Friday, June 29, 2012

Podcast Love

Today we embark on an 8+ hour drive up north to spend the week with family.  Not only are our bags packed, but our ipods are packed too.  DJ Research and I are avid-podcast listeners.  In fact, podcasts are an integral part of our workday.  Because we both work in cubicles behind computer screens, we have the luxury (if thats what it is) of tuning in to our favorite podcasts day in and day out.  And on roadtrips, its podcast mania (though now with Nugget in tow, we listen to more silly toddler music shootmenow).

So here's a list of what we listen to.  I'd love to hear more recommendations!!


Another Mother Runner Radio
Trail Runner Nation
Ultrarunner Podcast
Talk Ultra
Marathon Talk
Geeks in Running Shoes
Every Man Endurance


Books on the Nightstand


Slate Political Gabfest
Slate Double X 
Studio 360
This American Life
KCRW's Guest DJ Project
The Moth
Selected Shorts
Radio Lab

Do you listen to podcasts?  What are your favorites?


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Introducing...Wishlist Wednesdays

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about races.  I don't think about how well I would do, or if I can even physically complete the race.  I just think about how fun! it would be to run...this one! and this one! and this one!

Seriously, if I could race every weekend, I would.

So I am introducing Wishlist Wednesdays - a Wednesday (duh) meme in which I will post a race that I wish/hope/dream I will run in the future.  Hopefully you will discover a new race that you'd like to run (wanna run it together?!)  And if you have a race on your bucket list, I'd LOVE to hear about it!!

Wishlist Wednesday: Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series - Sussex, United Kingdom

My sister will be studying abroad in the UK next year, so we're already making plans to visit her during one of her breaks.  Naturally, I want to run a race while there.  And after a little research I discovered that I don't want to run just any race.  I want to run the Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series.  From their website:

"The CTS team has carefully selected the most iconic sections of our special British coastline and have put together a seven stage series that represents a wild and varied cross-section of coastal landscapes and terrain. The Series spans nine months from October until May and comprises of 11 challenging stages.
 Each stage is set in a different stunning location, designed to showcase the natural and historic highlights of that area of unique coastline. Each inspiring stage has its own character and throws up a unique set of challenges. What they all have in common is an incredible abundance of natural beauty, breathtaking scenery and unlimited potential to inspire."

You can choose to run just one race (stage), or you can run all eleven.  They also have a variety of distances to appeal to everyone: 10K, Half-Marathon, Marathon and Ultra.

Based on my sister's schedule, the only race I'd be able to run would be the stage in Sussex, held in late March.  Luckily, that is THE stage I would love to do.  The course takes you along the beautiful southern coastline of the UK, with views of the stunning chalk cliffs looking out towards the English Channel.  I have always wanted to see these amazing cliffs.

Coastal Trail Series -- Sussex

Seven Sisters

As soon as I learned about this race, I phoned DJ Research and told him the plan.  He then promptly told me that March is the busiest time of the year for his company and the chances of him getting off are a million in one.  To which I replied, "So you're saying there's a chance."

Kidding.  I knew about the busy season, but in my excitement, I had completely forgotten about it.  Oh well. So, I will not be running CTS next year...but it is now on my wishlist!!

What races are on your wishlist?  

Have you ever run an Endurance Life Coastal Trail race? 


Monday, June 25, 2012

My First 5K...Virtually

On Sunday I ran my first 5K...virtually.

Recently I learned that Running, Loving, Living was hosting a virtual 5K for the week of June 18-25th.  "Whats a virtual 5K?" you may ask, as well you may.  A virtual race is run on a course of your choosing, as long as you complete the race requirements.  Since I registered for a virtual 5K, I needed to run 3.1 miles.  By completing the distance, I will be entered into a drawing for a variety of awesome prizes.  By blogging about it, I get my name added for another entry into the raffle.  And I need all the help I can get, because I never win anything.

I learned about virtual races a few weeks ago when I signed up a virtual half-marathon hosted by Moms Run This Town (which is also an awesome blog title, no?)  This virtual race will be "officially" held on July 28th, but you can run it any day in July and be eligible for prizes and bling (you can still sign up for this race, and I highly suggest you do!  Just click on the link above).  Since I have another race on July 28th, I will be running my virtual half-marathon in early July.  I am very excited.

