Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Five things from the Internet

It's time for the Friday Five with Cynthia, Courtney and Mar.  I've been pretty busy at work this week and falling behind on blog reading but hope to catch up on that this weekend!  In the meantime, here are 5 things from the internet that I've found of interest this week.

1.  Interesting article on carb loading the "right way" - A few good tips and some misconceptions cleared up.  I have to admit before I read up on the subject I did think carb loading just meant eating a large amount of pasta the night before a race.  I'm still not doing this exactly the right way, and I'm really bad at hydrating properly, but I'm getting better at both!

2. More benefits from yoga - Interesting article about the possible heart health benefits from yoga. I love yoga already but it's nice to know that it might have some extra benefits I was unaware of. 

3.  Runners World Boston Marathon coverage -  .I was able to watch the Boston Marathon coverage on tv last year since I was home sick from work.  This year, I'll have to follow along online but Runner's World is making that a bit easier with live coverage on their website.  Plus, there are some interesting preliminary articles already on the site, including a preview of the elite field.

4.  Maintaining a healthy weight by moving more -  A really interesting article on some science and a hypothesis on maintaining a heavy weight.  The essential hypothesis is that if you remain active, your body has an easier time maintaining a balance between calories in and calories out. However, if you're sedentary, your body has a hard time figuring out the balance.  I'm not sure of the veracity of this but I know I feel better when I'm active and this is one more reason to try to remain that way.

5.  Profile of Shalane Flanagan and her Boston Marathon hopes  - Speaking of watching the Boston Marathon last year, I was fascinated by Shalane and Meb.  Shalane still has hopes for the Boston Marathon and I'm definitely cheering her on.  This profile was a fun read.

And ending with a cat photo, because why not.  Here's Perry bonding with a new toy.  I have noticed that cat playtime often ends up looking a little violent!

I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend and I hope you guys have a great weekend too :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Weekly review

I had a great weekend full of cherry blossoms! Sadly I'm still dealing with allergies. But overall, a good week :) and the workouts went pretty well too.

Monday - rest day
Tuesday - strength training
Wednesday - 45 minutes on the elliptical at home

Thursday - 3 miles on the treadmill

Friday - strength training

Saturday - I met up with some people from my old running group to run on the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda. There was a neighborhood right off the trail with a lot of cherry blossoms so we detoured to see them. This was a great, laid back run with friends, approximately 4 miles plus a warm up and cool down walk.

Sunday - lots of walking!  

Mike and I went downtown to see the cherry blossoms.  We caught the tail end of the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, walked around the Tidal Basin a bit, and then walked to the Natural History museum to see an exhibit on underwater photography, and finally walked to CoCo Sala for a ridiculous brunch.

I hope all of you had a good week as well :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Five - tips for running trips

I missed participating in the Friday Five link up with Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar last week so I'm doubly happy to be back to it this week!  Today's theme is about trips.  I'm going to take that as traveling and not falling :) So I'm going to write about five of my tips for including runs on a trip.

1. Packing list - I have a packing list for every trip I take.  It definitely helps minimize the risk of forgetting something.  I use google docs for my packing list so that I can easily share it with my husband or other travel buddies. Since I started running, I have a section on the packing list for running things.  When I'm creating a new packing list, the first thing I do is copy the running section from the last list and paste it at the top of the new list since most of the time, I need the same running stuff on each trip.  And throughout the week before the trip, I add things to the list as I think of them if there are any unique or new items needed for the specific trip.

2. Research, research, research - I always research the heck out of all my trips as far as what to see, where to stay, good restaurants, etc.  I started doing the same when I began incorporating running into trips.  This week includes things like safe but interesting places to run as well as things like weather conditions, crowds, how to get there, etc.  of course, if it's for a race I would concentrate on information from the race about timing, course, directions, expo location, etc.

Beautiful run on my trip to Philadelphia with a route I found through the internet

3. Talk to locals if possible - if you're traveling to places with family or friends, this becomes much easier. But even if you don't know people (or people that run) in an area, you can still find locals with useful information.  I took my niece and nephew rock climbing in New Jersey once.  I started talking to one of the employees and it turned out he was training for a triathlon. He had great tips on beautiful places to run and I was able to check one of them out on the trip.

Run on one of the trails recommended to me in New Jersey

4. Pick places you actually want to go - I run into this problem when looking at races sometime.  There are a lot of awesome races but they're not necessarily all in places I want to go outside of running.  At this point, our vacation time and budget is limited (isn't everyone's?) and I want to prioritize places that I would go to anyway, with or without the running.  That's one of the reasons I'm not planning to do a race in every state challenge, since there are plenty of states I don't necessarily have interest in traveling to given the need to prioritize.

5. Be a tourist at home - don't forget the place you live!  There are so many new places I've discovered  in my area since I started running.  This includes places close to home in Maryland and places a bit further off in DC.  We've even had a couple actual staycations where we got a hotel room in the city for the weekend and I ran on the Mall amongst the tourist sites.

