Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Being busy = success??

Two weeks ago, I had a workout that I did not want to do.  Like at all.  20minute tempo run, 20minute bike at race pace, 20 minute tempo run.  Let me be clear that it wasn't because I didn't think I could do it.  It was moreso because I wasn't sure if I could hold the second run at tempo pace since I was a bit sore from my long run which included intervals three days prior.

Imagine my (lack of) desire to do this same workout now just TWO days after a long run which included intervals.  Yeah, let's just say I didn't jump out of bed ready to workout today.  Instead, I slept in.

In my defense, my heart has been beating really fast lately.  Last Thursday, I was doing my upper body strength and I was as out of breath as I would have been after running a super fast 5k or something.  That's not normal, so I talked with Earl and Ryan and we all think it's due to lack of normal sleep.  I'm used to getting 7-8 hours, and had been getting 6-6.5 with school starting, so I've been in bed before 10 now on school nights.  I'd say it definitely made my workout ROCK tonight...

2mile warmup
20minute run tempo (6:18-22 pace)
20minute bike at race pace
20minute run tempo (6:18-22 pace)
2mile cooldown

Last week, my runs went 6:18/6:13/6:18 (3.2miles) and 6:11/6:15/6:15 (3.25miles)
This week, my runs went 6:11/6:14/6:16 (3.2miles) and 6:11/6:08/6:07 (3.47miles)

I'm going to attribute my much faster workout to three things:

1) my strength training. My body is taking SO well to the exercises and I'm MUCH stronger.
2) my nutrition. I've cut out ALL the crap and feel like I even have more energy. I'm only using GOOD food to fuel myself, and I truly think it's making a difference.
3) Ryan ran the second set with me.  I always get WAY too excited to run with Ryan and I know that comes out in my run.  However, the second set actually felt easier than the first.

While I really think being busy has been helping me get my mind off of hitting certain times/paces for my workouts, a lot of my success in these workouts has been getting proper sleep, eating well and staying on top of injury prevention.  That being said, it's time for bed.

Oh, and HyVee is totally happening.  Just booked the MegaBus ticket.  Say a few prayers (slightly sarcastic, slightly serious).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Importance of Strength Training for Runners (and everyone, really)

This week has been crazy.  In a good way, but crazy.

I started teaching this week, so I knew I'd have to switch up some of my runs so that I could get everything in.  Here's kind of an update on how things looked.

Saturday: ran my 60min tempo that I was supposed to do Tuesday
Sunday: 2hour bike...didn't do the 5 mile run after as we did wine tasting. Yeah, I realize that doesn't make sense at all, but we needed to decide on our wine for our wedding.
Monday: 8miles in the morning, 3miles in the evening + strength, tried on my WEDDING DRESS!
Tuesday: 10miles in the morning before New Teacher Orientation
Wednesday: 2x3miles at Marathon Pace before Institute Day
Thursday: 8miles before the First Day of School, 2miles and strength after
Friday: planned 6miles, 4x200 barefoot strides

My surprise breakfast, Orchid, sweets and incredible card from Ryan for my 1st day of school:)

I still was able to get in my two quality marathon based workouts, but honestly teaching is just SO much more important to me.  I've been wanting a job like what I have for my whole life (well, since I was in 3rd grade, when I decided I wanted to be a teacher).  It is seriously the best job ever.  The school is a junior high and has 7th and 8th graders.  The students are divided into core teams (Language Arts, Science and Social Studies) AND there's a Math team only.  Yeah.  Can you imagine the expression on my face writing this?  A team devoted just to Math.  With teachers that love writing math lessons just as much (if not more) than I do.  I'm in Heaven.  AND, my teammates are awesome.  Well, really everyone that I've met is awesome.  I'm the luckiest girl ever.

So training has kind of taken a bit of a backseat.

My mentor brags about my running (she just started running too!!!), so that's even more motivation for me to get my butt up at 4am to get my run in.  Wednesday's workout was done in the morning primarily because I wanted to get it in as I had no idea how long our Institute Day might be.  I did NOT want to wake up, but decided I'd be more likely to hit good times in the morning than after being in meetings all day, so out I went.

