Monthly archives: July, 2014

Would You Rather….

Jesica @rUnladylike posted a “would you rather” survey last week, and I enjoyed reading her answers enough that I thought I’d piggyback on her good idea and answer them myself! Some of the questions are fun, some are thought-provoking and some are downright tough to answer. (This was kind of fun, think I need to come up with some questions myself and do another installment!)

1. Would you rather run a 5K or a marathon? 

Marathon. No question.

2. Would you rather run a flat race in the heat or a hilly race in the cold?

I’m a flat-land runner who prefers cold weather, but after the Heartbreak Hill Half, I’d go with hills in the cold.

3. Would you rather get new running shoes or a new running outfit?

If it was a new MODEL (brand/model) of running shoes so that I had a choice of models, then shoes. Otherwise, the outfit unless I was for some reason out of shoes.

4. Would you rather run a marathon without headphones or a Garmin?

Some of this would depend on the size of the race and my goals. For Shamrock, I know there were times I wasn’t even aware of the music playing because of the noise, chatter, crowds….but then again, I played Wild Wild West 5 times late in the race and it helped. On the other hand, I need the Garmin because I’m not great yet at keeping a pace. This is a tough one. If it’s a big race and I’ve got a time goal, probably rather do without the headphones. If I don’t care about my time, go without Garmin so I can listen to music if I want as I’d be out there longer and I could see on-course timing.

5. Would you rather choose a race because of the convenience (location, price, travel) or the swag?

Convenience. I’ve yet to see swag that motivates me to choose a race. Think about it yes (oohing and aaahing) but choose it, not yet. I’d run Boston if you got nothing for doing so except to be able to say you ran it.

6. Would you rather run a PR that results in an injury or finish strong and miss a PR?

Finish strong and miss a PR. I can always try again if I’m healthy and injury-free. Disappointment doesn’t stop you from running or trying again. I’ve been injured or on the edge of it too many times.

7. Would you rather do 100 squats or 100 push-ups?

My upper body is legendarily weak, so I’d go with the squats, but there’s no way I’d get 100.

8. Would you rather run without socks or without a sports bra?

Without a sports bra. I’d be pretty uncomfortable though I’m smaller “upstairs” but I don’t think the sock thing would work well with my wide feet/bunions. I’d be able to run the next day if I wore socks (and then got to wear a bra) but not sure of the opposite.

9. Would you rather run on a treadmill for an hour or run around the same street block for an hour?

Treadmill. But not a fair question because I run on the treadmill 4 days out of 5 and love it.

10. Would you rather run a Ragnar Relay or be part of a marathon relay team?

I hadn’t really thought about being on a marathon relay team before this question – are there that many races that have them? I had started thinking about Ragnars a bit since I’m reading about so many people doing them but I’m not yet that interested in doing one. I think a marathon relay would interest me more as a starting point, as long as no one was that picky about my time.

11. Would you rather run naked or take a naked yoga class?

I’m taking a loophole here – I’d rather run naked on my treadmill than take a naked yoga class. (alone versus with others) However, the chances of either, barring someone with a gun to my head, are nil.

12. Would you rather come in 4th in the Olympics or 1st at the New York City Marathon?

(a Meb-related question!) I’d rather be 4th in the Olympics. New York, though a big deal race, has never been a race I’ve wanted to run. I think getting through the Olympic qualifying process, trials, and the full Olympic experience would be so much more fulfilling and something I would hold dear forever. I’d hope to find a way to feel good about 4th (in the world!), having given it my all for years and on the day.

13. Would you rather give up running for 3 years to get a BQ (Boston Marathon qualifying time) or never BQ but run as much as you want?

This is the toughest one. I just got my BQ after many years of working, wishing, dreaming, hoping – and got injured last year training 70+ miles per week (but found out I LOVED high mileage). It’s really hard to imagine the former, and I thought I was in the latter situation. I’m going to answer based on an assumption: I’d give up running for 3 years to BQ assuming that THEN I could run as much as I wanted and I’d want to be over 100mpw! This is “easy” for me to say now, since I qualified….but it’s a really hard thing to think about as giving up running for 3 years would be really difficult even if you could and would do every other activity and training possible.

Q13 reminds me of a question I’ve heard from @ajoneswilkins in terms of ultrarunning (via trailrunnernation ep 17): If you could run one last 100 miler with a personal-best time and then never run again OR you could be guaranteed to be able to run three miles a day for the rest of your life, but never run another 100, what would you choose?

Guaranteed 3 miles a day. Never run again?! Shudder.

Which would you rather, and why?


