Winter running, part two.

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In case you want to read about what a dumbass I was at the beginning of this winter (when I thought 32 degrees was cold), part one is here.

I laugh at how naive I was (or maybe forgetful) a few months ago. Why did I think low 30s was so cold? Yesterday I ran outside for the first time in a long time and it felt HOT at 29 degrees. But first, there was a trip to Target, of course, because I’m a Basic SAHM.

Poor Emma, she really wanted to take that minion home.

Poor Emma, she really wanted to take that minion home.

We only had to get a prescription refilled, but it takes 30 minutes, so we just played in the toy section and Emma didn’t want to let go of this guy (we’ve watched Despicable Me a few times when I haven’t been feeling well, I admit). Afterwards we stopped at Bruegger’s and we got lucky that there were some hot bagels in our favorite variety (Honey Grain). I feel bad for people who don’t eat carbs because it doesn’t get much better than fresh bagels and cream cheese. I usually get Honey Walnut cream cheese and Emma prefers “pink” (Strawberry).

This is from a different bagel run, but you get the idea... pink cream cheese everywhere

This is from a different bagel run, but you get the idea… pink cream cheese everywhere

On the drive home I decided that it was way too nice for the treadmill, so I put Emma down for a nap and got some others things done. Then when she woke up we went running outside! Woof. It was hard pushing that stroller after a hiatus, but totally worth it.

Emmaline all bundled up after our run. She wanted to play outside. Her favorite word lately is "snow"...

Emmaline all bundled up after our run. She wanted to play outside. Her favorite word lately is “snow”…

I was going to write about what I wore in detail (I even took photos) but I realized it was basically the same thing as in part one, so I guess there’s no need. Hopefully this will be the last time I write about winter for awhile. February is coming to a close and I’m excited for the month of March for so many reasons, but the biggest one is that we are closing on our new house in a few days! More about that soon. Hope everyone is keeping warm and that my southern friends and family are enjoying their late winter snowfall from last night.

Some questions for y’all… What is your favorite bagel/cream cheese combo? What do you think about last year’s Boston jacket (or the 2015 version in purple)? You won’t offend me… I know it’s freaking bright. I mean, is there any possible shade of orange brighter than this?

Boston jacket that everyone thinks is hideous (but I like it for visibility on the roads)

Boston jacket that everyone thinks is hideous (but I like it for visibility on the roads)

Some baby news (and more)

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Well, first let’s begin with the other news.

My birthday was this past Tuesday, and I was pretty excited to get out on a weeknight for some Mexican food and homemade (by mom) birthday cake. We went to El Loco on Madison Avenue in Albany, and it was surprisingly pretty good for upstate NY Mexican food served by hipsters. We really don’t have many options for Mexican food here (compared to the plethora of authentic Mexican restaurants in Virginia Beach) and it’s my one constant pregnancy craving, so I was quite happy. Afterwards we went back to my sister’s house for some cake, ice cream, and presents.

New age group (I'll let you count the blurry candles to figure out which one...)

New age group (I’ll let you count the candles to figure out which one)

Running has been going pretty well. I ran a 7k race on Super Bowl Sunday (another of the HMRRC Winter Series races) and finished third, behind a fast teenager and my sister Steph. My time was 29:23, which was about a 6:45 average. Since then I’ve done most of my runs on the treadmill. I usually try to run 4 miles during the week (not every day, but most days) and one longer run on the weekends. I have to admit that I’ve taken a break this week (because of a stomach bug and then a bunch of other things that have kept me busy) and am having a hard time getting myself motivated again. The stomach bug seriously knocked my on my butt for awhile and it took me until my birthday to start feeling normal again.

And lastly, since we’re nearing the end of the second trimester already (time is flying)…

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Making plans…

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The past few months have been full of surprises.

Two pink lines. Our house selling and moving to NY. Starting a new job.

Finding a new house!!! Or not. Ok, finding another new house!!! We thought we found the house we wanted, but someone had already made an offer on it. We were supposed to travel to Virginia for New Years, but since I got sick we stayed here and ended up finding another house- and making an offer!