But back to my first virtual 5K.  The weather was hot, but not suffocatingly so like it had been the past few days.  I decided to take Nugget with me since he had been asking about a "wun-wun?" all week.  Thankfully, he loves to "wun-wun" now, though we still haven't run farther than 4 miles.  

Ready to wun-wun!

I chose a route that is I am very familiar with AND that is all sidewalk AND that does not pass the local playground.  I've made that mistake before, and had to contend with a whining toddler asking for "Wheeee?!?" the entire run.  I was planning to end at the playground, but he didn't need to be reminded that there is   a "wheeee!!" in the vicinity until I was done with my run.

The plan was to run easy, but I was feeling pretty good, so I ran hard for myself.  My efforts were rewarded as I crested the top of the one steep hill on the course.  "Very impressive!" exclaimed a walker as she graciously stepped aside to let us pass.  I was panting pretty hard so I could only smile lamely in response, but she definitely motivated me for the rest of my run.  Thank you for the encouragement!

Mile 1: 8:35
Mile 2: 9:11
Mile 3: 8:29

My Garmin decided to shut off at exactly 3 miles, so I had to DJ Research had to do the math in his head to determine my pace for the last .1 mile.  I ran 3.1 miles in 27:06 minutes at 8:44 m/m.  Thats a stroller PR for me!  I'll take it!

Of course, we ended at the "Wheee!" where Nugget didn't go down the slide at all.

Thank you Running, Loving, Living for hosting this virtual 5K!  It was lots of fun and I look forward to running more...virtually! the future!

Have you run a virtual race?


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Loving the Long Runs

Our little family unit has been surprisingly busy, so I apologize for the silence on the blog.  I'm wrapping up week two of marathon training, and both weeks have been great, mostly because both weeks have concluded with a fantastic long run.

I'm loving my long runs.  Granted, these long runs have only been 8 miles and 9 miles respectively--distances I have run many times before--but they are longer than the 3-5 mile runs I do during the week.  On these short runs, I try to run fast and I try to run hard for the entire distance.  I run at a pace that pushes my heartrate between 172-175 bpm.  I am focused the whole time, thinking about my form, thinking about my cadence, checking my Garmin watch frequently.  I feel like a machine.

Ellie Greenwood: now this woman is a machine.
(just set CR at WS100!!) - img src

But frankly, I don't really like these runs.  I mean, I love running fast and I want to run faster, but these runs aren't easy.  Throughout the entire run there's an internal battle - one voice whining, "Please stop.  Please, this is so hard.  This isn't fun," and another voice commanding, "Stay strong!  You can do this!  This will make you a better, stronger runner!"

So far I've listened to the commanding voice, but that little whining voice is always there, nagging.  I have yet to figure out how to turn it off.  Or maybe it will always be there, I just need to learn to turn the volume down.

On my long runs, however, there is no whining voice.  In fact, there is also no commanding voice.  There is just my happy runner voice saying, "Yippee!  Two hours to myself!"

I run my long runs slow, and try to keep my heartrate between 158-160bpm, maxing at 165bpm.  I barely look at my watch on these runs.  My watch beeps at every mile, so I know how far I've run and how far I need to go.  My time doesn't matter.  My pace doesn't matter.  Its just me and my thoughts.  And lots and lots of trees.

This is running for the pure love of it.

The trail that I run on is also a popular training route for the local running club, so I pass a lot of runners varying in age and running experience.  I love passing the novice runner because they have such a determined look on their face to finish strong - so inspiring.  And I love passing the experienced runner because they usually look euphoric and so happy to be out there.   

I know I can't run slow and easy forever.  Or can I?  Running hard, running hills, focusing on form, etc. is important to becoming a faster, stronger runner.  But I think runs that make you blissfully happy are also important to becoming a better runner.  If running doesn't make you happy, why run?

So I think I will keep my current training approach: midweek runs will remain the hard, fast, hilly runs where I am focused and determined to hit my goals, while the weekend runs will be my slow long runs where I just prance along smiling, thankful I have the opportunity to be out there.  

