Monday, August 31, 2015

Weekly Roundup 8.24-8.30

I didn’t run alone AT ALL this week!  What a treat!

A CCR group run, 2 Marathon Sports runs, a few runs with G and a fun long run with Wendy & Amanda.  Wendy is one of my clients at the gym and her daughter Amanda is training for her first marathon.  On Saturday she ran her longest to date—16 miles—so Wendy and I joined her for the last 9 miles.  I was lucky to have my dad biking with me on all my Chicago long runs so I know how Amanda must have felt with company as she approached unknown territory.  Looking forward to running with her again!

 Monday's run with my daddo!

OH!  Remember the week that I could no longer carry Georgie?  Well guess what!  A couple of push ups this week and some Georgie weight loss, I can pick her up again!  It wasn't pretty but I did it!  Last time I tried she was 68.5 pounds.  On Friday we went back to the vet and she weighed in at 64 pounds.  No more growing G.
[Related Post: Weekly Roundup 8.3-8.9]

Upcoming events:

·      8 weeks until the Cape Cod Half!
·      20 weeks until the Houston Marathon!

Monday 8.24.15
CCR Running Team Group Run! 5 miles with my daddo (47:30)
Mini home workout #1:
·      20 squats
·      10x alt lunges
·      10x alt back lunges
·      10x alt side lunges
·      2x5 push ups
16,286 steps

Tuesday 8.25.15
Taught spin class
Marathon Sports Run Club! 5 miles with Jason (41:31)
2 minutes Jacobs Ladder #29035FEET
19,599 steps

Wednesday 8.26.15
8,741 steps

Thursday 8.27.15
2.01 miles with G (19:41)
Taught spin class
Power Water
10 push ups
15,676 steps (wasn’t wearing Fitbit at work from 11am-3pm)

Friday 8.28.15
Marky won a Hoka hat at the Pub Run!
1 mile with G (9:15)
Marathon Sports Pub Run with Hoka! 3.19 miles (28:26)
16,441 steps

Saturday 8.29.15
9 miles with Wendy & Amanda (1:26:10)
25,316 steps

Sunday 8.30.15
Taught spin class. The playlist: Push It Spin Playlist
Burdenko H2O
11,274 steps

This week’s mileage: 25 miles
August Totals: 57 miles
2015 Totals: 325 miles

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Push. Scrape. Pull.

Oh my quad.

Do you ever leave spin class and just your quads are sore?  It may be that you aren’t pedaling “full circle.”

Do you ever take the time to think about what your legs and muscles are doing on the bike during one revolution?  There is more to it then you may realize.

We live in a quad dominated world.  Squats, squats, squats. What about the hamstrings?  It’s important to both strengthen and stretch antagonistic muscles and we need to train your legs to use all muscle groups while you are on the bike.

During spin class I like to spend the second half of warm up practicing isolation drills and pedal strokes.  It helps to get a feel for the whole pedal stroke and gets the mind to think about what you are doing and what you want to achieve throughout the entire class.

Think about the one full pedal stroke as a clock.  Twelve o’clock is the top of your pedal stroke and six o’clock is at the bottom.  Efficiency and power throughout the pedal stroke is our goal, so how are we going to achieve that?

Push. Scrape. Pull.

The first phase of the pedal stroke is the PUSH.  Related to the clock, this would be from twelve o’clock to three o’clock.  During the push phase, your quads are doing the majority of the work.

Up next is the SCRAPE phase from three o’clock to eight o’clock.  The scrape serves as the transition phase activating your calf muscles and is very important to completing the circle.  One very common mistake is pointing your toes while riding.  You may be doing just that if your calf muscles cramp up mid-class. During the scrape, imagine you have gum stuck on the bottom of your shoe that you need to get off.  Lead with the heel, flat feet as you are at the bottom and push off with the ball of your foot.  This leads to the third and final phase of our pedal stroke.
[Related Post: Calf Cramps & Spin Class]

From eight o’clock back up to twelve o’clock is the PULL phase.  This is all about the hamstrings!  Focus on pulling up the pedals and creating high knees back to the top of our pedal stroke.  The flywheel on a spin bike helps with this phase but we need to put in some work so we don’t lose any of our power.  When we start to get tired, our form gets sloppy, and we start to focus solely on the push.  One good thing about using clip in bike shoes is that they force you to ride with efficiency and generate power throughout the whole pedal stroke.