With so much up in the air recently, I’ve been trying to take control of the few things I can plan out for now.

House plans

Taking Pinterest by storm. I have so many ideas of what I want to do, and being pregnant isn’t really helping. Last time I only had to focus on Emma’s nursery and a few other small details in our house. Now I have an entire house to remodel and decorate.

Meal plans

I’ve been working on getting back into the habit of planning meals for the week. I like cooking, but the process of planning and then shopping for ingredients is one of my least favorite things to do. I signed up for Blue Apron after a reading a few sponsored blog posts and reviews about it. Our first shipment comes this Tuesday and I’m more excited about it than I probably should be. I like that you can check out the menus ahead of time and pick the ones you want.

Race plans

This part isn’t nearly as important as it usually would be. I still enjoy races even if I’m not able to push myself to the limit. I have a few races on my calendar for now:

February 1st- Winter Series #5 race at UAlbany (4 miles)

February 15th- Winter Marathon Relay (I think I’ve decided to scratch this one, only because it’s a bit long and I know I’m going to have to stop a few times- bladder pressure is constant issue)

March 21st- Shamrock 8k

I’m also tentatively planning to run a 5k on Mother’s Day and maybe the OK 5k at the beginning of June. Things get a little iffy in the last few weeks of pregnancy, so I’m just keeping those races in mind for now, and I’ll decide as it gets closer.

Do you have any fun races on your calendar for the rest of the winter/ early spring?

I’ve had this blog post in my drafts folder for awhile, and February seemed like it was so far away at the time… but today is the last day of January! One more month of winter AND daylight savings is on March 8th, which always seems to make spring seem much closer…

Coach’s Corner: Four treadmill workouts (and other workouts you can do indoors)

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I’ve had this blog post in (literally) draft form for at least a week…

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It started as brainstorming some ideas for myself to keep motivated over the winter. After being sick, plus the added challenge of being pregnant, I needed to put on my coach hat and think of a few ways I could spice up my daily 30ish minutes on the treadmill. So here are a few ideas that I came up with:

1. The Personal Trainer Standard- when I was a personal trainer, this was one of my favorite go-to workouts. There are so many possible combinations that you’re guaranteed never to get bored.

You’ll need: a treadmill (or elliptical), hand weights (about 10 lbs) or bands, a mat or towel (optional)

Warm up 5-10 minutes
Run 5 minutes at a comfortable speed with the incline at 5. Hit “pause”.
Do 20-25 shoulder presses with hand weights or bands (about 45-60 seconds)
Resume the treadmill at the same speed and run for 5 minutes with the incline at 6. Hit “pause”.
Do a plank for 45-60 seconds
Resume the treadmill at the same speed and run for 5 minutes with the incline at 7. Hit “pause”.
Do a side plank for 30 seconds on one side. Then switch and do 30 seconds on the other side.
Resume the treadmill at the same speed and run for 5 minutes with the incline at 6. Hit “pause”.
Do 20 stationary lunges, alternating sides (about 45-60 seconds)
Resume the treadmill at the same speed and run for 5 minutes with the incline at 5. Hit “pause”.
Do a wall sit for 60 seconds!
Cool down 5-10 minutes

I have an old treadmill and the incline doesn’t work, so I just vary the speed (which works just as well). You could do a similar workout on the elliptical and just change the resistance. You can also substitute the suggested resistance exercises with others for variety (or extend the workout by adding more exercises and 5 minute segments).

2. The Grab Bag- this is one of my favorites from my high school cross country coaching days. We frequently had tornado warnings and hurricane warnings where I coached in Virginia, and we would be stuck indoors. Since I had about a million index cards lying around, I would write down whatever came to mind and throw the cards in a bag. Each kid would get to choose a card and then we would do them together.

You’ll need: whatever you have! If you have a treadmill or elliptical, great. If not, you can use weights, a mat, a pull up bar, exercise ball, bands, the hallway, stairs, etc. You’ll also need index cards (or a piece of paper cut into squares) and a pen or sharpie.

Write an exercise that will take about 1-2 minutes on each card. Don’t forget to include a few fun ones (water break, dance break, etc.). When I was coaching cross country I would make a few cards that said “make a funny face” or “sing your favorite song”, which you could totally do even if you don’t have a cross country team to make faces at.

