Friday, November 21, 2014

Retail Therapy

I had to bag my run today for the second day in a row...  ugly deets to follow in my weekly update. Suffice it to say for now that my right leg is not cooperating with me this week!

After throwing in the towel again I decided to just go grocery shopping. I haven't shared a good couponing post in awhile so I thought I'd just share my deals today. Most of them didn't even need coupons. As a lot of you know, I've been a couponer most of my life. It's something I do every time I shop. Most weeks I don't even think about posting, or, more often then not, the deal is over before I get a chance to post and I'd hate to say - look what I got this week, too bad you can't get it anymore...

Keys to my shopping stategy...
- scan the weekly ad
- note the sales and pull the coupons that match the sale items
- goal is to get at least a 50% discount on most items
- make a list
- get in and get out
- above all, don't bring the kids or hubs!!

First stop - MARSH

Regular price per 12-pack $4.99. Sale price $2.50.
Diet Coke 12-packs are on sale this week 4 for $10. I never pay more than $2.50 a 12-pack. I was down to my last two 12-packs so I was getting nervous (yes, I'm an addict). I figured someone would run it on sale this week for Thanksgiving. Meijer was 3 for $10, Kroger was 4 for $11 so Marsh it was. I had to do 3 separate transactions to get all these. I am hoping they will last until the next sale. Usually someone will run them 4 for $10 for the following - Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Super Bowl, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day. The longest stretch seems to be from Labor Day to Thanksgiving unless one of the drug stores runs a deal in between. You have to pretty much adhere to the expiration dates for diet sodas because they will go flat. All of these cases have Jan/Feb 2015 expirations so I should be good.
Regular price per half gallon $7.49. Sale price $4.50.
Half gallons of Blue Bell ice cream were on sale for $4.50. You can get two prints of a  $1.00 coupon from once a month. This is one of our favorite brands so I always look to see who has it on sale and then print the coupon. Coupons expire one month from the date you print them. My final price for these were $3.50 each.


Regular price per pound $3.99. Sale price $1.99.
I always stock up on butter, especially around the holidays and at fair time. This year I will be making over 40 gallons of caramel corn as gifts (I do it every year). I used to be able to find butter for $1.50 a pound but I think $1.99 is as low as it's going to go this year. I got 16 pounds to start. I will be going back for more.
I was thrilled to see that Kroger had it on sale this week. Butter will also be $1.99 a pound at Meijer the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I am working the night shift on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. That means I get off work at 7 am on Saturday morning. I am signed up for a 5K and 10K double in Columbus that starts at 10 am. I was trying to figure out how to manage getting off work, buying butter, and getting to Columbus in time for the race (yes, I will be trashed on race day!) but now I don't have to worry about the butter!
Turkey Hill 48 oz ice cream regular price $4.99. Sale price $3.00.
If you haven't figured it out by now, ice cream is sorta like milk and toilet paper at our house - a staple you don't want to run out of. There were $1.00 printables for the Turkey Hill ice cream at so my final price for these were $2.00 each.
Regular price per box $2.49. On price drop for $2.00.
This was a deal I saw while shopping last week and remembered there were insert coupons out so I pulled them (10/5/14 Smart Source) for my next grocery run. Celestial Seasonings has a coupon out for $1.00 off  per box, making the final price of these boxes $1.00 each. My family likes the tea, plus they make nice gift basket items or stocking stuffers this time of year.
All of these deals are good until at least Thanksgiving. On the advertised deals you can also get rain checks if the store is sold out. Happy shopping!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Napa Training Week 3... Lunch with Big Brother

So there it was... the Facebook ad that would not go away. Every time I opened the page, this ad would show up until finally, I clicked on it to find out more...

Sometimes it's eerie what is marketed towards you, like Big Brother is watching over you. Anyway, Big Brother invited me to lunch and I went with it. I had the day off. It was a local event. It sounded fun and relevant... so I went.

The speaker was Kacey Oiness, Ph.D. She is a sports and performance psychologist with St. Vincent Sports Performance. The purpose of the lecture was to focus on some mental skills to help you perform better as it was pointed out that a large part of your performance is mental yet most athletes spend most of their time working on their physical skills and hardly any time on their mental skills.