Training Recap – Week of June 30, 2014

First week of my 4 week speedwork module (then the 12 week official marathon training plan begins, but to me it’s all marathon training). Not sure I hit all my goals from the hill module – mostly due to the hilly half I ran and longer-than-expected recovery time, but I need speed for Baystate more than hills, so onward! That said….

Watched the video of Baystate course on Sunday while on the porch – more rollers than I expected. Need to get a course profile with % change (or calculate it myself ugh – the site has it in meters) so I can simulate it on treadmill on long runs. I don’t think it’s as flat as Shamrock, though it’s not as hilly as Boston.

I’ll work on throwing in some hills from time to time through the rest of this year, and try to figure out how to work them into my Boston training which officially starts in January.

Legs definitely felt the speedwork, as evidenced by my so-so long run on Saturday. But, did better on Sunday, even with legs still a bit sore from the week’s runs and the Saturday massage. So, ended on an up note which is always nice.


  • T – 10.1mi, steady state run. Took lemonade UCan (1 packet) about an hour before start of run. 2mi warmup, 6.1mi at steady state pace (which was goal marathon pace for Shamrock!), 2mi cool. Not easy, but better in the middle of the steady state block. I was worried about my extensors after the weekend and Monday’s bike, but chiro today told me it was really the muscles and told me to start doing a very strong bow pose daily, and it seems to help – yay! (I was quite unsettled at the thought of extensor issues again, since that was my problem last summer.)
  • W – 4.2mi, recovery w/ strides. 4mi at recovery pace then 2x20s at marathon goal pace with 40s recovery. My hams did not love the strides. L glute min acting up again.
  • Th – 7.5mi, intervals. Lemonade UCan before. 2mi warmup, then 12x(0.25at 30s faster than goal marathon pace, 0.12 jog), about 1.5 cool. This was supposed to be 12-16 at 1min faster than goal pace. Started the first interval, got about 10s in and thought “no way this is happening”. Decided to dial it back. This was quite a mental workout as well. After about the first 5 where the jog breaks felt like enough to recover, I really didn’t want to do any more and the recovery feeling got less and less. But I kept goading, bribing, pushing/nudging myself – “come on, do 8, that’s half”, “come on, now do 10 so it’s even”, “one more”, “one more”. I am not sure I could have gotten 16, and I am pretty sure it would have been unwise to try. I wanted 10mi total, but I kept hearing my chiro’s voice (“tired muscle behaves like weak muscle”) and thinking about Greg McMillan’s emphasis on quality, recovery, knowing what you’re getting from the miles (what’s the purpose of this run/this mile, what’s the risk, what’s the benefit). I knew I wouldn’t get enough benefit from more cooldown miles to make it worth the risk of injuring myself as I got more tired. And, I wanted to preserve whatever I had left for my Saturday long run. (that was the idea anyway!) I will say I wasn’t as sore Th/F/Sat as I’d have expected to be or have been in the past. Maybe that’s something, maybe some of the training is helping.
  • Sat – 14.5mi. 2mi warmup, 12.5mi ~30s faster. 2scoops of Tropical Orange UCan 35min before starting run. One problem I’m noting with Ucan is that the fluid or the substance seems to make me need an early pit stop. I’m hoping my system gets used to it or that might be something that knocks it out of use for me – I don’t have that kind of time in races with time goals, and I didn’t need to stop in Shamrock with the fueling/hydration plan I had. I prepared a 3oz Lemonade UCan “gel” flask and one with 1 serving of EFS Liquid Shot gel/1 oz water in case I needed them – and I suspect I did, from how I felt – but chose not to take them. I could tell the pre-drink had worn off by around 2 hours. Could I have pushed to 18? Maybe. I sure talked myself into/through the whole run (everything after about mile 2 was a negotiation…). But I could feel a slight tightness in my upper hams, probably from speedwork, along with other soreness and lower energy and decided not to put myself into a hole. (more of a hole?) Got a massage that I’m sure will help at some point, though I’m sorer afterward. Less of an ammonia smell post-run today, maybe adjusting to Ucan or maybe I was more hydrated. We did walk to and from fireworks (1.5-2mi each way) last night, and I got to sleep at least an hour later than usual, so there are some explanations for how I feel, but frustrating nevertheless. Today I started drinking water only where the water stops at Baystate are, since I don’t plan on carrying water. I have the list of water stop mile markers taped to my treadmill. I’ll do this for long runs (Sat) and maybe some other runs, though I tend to drink as needed for speedier workouts.
  • Sun – 12mi on treadmill, all long run pace zone: 2mi w/u, 2mi 30s faster, 8mi 10s faster. Didn’t take any Ucan before or during, no gel either. Just water and 2 Energy Surge tablets, 1 at mi 6, 1 at mi 10. Felt better than yesterday, whew! Not sure why. (the carb-y yuca puffs I had as my snack while reading last night?) Drank only at mile markers again. Very slight ammonia smell after, much less.