2x3miles at MP recap.
Goal: MP, so 6:18-6:22 pace for 3 miles
Actual: 627, 613, 613/613, 614, 614.  Yikes!
Let's just say I was even happier when I ran this morning with NO soreness.  Yep, none at all.  Crazy, right?

I've been keeping on top of my strength training too as I know (from Earl's guidance) that if I stray just a bit, injury could easily creep up on me.

Strength training is one of the first things, if not the first, that most people drop when they get really busy.  I wish I could stress how important it is to just plan your day better or skip something else rather than skipping strength.  Running uses SO many muscles that having a good strength strength training routine really does prevent injuries.  I don't mean doing squats with a bar of 50lbs on each end.  Just body weight stuff (although if you can do more, do!).  Two or three times a week.  Squats, lunges, calf raises, lateral lunges, hamstring curls and hip lifts.  It literally takes 20-30minutes tops (depending on how many sets you do).

Alright, I'll get off of my soap box.  I'm very lucky that I have people like Earl in my life that make me aware of things (i.e.: do your strength training!!), so I try to pass on the good advice I get via this blog.  Hopefully this opens some eyes and can help prevent some injuries.

I'm still looking into ways to get to Des Moines to race HyVee, so hopefully I'll have a real race recap soon.  Megabus is an option, but if you've been on one before, you are probably scrunching your nose just as much as I am writing this.  Stay tuned...

Friday, August 17, 2012

What happens when you have a really good workout?

...generally, I'd say you'd be sore (to answer my blog title question).

However, today that is not the case.  I thought I'd for sure be sore as my hamstring and calf tightened during my last repeat of my workout yesterday.  While I am extremely happy that I'm not sure, I used all 6 of my miles this morning to ponder why that was the case.

Yesterday I had a 5x1mile workout at 10k pace (I think that's probably 6-6:05 pace) with 90 seconds recovery.  I did it on my typical Target loop that I run on whenever I stay at Ryan's parent's house. It's almost 3 miles, so I figured I'd run the loop twice.

Only read this part if you know Schaumburg, know directions, or care to know my route...
The loop starts off flat at Plum Grove Road and Schaumburg Road for all you people that know directions.  I run on the bike path down Plum Grove Road towards Schaumburg Road and turn right at the stoplight in front of Conant High School.  That part is about 0.7 of a mile.  The next part is kind of fun as it's pretty much all downhill.  By the time I have to cross the street to turn left onto the bike path (this part takes me to Higgins Road before I turn right to follow the bike path), I'm at about 1.4miles.  I follow the bike path around Target and onto Meacham Road until it intersects with Schaumburg Road (at this point, 2.25miles) and then take that all the way back up to the Plum Grove Road intersection.  This part is a LONNNNG uphill.....the same one I got to go down when I hit Conant HS.

So anyway, I knew the first mile would be fast so I focused on form and good downhill running.


Success.  It felt easy the whole time and I kept having to slow myself down.  Just what I wanted.

Second mile starts with a bit of an incline going towards Target.  I always hate this part.


Success again.  By this point, I'm almost heading back up the hill. Boo:(


Still successful as I made sure to focus on my form.  I knew I wouldn't be sub 6 on this one, so chose to focus on something I COULD control, such as my form.


Going back down the hill again.  But, also going up the Target incline.  I call it a flat mile to be fair.


That stupid uphill on Schaumburg Road gets me every time.  Like I said before, I knew this uphill would cause issues for me, so the first time around I made sure to focus on my form.  This time, I panicked.

Wanna know what happens when you panic???

Your form goes to (fill-in-the-blank).

Yeah. It's true.  I freaked out that I wasn't going to hit my time, panicked and my form got sloppy.  This also happened to cause my hamstring and calf (on my right leg, the hamstring that I tore last October running the Milwaukee Marathon) to tighten.