Some examples: 1 minute sprint, 1 minute jumping jacks, 2 minute jog, run up the stairs, chair dips for 1 minute, 1 minute of push ups, 1 minute crunches on exercise ball, drink water, walking lunges up and down hallway (2 minutes), plank for 1 minute, side plank each side for 30 seconds, pull ups or assisted pull ups for 1 minute, 1 minute mountain climbers, 1 minute burpees, 1 minute squat/curl/shoulder press, 2 minute dance break…

Shuffle the cards and place them in a pile or in a small bag. The best part of this workout is that you have no idea what you’ll have to do next… it’s like having your own personal trainer. These ones add up to 20 minutes- shuffle and repeat if you want a longer workout, or make up your own exercises using what you have. You can keep your cards and recycle them for next time, and add new exercises when you think of them (or take out ones that you don’t like). A good playlist makes this workout even better.

3. The Treadmill Fartlek- this is one of my favorites (I do it as least once and sometimes twice per week.)

You’ll need: a treadmill or elliptical, index cards (or a piece of paper cut into squares) and a pen or sharpie.

For a 5 mile workout you need 16 cards: write your regular warm up and cool down pace on two cards and label them warm up and cool down. For the remaining cards, write a variety of paces: for example, 6.5, 7.0, 8.2, 7.3, 8.0. Make sure to include some slower paces in with the faster paces so you have some recovery time. Keep the warm up and cool down cards out and shuffle the remaining cards. No peeking!

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Start with the warm up card for 3 laps. When you’re getting close to the end of your third lap (3/4 mile) get ready to flip over your next card… then whatever that card says, you have to run that speed for one full lap. Repeat until the deck is finished (your last card should be your cool down card for 3 laps).

My index cards are packed away in a box, so I’ve been using squares of paper pinned together with a safety pin. There’s something satisfying about ending a workout with a pile of balled up paper scraps.

4. 60 Minutes- You don’t have to watch 60 Minutes while running this workout, any TV show or podcast will do. I’m a total weirdo and sometimes I like doing workouts without any form of entertainment, but there are many workouts that I wouldn’t have gotten through without Netflix.

You’ll need: treadmill (or some type of cardio machine)

This one is pretty straightforward.

Warm up 10 minutes
Run 3 minutes fast, then 2 minutes easy. Repeat 7 more times (for a total of 8 times).
Cool down 10 minutes

The exact paces here don’t have to be the same every time. Aim for 15k-half marathon race pace for your fast segments at first, then drop it down to 10k pace or faster as you get further into the workout. The easy segments should be easy, but fight the urge to walk. You could also do this workout as 2:30 fast/ 2:30 easy or some other combination.

Do you have any ideas for treadmill workouts or indoor workouts?

I realize there are plenty of apps and programs on various treadmills, but I personally like making my own workouts. Our treadmill is from the 1990s (and it was free- thanks Parsons family) so we don’t have the option of those programmable features, but I never use them when I run on other treadmills anyway. Call me crazy, but I like index cards better.

Two snow storms this week!

Two snow storms this week!

An ode to winter running

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The winds whip through the trees
As my feet pound the snow-covered ground.
I run swiftly over hill and dale
Because I’m being chased by the snow plow.

Has this ever happened to you? It’s seriously one of the most frightening things to come across (except for maybe a bear or a dead body or something like that).

Running in the winter poses some unique challenges. This particular winter I am running less than usual because I’m growing another human, and falling on slippery roads isn’t an option. Then there’s my treadmill which somehow ceased all usefulness somewhere between Virginia and New York. The last two weeks have been especially challenging because the temperatures have dipped below the acceptable range for taking Emma out running in the stroller. But there have been some bright spots here and there with my running adventures.

Bright Spot #1: Before Christmas I ran a Holiday-something 5k, which turned out to be the single most hilly 5k I have ever run. I didn’t know what I was getting into, and originally planned to just take it easy. Once the race was underway I changed my game plan and decided to start off fast and get it over with. This didn’t end up being a good decision- I had grossly underestimated the quantity and quality of those hills- but it did make the race go by quickly. I crossed the line as the first female in 20:01, and at 13 weeks pregnant, I was happy to cross that finish line feeling strong.