How are you approaching your training this summer?

What kind of run do you prefer?  Long, slow runs?  Short, fast runs?  Some other variation?

Are you inspired by other runners you see when you are out on your runs?


Monday, June 18, 2012

Goldilocks and the Marathon Training Plan

Searching for a marathon training plan had me feeling a little like Goldilocks.  I was looking for a training plan that would be challenging enough to keep me interested, but that wasn't so challenging I would feel broken at the end of every week.  Essentially I was looking for a training plan that wasn't too easy, wasn't too hard, but was juuuuuust right.

Admittedly, I didn't look too hard.  There are probably other training plans out there I could have considered, as well as other variations of the training plans I did consider that may very well have suited my needs.  In the end, these were the contenders:

Jeff Galloway's Marathon Training Plan: Too easy.  Jeff Galloway teaches the run/walk approach to running and thus, incorporates walking into his training.  As much as I find that fascinating, for my first marathon I want to run the whole thing.  I am interested in this approach, though, and will likely give it a shot in the future.

Cool Running Beginner Marathon Training Plan: Too hard.  As much as I would have loved the challenge, my current life schedule would not be able to handle the weekly mileage of this plan.

Hal Higdon's Novice 2 Marathon Training Plan: Juuuuuuust right.  Hal Higdon training plans are some of the most popular training plans out there.  I opted for the Novice 2 plan because the mileage is slightly higher than Novice 1, and because it incorporates "race pace" runs.  These runs are shorter in length and should be run at the pace I intend to run my marathon, as opposed to the long runs which should be run 30-90 seconds slower than race pace.

2012 Marathon Training Plan

I will also include three sessions of core workouts per week, following the workouts provided by the Nike Training Club app.  Have you guys seen this app?  So fun!  It provides you with a ton of different workouts, and as you accomplish each one, you earn badges and unlock more workouts (one of which features Hope Solo, the amazing U.S. Women's Soccer goalkeeper, of whom I am a huge fan).  I HATE core work, so this is a fun way to keep me interested (you gotta do what you gotta do, ya know?)

Home Screen for
Nike Training Club (NTC) app

There is a slight caveat to my training.  Since this training plan is only 18 weeks, technically training doesn't start until July (for my November 10th race).  But I'm too impatient to wait.  I started my training last week in preparation for a half-marathon I am running in early July.  After the half-marathon, I will dial it back a bit and start my training plan again from the beginning.

Runners just gotta run.  

Are you using a training plan to train for a fall race?  Oooh, what are you racing?


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Running Courtesies

The other night, DJ Research and I were having a conversation about running courtesies: what courtesies we extend to other runners/pedestrians and what courtesies we expect in return.  We categorized these actions as courtesies rather than as etiquette because they are essentially polite behavior exercised (pun intended!) while running, whereas etiquette would be generally expected behavior practiced by the running community at large.

We run mostly on the sidewalks of our neighborhood, so we encounter a fair amount of like-minded perambulatory types: couples walking their dog, moms walking with their daughters, women and/or men taking a stroll, and of course, runners.  I always wave hello because...well...thats important to me: we're both out getting some exercise in our own way - let's at least say "Hi."

DJ Research is not the friendly type when he runs.  He gets in his zone, and he stays there.  If you say hi, he'll say hi, but he's not going to be the one to initiate the interaction.

"You don't say hello when you run?" I asked incredulously, "You don't acknowledge them in any way?"  Thats so bizarre to me.  I get slightly annoyed if someone out for a stroll or walking their dog does not return my greeting, but I get particularly annoyed if its a runner that just ignores me.  I mean, c'mon buddy.  We're in this together.  We need to either celebrate that we're out running or we need to commiserate that we're out running.  It'll take .02 seconds.  All I'm asking for a slight nod.

In my book, DJ Research was committing a serious running faux pas.