Use the momentum from the push to scrape the bottom and pull up with high knees.  Simple right?

Another way to look at the pedal strokes is “drawing a circle” with the pedal.  It’s important to have even power throughout the whole pedal stroke. The more you practice form drills, the more muscle memory takes over and you won’t even have to think about how your riding.

See you in class!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Weekly Roundup 8.17-8.23

Hello calf muscles!  Not only were they cramping during the Falmouth Road Race but also they continued to cramp and be sore until about Thursday morning.  Ouch!

With that being said, not a whole lot of running this week.  Good week, bad week, repeat.

Saturday was the Insane Inflatable 5k at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds!  My group training group from Mashpee Fitness put together a team and we had a blast!  It was POURING all night/morning but it stopped just as we got there—that left the inflatables full of water and the course super muddy.  FUN!  (Anyone that knows me well is aware that I don’t like getting dirty.)  I mostly walked from obstacle to obstacle with some of the group but we all finished together.  The finish line is a big slide!  So cool!

You can view all my pictures from the Insane Inflatable 5k here:

Georgie Run Updates: The pup ran run her longest to date!  1.98 miles.  She couldn’t make it that final 0.02 but that’s ok.  We will try again next time.  One thing I’m struggling with is finding routes to take her.  She won’t let us repeat loops and if we get too far from home she plops down in the middle of the road refusing to go any further.  Diva pup.

"But mom, home is that way..."
Houston Updates: Flights have been booked and I’m working on my 16-week training plan.  I’m anxious to get started!

Upcoming events:

·      9 weeks until the Cape Cod Half!
·      21 weeks until the Houston Marathon!

Monday 8.17.15
7,275 steps

Tuesday 8.18.15
Taught spin class. The playlist: Rock This Town Spin Playlist
8,066 steps

Wednesday 8.19.15
11,797 steps

Thursday 8.20.15
1.98 miles with G (18:26)
Taught spin class
Power Water
18,779 steps

Friday 8.21.15
10,068 steps

Saturday 8.22.15
Insane Inflatable 5k
10,150 steps

Sunday 8.23.15
Taught spin class
Burdenko H2O
11,344 steps

This week’s mileage: 2 miles
August Totals: 32 miles
2015 Totals: 300 miles

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Weekly Roundup 8.10-8.16

It’s Road Race Week!  While it may not have been as exciting as years past but I had a great week.

On Friday night, I went to the expo to pick up my number.  I didn’t have too much time to spend there but I gave Matt a quick thank you, said hi to Cape Cod Runner & Infa and I was off to the heights for the New Balance Girls Night Out.

The “Relax Before Race Day” event was really cool.  Totally out of my comfort zone, the night started with Yoga on the beach with New Balance Ambassador Aly Raymer.  I was next to another run clubber with zero yoga experience and we laughed at our struggles the whole 45 minute class.  Aly was a great instructor and made the class fun.  I could totally tell she was a spin instructor.  I’d love to take one of her classes!  The event continued at the Casino Wharf where there was chocolate fondue, GUMMY WORMS, lots of appetizers, wine and giveaways!

Saturday’s highlight included a visit from Hawi Keflezighi.  He’s such a cool guy and it’s always nice catching up.  Looking forward to seeing him again in Houston!

Race day was BRUTAL!  You can read my full race day recap here:

Georgie Run Updates:  I brought Georgie for a mile run on Saturday.  First thing in the morning, I let her out to pee and poop.  As soon as she was done, I put on her harness and backpack and we were out the door.  THREE minutes into our run, she stopped to poop again.  TWO minutes after that a pee break.  About a minute later (1/2 mile in) she stopped in the middle of the road and refused to continue on.  Unbelievable.  What a terrible training partner!  :)

Upcoming events:

·      10 weeks until the Cape Cod Half!
·      22 weeks until the Houston Marathon!

