First Snow of the Year

IMG_2384

It snowed last Friday.

I’m not sure why it always takes me by surprise, but winter’s on its way.

I’d planned to go for a medium-ish long run that morning but after peeking out the window, I reconsidered that decision.

Coffee seemed appealing.

Howling winds and blowing snow did not.

I surprised myself by going, particularly since my comfort zone is approximately 71-73 degrees Fahrenheit (Spouse corrected me when I told him this, saying it’s not a zone when it’s really more of a singular point, specifically 72 degrees F).

Not every moment of this run was pleasant, but I ticked past one, two and then three miles. Four and five came next, and by mile six I had turned a corner into a tailwind that took me the last half mile home.

As part of my running group, Fellow Flowers, I had planned to use this run to complete a virtual challenge called the Joy Run.

IMG_2386

Mission accomplished.

 

 

Brooks Running Apparel Review

I’ll be honest: I was really, really bummed a few weeks ago to have to miss my favorite running event of the year.

So much so that I backed off of my running, which is so not me.

Compounding that wave of sadness was seeing happy social media posts from countless friends who had recently completed races while I moped on the sofa.

I was feeling left out. Left over. Left behind.

And then I knew I needed to pick myself up, dust myself off and hit the road, one foot in front of the other.

Cute clothes never hurt that mission, either.

I’ve been wearing Brooks running shoes for several years, faithfully rotating out worn pairs for new ones, but inexplicably, I don’t think I’ve ever owned any other Brooks running gear.

I saw this outfit on another blog and was able to track it down on sale:

The shirt is called the “Streaker.” I’ve now seen it in both short and long sleeve versions, as well as tanks.

While I purchased the pink/cobalt combo above (and the colors are so gloriously bright in person; I love this shirt), it is also available in a red/orange pairing and a seafoam/turquiose one.

Here is the last one on sale at Sierra Trading Post:

This is a close up shot that shows the color gradient:

The shirt is moisture wicking and made of antimicrobial fabric, so here’s hoping that it wards off perma-stink for the entire summer and fall running seasons.

And let’s talk about those capris. The “Go-To Running Capri” comes in this awesome hot pink color (boringly called “641” on the Brooks website), as well as black and navy. The fabric is really smooth and these capris have two pockets in the waistband to hold money, keys, etc. I love this feature. The pockets are also trimmed with fluorescent yellow fabric, which is a cool contrast IMHO.

While I ordered the above directly from Brooks (the shirt was on sale but looks like it might be sold out now), I also found some screaming deals on Brooks gear at Sierra Trading Post, Amazon, 6PM.com, REI, and even Nordstrom.

At Sierra Trading post, I was able to get this cute pair of capris for over 50% off retail and also score this tank for less than $10.

Here is a screen shot of the capris, which are called “Greenlight SE.”

There is a cute ruching detail on the leg:

And here was a surprise: they are reversible! I like the striped side better, but the pink/navy is also nice.

Since they are reversible, the capris are also just the right amount of thickness. Not too bulky to be hot, but also not too thin to venture into transparency. Nobody wants that look.

The fabric is the same silky smooth knit as the first pair of capris. They  have a wide waistband that I appreciate and also come with a pocket for essentials.

I am hoping this new gear gets me set and in the right frame of mind for fall marathon training. I ended up hitting the trails three times over the weekend, so I am feeling positive and off to a good start.

What is your favorite brand of running gear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangetheory Fitness and Me

I recently started attending classes at Orangetheory Fitness.

Here’s a description of the workout from the Orangetheory website:

Our heart-rate monitored, high-intensity workout is scientifically designed to keep heart rates in a target zone that spikes metabolism and increases energy.

Here’s my take: This is a killer workout that uses heart rate monitors to force you to your breaking point.

The ostensible goal is to get 12-20 minutes per workout in the “Orange Zone,” where you are working at 84-91% of your maximum heart rate.

Ok, this is really hard to do.

The hour-ish long workouts combine running (or walking) on a treadmill, rowing and calisthenic exercises, usually with hand held weights.