Nothing good ever comes from panicking.  Trust me.

While this workout was successful in terms of hitting my goal pace, it was even more successful in terms of lessons learned and quite honestly, those are the best types of workouts.

I'm still looking for a way to get out to West Des Moines, Iowa for the Hy-Vee Triathlon (Ryan has to work it now so won't be able to wait for me to leave after school on Friday, August 31).  If anyone knows someone or is doing it and wants someone to split gas with and entertain with stories, let me know.   Worst case, I don't do Hy-Vee and instead do one of the thousand races offered in the suburbs that weekend.

I'm not panicking :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brick workout recap: turns out I'm ready!

2mile warmup
20min tempo run
20min bike at race pace
20min hard run
2mile cooldown

2mile warmup
20min tempo run-- 6:18, 6:13, 6:18
20min bike at race pace -- on trainer in hard gear pedaling as if in race
20min hard run -- 6:11, 6:15, 6:15
2mile cooldown

In case you haven't read my other blog posts, it's safe to say tempos are NOT my favorite.  I think a big part of that is because I really have to focus for them and honestly, sometimes when I run I just want to look at the scenery and let my mind go.  When I saw this workout, I moaned.  Okay, I full out freaked out. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

My tempo was faster than what it was supposed to be (oops), so I just told myself that my second run would just have to go on feel.  The bike was on the trainer, but I kept picturing myself racing Powerman Alabama the whole time so that I could really keep focus and go "race pace."

The hard run was surprisingly easy.  The Target loop that I do when I'm at Ryan's has a long decline in that beginning mile, so I knew that'd be fast.  It then goes up a longer incline, so I figured this mile would suffer a bit.  Only 4 seconds, so that was nice....considering I looked down at one point and my watch was at 7:04 pace.  My final mile had the back side of the incline, so again I knew it'd be a tad slow, but another 6:15 made me happy!

Overall, Coach Cari was very happy with this workout as well.  I think it shows how ready I am for Hy-Vee.  I told Cari I can't WAIT to do more marathon specific stuff since I am actually seeing that I'm in decent shape again.

After my workout, I lifted with my arms and legs--another key factor in keeping me injury free thus far (minus my own fault of banging my knee on my door frame in April).  Earl (RMS Physical Therapy) has a basic runner strength program and we added a few specific things for me.  Honestly, if you aren't doing strength stuff, GO SEE EARL!!!!! Especially if you are injury prone or even just having some soreness issues.  He's a runner and a triathlete--he knows his stuff.  I can't tell you how many teammates/friends have told me, "Jacqui, I went to see Earl and am running again! Thank you so much for recommending him."  Whether you are an elite athlete or a recreational jogger, if you have ANY type of issue (or just want to better your running!!), Earl will help you get there.

On another note, yesterday (8/14) was a great day-- two of my friends (a cousin and college friend) got engaged! I've been taking notes on good advice I've either received or have found out on my own throughout these past 6 months, so might blog about that soon. We'll see.

Happy hump day everyone!

Monday, August 13, 2012


Normally, a blog post like "2 MORE MONTHS" might indicate to a reader that there are only two measly months that stand between the blogger and their "big" race.

Not me.

While running is still high on the list, marrying the man of my dreams will always beat it for the top spot on the list.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I've been getting more excited every day to go work on wedding stuff instead of run.  I didn't ever think this would happen, but I am pretty sure of the reason:

I am an overachiever.

When I see that "To Do" list on The Knot (http://planning.theknot.com/wedding-checklist/due-date/all), I can't help but want to put a check mark in the box and watch it disappear, smiling with satisfaction.

So, that being said, this week my running did not suffer.  My biking did, but that's a whole other story.  In fact, my workouts went really well this week.