Monday 8.10.15
3 miles (22:56)
15,546 steps

Tuesday 8.11.15
2 minutes Jacobs Ladder #29035FEET
Taught spin class
11,989 steps

Wednesday 8.12.15
3 miles (23:33)
16,568 steps

Thursday 8.13.15
0.46 miles with G (4:32)
Taught spin class. The playlist: Gimme Three Steps SpinPlaylist
Power Water
14,839 steps

Friday 8.14.15
11,015 steps

Saturday 8.15.15
1.05 miles with G (11:07)
1.5 miles (11:57)
12,792 steps

Sunday 8.16.15
Falmouth Road Race! 7 miles (51:22)
23,962 steps

This week’s mileage: 16 miles
August Totals: 30 miles
2015 Totals: 298 miles

Monday, August 17, 2015

Race Report: Falmouth Road Race 2015

Photo Cred: TrackJC
If I had to sum up this year’s Falmouth Road Race in one word it would be BRUTAL.  I don’t know what the temperature and humidity level was but man it was hot.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt that uncomfortable running before—or at least in a long time.

A few weeks ago, I would have told you my goal for Falmouth this year was to run 7:00 pace the whole way.  In the days leading up to the race and looking ahead at the weather forecast, I started to think that goal wouldn’t be realistic.  Standing at the start with the sun beating down on me, I threw all plans out the window and thought about just making it to the finish any way I could!

The Start
Getting to the start was a breeze this year.  I got a ride to the buses with Lizzie and her friend Kelly.  We arrived in Woods Hole around 7am, found a shady spot to sit, ate our breakfast and took a couple bathroom breaks as we waited until the 9am race.  

A Run Jen Run Tip: The further you walk, the shorter the line for the porta potties!

At 8:30am I split up with the girls as we went to our different corrals.  Last year the race started a new system where you seed yourself based on your predicted pace.  It must have gone well because they brought it back for a second year.  I like the idea of it as long as everyone is honest.  It’s pretty annoying people think they will run faster than they are capable.  Lizzie’s mom mentioned that this new system makes it harder for spectators to find racers as she is used to looking for waves of colors.  She makes a good point!

As for me, I was lucky to get a seeded number, which appeared to be the 7:00 pace group and faster.  I’m not sure I actually earned it but I have some connections with the race :) There are a few perks having a seeded number.  The biggest is that there are about a dozen porta potties at the start with NO LINES!  I found a shady spot to sit and was able to see the elite warm ups, wheelchair start and the women’s start.  I was always amazed watching the elite’s prepare for the race.  It’s pretty motivating.

The Race
The race itself started about 11 or 12 minutes late.  I later found out there was an bike accident near the start—some elites warming up were first to the scene and even stopped to help out.

After the women’s start I headed to my corral and only had to wait in the blazing sun for about 8 minutes before the gun went off.  Side note: it was cool hearing @csteverun’s voice announcing!

·      Mile 1 (7:08) – One of the hardest parts about running races is not getting caught up in the excitement of the start and going out too hard or too fast.  I like to think I have done really good over the years controlling myself and settling into my planned paces early on and I continued to do just that.  There was a little bit of congestion during the first mile and a few annoying racers, but not that bad.

·      Mile 2 (7:02) – Feeling ok on the shady hills, hot but at a comfortable pace.  Grabbed water at the first water stop and every single one after that.  I was thinking about my spinners who make fun of me when I use the term “comfortably fast.”  Thanks guys!

·      Mile 3 (7:06) – Got that feeling in my right calf that it could cramp up at any step.  Felt like I backed off a bit and used caution on the downhills, as I knew Surf Drive was approaching.  Then I suddenly got that same feeling about my left hamstring.  Uh oh!