Participants spend about half of the workout on the treadmills and rowing machines, and the other half in the weight area. The cardio time consists of stints of working at Base Pace (which is what I would consider my normal running pace, maybe 6.3-6.5 MPH, or a 9:30-9:10 minute pace per mile), Push Pace (1-2 MPH over Base Pace), and All Out Intervals, where you just go nuts and run until you feel like your heart will explode.

Why I decided to try this:

  • I love running and have been working hard for the past six months or so to get faster. Speed work – which the Orangetheory workouts naturally include – are a necessary pain to achieve that goal.
  • I secretly have always wanted to be a rower. Spouse was on the crew team in college and later taught me to row. I regret not trying it earlier, especially in college because I think I would have been pretty damn good at it.
  • While I love to do cardio, I hate to lift weights. Without the pressure of a personal trainer or a group, I just won’t do it. And I know weight lifting is important to overall conditioning.

Here’s a dirty secret about Orangetheory: if you’re already in good cardiovascular shape when you join, it’s going to be really, really challenging to get 12-20 minutes in the magic Orange Zone during the class.

For me, getting to the Orange Zone requires running on the treadmill at a speed of at least 7.5-8 MPH, which is waaaaaaay faster than my normal pace.

And it is super uncomfortable to do so.

On the flip side, if you’re not in good cardiovascular shape, you could easily get to the Orange Zone just by briskly walking on the treadmill at a modest incline.

I routinely see people get 20+ minutes in the Orange Zone, whereas it is a struggle for me to reach 12. This is humbling. It is hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that while I am working extremely hard, I need to work harder. Part of me always wants to throw in the towel and feel Good Enough with what I’m doing, which is often a lot more treadmill work than the person next to me.

But I guess that’s the whole point of Orangetheory. Push. Push. Push.

Yesterday was particularly humbling: I went to a class and got zero Orange Zone minutes.

My heart rate monitor read a steady 112 BPM even when I was running 8 MPH at a 5% incline.

Something was not right.

At the end of the class, I approached the (very fit) front desk worker and said that my heart rate monitor did not seem to be working. He asked me to show him how I was wearing it, which prompted lifting my shirt and providing an embarrassing display of my abdomen to the entire studio.

Turns out, I was wearing the heart rate monitor upside down, and it will definitely not work properly that way. Whoops.

Big sigh for my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sneaky Ways to Get More Steps

I started using an activity monitor – again – a few months ago, and it’s satisfying to see the step numbers ticking upward every day.

images-1

The positive reinforcement also motivated me to find ways to get in more steps, every day. 

Most of these ideas are simple, but effective:

  • Schedule walking meetings. My colleague/friend, G., and I have been trying to take a 20 minute walk together nearly every day this summer. Sometimes we talk about work. Sometimes we don’t. We would likely have spent the time commiserating anyway, so the steps and extra Vitamin D are bonuses.
  • Take yourself out for a quick stroll. My neighbor D. and I were talking about this last night: when we feel frustrated with work, we take a quick walk break. It’s only five minutes or so, but it allows time to chill out/cool down, and there’s almost nothing work-related that can’t wait five minutes. Over the past few months, I’ve done this up to three times per day. That’s a substantial number of steps.
  • Find “lost” time. Everyone has junk time in their day, i.e., those moments that could be used more productively. For me, it’s the time that it takes to turn cases over in the OR. Regulations on cleaning operating rooms require at least a ten minute break between most of the cases I do, and with spending two to four days per week in the OR – often doing quick cases in succession – I  quickly discovered that I can walk laps around the perimeter of the OR suites and get at least 500 steps in between cases. I used to spend this time drinking coffee in the doctors’ lounge, FYI. This feels better.
  • Walk around your house – a lot. A few months ago, I started making domestic chores a lot harder than necessary (and, if you follow regularly, you know I hate/avoid all domestic chores). I used to fold laundry like this: dump everything on my bed and fold it while listening to NPR, then precariously carry a stack of folded laundry to each child’s room, my own closet, etc, when I was done. Now I do this: dump everything on my bed, intermittently listen to NPR, grab the first item I see and then fold it while walking it to its proper home. This requires dozens of trips to my kids’ closets, my own closet, etc, but it can rack up a thousand steps or more in the process. More advice on how to maximize this “house walking” strategy can be found here.
  • Be strategic about your exercise. Last spring I was flirting with the idea of taking a bicycle trip to Napa Valley this fall with my good friends J. and B., so I decided to practice biking by riding the Expresso machine at the gym, which is a sophisticated exercise bike that allows you to ride virtual courses and mixes up the terrain. Basically, it’s riding a bike in a video game, and it can be a phenomenal workout. Except … my activity monitor didn’t credit me for any of it. Zip. Nada. However, the elliptical machine does count every step. So when I need to make it count, I’m rocking the elliptical all the way.