I’m wondering if perhaps the UCan is taking/keeping my blood sugar too low. Last summer, in heavy training, I got up to runs of 23 miles with no gel, and I think I’m still fairly fat-adapted or not too carb/sugar dependent. I started taking gel during the Shamrock training cycle for long/hard runs where I wanted to perform better, where the training session really needed to be high quality. (per Greg McMillan & Lucho on Endurance Planet) I didn’t have any issues in training or racing with my First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot, didn’t really have super high/lows.

I’ll probably keep trying UCan for a while longer and do more research, but I’m willing to go back to my gel if that’s what works best for me. (I could still use the Ucan as an appetite suppressant/snack, and DH might try it.) I will say the UCan twitter community is very enthusiastic and helpful when I put out questions. 

Bike: 2 – 1h (M/F), plus 30 min after Thursday’s run, 45 min after Saturday’s, 15 after Sunday’s.
Core: 3 (M/W/F)  
Wharton flex: 5 – not sure I did W (didn’t log it) and took too much time on porch stuff Saturday, wound up not doing it. 
Yoga: None. Unless you count bow pose and my core routine. 
Chiro exercises: None. Legs sore from runs. 
Calf stretches: I’ve gotten back into this a bit, maybe 4 days.
Elliptical: None. Busy in the office (the 21 I was there) this week and still operating on the “don’t push your luck” recovery strategy.

I am somewhat obsessed with the idea of getting an Elliptigo and putting it on a trainer to replace the bike for XT….Meb & many others (including Dean Karnazes, Lauren Fleshman, Coach Jenny) use it for cross-training, though I think they all use it outside.

I know the bike isn’t doing much for me. It uses different muscles, sure, but is it helping my running? I don’t think so. I heard Joanna Zeiger recently talking about how she didn’t think cycling was good XT for runners who wanted to be fast.) It’s just spinning the muscles and not even making me break a sweat.

I need to find a place to try the Elliptigo on a trainer though – I tried it outside last summer and my lack of elliptical expertise, weak legs, poor bike handling skills and the heavy weight made it not a great experience. I think I could manage it stationary (though I realize you get less core benefits). Why not just buy an elliptical? It’s my understanding that the leg drive/stride on the Elliptigo mimics running more closely. Also, I could just use the elliptical at the work gym if I only wanted that (if we had something at home, it’s possible DH could use as well).

So, I continue to search for a place to do a test ride on a trainer, and will try to ramp back up time on the elliptical at work, probably starting back with 10min or so at first. 

If you own or regularly use an Elliptigo, I’d really like to hear if/how you think it benefits your running. I know some of my running tweeps are very happy with it, like David Pittman (who HAS used it on a trainer and found it helpful) and Kris Law.

Walk: pre-run 15 min warmups 
Drills: before every run – lunge matrix, high knees, skips, butt kicks, butt kicks moving in reverse (wakes up glutes big time), karaoke
Other: weekly chiro visit, massage

On Thursday, while doing my Whartons (Active Isolated Flexibility or AIF) I listened to this podcast, which I’d recommend. It’s Coach Jay Johnson (of Lunge Matrix fame – I do it before every run, it’s made a difference!) and his (fast!) age group athlete Amy Feit. They talk about her schedule, her training before and with Jay, and all the ancillary work she does, which includes AIF (another thing Jay is a proponent of). Confirmed for me again that these are right and necessary things to do, and worth the time and effort. I was comforted to hear from another runner talking about juggling and choosing how to spend time. Nice to be reminded it’s not just me…and I think Amy is way busier than me!

As Deena Kastor says:

“We make choices. I hate to say ‘sacrifices.’ When I speak to younger groups, to colleges and other younger athletes, I say ‘we don’t make sacrifices. If we truly love this sport and we have these goals and dreams in the sport, the classroom, or in life, they’re not sacrifices. They’re choices that we make to fulfill these goals and dreams.’ “

Have a great week!

Friday Five – 5 Things about July 4th

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps
Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

This week’s theme is “5 things about July 4th”.

Here are some of my favorite memories surrounding this national holiday…what are yours?