·      Mile 4 (6:56) – My favorite mile of the whole race!  It may be the sunniest and hottest but it’s flat & beautiful and I love it!  I tried to ignore the cramping even though it was getting worse with each step.  I grabbed some Gatorade and thinking it was water tried to pour it in my mouth and got it all over my face.  Gross.  Things were starting to get steamy on Surf Drive and I started running through all the hoses while thoughts about walking were creeping into my head.  The crowds started to increase and it was fun hearing so many people yelling my name!

·      Mile 5 (7:08) – I decided I was going to walk when I got to Shore Street but that was practically the 5 mile marker so I toughed it out through 5.

·      Mile 6 (8:05) – The cramping would not stop!  I made the turn on Scranton Ave and walked from 5.15 to 5.25.  I was so worried that when I started running again it would be worse but my legs totally needed the break.  I started back up and naturally fell back into that same pace.  Seeing Lizzie’s parents was nice!  Thanks for the boost of energy!

·      Mile 7 (7:35) – One more mile!  I passed by a few more people I knew out on the course and just past the 10k I had to stop again.  By now it was both calves.  This time was harder to walk because there were SO MANY people cheering.  All telling me “You can do it!” and “Keep going Jen, don’t stop!”  Another runner encouraged me as she passed and I started to run again just behind her.  She turned around and offered me a GU but we were just about to make that final turn onto Grand Ave so it wouldn’t have done any good.  I ran the rest of the way and was so happy crossing the finish line.  They even announced my name!  Woohoo!

After the Race
So many familiar faces as I crossed the finish line.  The awesome Mass Track & Field Officials, Mr. Carroll with his camera, little John, Molly & Anna from Cape Cod Rehab, Jayna, Stacey (working hard on the FRR social media) & Gary, run clubber Kyle, and a big shout out to Caitlin Quinn—one of my blog readers who I haven’t seen in YEARS!  She reminded me that I ran my first ever Falmouth Road Race back in 2002, the year before I started volunteering then eventually working full time with the race.

It was a day of many firsts:
·      First time walking during a race.  I did it twice!
·      First time running a race with my cell phone.  I was actually worried with the heat & I had a lot of friends to find at the start/finish line.
·      First time running a race in sunglasses.  Bad decision: There was a slight headwind so my sunglasses were foggy almost the whole way.  Also lots of water splashed on them making them spotty and annoying.
·      First time pouring water over my head.  I had to.  Way too many times to count.
·      First time running through the hoses.  I usually avoid them.  Any other day wet shoes and socks are not worth it.
·      First time my name was announced as I crossed the finish line!

Congratulations to all finishers!  Falmouth Road Race, thank you for a great morning.  See you next year!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Beginner Blog: Pre-Race Prep

See you at the Falmouth Road Race start line tomorrow!
Preparing for a big race (or your first race!) can be very stressful.  Here are a few things you can do during your training and leading up to race morning to minimize that stress and help you arrive at the start line with confidence and ease.

Practice pre-run meals.

Training is the time to experiment with your food choices.  Before your long runs, simulate race morning.  If your race starts at 8am, plan to run around 8am. How early do you need to eat before you run?  What do you eat before your run?  Can you drink coffee before you run?  If you are staying in a hotel the night before a race, see what the hotel has to offer in terms of breakfast (and how early breakfast opens up) and plan ahead if you need to bring your own meal.  Find out what works best for you and then continue to practice the same habits during training and then again on race morning.

Determine your race nutrition and fueling strategies.

Almost as important as your pre-run meal is the fuel you take during your runs.  If you are training for a 5k and possibly even a 10k, you won’t have to worry about fueling during your race.  If you are training for a half marathon or full marathon, this is a very important concept.

·      Step 1:  Do your research. 
Find our what companies are sponsoring the race.  Is it Gatorade?  GU?  Clif Bar?  Honey Stinger?  You have 2 options – either train with what will be out on the course on race morning or bring your own.  Trying something new could lead to porta-potty stops mid-race.  Eek!