Here were some of my favorite quotes from the lecture and key takeaways...

"If you focus on results, you will never change; if you focus on change, you will get results."

"Confidence is not the absence of negative thoughts or feelings; it is the belief that one is able to perform well despite these feelings."

Goal setting should focus on the process rather than the outcome. Goals should be specific, challenging, realistic, adjustable, and measurable.

Other mental skills that were discussed were self-talk strategies - staying in the present and getting rid of all the "should have's" in your life; composure skills - ways to get yourself either calmed down or energized for an upcoming activity; working on concentration, focus, and visualization skills. You can work on these skills daily by writing down your daily goals, journaling, and/or working on focus/imagery/or relaxation skills for 10-15 minutes a day.

Performing well under pressure is accepting that some pressures will exist - be aware, prepare a plan and practice the plan. In the end, have goals, be immersed in the activity, pay attention to what is relevant, and enjoy the activity.

So Week 3 was a "drop down" week. Every third week in my program is an "easy" week to rest and recover. Here's how it went...

Sunday - 3 miles. This is where it's nice to have a schedule. I didn't feel like running but the schedule said I only had to go 3 miles so I was OK with that.

Monday - 7 miles. Got up at 4:30 am for another 10 hour work day. I absolutely did not feel like running in the evening but so wanted a total rest day on my day off on Tuesday so I laced up and hit the Monon while by daughter danced... and ended up having a really nice run.

Tuesday - Rest. Went to my luncheon.

Wednesday - 3 miles.

Thursday - 7 miles. Marathon pace run.

Friday - 10 miles. I got a new Garmin Forerunner 220 with heart rate moniter and took it for a test drive. My goal was to keep my heart rate under 150. Easier said than done! I found that I could keep it in the 130-140 range if I ran about a 10 minute pace on the flats however, the minute I started going up any uphill grade, my heart rate immediately started climbing. It got to be a game of "can I make it to the top of this rise before my heart rate hits 150." I ended up averaging 10:24 pace with an average heart rate of 143 and max heart rate of 156. It did keep me entertained the whole run though.

Saturday - Rest. Spent the whole day at work.

Week 3 Total Miles: 30
5 good days, 0 bad days, 2 rest days

My miles will be ramping up the next two weeks so fingers crossed that things continue to go well!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Run the Mile You're In

Run the mile you're in. Run the mile you're in. That was my mantra today...

One of my takeaways from the sports psychology luncheon I went to this week was to stay in the present. Don't dwell on the past or think about the future. Focus on what you are doing at the moment.

Goal marathon pace run day and I had 7 miles on the schedule. I should be able to do this. Why is it that I always freak out about pace days? It's like a test... did I train well enough the preceding days to do this? Of course I can do this yet, more often than not, I feel like I end up bailing. I should have been able to do 5 miles at 8:45 pace 2 weeks ago yet I couldn't. Now I had 7 on my plate... and it was snowing.

Well, not snowing snowing but temps in the 20's with snow flurries... like snowflakes you can see. I almost retreated to the hamster track but I knew I had to do this on the road.

Suck it up buttercup...

Tights, long sleeve shirt, jacket, headband, gloves... I think I'm ready. Just go do it.

Miles 1-5 were fine. I knew I was too fast. I tried to reign myself in and just think about the pace for this mile. Miles 4 and 5 are always the hardest ones. Mile 4 starts and ends on a hill so I always end up speeding up at the end of Mile 3 in anticipation. Mile 5 ends on a short steep hill next to my house so I usually end every run sprinting up this hill. Today though, rather than turn around and go back down the hill to do another 2 miles I decided to run past my house on a road that had more of a gradual up and down grade than the previous 5 so I wouldn't have to climb so many hills and end my run on a hill.
I sprinted up the hill to finish Mile 5. As soon as I got to the top I went from feeling perfectly fine to "OMG, I think all my insides are going to fall out and I'm going to crap myself!" Boom. Just like that - in less than 3 seconds - I went from fine to total disaster. I did exert myself pretty hard going up that hill but I wasn't expecting to feel so horrible at the top.
For at least a quarter mile I considered calling the run, but each step was taking me further and further from my house. No! Suck it up and finish! Another couple hundred yards and I tried to fix my posture and my stride. My insides were calming down. I don't think I really crapped myself. I peeked at my watch. 9:41 pace. OK, see what I can salvage. I suck at runner math, especially when I feel bad... I'm not sure if I have 20 seconds or 40 seconds in the bank... maybe I can still average 8:45.
I made it to the 6 mile mark and saw 9:20. I was feeling better and there was more downhill than uphill to the finish. I tagged SR 144 and sprinted home.