I planned to run a race on New Years Day, but instead I caught the plague and was confined to bed for a few days. I was lucky to get over it as quickly as I did (because I know others who were sick for a week or more). I didn’t run for almost a week, and when I tried running it felt horrible. I decided to take the following week easy, which turned into another five days of rest (and coincided with a few sub-zero days). Bright Spot #2: This past Saturday I finally got outside for an easy 5-6 miles and had one of those zen running moments where everything feels fluid and easy. I guess I expected that I had reached the point in my pregnancy where I was going to just feel awkward and slow all of the time… but I was so thrilled to feel like myself that I decided to run a race that next day.

Bright Spot #3: My local running club (The Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club, or HMRRC) holds a free winter series of races with varying distances. On this particular day runners could choose from a 3 mile, 10k, or 25k distance. I will probably always choose the shortest option unless I happen to be in the middle of marathon training. It was very cold yesterday for the race, around 5 degrees, so I knew it would be smart to dress in layers and start off slowly. I was aiming to run under 7 minute miles and keep it at a tempo-like effort. Although there were no mile markers to get my splits, I feel like I ran pretty evenly. I remember in college that my coach always reminded us to keep a “conversation” pace for tempo runs and to make sure we didn’t feel lactic acid in our legs, so I kept that in mind (although I did kick it in when we made the last turn toward the finish). I crossed the line as first female again in 19:45, which was a 6:35 pace for 3 miles (not bad for being 16 weeks pregnant). There were some hills, but not anything close to that last 5k.

This pregnancy has been a lot different than last time. I felt sick and lethargic most of the first trimester when I was pregnant with Emma, and didn’t race at all. I ran a few times, but they were all at very easy paces. I remember being shocked when I managed a 7:45 pace at the Shamrock 8k when I was 16 weeks pregnant last time (and that didn’t necessarily feel “easy”). I hope I can continue to feel strong on my runs and continue to show up at some races here and there through the spring. I’ll talk a little about my future “race plans” in my next blog.

Turkey Trot recap and more

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Sleep is wonderful.

I say this after a week of Emma being sick and getting 2-3 hours of sleep every night. Luckily she is doing much better and is back to her happy self.

One of my favorite things about having a toddler is an excuse to eat the other half of the box of mac and cheese.

Mmm.. lunch

Mmm.. lunch

When Emma isn’t feeling well, she doesn’t nap well either… therefore my Turkey Trot recap is a little late. It’s hard to justify taking an hour to write a blog post when your kid is crying and sneezing and in need of snuggles. Anyway, here’s a quick breakdown of our Thanksgiving tradition:

If you live anywhere on the east coast, you might recall that we got a pretty bad snow storm on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

I took this photo when the snow had just started to fall. We got anywhere from 8-12 inches by Thursday morning.

I took this photo when the snow had just started to fall. We got anywhere from 8-12 inches by Thursday morning.

Luckily the snow tapered off by the early morning hours, but we were still unsure if the race would be cancelled. The storm had knocked out cable and internet, and since we’re temporarily staying with my mom (and she happens to live in a black hole for cell service) it was not easy to keep track of updates. But somehow… after about 5 minutes of waiting for the page to load on Thanksgiving morning… I read that the race was ON!

The roads getting to the race were okay, but it took us much longer than usual to get there safely. Traversing through the slushy streets while pushing/ carrying the stroller took some careful choreography. Thank you steeplechase for giving my the confidence to hurdle large puddles. My feet managed to stay dry until the race.

We didn’t have much time to warm up before the race started, so we left the kids with my parents and got started. By the time we finished, there was just enough time to take off some layers and get to the start.

"We need a pre-race picture!" I was in the middle of putting on my gloves here... we're all like, gah!

“We need a pre-race picture!” I was in the middle of putting on my gloves here… we’re all like, gah!