Least intimidating judge ever. (src)

Incidentally, the above image was found on blog that discusses the above topic...and sides with me. ;)

Then I admitted that I don't run off the sidewalk and onto the grass when a walker or another runner is approaching me.  If there is a biker coming towards me or someone walking their dog, then yes, I will get off the sidewalk and allow them the entire path (though most of the time the biker is on the road and the dog-walker graciously pulls off the sidewalk first).  But if its just walker, even if its a couple, or another runner, I stay on the sidewalk.  I didn't even cross my mind that I should run on the grass because, frankly, I think the sidewalk is big enough for both of us.

DJ Research, on the other had, always runs off the sidewalk and onto the grass when he passes walkers and other runners.  He thinks its a common courtesy because, frankly, he doesn't think the sidewalk is big enough for both himself and the approaching party.

In his book, I was committing a serious running faux pas.

Unrelated, but good general advice.  Though "Naked Flames"
would be an awesome name for a band. (src)

Which got me thinking, are there generally accepted running courtesies?  Or are we just making these up and unfairly projecting our expectations on others? (sounds like I've been watching Dr. Phil, doesn't it?  I haven't.  Is he even still around?)

Now there is such a thing as running etiquette - behavior that is generally expected practice by the running community.  This list of running etiquette is from the Road Runners Club of America website:

  1. Run against traffic if running on the road. If running on the sidewalk or multi-use trails, travel on the right and pass on the left.
  2. Never run more than two abreast if you are running in a group. Don’t be a road or trail hog.
  3. Don’t run down the middle of the road or trail.
  4. If you are running an out-and-back route, don’t just make a sudden u-turn at your turn around point. Stop, step to the right to allow oncoming traffic the opportunity to pass. Ensure the road or trail is clear of oncoming traffic (runners, cyclists, in-line skaters, etc.) then make your u-turn. Making a sudden u-turn without looking over your shoulder is a good way to get hit.
  5. Alert pedestrians when you are passing them – don’t assume they are aware of their surroundings. A simple “on your left” warning will suffice.
  6. Be alert on blind curves.
  7. Stop at stop signs and ensure oncoming traffic yields to you before proceeding across a road. Don’t assume cars will stop if you are entering a cross walk.
  8. Respect private property along your route. Don’t relieve yourself in the neighbor’s bushes.
  9. Don’t litter. If you can’t find a trash can, carry your trash home.

Apparently, this is a no-no.  Wish I had known that yesterday.

But as far as running courtesies--that is, polite behavior practiced while running--is there expected or accepted practice, or do we just make it up as we go?

What running courtesies do you practice? What running courtesies do you feel other runners should exercise more?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Check out Moms Home Run!

All runners are amazing, but I am particularly amazed by two types of runners: a) ultrarunners and b) running moms.

I love hearing the stories of running moms.  How they fit it all in.  How they make it work.  Its so inspiring.

Nicole over at Moms Home Run is a running mom with FIVE kids.  Yes, you read that right.  She recently asked to interview me about my running story, and I was beyond thrilled because, um, who doesn't like to be interviewed?

Check out the interview here.

And then check out Nicole at Moms Home Run.  Shes one of those amazing running moms I was talking about.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wonderful Weekend (in pictures)

Last week I posted that our camping weekend was either going to be super fun or a complete disaster.  DJ Research and I are not campers, yet here we were, attempting to sleep in the great outdoors.  With a toddler.

Well, we just got back.  IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Nugget had the time of his life.  He ran around the campsite like a wild banshee, playing in his own little world.  The DJ and I ate waaaaay too many roasted marshmallows, and just enjoyed being together and unconnected from the rest of the world.  We spent some time wading in the river, and walking along railroad tracks.  Plus, the DJ and I still got our #rwrunstreak 1 mile in on some really hilly terrain.

And though we had a blast, theres really not much to tell.  The trip was quiet and very low key.  So I'll just show you pictures instead:

Ready to roast marshmallows!

Glow stick fun!

We all slept on a queen-sized air mattress,
 much to Nugget's delight.

Nugget really enjoyed the more
technical parts of the trail.

Sensory exploration.

Enjoying the river.

As we're playing in the river, a train comes rolling by.  Choo! Choo! Woo! Woo!


The kid is very determined.
This kept him occupied for HOURS.

We're already planning our next camping trip.  This time around our menu was pretty simple, so next time we want to be a little more adventurous (I'm thinking mochiko chicken and grilled sweetbread).  I'm already hungry!

