Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm moving!

If you haven't seen it already on my FB page, I'm taking my blog over to Wordpress. A few reasons for this include more freedom with customizing themes, a domain name through a reputable server, and more space/easier formatting for advertising if and when I get the time or the opportunity to take my blog to the next level. So hop on over to my other page, where I've already imported all of my previous entries from here. This page will soon disappear, so in the meantime please:

Bookmark me in your blog readers,
Like me on Facebook, and
Follow me on Twitter!

I am working hard at becoming more social-networking-savvy and I recognize every blogger starts somewhere. I will continue to post about my runs, workouts, playlists and just my average day-to-day activities as examples of how I maintain balance in my life. I will also look to you to expand the variety of content I can deliver. So don't forget to leave comments and ask questions! I want to see Concrete N Coffee grow, but I need your help!

Thanks, and keep reading!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Motivation: Sometimes, it's gonna suck.

Doesn't sound very motivating, I know.

But it's true, and I discovered this on my run yesterday. All in all, it was a great run, and I was excited to knock out a 10-miler to get myself back into distance training mode. But the humidity was killer, the hills seemed to stretch on forever, and the rocky, gravelly portions of trail seems to be taunting my ankles as I could feel the uneven surface try to roll my foot one way or another.

Going into the run, I thought, "Yeah, this is going to be a tough one."

During the run, I knew, "This is gonna suck."

Three-quarters of the way there, I almost cried out, "God-DAMN this really sucks."

Then, I was finish. And I realized it all wasn't that terrible.

Why am I writing about this? Because unlike other posts out there that will tell you out to wrestle with your inner doubt and come up on top and make the most of your workout, yesterday's run had nothing to do with doubt, fear, or uncertainty. I know me and I know my abilities and some runs are just going to be hard, whether or not I want them to be. My kind-of-sucky 10-miler was simply a lesson in patience and mental fortitude, because there was no room for error when it came to my pace or footing. I had to simply put on foot in front of the other, pay attention, not get antsy and charge up the hills to wipe myself out, and not pay attention to mile splits.

Whether it's a tough run or a tough day workout, sometimes you have to dig in and plow through, even knowing there won't be any euphoric "runner's high" or other reward to look forward to at the end. There will be days when, unlike what we've been told by inspiring Pinterest boards, the workout is NOT going to make us less stressed, less cranky, and definitely not less sore.

But to be frank, if I only decided to go through each day on a guarantee that it would be a perfect one, well, I'd never get out of bed.

So find a way to embrace the hard days. Know that it's gonna suck, and be OK with that. I think I have some really crappy runs to thank for some of the more fantastic ones I've had!

What was your best, worst run/workout?

One of my best worst runs was the Sunrise 8K in Simpsonville, SC. It was a hot morning, even for starting right at 6:00AM and I think I had to stop twice as my stomach tried to turn itself inside out after running too hard up a series of hills.

Me trying to wave my sister off to stop her from taking this picture.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Funday: Pictures & Numbers

It's a pictures and numbers kind of post today because I'm lazy and it's Sunday and that's just what I feel like doing :)

10 trail miles run.

89 degrees by the conclusion of the run.

0 rolled ankles! Just dirty, scuffed up legs from me kicking myself while running.

16 oz G2 (I used the powder mix- easier to control the sweetness)
12 oz H2O
12 oz Nuun (tropical fruit flavor is my fav)
2 bowl's of TJ's Veggie & Quinoa Mellange (w/ a dusting of parm, of course)

 And now that I'm refueled and rehydrated...

12 more ounces :)

How much do you drink before, during and after your runs? Today was definitely a max for me, and just for 10 miles! Can't wait for it to cool off.

What have you been up to on your Sunday?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Concrete Workout - With Video!

Yesterday I faced my first challenge in the Fit Streak: Doing something on a day I normally would have taken off, or at least have done housework and counted that as exercise. But on this day, I knew it was time to step up my game.

I do the following living room work out occasionally when really pinched for time. So I can definitely tell you that the small investment of having a few dumbbells around the house is more than worth it. I, for one, used to not want to spend money on fitness equipment if already paying for a gym membership, but after having a child I realized that while having the membership is great, it does not guarantee I will always make it to the gym. Having at least a set of 10-lb. dumbbells means that if nothing else, I can bust out some bicep curls and rows when I might otherwise have done nothing at all.

