face! 
I am happy to have a rest day today- after 6 straight days of exercising and 5 days of actual work, this is one worn out runner girl!  I am going to spend my day of rest at the lake with the kids and some friends, then maybe do a bit of back to school shopping- 2 weeks until the first day of school!  Is there any better feeling than knowing you have "earned" a day off to rest?  Anybody have some fun plans or races this weekend?  Enjoy your weekend!

17 August 2011

Cross-Training Workout #2 -XT#2

The Run Less Run Faster program is designed as a 3plus2 training program- 3 quality runs and 2 cross-training workouts each week.  I have mostly been using the bike for my cross training because I am not that great of a swimmer and my gym does not have a rowing machine (which is really annoying by the way).  So what is the deal with cross-training anyways?  Here is a list of the "essentials" about cross-training according to my handy book:

-Increase aerobic fitness and help reduce the risk of injuries
-Replace easy run days (junk mileage) with cross-training
-Reduces overuse of a particular muscle group while allowing for increase in cardio fitness
-Allows for greater daily training intensity- even though the same muscle groups are being used, they are being used in different ways
-Non-weight bearing activities give the legs and running muscles a well-deserved break which promotes recovery
-Provides variety and reduces boredom
-Can be based on time rather than distance

Cycling is non-weight-bearing and low-impact and helps develop the quadriceps.  This is important to help balance out the strengthening of the hamstrings and calves that results from running.  Cycling can also increase hip and knee joint flexibility and interval work on the bike can help increase leg turnover for running and ultimately improve running speed!  It is also more beneficial for runners to "quick pedal" at rpm's of 80-90 for strength workouts and 90-100 for tempo or recovery efforts rather than cycle slowly with heavy resistance. 

Today I got to the gym and realized that I left my headphones at home- so that meant in addition to my lovely cross-training I would get to work on my mental toughness as well!  My workout (without music) was a 10 minute warm up with easy spinning, 15 minutes at moderate to hard effort, 5 minutes easy, 15 minutes moderate to hard, then 5 minutes easy as a recovery- all at cadence of 95-100 rpm.  Overall it was a good workout, I think I will stick an extra set of headphones in my car though!  Some music would have made it much more enjoyable- as much as I enjoy listening to the lady behind me singing to herself about how much she loves Jesus, and the 500 excuses the guy doing lunges  with the personal trainer in front of me had for why he is so out of shape!
My completed workout- NICE!
And last but not least- here are 2 of my favorite snacks right now.  The first one is more like a treat, but I figure it is better for me than a candy bar.  I eat it when I have a major sweet tooth.  A graham cracker square with peanut butter and a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips- good stuff!

My pseudo peanut butter cup!
Peaches are my latest obsession- I keep them in the fridge so they are nice and cold!  They can get a bit messy but are definitely worth it.  We bought some from the farmer's market and Tacoma Boys last week, and Terra Organics brought me some more in our fruit/veggie box this morning.   Yum.

16 August 2011

Key Run #1- Track Repeats

Tuesdays are my track running day- my favorite spot to do this is down at the local middle school track.  I am usually the only person running and there is almost always a soccer practice going on in the middle so I can have something to watch while I run around the track over and over and over!  The purpose of this run is to improve my max VO2, running speed and running economy.  Maximal oxygen consumption (max VO2) is a measure of the ability of an athlete to produce energy aerobically- the higher your max VO2 is, the faster you can run.  Running economy is the amount of oxygen being consumed relative to the runner's body weight and the speed at which the runner is traveling.

What Niko does while I run!
Round and round I go!
Each week the track repeats are a little bit different, which is nice.  On my training plan for today was a 10-20 minute warm up, 6x800 meter repeats with 90 second rest intervals, then a 10 minute cool down.  There are multiple charts throughout the book that tell you what pace to run at, and for an 800 meter track repeat the magic number for me is 3:55.  Which is about a 7:50 per mile pace- manageable but fast.  These numbers are based off of your most recent race time (whatever distance that may be).  I used a combination of my last half marathon (2:04) and my last 5K (25:02) times and met somewhere in the middle at an even 26:00 minute pace on the charts.  It seems to be working just fine, I can always adjust one way or the other later if necessary.