What I learned today...
- I am capable of running 7 miles at 8:45 pace
- I need to slow down my early miles. 8-10 seconds a mile is too fast. It will catch up to me later. Better to run slower in the beginning. This is a horrible habit I have. I have never run a negative split ever in a race. My subconscious always wants to bank a couple seconds here and there in the beginning for later but I know that it really just hurts me later. I have to trust myself more.
- I have enough strength/mentality/gas to overcome a craptastic mile and comeback with a 8:10 7th mile. I have the ability to do this.
So happy I gutted out Mile 6 today!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Napa Training Week 2... VO2 Max Assessment

This was a good week...

I jumped into the week with plans to schedule a VO2 max assessment so I could find out what my ideal heart rate training zones were for the 80/20 training I am doing. After looking at different options around Indianapolis, I decided that the National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS) located in downtown Indy offered the most reasonably priced assessment at a non-member price of $115. I called on Tuesday and was a bit shocked to get an appointment for Wednesday.

The following information is taken from "Running for Fitness" by Owen Barder and seems to sum up VO2 max the best...

VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).

As you increase your effort when you exercise, the amount of oxygen you consume to produce energy (and hence the rate at which you exhale carbon dioxide) increases. However, there is a maximum level of oxygen consumption, beyond which increases in exercise intensity don’t lead to further increases in oxygen consumption. This level of oxygen consumption is called the VO2 max. (The initials simply stand for volume of oxygen. )

Some experts believe that VO2 max is a key physiological determinant of an athlete’s running performance, and that it is an important objective of a training programme to improve it. Other sports scientists argue that the limits to an athlete’s running performance are determined by a range of factors – such as adaptation of muscles, running efficiency, metabolism – and that VO2 max is simply a measure of the oxygen that the athlete consumes at the maximum level of energy output. On this view, which I find persuasive, VO2 max is not the critical factor which determines maximum performance, but is rather a consequence of a combination of other limiting factors. Whichever way you look at it there is a measurable level of exercise intensity at which the athlete’s consumption of oxygen reaches a plateau and does not increase

In a nutshell, VO2 max is a good measure of your cardiac fitness. There are other factors in training and racing such as muscle fitness and fueling/nutrition that also contribute to a person's overall athletic ability.

So here's how my test went...

First I had my "resting" heart rate and blood pressure measured. My resting heart rate wasn't exactly resting though because I missed the right parking garage downtown and had to drive around the block a couple times and then run to the facility... first time they took it it was over 100. I did some paperwork, tried to settle down, and they took it again and it was 77. (I actually took it yesterday at work and it was in the 60's). Next, they told me to warm up like I was going out for a run while they set up the machine... I did some squats, stretches, and a lap around their indoor track.