So here it is- my butt-busting living room workout. Copy, share (link back to the post, please!) and feel free to add your own elaborations and variations, or just try it out as is for yourself and let me know how you felt (leave a comment!)

*What's this? Oh hey, here's a video to show you!

Do you have any good living room moves to share? If nothing else, sometimes I'll put on a music channel and dance crazy with my girl :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Belated Tuesday Night Spin

I'm posting late because I spent the majority of nap time yesterday getting my training binder organized in preparation for if when I get my first client. The tricky thing about the particular location I signed on for is that it's under construction, so while new clients are a bit fewer and further between than usual, we know things will pick up when renovations are complete in the fall, which is why I want to be in place as a trainer now.

But, since it is also up to me to make sure I get potential clients interested, organize, I must. Fortunately, I already had these nifty cards I got for having Klout, which basically means I finally have more than two readers and at least a handful of Twitter and Facebook followers (Thanks!! And if you don't follow or like me yet -- trust me, I'll worm my way into your heart somehow -- please do!).

I love that I could have my "Happy Feet" picture on the back!
In my opinion, however, having a card is not enough, which is why I have a whole binder of crap logs, information, and a fitness readiness questionnaire. Not to knock trainers I don't even know, but I see plenty of them out on the floor on their phone, and I know they're not just using their stopwatch app to time sets and reps because they're typing away and telling their clients, "OK stop when you get to 10." Nu-uh. I will NOT be that trainer!

Now... where did I put my pocket protector??
The thing is, while initially I said I'd *never* train in a Big Box-type gym, that's where I am, and I am going to make the most of it. The hourly is meh, and the commission is so-so, but it's a foot in the door which is what I need if I really want to start on this path toward making a name for myself as a trainer. Considering I don't have any start-up capital or investors to get my own business off the ground just yet, starting somewhere is a heck of a lot more productive than not starting at all.

What do you see trainers doing that you wish they wouldn't do on the floor? 

What DON'T you see trainers doing that you wish they would?


While I got organized printing off multiple copies of forms and free fitness assessment coupons, I got to thinking about my playlist for spin class... while drinking copious amounts of caffeine, mind you...

Live to Rise Spin 7/17

1. "A Little Bit of Riddim" Micheal Franti feat. Cherine Anderson - warm up, alternate going through all 3 riding positions.
2. "The Golden Age" The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - warm up cont'd, add 1 gear. Start seated then go up to pos. 3 and pick up the pace for each chorus.
3. "Inside Out" Eve 6 - Hill #1, short and easy. Starting at light resistance, add a gear on each chorus and take it up to pos. 3. Leave it on when you sit. Repeat.
4. "Brasileria" Veron & Praia del Sol - Flat road or add a gear or two for a challenge & control. Run #1, short, easy, first 45s. of the song. Music drops out- when it comes back in pick it up to an 80% effort (starting to breath hard, can talk but must pause for breath every 2 words) for 1 min. Slow down, recover 1 min, add a gear and go up to pos. 3 for another 1-minute effort at 80%. The rest of the song is flat recovery.
5. "Live to Rise" Soundgarden - Hill #2, part 1. Starting at light resitance, add a gear on each chorus and take it up to pos. 3. Leave it on when you sit. Repeat.
6. "Diesel Power" Prodigy - Hill #2, part 2.This time, leave your resistance where it's at and sit to grind it out for the rest of this hill. You should be at medium-to-heavy resistance (pedaling in mud, as I like to say). Do 3 pick-ups of just 15s. each during the song, where you try to pedal quicker by ANY amount.
7. "Shut Up and Drive" Rihanna - Flat road (+ a gear for challenge or stability), recover on the beat on the verse, pick it up and double-time it on the chorus.
8. "Ready To Go" Republica - Add 2 gears to start Hill #3 part 1. Same as before - pos 1 on the verse, this time transition to pos. 2 on the bridge if you choose, then add a gear in pos. 3 on the chorus. Hold resistance and repeat.
9. "Dream On" Aerosmith - Hill #3 part 2. You should be starting off in the seat pretty heavy, but not choppy or mashing on the pedals. If this is all the resistance you can manage while pedaling smoothly, hold it here for the duration of the song. Otherwise, add one more gear each minute until you need to stand, then finish out your hill in pos. 3.
10. "Song 2" Blur - Flat road, recover, optional pick-up on the "WooooooHooooo!" part of the song :)
11. "Devil Drums" Scooter - Last-ditch effort sprints: 3X30s. 90% effort with equal recovery. Rest 45s. then 4X15s. max effort with equal recovery to take you through the finish.
12. "Chasing Cars" Snow Patrol - cool down
13. "Be Like That" 3 Doors Down - stretch

I counted this - obviously - as my workout of the day for my #FitStreak. What was your workout today?