Please share any tips you have for getting in more activity!

First Outdoor Run of the Year

Last weekend the temps soared out of the single digits to the solid mid-double digit range.

Time for an outdoor run.

(And yes, I am a baby. I despise sub-zero temps and ice slippage with its resultant injuries, so I will mostly run indoors in the winter).

images-1

Not Me.

images

Also Not Me.

images-2

Definitely not me.

I have actually run outdoors many times this year, just not in my hometown.

Because the weather here is generally terrible. 

Last Sunday, I set out to change that.

The first run of the year is always – every 25+ years into the process – a bit of a culture shock.

There’s no streaming Netflix to watch, no clean towel to wipe away sweat, no convenient water fountain and no climate controlled temperature like on the treadmill at the gym.

And there’s wind, traffic, uneven sidewalks, and other unexpected obstacles.

But there’s also sunshine, lung-piercing fresh air, and (often) solitude, which is just the way I like it.

I also find that I generally run a lot faster outdoors than in; I feel like I get to let my natural pace take over and it’s usually more varied but overall quicker than any workout I’d set on the treadmill.

Bring it on, Spring.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon

Last year my friend B. proposed that we run a destination race together, along with her sister-in-law J.

B. and J. are both totally fun and super cool, so my immediate response was “yes!”

Except that I didn’t quite imagine that the race would be here:

Unknown-3

This is Dublin, folks. As in Ireland.

B. suggested the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin half-marathon, which is scheduled for August 2nd, 2015.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love running destination races and the best way to see a city is on foot. 

Here’s a description of the course from the event website:

Starting in Dublin’s Docklands area, running along the north side of the Liffey River, runners are in for a treat as they pass all of the fan favorites!  After crossing over Memorial Bridge onto the south side, the route passes the famous Ha’Penny bridge (cue the photo opps!), Christ Church Cathedral, Brazen Head Pub (Ireland’s oldest pub), James Joyce Museum, and of course, no tour of Dublin would be complete without… the Guinness Brewery.  Although, the smell of hops and barley will be fleeting, as runners continue on past the Royal Hospital and Kilmainham Gaol into Phoenix Park, one of the largest walled city parks in Europe.   It’s there that the journey turns scenic as the route winds its way through the lush park, taking in the Wellington Monument, the Papal Cross, the President’s House (Áras an Uachtaráin) and the famous Dublin Zoo, finishing with a rockin’ concert in the park!

I’ve never been to Ireland so this is going to be a huge adventure. 

I’m hoping to kick my training up a notch and have a great race.

And I’m already starting to get excited.

P.S. If you’ve done this race or visited Ireland before, please send me tips!

Big Adventure

Today we’re taking off to a big adventure: I’m running three races over the course of five days as part of the Disney Princess Half-Marathon series.

Accompanying me this year will be my sister (Spouse is busy with work and she was game to go!) and my kids. Today’s also Trixie’s sixth birthday, so that’s a bonus to celebrate.

Schedule for the weekend is to fly to Florida today and pick up my race stuff tomorrow, then run a 10k on Saturday and half-marathon on Sunday.

But that’s just part one: on Monday, the four of us are getting on the Disney Dream for a short (four night) cruise to the Bahamas.  The kids have spring break next week, so the timing is perfect.

While we’re on the boat, there’s a third race that I’m running, the Castaway Cay Challenge.

Billed as From Parks to Paradise, join the first-ever Disney Castaway Cay Challenge,” this is a 5k race on Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

I can’t wait!