Food – always grilled! (bratwurst with mustard, hamburgers with ketchup, corn on the cob in the husk topped with Parkay), German potato salad, Jay’s potato chips (do they still exist?), slices of watermelon so juicy it dripped onto the grass, toasting marshmallows over the dying coals, ice cream bars and red/white/blue “bomb” pops from the Good Humor truck

Family – Mom and Dad and I eating on paper plates at a table in the backyard or on our back porch (team cooking too – Dad grilled, Mom prepped and made sides, veggies, desserts), my Dad lighting punks and sparklers, running through the sprinkler with my friend next door, going to the local pool

Fireworks – seen from my childhood home or the bridge over the expressway over the tops of trees, from the top of a parking garage in Oak Park IL (a 360 panorama of fireworks from downtown Chicago to Oak Park to Berwyn to other towns), from a hill in Morgantown WV, from a park in Arlington VA with a view of the Monument

Community activities – 5k races, parades, kids face painting, craft fairs

Fun – movies (Independence Day!), getting to stay up late

But of course what it’s really all about is freedom. We must always remember that people made difficult decisions and put themselves and their families at risk to create this country in the first place. They sacrificed and fought for our right to be free, our right to determine our own future and make our own choices, individually and collectively. Those of us born into this good fortune, this privilege, often take it for granted. We can forget how many people are still risking their lives to either come to this country – like Meb and his family (happy 4th Meb, go at Peachtree!) – or to achieve similar freedoms in their countries. We can too easily get complacent, assume it’s all going to work out fine in the end with no help or action from us. If you care, vote and make your voice heard in other peaceful, but powerful, ways. Express your opinions, take action and try to make this country a better place – it’s both our right and our responsibility.

Have a wonderful, safe 4th of July!



What I’m Eating Wednesday #WIAW

I’ve seen this theme (meme?) going around the blogosphere for a while now, so thought I’d take a crack at it. Since I’m writing this on Tuesday, it’s more of a “my plan for what I’m eating Wednesday”. But I’m pretty good at sticking to my plan, especially since my breakfast and lunch are already prepped and in the fridge ready to be stuffed in a cooler bag, and dinner meat is thawing. You may see a scale in the photos – yes, I use a scale for portion control (as well as measuring spoons, etc). It’s very helpful and can really change your view of what a portion is. Then if you want to eat more than a single portion, at least you’re making a conscious choice.

So, without further ado….


2 FRS chews before my run –  pictured with my Irish Breakfast tea with stevia, brewed before my run so I can start drinking immediately. (though often I wind up drinking this on the way to work)


FRS chews pre-run, tea post-run

FRS chews pre-run, tea post-run

Also after my run before I leave for the office, I eat the asparagus in the breakfast picture below. It’s such a small serving that I cook it and eat it at home – it’d be annoying to take one more container to work just for that, though I have done it. Pyrex is heavy!

If I’m really tired in the morning, I may prep a Klean Kanteen with matcha green tea and stevia, for a little extra caffeine pop, but I don’t put water in it until I decide I’m really going to drink it. I have an electric kettle at my desk if I want the water heated, but it turns out matcha is pretty good cold too. If I just want more tea taste or sweetness, I have Irish Breakfast decaf at work (and some emergency English Breakfast).

Breakfast at work:

Egg white patty (6T) topped with nutritional yeast, which will be heated in the microwave and be the filling of a sandwich of 2 slices of Julian’s Paleo Coconut bread, spread with 1/8 avocado and 1/2 t of Honeycup mustard, topped with romaine lettuce. This sandwich also works great with turkey slices instead of egg. The bread is 5g protein/5g fiber per slice, adding nicely to my totals for the day. 1 cup of blueberries which I’ll snack on throughout the day.

breakfast, at work

breakfast, at work


3oz of sliced grilled chicken breast (from Whole Foods salad bar) – it may look a little odd in the photo as it’s frozen. We buy a bunch at a time and throw it in a freezer bag, defrosting as needed. I’ve also had smaller servings for breakfast. Cauliflower (150g) – cooked in the microwave this time – topped with more nutritional yeast. Salad with 200g of romaine, 100g of mushrooms and 1T of honey mustard dressing. The salad is big enough for multiple servings, and the fridge is right across the hall from my office, so I may eat part of it as a morning or afternoon snack as well as having some at lunchtime.

lunch at work

lunch at work


It’s Wednesday, so it’s ostrich night! In the photo are two ostrich burgers, one each for me and DH. (grilled then frozen, thanks @mrrdeatwriterun !) There’s also a Japanese sweet potato (JSP) which I’ll have for a little carb action, along with California blend – may have some other veggie but I try to have at least one non-starchy veg at each meal.



There may be a few bites of several types of frozen fruit for dessert.




Evening: (my weakness, snacking in the evening while I read)

There will likely be some frozen banana chunks spread with nut butter….


frozen bananas & a few of my nut butters

frozen bananas & a few of my nut butters

Before my (getting to be nightly!) pint of Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero

Arctic Zero

And that’s it for Wednesday! (roughly 1500 calories if I don’t add any snacks at work)

Do you plan your meals ahead of time? Do you pack a lunch for work? Do you use a scale or other portion control methods?