Do you like to camp?  Whats your favorite camp food?


Friday, June 8, 2012

Into the Deep Unknown

This weekend we are venturing into the deep unknown.

No, we are not diving to the bottomless depths of the ocean.

Nor are we journeying to the edge of the universe.

We are going camping.  In a tent.  With a toddler.

It's only for the weekend: two nights, three days.  But it does have the possibility of feeling like FOREVER.

We've packed the essentials and I've got a list of activities to keep the kid entertained and make this weekend super fun.  So I feel prepared.  But I said that before the kid was born, and then he arrived and I realized I had no idea what I was doing.

Despite my slightly anxious tone, I'm actually really excited.  I camped a lot of a kid (though it was always on the beach, so this in-the-woods camping is new to me), and always loved it.  I want to provide similar experiences for little Nugget.

So we'll see if we get the camping bug.  Or just get eaten alive by the little monsters.

Did you camp as a kid?  What are you fondest, or worst, memories?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Early Morning Run

I am a night owl through and through.  Always have been.  And until the infirmities of old age put me back in diapers again, probably always will be.

Would you prefer I use a picture
of my future self in diapers? (src)

So it was with great difficulty that I lifted my legs one. by. one out. of. bed and dragged my body down. the. stairs. at 5:00 5:20 am for an early morning run.

This was, of course, after I hit the snooze button a ka-jillion times.  Because I hate waking up (its the worse, isn't it?)

This is not Nugget, btw.
Its some random kid who hates waking up as much as I do. (src)

I was hoping to get out of the house by 5:30, but I was already behind schedule, plus I don't chew that fast, so I slowly ate my toast and sipped my coffee and almost got sucked into the world of twitter before I snapped out of it, laced up my shoes, and stepped out onto the front porch at 5:50 am.

The plan was 6 miles, which I needed to run in 55 minutes so that I would be home before DJ Research had to catch his bus to work.  Considering I didn't feel particularly peppy, I wasn't particularly optimistic about this goal.  But que sera, I was up and out.  Lets just get this done.

The first mile is always the toughest for me.  But luckily this one was uphill (I am learning to love the uphills).  It really got the blood flowing.  By mile two, I was feeling pretty good.  By mile three, I was thinking, "I need to run in the morning more often!"


And though it may have been the endorphins talking, I think early morning runs will be an important part of my training.  Here's why:

Improves my time management.  In order to run in the morning, I need to get things done the night before.  I can't lollagag on the internet, blogging and such nonsense.  I need to prepare Nugget's things for school and prepare my things for work/the gym, not to mention tackle that unending pile of laundry and prep for dinner the next day.  Ideally, I would do this every night before bed, but I frequently leave a few loose ends to tie up in the morning.  Can't do that with an early morning run.

Requires discipline.  Getting out of bed is so very difficult for me.  Not sure why.  The DJ can just pop right out of bed when the alarm goes off, but I have to hit snooze at least 20 times before I even realize its morning.  To go for an early morning run, I really have to work hard to acknowledge that I need to get out of bed the first time the alarm goes off.

Gets the run done early.  With my run out of the way in the morning, I can focus on Nugget in the evening before he goes to bed.  Tonight we played "Bubbos" (bubbles) after dinner!  Plus, as it warms up, running early is a great way to beat the summer heat!

Great way to start the day!  Wow, talk about a lot of energy!  I felt great all day, and even wanted to run  more!  (!!!  <---thought I'd throw in a few more exclamation points! For good measure!)

I finished my run this morning in 54:54 (8:55m/m pace), with 6 seconds to spare before the DJ had to leave for work.  But when I walked into the kitchen, he was still cooking his omelet.  Turns out, he had been planning to take the later bus anyway.  Good to know.  (I actually really like when he takes the later bus because it gives us a chance to have a few morning moments together.  Awwwwwww.)

So I'm going to toss early morning runs into the mix for my training this summer.  Just not tomorrow.  Oh no.  Tomorrow I am sleeping in.

Are you an early morning runner?  Do you like to run in the mornings?  Or do you run early because you have to?