Now for the test. I am generally not a claustrophobic person... however (!!) the next thing that happened was I had a very tight fitting silicone-type mask put over my nose and mouth. It had headgear with four straps that went over and under your ears and around your head. There was a hose that came out the front...
photo from the NIFS website
When I put this on, all I could see was the silicone between my eyes. Oh, and I was standing on a treadmill - and everyone knows by now how I feel about treadmills! I had a heart rate monitor strap on and my heart rate went up to 114 even before the test started.
OK. Breathe... they started the treadmill. I was told the test would go in stages with the treadmill going faster for awhile and then the treadmill would incline up. I was suppose to give them a thumbs up if I wanted to do the next stage when they asked, or motion to cut if at any time I had to stop.
Lets just say I was a bit freaked out because I couldn't see the treadmill. All I could see was silicone. If I peeked way out to the left I could see the mileage on the treadmill but that was it. I had no idea how fast I was going or what the incline was. I could feel the incline going up somewhat but I was just lifting my knees like crazy because I didn't want to trip and fall. Falling was unlikely cause I had a hose attached to my face that someone was actually holding out of my way but still...
At just over 8 minutes I called it. Then I got my results. My VO2 max was 36.9. That put me at the very tip top of the "Excellent" rating for my age and gender. A tenth of a point more and I would have been "Superior." The competitive part of me wanted a do over!
To put things in perspective, here are the VO2 maxes of some well known athletes...
Most of the literature says that a lot of your VO2 max is genetic. Training can increase it anywhere from 5-20% depending on what you read. What's interesting is that there are a lot of VO2 max rate calculators out where you can put in your race times and it will calculate your VO2 max, or vice versa where you put in your VO2 max and it will predict your race time.
If I put in my last 5K time of 25:33 run on 10/25/14 in the VO2 max calculator HERE, I get a VO2 max of 37.3. Conversely, if I put in my actual measured VO2 max of 36.9 in the race pace predictor from the same site, I get a 5K time of 25:48.
What I got out of this is that, cardio-wise, I'm pretty fit. It's the other things like muscle strength and fueling I need to work on. The other thing I learned were my aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. The assessor actually wrote in my numbers because she disagreed with the machine printout. Interestingly, my heart rate actually dropped in the middle of my test, then went back up so the printout had my aerobic threshold at 160 bpm and my anaerobic threshold at 159 bpm. What I got was that I should keep my heart rate under 150 to run aerobically. My lactate threshold (anaerobic threshhold) is 160. If my heart rate goes faster than that, I am producing more waste (lactate) than my body can clear and this is not sustainable for a long period of time.
My maximum heart rate was 184. For the 80/20 training I am doing, 80% of my runs should be at less than 80% of my maximum heart rate. For me, 80% of 184 comes to 147... pretty close to my aerobic threshold of 150 that the assessor wrote in.
My take away - I need to keep my heart rate under 150 for all my runs except for my hard runs for the week. Ideally though, my hard runs, which right now are my marathon pace runs, should start to come in under 150 after awhile. If and when that happens, I'll need to start throwing in some faster intervals during the week. Next step for me will be to get a heart rate monitor for my runs.
So here were my Week 2 runs ...
Sunday - 3 miles. Nice shake out run after the Monumental.
Monday - 7 miles. Got up at 4:30 am and put in a 10 hour day at work. After last week, I figured I'd be trashed the next day so I just put up and did 7 miles in the dark while my daughter was at dance in the evening. It ended up being a very nice peaceful run having the Monon all to myself. Got home and passed out on the couch. Didn't even make it to bed til I woke up again at 2 am.
Tuesday - Rest. Yup. I was pretty much trashed.
Wednesday - 7 miles. Did the VO2 max test in the afternoon then another moonlit run on the Monon. I think the VO2 max test did me in cause I passed out on the couch again as soon as I got home!
Thursday - 14 miles. Temps in the 40's, wind gusts between 20-40 mph, and when I stepped outside, I realized it was pouring down rain. I retreated to the hamster track and worked on fueling.
I have gone back and forth on what to fuel with during my marathon. I thought about trying some of the super starch drinks such as UCAN but then decided I just don't want to carry any fluids with me during a race. There is always an abundance of fluids out on the course and carrying around fluids sloshing around in a waist belt just drives me crazy! I've decided on trying more chews or gels. I found out I can actually chew (Gatorade chews) and run at the same time if I'm running easy. I think I need to eat more often. Usually I just take a gel an hour. Now I'm practicing to eat every 30-40 minutes. If anything, it does provide me with a little more entertainment on my long runs. Running long at an easy pace gets boring. I was really tempted at the end of this one to pick it up the last couple miles just so I could be done!
Friday - 3 miles. Got up at o'dark thirty to run before work as I knew I wouldn't feel like it afterwards. I'm glad I did because my husband called me as I was driving home to let me know the family wanted to go out for dinner as soon as I got home. We went out for dinner and I passed out as soon as I got home. Actually made it into a bed though.
Saturday - Rest. Spent the whole day at work.
Week 2 Total Miles: 34
5 good days, 0 bad days, 2 rest days
I think I need more sleep too!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Napa Training Week 1 and Monumental Weekend

Week 1 of training is in the books!

