Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Blog Turns One

In the midst of post-Philly work and Thanksgiving, I missed an important day: the blog's very first birthday!

Last year I started this blog as a way to keep up with my family and friends, share some recipes and document my running and races. What's evolved has been amazing: connecting with the online running community, researching important food issues and sharing the grad school life has become something I look forward to each week.
So as the blog turns one today, I want to take a look back at RFS posts and highlight the best (and worst?) of the blog so far. 

The First Post: Grad School Is... I wrote this post about grad school to show family what my life had been like the past few months. I later followed up with another post this summer, "Grad School Is... 2" and it hasn't changed that much since then.
The Top 3 Posts: One of the coolest things about having a blog is getting to see all of the traffic stats on your site. The top 3 posts this past year have been about My First 5K, the bacterial Contamination Station at work, and my first recipe on the site, Indian Sweet Potato Hash. The most surprising success is definitely my bacteria post-- seems like I get a lot of Google Image traffic. 
My Favorite Post: Hands-down, my Bayshore Marathon Recap post is the post I re-read most often. Probably not surprising, but it's the happiest I've felt all year for sure. And Bayshore 2012 sign-ups are coming up!
The Most Helpful Running Post: This one's a tie between 5 Ways to Make Running More Fun and Tips for Snow Running. Not everyone has to deal with running in the snow!
The Ugliest Post: Another really popular post includes some of the worst pictures of me on the internet, namely, the Worst Running Photos Ever. Since the last installment, I unfortunately have enough fodder for a part 2 of this series. 
The Most Informative Post: My favorite informative post comes from an early series I did on the benefits of vegetarianism. While perhaps a bit science-heavy, the post about Infectious Disease and Factory Farmed Meat was interesting to research. 
There are more posts I could reminisce over, but I have to get back to studying. With less than a month left in the semester, I'm counting down until Christmas! Thanks for reading my blog for the past year (or less!), I'm happy to have an audience (even if it's just my mom) to share with :) 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Race Recap

After 12 weeks of training, a few injuries and more swimming I've ever done in my life, Sunday I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon. And it was awesome.

I stayed in Philly with some girlfriends from college, and Saturday night we prepared an amazing feast of spaghetti, green beans and salad. This meal, plus a brownie for dessert, was the perfect fuel for the next morning.
Saturday night I couldn't sleep-- I was so nervous! Training has been a little bit less than stellar, and with my longest run only being 10 miles (stupid injury) I was feeling a bit unprepared. Nevertheless, the alarm went off at 5am and after the traditional toast and coffee, I was off to the start.
I don't think I was really prepared for how cold it was outside. I hadn't really brought much in terms of warmup gear and was super cold while waiting around for the start. After checking my one sweatshirt, I jumped into the bathroom lines just so I could huddle next to other runners for warmth.
As the sun began to rise, we lined up near the Rocky steps for the national anthem. A little after 7, we were off!

Mile 1: 9:46
Mile 2: 9:52
Mile 3: 9:42

My general strategy for this race was to have fun, not stop, and hopefully achieve one of the goals I made last week. The entire race I kept focusing on my favorite race mantra: In the first half, don't be an idiot. In the second half, don't be a wimp.

So for the first half, I kept it easy. The course was a little boring (a highway??) for the first few miles, then got more exciting as we headed into center city by all of the monuments. The crowd support was great, and the first half felt easy.

Mile 4: 9:50
Mile 5: 9:38
Mile 6: 9:18

At the half, I took a Gu and prepared to kick it into high gear for the second half. But then... hills. I like hills, even! And these were killer. Especially a long, winding uphill around mile 10.

Mile 7: 9:03
Mile 8: 9:53 (shoe came untied)
Mile 9: 9:23

I generally took a cup of gatorade and a cup of water at each station. I'm lucky that I generally don't have stomach problems, but I do get pretty thirsty!