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Want To Be a Streaker

No, not like this:

I can't keep up with Frank the Tank, anyway.
[screen shot from "Old School"]

But like this:


And definitely this:

fire, optional.

Allison over at came up with the brilliant idea to hold a Fit Streak, for which participants will simply do at least 20-30 minutes of ANY type of fitness activity, every day. What I love about this is that it can be for everyone. I, for one, can't run every day. I admit it, I just can't. My problem stems from the fact that if I run on too many consecutive days, my left foot tries to torch itself or detach from my body completely so that I don't kill it any more than I already have. That's plantar fasciitis for you. But I can manage the discomfort, or even go pain-free several days in a row if I make sure that I follow my running days with non-running ones, or that I avoid long runs on days after extremely busy restaurant shifts.

So Fit Streak it is. Truthfully, I do something every day anyway, and if I want to be lazy about it I can count walking the dogs :-D

But I won't be lazy. In fact, I will take the initiative to try to add MORE variety to my routine. Right now I pretty much run, spin, lift, repeat. And even with lifting, I sometimes don't even bother with that because I count plate-carrying at work or lugging the vacuum around the house as resistance. For the next month, however, I want to do more, and this Fit Streak is just the push I need to do it.

So follow Allison (@_allisonpierce_), myself (@ConcreteNCoffee) and any other Fit Streakers on Twitter (#FitStreak) and join in the conversation. Who knows? Maybe you'll get some new workout ideas, or inspire more people to join the streak!

Have you already joined the #FitStreak? What was your workout for Day One?
I did my usual hills & fartleks on the treadmill. And I'm vacuuming my house in a few minutes... which I still think kind of counts, but I won't count it by itself as a fitness activity ;-)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Eye on the Prize

This has been kind of my "off" week, as I've gotten to really just worry about getting my workouts and classes in and not have to focus too much on work since I only had a couple training shifts and then an easy first night on the floor. Next week starts the fun.

On Monday, I'll get oriented at the gym with their new client process. I'm under the impression that I already have a few clients lined up for me based on this particular location's demand for female trainers, so I am beyond excited. They say, "If you talk the talk, then walk the walk." Well, I have the walking part down, it's the talking that I get to work on now.

Everyone faces a lot of challenges when it comes to getting and staying fit, but on the flip side of that is the challenge of telling people the exact thing they need to hear to get motivated. For the most part, trainers have something to work with, as new clients have already taken the step to sign up for personal training. From there, however, there are a lot of mental road blocks that both the trainer and client must overcome, the first of which being just HOW much the client will need to work. A new routine can be a bit of a shock to the system, so you have to convince someone that the initial discomfort will not only be worth it, but it will eventually subside and become a feeling they will actually look forward to and even seek out on their own.

I think (and fear) the same will be for me, as I embark on my own new routine. I will definitely be seeking out advice and consult from other trainers out there balancing work, family life, and their own fitness regimens. My first worry, of course, will be the hours. I will potentially have clients any time between 6:00AM and 11:00AM. Three nights a week, I'll train in the mornings then work in the restaurant at night. I've done this kind of crazy schedule when I was working and in school, but not with a child.

My second worry would be how to keep up with my own training and running goals. I figure the best way would be to squeeze in a workout after my last client of the morning while I still have child care, but I know there will be days that I will have just a 4-hour window in the middle of the day to clean, do laundry, prepare meals and - oh, I dunno - eat or nap or something.