·      Step 2:  Read labels.
Check the serving size.  I love GU Chomps (strawberry is my favorite!) and there are 2 servings per package.  It’s perfect for a half marathon because I fuel twice: mile 3 and mile 8.  In a marathon, I’ll bring 2 packages.  My dad tried the GU Chomps once and said they made his stomach a little queasy.  Guess what—he used the whole package at once!  Silly dad.  Also check the caffeine count on the labels.  Some have no caffeine, some have 2x caffeine.  Caffeine can affect your performance in a positive or negative way.  Again, see what works best for you and stick with it.

·      Step 3:  Figure out when you need fuel. 
I have always stuck with the theory on the GU packages: 15 before every 45.  I start at mile 3, then every 5 miles after that.  It takes about 15 minutes for your body to start feeling the effects of your fuel so don’t wait until it’s too late.  Plan ahead to keep your body and your muscles happy.

Don’t rely on expo for new gear or race nutrition.

Race expos can be fun.  Big races have a lot of different vendors giving away free stuff and sampling products but don’t rely on the expo for your race day essentials.  What if you were planning to buy your race fuel and the expo and they are sold out?  Minimize the stress and come prepared.  Plus you’ll spend way more time on your feet walking around trying to find what you need when you should be resting for the big day!  It’s also never a good idea to buy new shoes or gear right before a race (see my next topic) so you can skip over those over-priced merchandise booths and head to your local running store for all your running needs. 

On a similar note, if you are flying to a destination race, plan to carry on your important items.  You just never know!

Do a dress rehearsal.

Decide what you plan to wear on race morning ahead of time and do a dress rehearsal.  You will find out of your shorts ride up or if your sports bra is rubbing or your compression socks are too tight or any other little nuisance that may affect your performance on race day.  Make sure you have a good two or three weeks of running in new shoes before a race.  If you race in flats, wear them a few times before your race.  New or unfamiliar shoes on race day could lead to blisters and/or random aches, pains, or strains.

Lay everything out the night before your race.

Try everything on and lay everything out the night before your race. I’m big on to-do lists so I make a checklist.  Shoes, socks, shorts, sports bra, shirt, deodorant, body glide, GPS watch, Road ID, hair tie, bobby pins, sunglasses, race number, safety pins, GU, banana, granola bar, etc.  Preparation means less stress when that alarm goes off. 

Read the directions on your timing chip and make sure you use it correctly as intended.

At the start line of the Chicago Marathon, I noticed everyone had zip ties on their shoes and I couldn’t figure out why.  I thought they were in with your race number to attach to your bag for the bag drop-offs.  Turns out that’s exactly what they were for.  People were just using them to double secure their timing chip to their shoes.  It was the biggest race of my life and I didn’t even have a second thought while I was putting the chip on my shoe.  The gun had already gone off and we were walk/jogging to the start line and I couldn’t even remember if I put my chip on correctly.  Even worse, around mile 5 my GPS watch lost signal and stopped my run so if my chip fell off during the race, I wouldn’t have any official record of running 26.2 miles or even know what my time was for a MARATHON.  Soon after I stopped, did a tug on the timing chip then retied by shoelaces to go around the loop.  Silly me.

Most races I’ve run recently use the timing chips on the bib numbers.  Those are easy and can be thrown away after the race.  Just make sure you don’t wrinkle your number or fold the chip in half or it may not register correctly with the mats.

Wear Throwaways to the Start

It’s so important to not only warm up but also to stay warm (but not sweat!) before your race.  Depending on the size of the race, you may spend lot of time waiting around in the start corrals.  Cold, tense muscles can cramp up and increase your chances of injury.  Wear “throwaways” that you don’t mind leaving at the start line and keep them on as long as you possibly can.  Don’t have anything you want to part with?  Stop by a thrift shop for some cheap sweats.  Many of the bigger races will even collect clothes left at the start and donate to charity.

Take a deep breath.

You can do this!  Good luck!

[Related Posts: Training Plans & Race Nutrition]