After we passed the giant hill and the zoo, it was a downhill ride down MLK drive into the city. The scenery was pretty, but I was tired. I was happy that I didn't feel any injuries flaring up, but was ready to be done. All the while my Garmin was marking the course as being a little long (probably due to me weaving so much) and seeing the 12 mile marker about 0.25 miles further than my Garmin read really messed with me mentally.
Mile 10: 9:53
Mile 11: 9:21
Mile 12: 9:15
Mile 13: 9:08
Mile 0.35: 7:49 pace

I tried to power through for the last half. I wanted to PR so badly and knew I could if I kicked it up. I ran as hard as I could through the last half mile and crossed the line at 2:06:40.
It only took about 3 seconds to realize that it wasn't a PR but so. close! My National Half time was 2:06:33-- I was just seven seconds off. As PR-ing was my 'A' goal, I'd say I earned an 'A-' for this one.

After collecting my medal, post race food and gear, I hightailed it back to center city for some food. I found an awesome little diner on 5th street and demolished a plate of eggs, Nova lox and hashbrowns. So good!

I had to head back pretty quickly to catch a flight, but I loved my time in Philly. It's a pretty city, a fun race, and full of friendly people. When I was walking back to my friend's apartment, so many random passerby congratulated me on my race! Well done, Philly.

Can't wait for my next race! Thanks again, everyone, for all of your support :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Week 11 Recap + Goals

Half Marathon week is here! Wahooooo!!!

My training so far: Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9, Week 10

This past week marked getting back into running (after being sidelined by the injury) and adjusting to the new dark hours (at 5pm!).

I've been trying to not run two days in a row lately. Although I really love running back to back, it might not be the best for my injury right now.

M- 1750m swim (1 mile!!)
T- 3.6m run
W- 1100m swim
R- 3m run (inside while it snowed!)
F- rest (slept through yoga... again)
S- IronTurkey 15K race!
S- rest
totals: 16 run miles, 1.6 swim miles

Last week went pretty well! I'm feeling great after the IronTurkey and pain-free (so far). I'm getting pumped about the race this weekend and can't wait to head to Philly.

Something I've been thinking pretty hard about are my goals for this race. When I first started training, I was hoping to focus a lot on speed training and had a lofty goal: sub 2:00. Then, injury, illness and work struck, resulting in a full week and a half off of running to heal. Now I'm thinking about what's realistic to expect and strive for this weekend.

My A+ goal: sub 2:00. While I think it's pretty unlikely, might as well shoot for the moon :) This is a pace of 9:07 min/mi.

A goal: Beat my PR from the National Half. This is a goal I think is possible and will be thrilled to meet. This means an average pace of at least 9:39 min/mi.

B goal: Beat my time from the Detroit Half. I feel confident that, barring disaster, I could nail this goal. I'll need an average pace of at least 10:45 min/mi.

C goal: Cross the finish line!

No matter what happens on Sunday, I know I'll finish happy, strong and proud. I'm excited to run with my friend Kourtney, visit the city of brotherly love and run a rockin' race!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Iron Turkey 5K and 10K Recap

Yesterday I did my first ever combined race-- A 5K and 10K combo to become an IronTurkey!

The Ann Arbor Turkey Trot is a 5K and 10K race at a gorgeous park. You can run either event, or run both for a medal and glory at the end. As a final long run before the Philly Half, I chose the latter :)

The morning started out like every other- toast and coffee. In retrospect, this probably wasn't enough food-- I got so hungry!

We made our way to the park in the cold Michigan morning. For the 5K, it was about 35 degrees. Brr! I took off for the 5K and had a hard time pacing myself for the shorter first part of the race.

Mile 1: 8:59
Mile 2: 9:28
Mile 3: 9:27
0.16: 9:04 pace
5K time: 29:16

The park is really gorgeous and the course was one big loop throughout. There was a nice mix of rolling hills, bridges, forest and river. Just lovely.

After the 5K, we had about half an hour to wait around before the 10K started. I didn't feel like eating anything, but really wished they had gatorade besides just water.

Then the 10K started. The beginning was alright, but I quickly started to feel a little crummy. Because of injury, this would be the longest I've run in about 2-3 weeks, and I definitely used up a lot of energy during the 5K.