Run on the National Mall with a friend during a staycation

I have loved combining running with the trips we take!  It really has provided a way to see a new place (or even home) from a different perspective and in a way that I haven't been able to do in the past.  Plus, I think Mike enjoys some of the alone time!  He managed to win gambling in Vegas while I was off on a run :)

I hope you all have a great weekend!  I'd love to hear about any tips you have for combining travel and running.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Piece of Cake 5k

I ran MCRRC's Piece of Cake 5k a couple weekends ago and am now getting around to the review.  I did this race last year as well as it was the goal race for our beginning running training group.  It was the goal race for that group this year as well so it was cool to see some of the coaches and other participants from last year's group.  

I like that this race has both a 10k and 5k option.  In addition, it is one of the club's low key races so it is free to club members.The other cool think about this race is that it is the club's anniversary so there is always a catered breakfast following the race along with a cake contest (!) and an awards ceremony where the club's yearly awards are given out.

It was the weekend following the Rock and Roll Half and I wasn't sure how I was going to feel, so I signed up to volunteer at registration for the race.  I figured if I was feeling it, I could jump into the 5k once registration was done, and that's exactly what I did.  The volunteer stint was busy as a lot of club members seemed to use this for their first race of the year and were exchanging last year's chip and bib for this year's.  But everything was really well organized and flowed smoothly.  The only downside was that it was cold but that's not unexpected in March.  At least it wasn't raining like last year!

The 10k started at 9 and the 5k at 9:10.  The kids race started in between those 2.  So I jumped up from the registration table at 9:05 and headed to the start line.  The 10k started right on time, as did the kids race.  The 5k started a couple minutes late so that most of the kids from the kids race could finish up.  I didn't mind at all and it was fun cheering on the kids as they ran past :) They were all so cute!

The race is at Seneca Creek State Park, where the club has a lot of their races. It is a beautiful area with a lot of green and a lake.  We run on the streets in the park so it never seemed too congested.  The club has a lot of their races here and I really enjoy the location.  The course is hilly but I try to tell myself that's part of it's charm :)

Since I was well aware of the hills, my strategy involved abandoning my usual run walk intervals.  Instead, I ran for the first mile and a half or so and then on the way back took walk breaks on the uphills.  You can see the pace differential.

And this ended up being a 5k PR for me!  According to the website, my official time was 37:44.  My previous PR (from the Semper Fi 5k last May) was 38:54. Garmin record below, though the time is a bit longer since I started my watch a little early.  Also, this is the first time my Garmin recorded exactly 3.1 for a 5k race!  It's usually a bit more.

The only real downside of this race was the parking situation.  I don't remember it being this bad last year or at the New Year's race which was at the same location so maybe it was a fluke?  I got there early and therefore was able to park close.  My friend came later to run the race and ended up having to park more than a mile from the start line, along the race course.  So not only was it a long walk to and from the car, it was also hard for her to get out because the race was still going on.  And I waited in a line of cars around 15 minutes just to get out of the park.


But other than that delay at the end, this was a great race.  I love that there are multiple distance options. I love the beauty of the course, and I love how well organized it is.  As well as the free race entry for club members and the free photos!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Weekly review

I hope that everyone's week is starting out well! I'm a day late with my weekly review but it's here now :) Last week was a pretty good week and a nice mix of being productive and relaxing.  In fact, there may have even been a Star Wars movie marathon in my basement Saturday afternoon where I did nothing more than watch movies. But we all need days like that once in a while.

As far as work outs, here's my list.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - Ran on the treadmill at work

 Wednesday - DDP Yoga

Thursday - Running on the treadmill at work again.  This was my attempt at speed work so it was a 1600, a 1200, an 800 and 2 400s with a half lap walk as recovery in between each set.

Friday - strength training (squats, planks, bridges, push-ups, crunches, calf raises, jumping jacks)

Saturday - I went to my first Pure Barre class.  It was definitely interesting.  I'm not sure of my final verdict yet but I'm going to give it a try with a couple different teachers and then see what I think.

Sunday - Barre was definitely a work out and I was sore in my abs.  So sore that I didn't end up going for a run since I was worried about being able to maintain any sort of decent form.  I did attempt the elliptical for a bit but that didn't last too long.  I also managed to get in about a 30 minute walk outside.

So I've learned my lesson.  Next week, it's running on Saturday and barre on Sunday!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Aerial Yoga review

So as previously mentioned, I bought a Groupon for aerial yoga classes.  They were held at a studio called Yin Yang Yoga and Wellness.  I had never heard of this yoga studio but it was close to my house in Maryland and the price was right, so I bought the groupon for both myself and Mike.

 So, what is aerial yoga?  According to the studio's website: 

In an Aerial Yoga class, students of all levels can use gravity as their greatest tool to access their individual goals. By implementing simple poses, students learn to release muscular tension, increase joint mobility, build balance and coordination, and slow down the aging process, while having a great time!
 Aerial Yoga is Suitable for most bodies regardless of age or physical abilities. The applications of this unique device are endless an adjustments can easily be made to suit the individual's specific needs.