One thing that I know for right now is that I can't really plan anything until I see how the first couple of weeks go. But for starters, I'll be implementing the same strategies I would ask of my clients:
  • Don't make excuses before you even get started. For me, this means that I can't go into my new routine on an assumption that I won't ever work out or sleep. I have to trust that I'll be able to go with the flow until I adapt to my new scheduling demands. Same for working out: What feels hard - even impossible - at first, soon becomes second nature.
  • Enjoy your free time. I used to have a hard time just sitting and relaxing, especially if there was a full hamper or dirty dishes within view. Not anymore. My hubby teased me earlier this week because I was somewhat sleep-deprived (self-inflicted, no sympathy for me) and so I literally did nothing around the house. I had my spin class, but I did nothing else for the rest of the day. And. It. Was. Awesome. So I say if you've at least done what you need to do for yourself by the end of the day, it's OK to let a chore or to go! After all, chores, I think, just raise blood pressure. Exercise lowers it :)
  • Treat your body like a car. I know I struggle with simple things like remembering to eat. It happens too easily: I'm hustling to work out, shower, make lunch and/or dinner, give my girl her lunch, get her down for a nap, shower... before I know it, the babysitter is here and I need to be out the door or I'm late to work. That just won't fly once I'm working full-time. So I will arm myself with an arsenal of nutritious, go-to foods that I will use to fill my tank. Like a car, you can only go so far on "E" before your machine just quits on the side of the road.
  • Keep your eye on the prize. Goal-setting is crucial to a client's success. The goal must not only be attainable, but something that embraces both the physical and mental changes a client is trying to achieve. The same is true for me when it comes to work. In a world full of A-type go-getters who stop at nothing 'til the job is done (or the boss stops yelling) I'm very fortunate to have been able to make my own schedule between the gym and the restaurant. But to be sure that I don't get burned out, I will need to remain focused on why I'm doing this in the first place. There are, of course, financial reasons, but more importantly, I am just so eager to be an example of health and fitness. I not only want to help others get fit, but to become examples and motivators to their own friends and colleagues. Remembering this will help to push me forward, no matter what.
Share with us- what are your tips/tricks for balancing everything in your own routine? What's the best fitness advice you've received?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Under My (green) Thumb

I'm one of those people who has proclaimed out loud to anyone who will listen over the years all the good, Mother-Earthy, crunchy granola-like things I want to do to enhance our home and family life. One of those things has been to have our own garden.

When we did have a house and a yard, I admit I didn't take full advantage of the space. We attempted a raised garden bed up in the back corner of the yard, where we also kept a compost pit. The peppers got eaten by little critters and the compost got eaten by some very determined dogs before it even had a chance to decompose. Even out in the front yard, where we attempted to add some curb appeal, everything soon withered and died not just because I couldn't remember to water and weed, but when we moved and rented our house, the tenants didn't remember, either.

pretty, but not functional... or long-lasting :(
Two moves later, we're finally in a town home that offers a little bit of freedom when it comes to the treatment of our front and back porches. We can't really plant anything in the ground, but we got ourselves some huge planters and pots and just started going nuts with plants and seeds. So far, everything is fairing well under my [clueless] green thumb.

Our first bell pepper - almost ready to be picked!

I think our basil might need a trim. On the side, the first sprouts of some bib lettuce.

A crazy nest of oregano and lemon thyme (which smells amazing).

Garden peas and wax beans, hopefully ready in a few more weeks.

And of course, because my husband is a total dude and has to have his own big, manly plant...

What we'll do with all of these, I have no clue. Maybe I'll extract their juices for nasal spray. Painful, but effective!

What's great about having the greenery right outside our back door is that for the summer, at least, I will no longer have to pay $3-$4 for a small clump of fresh herbs every time I want to use them in cooking. Each plant will pay for itself and then some, compared to the cost of driving and paying for the same produce in the grocery store. Why, here's a use for some of those aromatic herbs right here:

Parmesan & Herb-crusted Cod w/ Roasted Asparagus and Pearl Cous Cous
You can't do much with cod except fry it, really, so I do the usual steps of prepping an ingredient to be fried (flour, eggwash, breadcrumbs) but then do more of a pan sear using less - and healthier - oil.

For the breading:
  • breadcrumbs - generic brand, no seasoning, or cubes of your own plain, dry bread
  • grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • big handfuls of the oregano and lemon thyme pictured above
Rinse the herbs and pat dry. Add them to a food processor with breadcrumbs, parmesan (about a 3:1 crumb to cheese ratio is my favorite... I like my cheese), and salt & pepper to taste. I don't give exact measurements here because it really depends on the amount of food you want to bread. For about six 4oz fish filets, I used about a cup of bread crumbs and about 1/3 cup of cheese.

Pulse until the herbs are chopped up and well integrated into the mix.