Mile 1: 9:49
Mile 2: 9:36
Mile 3: 9:33

After running the loop again, we still had one more lap to go. I was so tired at this point and wished for some sugar or gatorade! But pressed on with a little bit slower pace.

Mile 4: 9:34
Mile 5: 9:49
Mile 6: 10:24
0.25: 10:26 pace
10K time: 1:01:18
IronTurkey total time: 1:30:34

Finally the finish was in sight! I attempted to sprint.. but didn't quite make it. I crossed the finish line and was immediately handed the IronTurkey medal. Awesome!
This is the first race I've ever run with no pressure-- no previous PR or time goals. It was fun to just run, enjoy the course and my fellow runners.

Plus, a medal at the end of a long run doesn't hurt either ;)

Holiday races are so fun! Are you planning on any turkey/jingle bell races this season?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I know that doesn't look like snow but... it's there.

I'm from Michigan, but every year seeing the first snowflake is pretty amazing. After working most of the day in a windowless lab, I made my way to departmental tea and looked out the window for the first time since the morning. Snowflakes!! I actually cheered for the snow.

Most of my friends hate it though: many come from warmer climates or just get sick of all of the cold and cloudy days. But... I really love winter. Fall is beautiful and summer is hot, but winter is truly awesome. The world becomes a frigid place and running, biking and hiking in it is amazing.

Running through the wintery city or the snowy forest is unreal. The crisp air and quiet make me happy to be out on a run. I cannot wait for winter.

Right now, the snow won't stick. Right now, I'm pretending it doesn't sometimes snow on April 18. But soon...
It's going to be a winter wonderland :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training Week 10

12 days until the Philly Half Marathon! Let's see how training is going...

but first, a look back:  Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8, Week 9

To be quite honest, training is not going very well at all. After another injury, this past week was discouraging. Top it off with a nasty cold and I didn't get much done.

I laughed out loud when last week a friend mentioned she read my blog and was "all caught up on my feet" (because of the injuries). So this week.. no more! Here's a pretty picture of campus instead.
Anyway, I managed to squeak out a few workouts even though I couldn't run:
M- off
T- strength training for runners
W- 9mile hilly bike and PT
R- 1600yd swim
F- off
S- off
S- 2.2 mile run (pain free!!)
total: 9 bike miles, 0.9 swim miles, 2.2 run miles

So obviously my mileage is super low for this point in the training cycle. It definitely makes me nervous heading into the half marathon being slightly underprepared. I'm back to running now, albeit carefully, and will be trying to slowly ramp up mileage again before next Sunday.

I'm hoping for one last long run before the race. Of course this depends on the ol' injury and what the physical therapist says, but I'm confident I'll cross the finish line happy in 12 days :).

How are your workouts going?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training Week 9

Sorry for the late recap! We're just 18 days away from the Philly Half Marathon, and things are getting rough.

But first, a look back: Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7, Week 8 

This past week started out great with a 10 miler at a 9:29 average pace. I ran with a fast friend and we kicked butt!
Riding on that high, I pushed through some pain I probably shouldn't have for a speed workout on Wednesday. After that, it was time to face reality and take responsibility for another injury. The inside of my right heel flared up and really hurt for the rest of the week, so I took time off running and focused on cross training.

M- 10m long
T- strength training for runners
W- 9x400m @ 7:45min/mi pace
R- 1000yd swim
F- off
S- off
S- 2.75m elliptical
total: 15 running/elliptical miles, 1000yd swim

I've said it before and I'll say it again: being injured sucks. Even after taking a bunch of rest, my foot still hurt quite a bit on Sunday. I tried out this space-age elliptical at the gym and found it gave a pretty good workout with no impact.

And then, I got a cold. It seems like one roadblock after another over here! The good news is that after almost a week off, the foot pain has gone away. I have another PT appointment tomorrow, and then hopefully will attempt my first run in a week. Assuming things go smoothly, I'll try to get back on track!

With all of the setbacks, I'm even more unsure of hitting my target goal pace for the race. But I know that taking a little time off now is far better than having to take months off later for a worse injury. Perspective is important.

How do you stay on track when your body isn't feelin it?
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