Monday: 8miles, lift, swam
Tuesday:bike workout followed by an easy 4mile run
Wednesday: easy 6, lift, and classes at school!
Thursday: 6x3min run@5k, 5min bike @race pace, 5min recovery spin. brick workout.
Friday: 6miles, barefoot strides
Saturday: 15miles with Matt, Carter (Ryan's nephew)'s first birthday!!!!!!!!! big party!!!!!!!!
Sunday: supposed to be 3hour ride followed by 5miles....ran 7miles.

Ryan and me at Carter's birthday party!

Since Ryan and I are SO close to being able to finally move into our house, we figured we needed to make our house look presentable as Carter's first birthday party was going to be on Saturday night.  Yes, Ryan and I are next door neighbors to his brother and sister-in-law. So, I realistically should have done a double or two this week to hit my mileage goal of 60miles, but making the house look presentable was about 100 times more important.  This is just the kitchen view as we will show off the WHOLE house once it's complete, but here's a sneak peek at our work...

 Baking cabinets....these will most definitely be getting the most use from me:)
 Our beautiful dinnerwear, glasses, roaster and crock pot. Oh and the signs are adorable:)
Not surprising that this was the first thing we hung up!

It's been a lot of hard work, especially by Ryan, but when we move in, it'll all be worth it.  Our friends and family were very excited to have tours of the house and just couldn't believe how much work we got done, so that made all of the stressing and worrying over smaller details worth it.

This week is the last full week that I'll have off before school starts next week.  I am SO very excited to meet my students and the rest of the staff.  I can't help but "light up the room" when I talk about (or even just think about) my new job.  This year has truly been incredible and I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family to share it with.

I promise my next post will be more entertaining with workouts...it's crazy not to have a race at all in August, so this blog seems to have turned a bit into teaching/wedding/house related content!  Good luck to all of my fellow teachers starting school this week--let's make this year the best one yet!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Time to de-stress

I've always been good at managing my time.  If you knew me in high school or college or really even now, you knew that I carried a small notebook where I'd plan out my day and write my "to do" list.  It's probably just my Type A personality (I hear most runners have those!:)), but that's just how I've always been.

...which is why this weekend was tough for me.

This weekend I was supposed to run 15miles on Saturday and then have a 3 hour bike workout followed by a 5 mile run on Sunday.  Luckily, my training partner Joe is awesome and agreed to meet me at 6am in Cary to run 15 miles.  He is the definition of a true friend--I mean, seriously, who does that? I'm very lucky!  So, 15miler on Saturday was done.  Sunday would prove to be a major fail.

Saturday after my early morning long run with Joe (and a shower before leaving!), my mom, sister and I left for central Illinois to attend my mom's side of the family bridal shower ("Swift shower" as I refer to it).  We went to three different wineries and just truly enjoyed each other's company...it was completely perfect for my mom's side of the family and I absolutely loved it.  However, it was three hours away and we had a bridal shower to come home to on Sunday.  My shower on Sunday was 1:30-4pm, so I figured I could just squeeze in the bike after the shower.  Hey, the Olympics are on after all so it's not like I'd be bored on the trainer.

Sometimes, no matter how well you think you have things planned, they just don't work out.  My mom's best friend who has children my, Nic and Kristina's ages (we have all been friends since I was 5) threw my bridal shower on Sunday in Crystal Lake.  Ryan came at the end to say hi to all of my nearest and dearest in attendance.  It wasn't until the hostess said she had to leave (at 5pm, well after the shower!) for mass that we realized it was Sunday and we needed to go to church.  Well, after church we wanted to hang out as a family before Kristina goes back to Arkansas on Tuesday.

What's my point?...

Life throws curveballs at you.  You can't anticipate everything, nor can you plan for everything.  When this happens, you can't let it stress you out; you just have to go with the flow.  I used to be CRAZY about making sure I got my workouts in and honestly, did it matter if I got in that extra 5 miles for the week?  Probably not.  Would those extra 5 miles that I didn't get in really have made me run a 2:46 marathon?  Again, probably not.

SO many people stress over getting every single run/bike/swim/whatever in.  I'm definitely guilty of doing that; however, I've come to learn that it's a lot easier to just "let it go" when you can't get a workout in.  No point in stressing about something that you don't have control over.