First, preheat your oven to 375. Rinse and pat dry your asparagus, then chop off the bottom inch. On a nonstick baking sheet (lined with foil or a silpad for easier cleanup), line of your chutes and then drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of course salt and black pepper. I like to mince a couple cloves of garlic and add them, too. Toss to coat then realign your asparagus so that they're all in contact with the sheet (not piled up in clumps). Stick in the oven for about 35 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Next, start your cous cous, according to package directions. I used Near East Pearled Couscous, which has about a half-hour cook time. If you prefer the smaller couscous, it will cook much quicker and can be done near the end. This brand also comes in whole wheat.

Halfway through the asparagus' cook time, heat a nonstick fry pan over medium heat with about 1/4c. canola or grape seed oil. Why grape seed oil? Well, if you happen to have it on hand for a previous recipe you made, you'll just want to use it up.
Due to its clean, light taste, and high polyunsaturated fat content, it is also used as an ingredient in salad dressings and mayonnaise and as a base for oil infusions of garlic, rosemary, or other herbs or spices. It also is sprayed on raisins to help them retain their flavor. -- Wikipedia
Take out your fish (I used cod, but you can use any light, white flaky fish you prefer)- if frozen, follow thawing directions, then pat dry. Break your fish down into 4-5oz filets if it comes in larger cuts - this will ensure more space in the pan and make them easier to flip when cooking. If it takes you a minute to dredge, eggwash, and bread your filets, do this first, THEN preheat your pan so that you don't end up with a smoky kitchen (take it from me!).

Sear your filets about 4 minutes on each side, or longer if a thicker cut. Check for doneness by sticking a fork in the center of the filet and seeing if will flake easily. If you need to pan-fry in batches, set the first batch of filets aside on a tray and cover with foil to keep warm.

When everything is done, plate nicely enough for a pretty picture. I should have chopped and sprinkled on some more herbs for aesthetic appeal, but a certain little girl stole them off the counter to feed to her doggy puppet. 

I wish I had more pictures of the steps of this meal, but I had a hungry toddler (and her stuffed animals) to feed :)

Do you grow anything for yourself? What is your best horticultural achievement?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day...

As I start yet another new restaurant job today, I thought I'd share a little mid-week motivation with you.

I wasn't expected to change jobs after merely four months at the previous restaurant, but if I've learned nothing else this year, it has been to not sit idly by and "just deal" with situations that are not beneficial or lucrative to my goals (or bank account). I used to worry about the implications of the ever-growing "previous employment" portion on my resume, but there are some advantages to being nearly 30 and with a child.

The thing about stagnancy is that it's like a sneaky bug that just kind of sits on your shoulder, not doing anything, until you happen to look or a friend flicks it off for you. While it's no mystery that I'm not exactly thrilled to still be waiting tables at 29, I have been far more proactive in this season alone compared to years passed regarding my future. I said if I was going to still wait tables, it would at least be in a location where I could get excited about meals prepared by a talented chef. I said if I was going to still wait tables, I would be more productive in my free time and get my crap together to also start spending more time in the gym.

Even though the first restaurant didn't work out (honestly, I'm not nice or accommodating enough to deal with the insane particular needs of this specific hotel's clientele... or upper management, for that matter), I'll still be working at an establishment I can certainly say I'm proud to work for. At the gym, I'll be picking up another class or two soon, and am waiting for corporate to approve me to start training, which is already a given but still a formal process that they need to go through.

Take that, stagnancy.

Now, how about some Muse? Their songs are so epic, I can't help but to feel fired up and ready to go whenever I hear anything by them. My daughter loves to hum/mumble/sing along to "Uprising." Nothing but the best of rock for my little girl :)

What's your big goal you're working toward right now?

Where are you getting your motivation from this week?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Conversations With My Pre-Fitness Self

Something I missed while working this weekend: This video. Have you seen it? Of course you have, over four million people have viewed it so far.

This guy had me cracking up. We can obviously say our younger selves were pretty ridiculous. That isn't bad, it's just to say that there are many goofy/silly/stupid things I did as a kid, as I'm sure you did too. But then I think back to that less-inhibited self, and I imagine she'd look at me right now and also think I'm also pretty ridiculous.

I mean, let's start with the fact that I run long distances for fun. I used to dread meets in Cross Country and Track & Field. Now I actually pay to run in an event.