Can you see me?  Waaaayyyy over on the other side? 
Usually I jog to the track for my warm up but today I had the kids with me so we drove down.  Which means I had to do my warm up and cool down around the track as well which is a bit tedious, but oh well.  Devan brought her bike and rode around with me most of the laps, which is fun.  I also had her snap a few photos for me, she took that job very serious and took close to 100 pictures.  Holy cow!  Anyways, after my warm up I began my 800 meter repeats (2 laps- or a half mile).  The first couple were fairly easy, the third one was kind of rough.  I was trying to figure out how I could steal Devan's bike from her and missed my goal time by 7 seconds.  Oops. 

My awesome pacer!
I was a tad bit thirsty!
During my last repeat I asked Devan to help pace me- I was hot and tired and needed something to focus on.  I asked her to stay 2 lanes over, just in front of me like I was chasing her, and she did a great job- I nailed it!  Whew, track repeats are tough.  I love them.  I hate them.  I love them best when they are DONE!  Here is a breakdown of my 6 repeats (supposed to be 3:55):

#1- 3:50
#2- 3:53
#3- 4:02 (oops)
#4- 3:54
#5- 3:53
#6- 3:50

A quick stretch session before heading home
Total run for the day was 5 miles in 43:25 seconds for an overall pace of 8:38.  Sweet, I feel my max VO2 improving as I type this!  One thing about track workouts- they sure make my shoes dirty!!

15 August 2011

Run Less Run Faster

My new running bible!
With my 2 major running events for the summer behind me (the marathon and Ragnar) I suddenly found myself in great running condition but without any sort of game plan or training agenda.  What was next on my list?  What was I hoping to accomplish this Fall??  I have been toying with a few things, such as becoming a HALF FANATIC and running a sub 2 half marathon while I am at it- but I just simply couldn't make up my mind! 

I generated an absolutely enormous (and expensive) list of half marathons I would like to run.  I just couldn't decide what my game plan should be.  Then my hubby decided he wanted to run a half marathon as well- which is very exciting!  So I gave him my list and asked him which one he would like to run, hoping somehow that would help me figure out what to do.  He selected the North County Wine Run which is on October 1st- it is located in Battle Ground, WA and begins and ends at a local vineyard.  The course looks beautiful and it will be fun to run his first half marathon with him.  I have selected 2 more half marathons for Fall, but I will keep those a secret for just a bit longer :)

I also began a new type of training plan based on the book Run Less Run Faster (RLRF) which I am really enjoying.  I am in my 3rd week right now and I think it is just what I needed to help me continue to improve my running.  I was finding myself running very close to the same pace for every single run I did- I had hit my running "plateau"!  This book uses three key types of runs each week as well as 2 focused cross training workouts.  There is the option to add in a 3rd cross training if you choose and they also encourage strength training and stretching for a complete program.   

Today I took my yoga class at the gym (stretching) and then did Cross Training #1- Spin bike:  5 minute easy warm up, 30 minute at 100+ RPM's with mild resistance (just enough to break a sweat) then a 5 minute cool down.  This helps to increase overall fitness and work on my leg turnover rate- 100 RPM's is no joke- while still resting my running muscles.  I will go into detail about each type of key run and cross training as I do them this week.

This is an 18 week training plan that is ultimately leading me to Rock and Roll Las Vegas on December 4th, where hopefully I can run my sub 2 hour half marathon.  That freaks me out just typing it, but I know that goal is attainable for me.  Run less, run faster.  Run less, run faster.  I think I can, I think I can. 