I had some good days and some bad days. This is how it went.

Sunday - Rest. Spent the whole day at work.

Monday - 3 miles. Probably the worst 3 miles I've run in quite some time. I didn't get out til noon. It was about 80 degrees outside and windy. I ran on the roads by my house. I'd forgotten how open and hilly they were compared to the Monon. I was still really tight from the race on Saturday and dead tired from working all weekend. I really wanted to stop after half a mile but kept telling myself it was only 3 miles!

Tuesday - 6 miles. Easy run indoors on the hamster track.

Wednesday - 3 miles. Same route as Monday but felt better.

Thursday - Rest. Spent the whole day at work and was ready to drop when I got home
Friday - 6 miles. This was my pace run day. I was suppose to run 6 miles at 8:45 pace. It should have been a piece of cake. NOT! It was 40 degrees, raining, and windy. I thought for 2 seconds about hamster tracking it but decided I couldn't deal with the mental math involved since I can't use my Garmin to pace myself indoors. I just sucked it up and went outside.

Mile 1 - 8:43. Didn't feel too bad.
Mile 2 - 8:51. I started tightening up and felt horrible. Lately I've been feeling totally trashed the day after a long shift at work... this day being no exception.
Mile 3 - 9:55. I needed a breather. Better to run slow than quit all together but I was ready to quit!
Mile 4  - 9:39
Mile 5 - 9:19
Mile 6 - 8:54
Average pace was 9:13. No where close to 8:45. I was just a very hard run in the rain and wind.

As soon as the run was over though, Monumental weekend began!

Some of my Sole Sisters from my online running group came into town for the race - there was Tammy from New Hampshire (crazy woman drove here with her friend Michelle), Amanda from Missouri, and Araminta from Virginia. We met up at the Race Expo, looked around, and picked up our race packets. I had to leave them to do kid stuff for awhile but met back up with them at Trena's house for dinner.

Araminta, Tammy, me, Trena, Amanda, and Michelle
The next morning we met up at Tammy and Michelle's hotel to run the race. Trena and Tammy ran the full. Amanda, Araminta, and I ran the half. Michelle was there to cheer us on.
Tammy and Amanda pre-race
 Me and Araminta post-race
Araminta and I ran the whole race together. It was cool to see the text alerts at the end where we had the exact same time.
I did exactly what the training plan said for the day - low intensity 13 mile run. Didn't do anything stupid and enjoyed my run, which, by the way, was very COLD! Depending on where you looked, this was the forecast for the race...
 (from Joe)
(from Araminta)

OR !!!!
(from Melissa)

Week 1 Total Miles: 31
3 good days, 2 bad days, 2 rest days

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Eyes on Napa

I. Am. Capable. I. CAN. Do. This!
Napa Valley Marathon training started this week. This is my goal marathon for 2015. 26.2 miles straight down the Silverado Trail. Some rolling hills but 271 feet of total elevation drop. The only marathon I am signed up for. This is where I plan to run my Boston qualifying time in 18 weeks. My qualifying time is 3:55. I don't want to chance being a squeaker. I want to run 3:50.

The plan that I went with this time is a beefed up Hal Higdon Intermediate II plan. Last time I tried this, I made it mile heavy to begin with and it just didn't go well. This time, for the first time, I feel like I'm going into a training program with some decent base miles. The other times I did training programs I pretty much went from nothing to - Hello Week 1! I got 31 solid miles in last week and had double digit weeks for the 3 weeks before, here's how I modified the plan...

Instead of starting with Week 1 of the plan, I'm starting in Week 4. I then put three more weeks of high mileage runs into the middle of the program so instead of three 20 mile runs, I will have long runs of 20, 22, 24, 26, and 20 miles. I am sticking with the tenet of a pace run coupled with a long run the next day so in Week 13 I'll be running my own Goofy. I will probably switch around some of my other days depending on my work schedule but the weekly miles will stay the same.