Alright, there's my wisdom for the week.  And, because looking at pictures is fun, here are some pictures from the showers this weekend...

 My sister and I at our second winery, Willet's Winery.  ps: notice the adorable wine glass!
 How fun are these candy apples and pretzels?!
 My mom and me at our final winery, Makinaw Valley, where Jerry and Katie got married!
 My Sunday Shower at the Agnes house with some of my wonderful friends:)
Umm, how perfect is this?!

This week will be a little more relaxed, so hopefully that leads to some quality training.  If I can't get it in, there are other things that are much higher priorities (job, wedding, house) that just have to have more attention.  Hope that everyone is able to be a little less stressed about working out and getting everything in...it's a lesson that took me (clearly) forever to learn, but I'm a much happier person when I'm not stressed!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

MTXE -- mental toughness in running

WORKOUT: 1mile warmup, 50minute tempo, 1mile cooldown

In high school, my teammates and I went to running camps every summer.  One summer, my teammate (and eventually my sister's teammate) Shannon and I went to a camp together.  It was there that we discovered the phrase MTXE: Mental Toughness eXtra Effort.  We used this phrase throughout tough workouts, throughout meets, you get the idea.  

Shannon wrote an incredible essay during her senior year of high school about inspiration.  She wrote the essay and referenced me.  It brought me to tears when she sent it to me, and came at the perfect time as I was deciding to "retire" from collegiate running due to student teaching.  Shannon referenced our famous MTXE in her essay and that phrase somehow crept into my mind today.

I was a little nervous going into this workout.  It doesn't make sense considering I ran faster than tempo pace last Saturday and it felt easy.  I ran an average of 6:08s for the 6.2mile race (38min), so realistically another 12minutes shouldn't be too hard.  But for some reason I just kept thinking this would be really hard, probably since I haven't done a tempo since like March (sickness in April and knee injury in May ruined those opportunities for the tempos).  

I also had a hard bike on Tuesday, saw Dave Davis for a massage on Tuesday night, so I could still feel some soreness on Wednesday afternoon.  Dave usually leaves me sore (in a good way:)) for a day and a half, so this morning I was pretty nervous.

Coach Cari had told me to just stay around 6:30s since I haven't done a tempo in so long. I did it on a 3mile loop by Ryan's house where there is a .40 downhill section, flat mile and last .40 uphill section.

Mile 1--6:17...it was a little downhill so I figured it'd be faster.
Mile 2--6:18...still feeling good!
Mile 3--6:23..the uphill one, wasn't expecting it to be great, but still not bad
Mile 4--6:21..consistent
Mile 5--6:24...this is where I started feeling fatigue in my hamstring at the race, so YAY for feeling good!
Mile 6--6:23..still no fatigue, YES!
Mile 7--6:30...yeah, I started feeling tired at this point. Should have brought a drink.
0.83--5:20......just hung on, still under 6:30 pace so I'll take it.

After mile 3, I seriously considered switching this workout with next week's 2x20min tempo, but know that Cari schedules my training the way she does for a reason, but WOW did I want to do that instead!  So, I told myself to break it up into 10min segments.  Basically 5x10min at tempo with no rest between.  Sounds much more doable.  With about 16minutes to go, I REALLY started feeling fatigued and just wanted to stop.  I then remembered how COOL it was to break that finish line tape on Saturday and that I have two incredible sponsors whose slogans are meant to inspire athletes every day.


As cheesy as it sounds, reminding myself of those slogans got me through this workout.  It's truly just a "mind over matter" kind of thing, which is hard, but mental toughness is something that any athlete MUST have in order to be successful. Thanks, saucony and PowerBar for helping me out today:)

In wedding and house related news...
We just ordered our carpet from Luna so our basement will be pretty much done in two weeks! All we need now is to install our shower and toilet and we can move in!!!
Invitations arrived last week and the stamps arrive today, so invites should be out soon!!:)