12 August 2011

Camping on the East Side

The beautiful campus of CWU
Last Friday my family headed out for a 5 day camping trip to Eastern Washington.  We were meeting up with some friends that we went to college with in Cle Elum for 2 nights, then heading over towards Grand Coulee Dam for the other 2 nights.  But first on my agenda was taking a side trip to Ellensburg to check out our old stomping grounds. 
Will and I met freshman year at Central Washington University- way back in 1996!!  We have kept in touch with many of the friends we made that first year at college, and have done a few reunions throughout the years.  It is always nice to catch up with old friends and see how their lives are going, so when Scott invited everyone out to his family's property in Cle Elum for the weekend we were happy to attend.
The dorm that started it all!  My room was on the bottom- just to the right of the sign!
We arrived in Ellensburg and it was hot and windy- just like the good old days!  We had some lunch and wandered around the whole campus showing the kids where we spent 4 years of our lives.  I am not sure they fully appreciated it, but it was a fun trip down memory lane for Will and I.
Afterwards we headed to Cle Elum and when we arrived Scott and Jeremy were there waiting.  We set up our tent and soon John K. and Jared arrived as well.  We sat around the campfire and chatted for a while and the kids made s'mores for everyone.  Good times. 
In the morning Will and I each took a turn going out for a run.  On my agenda was 8 miles at a 9:39 pace which seemed completely manageable.  I set out down the dirt road and proceeded to climb up a huge hill within the very first mile!  The entire route was quite hilly, and at a much higher elevation than I am used to- it was pretty though!  My overall pace ended up being 9:57 so not quite my goal pace, but I am ok with that considering the difficulty level of the roads I was on!
Jared and Jeremy battled it out for poker champ.  Jared won!
Throughout the day we played frisbee, threw the football around, walked down to the river, ate some dinner and played some poker.  It was a lot of fun and I hope next time more people can make it to the reunion! 
The crew!  Back row: Jared, John M, Will.  Front row:  John K., me, Scott and Jeremy
Sunday morning we packed up and hit the road to head over to Banks Lake near the Grand Coulee Dam.  We found a great campsite and threw our tent up as quickly as we could- we were hungry, it was 90 degrees and the mosquito's were eating us alive!  It was not the highlight of our trip haha!  After we got that all squared away we headed into "town" and found some dinner and stopped at the store for a few supplies.  There was a burn ban in effect so unfortunately there was no campfire the next 2 nights. 
Our campsite at Jone's Bay on Banks Lake
Steamboat Rock
The next day was spent lounging in the water, reading magazines and RELAXING!  I managed to get my cross training in by doing some swimming in the water for about 20 minutes, then went immediately back to laying on my air mattress.  Such a rough life!  Devan said she felt like she was inside of a postcard, the scenery was really beautiful!

Playing in the mud!
Pretty much what we did all day!  Rough life.
Later that night we headed to the Grand Coulee Dam to explore the area and see the light show. When I was a kid we went there every summer, so it brings back a lot of good memories!  The light show starts at 9:30pm nightly so it was pretty late by the time we got back to our campsite. 

Waiting for the light show to begin
The next morning we packed up our tent one more time and started our long trip back home.  It was a great vacation- but I am always happy to return home to our normal routine- and bathrooms, showers, washing machines and comfy beds!  Oh, and I was more than happy to leave the 5 million mosquitos back at Banks Lake as well!
The kids and Casey- our dog wore himself out!

10 August 2011

Otter Creek Falls

Otter Creek Falls
My family went on a great hike a couple of weekends ago along the Taylor River Trail in the Snoqualmie region of Washington state.  I found the information HERE - I was looking for a hike that was going to be easy enough for the kids to manage and that we could bring our dog with us.  I also liked the idea of seeing waterfalls and that it would be less busy than some of the more popular areas. 

It was a really pretty hike- we were completely surrounded by trees on both sides for the majority of the hike so our views were somewhat limited though.  The path itself was mostly made out of rocks, so the decision Will and I made to wear our Vibram's was probably not the greatest- our feet were bothering us at the end of the 6 mile loop!  Once we reached Otter Creek Falls we took a little break and ate our lunch and Will hopped in the water (brrrr!) for a minute.  Overall, the hike was perfect.  A little bit busier than I thought it would be and we should have worn bug spray instead of sunscreen, but otherwise it was a great hike for kids and dogs. 
Our five finger's.  Not the best shoe for this trail!
Will hopped in the freezing cold water!
We got passed just before getting to the falls by a trail runner and his dog.  They both hopped in the water and swam around for a few minutes then continued down the trail.  He said he was going one more mile up to make an 8 mile round trip.  The path was soooo rocky I don't know how he did it without worrying about twisting his ankle, but he was the most peaceful guy I had met in a while.  Trail runners are pretty awesome- maybe I can be that cool one day.

When we got back home I was feeling like I needed to go for a run.  I was not on a training plan at that moment and had only managed a 4 mile run for the week.  That is what happens to me when the calendar does not say "Tiffany- go run 6 miles today" and I do not have a specific race I am training for!  Granted, I had just ran 18.6 miles the weekend before during the Ragnar Relay- but I was still feeling lazy and 4 miles was not going to be my mileage for the week!

It was really warm outside and it was around 4pm when I set out on my run.  I managed to get 5 miles in and boy, was I a sweaty hot mess when I was done.  But I was happy that my weekly mileage would at least be a 9!  I was content knowing that my new training plan would begin in 2 days and all would be right in my little running world again.