I am trying to schedule some type of fitness assessment where I can get my VO2 max tested as I'm playing around with the idea of trying to do 80/20 training, meaning doing 80% of my runs easy and 20% at a higher intensity. I think if I do the 80/20 thing with this plan, it means that every run is an easy run except for the one that I will be doing at goal marathon pace - which for me will be 8:45 miles.
8:45 pace. It sounds so easy... until you have to string 26.2 of them together.
I am also going to work on my fueling. Looking back, I think that that was probably why I blew up in Louisville. In both of my last two marathons I never had an issue with my cardio. I felt like I was running a conversational pace the whole time. At Monumental last year, it was my leg issue that made me stop and try to drop out. It still makes me sick to think that I walked 3 miles and finished in 4:20. At Derby this year I simply ran out of gas at mile 20. My plan had been to eat a gel every hour - which I did - but my legs just wouldn't go anymore after mile 20. I normally don't eat or drink when I run for anything under 10 miles. I will be practicing with more eats this time around.

Next is my mental game. Once my legs started failing I went into total nuclear meltdown mode in Louisville. I am really working on my brain this time, reading up on sports psychology and even signed up for a lecture.

Having said all this, I think my body is bipolar. After having some great runs the last two weeks, yesterday I had the most horrific 3 mile run I've ever had. I wanted to stop after half a mile. It was hot. It was windy. I was running my rolling county roads. My legs were tight and felt like they were a 100 pounds a piece. I seriously wanted to stop and walk but plodded through. I have no idea how fast or slow I was going but if I'm doing this 80/20 thing, my perceived exertion was a 10. Today I retreated to the hamster track and did 6 miles. Still felt tight but easy overall. I'm hoping things feel good for the rest of the week.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Running for the STARS 5K

Here's my race recap... mainly for me so I will remember.

I made it to the race and got to run this week. It was at 6:30 pm on Saturday night. I generally like evening races because, as it is well known, I am NOT a morning person. This Saturday though I had to work at 6:30 am, meaning I had to get up at 4:30 am to go to work. Ughhh...

Work was relatively OK. I didn't get killed but it wasn't a cakewalk either. Left Bloomington by 3:15 pm... then took 2 freakin' hours to get to Columbus! I have never seen traffic that bad on 46. By race time I just wanted a nap.

I went into the race thinking that I might be able to pull off a 7:30 pace (what the hell was I thinking?!)  or at least run under 25:00. My body did not want to cooperate. My left hamstring pulled a little on the warm up. Made me a bit concerned but then I ignored it.

Mile 1 - 7:36
... not too bad but my right hamstring started pulling... like alot
Mile 2 - 8:19
... at about 1.5 miles some guy yelled "you're in 7th!" All I remember thinking was "I don't care, I just want this race to be over!" I was pretty miserable by then.
Mile 3 - 8:43
... I totally tanked. My legs felt like heavy blocks of wood and I felt like I had no energy. I just wanted to be done.
Last 0.1 - 0:55

Official time - 25:33  (8:13 pace)

Ended up 8th in the women's race and won my age group but was disappointed overall. I actually felt nauseous after I got done. I don't know if I was just tired from working all day or if it was a fueling issue - however, it was only 3.1 miles! I don't think it could really have been a fueling issue however I did feel 100% better after I drinking a carton of chocolate milk and downing a banana after the race. Who knows... this was just not my night. I keep telling myself I ran 22:50 just over 6 months ago. My time will come down again (sigh)!

Best part of the night was hanging out with my Crossroads runner friends. Wish I could run with them more often. Jane passed me at the 2 mile mark and won the 40-44 age group. Magda passed me around 2.5 miles and finished 2nd in the 50-54 age group (yeah, I got my beat by a 13 year old that won the race and three women in their 50's that finished ahead of me.) Nora Jo finished right behind me and won the 55-59 age group. I'm reading a great sports psychology book (more to come on this later) that talks about running with the competition rather than against the competition. I really enjoy running with these gals!

Jane, me, and Nora Jo