Sounds great, sign me up!  Well, let's talk about the studio first.  It is located in the suburbs and has a parking lot which seemed to have plenty of parking for the most part.  The only time we had difficulty with parking is after one of the many snowstorms this Winter because piles of snow were still taking up some of the spots.

The studio is upstairs and you do have to climb a steep staircase to get up there.  But once you're at the top, it opens up and is welcoming and cozy.  There is a sign directing you to the left for wellness services and to the right for yoga.  Once you go to the right, there is a reception desk as well as a little tea stand stocked with various types of teas and a section where they sold some yoga goods.

There was an area where you could leave your coats and shoes, but it was small.  This area definitely felt tight in the transition period between classes. The studio itself was beautiful.  There are straps hanging from the ceiling to let you know where to set up.  Everyone would then get a backpack which had your hammock, which is what you suspend yourself from for various moves. 

Mike testing the height on his hammock - you can see the straps and backpacks in the background
The hammock is made of parachute material and hangs from the straps using S hooks.  Initially, I was a little worried about the sturdiness but the teachers started each class letting us know that the set up was graded to hold up to 1000 pounds.  That definitely made me feel safer.

What the hammock looks like without anyone in it

The practice itself was a lot of fun!  After the first class, Mike turned to me with a huge smile on his face and said that he had forgotten how much fun it was to be upside down.  There were definitely a couple times when I laughed and felt a bit like a kid playing around :)

Just hanging around

But it was also a good workout.  I initially thought it would be good for getting deeper stretches, back bends, etc. but I didn't think it would be much of a strength training workout.  Well, I was wrong.  There was a lot of core and thigh work.  Planks were done with hands on the ground and feet in the hammock. Warrior moves were done with one leg in the hammock and one on the floor.  All of these moves with parts of your body in the hammock definitely made balance tougher and forced the use of more muscles. It was also great for practicing handstand as part of your weight could be held by the hammock wrapped around your legs.

So what are the normal prices like?  The website indicates it's $20 for one class but there are various class passes that do lower the per class prices a bit.

Here are some other thoughts I had about the aerial yoga class at this studio: 

1. Schedule ahead - The classes were often full and we had to schedule all four of our classes about a month in advance to make sure we got in before the Groupon ran out.  The annoying thing was that the classes were never actually full when we got there.  It seems like they had a lot of no shows or last minute cancellations :(
2. Wear sleeves - I wore a tank top once and had bruises under my arms. There are several moves where the hammock is under your arms and you are hanging from it, which can be a bit uncomfortable.  Sleeves definitely help!
3. Know your potential for feeling motion sick - I had to make sure I went on an empty stomach because there were a couple times when I felt a bit nauseous.  I heard other people in the class comment on the same so it wasn't just me.
4. Falling - For the most part, it is hard to fall if you listen to what the teacher says.  The fear of falling was real and several times the teacher would come around and say, you can lift your hands off the ground, I promise you won't fall. But there were two incidents where someone did fall.  They were small falls and they caught themselves, but I advise caution.  The first time in class, I would definitely wait to invert until the teacher is watching so she can caution you if you're doing something wrong.  I think both falls were when people had their legs on the inside of the hammock instead of the outside.
5. Different teachers - It was strange but there really didn't seem to be a set teacher for the class.  Out of four classes, we had three different teachers.  I liked some more than others so it was a good opportunity to try out different styles but I would have liked the option to stick with a teacher I like.

Mike is thinking about sticking with it even now that our Groupon has run out.  I have a deal for barre classes so I'm going to try those next and then probably decide between the two.  But overall, I really liked these classes.  If you have aerial yoga near you, I definitely think it's worth a try.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weekly Review

I'm a day late on my weekly review but I had a nice weekend away from the computer for the most part.  It was a mix of being productive, hanging out with friends, and spending time with Mike since he'll be away this upcoming weekend. I didn't get in all the runs I wanted last week but here is what I did get done.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - rest day since I had a stressful day at work and ended up with a migraine :(

Wednesday - DDP yoga (this one had lots of squats and planks)

Thursday - Ran on the treadmill after work

Friday - Elliptical Machine at home

Saturday - Aerial yoga (I'm finished with my 4 groupon sessions so will be reviewing the class this week)

Sunday - rest day - I skipped my planned 6 mile run since my knee was feeling some pain.  I really need to get back to strength training.

So that was it for last week with a couple unplanned rest days.  But my main goal during this time between half marathon training is to just get my knee and foot back to healthy and do more strength training, so I'm ok with that.

The plan for this week is a run Tuesday, yoga and some strength training on Wednesday, run on Thursday, strength training Friday, trying barre class on Saturday and 6 mile run on Sunday. Wish me luck!