So, we’re huddled in next to two people dressed like bacon and behind one of the worst smelling dudes ever. Finally the race goes off and I immediately feel terrible. I was in front for the first 400 meters or so, but that was only because I started in front (was I supposed to line up BEHIND the bacon?!)… In the next half mile or so, five women passed me. I tried to keep them within my sights and forget that I felt bad.

First mile: 6:00 (not ideal, but not horrible)

The course is an out and back, which is my favorite type of course for a 5k. Somewhere between the mile marker and the turnaround, I passed two women, so I was in fourth. A little after that, one of the women caught back up to me, and we ran together for awhile. We exchanged some friendly words of encouragement that I don’t recall in detail.

Second mile: 5:45 (11:45 total clock time)

I passed the second mile marker (*which is completely unreliable because every year it says I run a super fast second mile, and horribly slow third mile, so I’ve decided that the markers are off) and started to push a little harder. I was now running alone in fourth place, but I passed several men in that third mile so that kept me going. I didn’t feel great, but I was confident that I could still run a solid 18:30 if I kept passing people and running hard. Then I saw two women up ahead, and was a little bummed that I wouldn’t be able to make up that much ground in the last half mile.

Third mile: 6:xx (18:20-something)

The end of the race goes around in almost a complete circle and then turns right down the final straight away where you can see the finish line. When I passed the third mile marker we had just turned onto that final street and I saw that my goal of 18:30 wasn’t going to happen today. Then, I realized “Sh!T” (I frequently curse to myself during races, but usually it’s only in my head) I’m not even going to get under 19. So I hauled it across the line, and luckily got in just under 19 in 18:59 officially. Small consolation, but I’ll take it.

My sister Steph and I (pictured above in the pre-race photo) won the sister-sister division for the second year in a row.

Are you running any holiday-themed races? I’m running a 5k next Saturday the 20th called the Holiday Classic 5k. I’m thinking of dressing festively for this one!

I just looked up from my feverish typing and realized it’s seriously snowing right now. I need to unpack my treadmill… we’re in for a long winter.

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Weekend festivities

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First off, it was time for a haircut. I really don’t even remember when I last did that… maybe the beginning of the summer?

Fantastic "before" look complete with headband to keep things under control

Fantastic “before” look complete with headband to keep things under control

I had to return a coat before my appointment so I actually really tried hard to not look like I just rolled out of bed, but it obviously didn’t work. Anyway, two hours later…

After

After

The girl that shampooed my hair was all, “You have so much hair!” Obviously that’s why I’m here (is what I wanted to say), but I just said “yeah” or something like that. This was the first time since I was a kid that I can remember having to stand up to get my hair cut (when my mom cut my hair and I had to stand on the back porch and hold as still as possible- that never went well).

The rest of the weekend included a track workout (8 x 400 meters) with three of my favorite workout partners. My 400 times were pretty consistent, around 80-82, except for the first one (93- guess I wasn’t warmed up yet) and last one (76- got my ass handed to me, thanks B). Also read this interesting article on cool downs the next day and pondered my current cool down routine. We followed that up with a birthday celebration for Pete that consisted of two of his favorite things: wings and football.

Almost pulled out a win with these two cute cheerleaders

Almost pulled out a win with these two cute cheerleaders

I don’t have a photo of the cake from before, but I was pretty proud of myself for trying something new. I made a “zebra cake” with chocolate frosting. The recipe from the back of Hershey’s cocoa is the best freaking chocolate frosting I’ve ever had. I seriously had to hold myself back from eating it all with a spoon. I’m not very domestic when it comes to baking, but I’m working on it.

Happy Birthday, Pete!

Happy Birthday, Pete!

I also did an easy 10 mile long run this weekend. The early part of this week will be all easy runs in preparation for the Turkey Trot 5k on Thursday morning. I just found out that we have a winter weather advisory for Wednesday and Thursday and we may get 9 inches of snow!

Are you running a Turkey Trot this week? Do you have any fun family traditions for Thanksgiving?

Our family tradition involves running the Troy Turkey Trot every year, then going out for a quick bagel breakfast, followed by a day of cooking and eating everything in sight. Here’s my Turkey Trot history, full of many ups and downs over the years: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and I Quit.