The vegetables I used to pick off my plate and hide in the napkin on my lap- I actually buy them, cook them, and eat them, without being threatened with a grounding or no dessert. Hell, I've even PLANTED some veggies to have something a little more local!

bell peppers, per the Little Miss' request

garden peas and wax beans, if I can manage not to kill them.

When I was younger I thought I'd be a cool grown up who stays up late and goes to concerts, movies, and awesome restaurants all the time. I stay up late, but it's because I can't wind down immediately after work. It didn't take me too long to realize all that other stuff costs too much money.

I vaguely recall proclaiming that I would shoot myself if I ever owned a pair of mom jeans. Then, the tapered leg came back into fashion via the Skinny Jean. And I have two pairs.

These are just a few things that have changed about my tastes and habits over the years. While my childhood self probably wouldn't have ever believed I'd give up sports of a lifestyle of drinking and lethargy, that unhealthy, lethargic self wouldn't have believed I'd ever turn around and get back into shape and then some. All of my PR's and more insane ambitious races have taken place well into adulthood, when the younger me used to dread hard workouts.

Me then:

I know, I don't look too bad. Wait for it....

Pasty, no clavicle definition, and good lord I needed better bras. It still gets better...
Before Instagram, there were disposable cameras. And double chins.
(These photos have been brought to you courtesy of cheese, gelato shops, beer, Nutella, and Kinderschokolade.)

Me now:

even with watermarks all over my face, still a nicer picture, I think!
(I still run on beer, though)

I'd like to think that if given the chance, I'd lay everything out for my younger, unfit self to prepare her for the life she had ahead of her. But then again... wouldn't that alter how things actually turned out? If I recall nothing else from how I was as a child and teenager, I know I was painfully stubborn. I think if the older me showed up to read me the riot act back then, I'd have rebelled even further!

Let's say I could just tell myself one thing- I think it would be not to waste the gift of fitness. It took me a long time to realize that I could ever enjoy running, let alone get kind of good at it. I think if I had pushed myself harder earlier on, knowing I could then better capitalized on the fitness gains that seemed to come naturally from pregnancy and early parenthood (yay extra blood cells!), I might be even faster now.

But, I have time, so I'm not going to obsess over what was or what could have been. I'm pretty damned proud of myself. And if you've gone through any fitness transformation - no matter how large or small - you should be, too. It can be very easy to sit around, regretting not making certain decisions or changes sooner, but you can't see what's in store for you if you're only ever looking in the rear view mirror.

Head up. Eyes forward. Just. Keep. Pushing.

If you could take a trip back to the past, what age would you visit yourself at, and what would you tell yourself?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Are We There Yet? Half-way, At Least??

June and the beginning of July can be a bit of a whirlwind for many parents. School has just let out, so schedules have to get shifted and shuffled to accommodate child care needs. There's day camps, pool trips, and of course, vacations, because what parent wants to ruin their child's life by not giving them a cool vacation to brag about come September? While I don't have to worry about all this stuff just yet, my own work schedule and travels in the past month have left me a little wiped out, so I can begin to empathize with parents who not only have more children, but kids who are older and not easily appeased by Dora and Goldfish.

Fortunately, after the 4th, though, there seems to be a bit of a wind down. The advertising wizards of every major clothing retailer begin reminding us mid-month that the hot days and "Moooooom, I'm booooooored!"'s will soon give way to milder weather and a quiet house between 8:00AM and 3:00PM.

In 40 more days.

For me, I've had my girl at my side - except for her vacations up to the grandparents' house - since the beginning. While I'm used to multitasking, this summer I've noticed a decline in my productivity. I'm barely keeping up with vacuuming and dishes, and forget about getting clothing out of the baskets. If it's dirty, it's in a basket. Clean? In a basket. Personally, it's been a good day as long as I've worked out and remembered to move three dishes from the sink to the dishwasher. Maybe I'll wash a dirty pot or baking sheet. I might go crazy and dust a shelf.

It's clean enough, if you ask me!

Now, I'm looking at my calendar and realizing that if I am to begin training for my late October marathon, I need to get back on a regular running schedule... oh, next week. To reach my goal (3:30 or faster), I need to actually do some real running, too. I've skated by on 2-3 runs a week and doing everything else on the bike. This go around, I want to see if I can actually run like a real, live runner.With my 10K PR, I feel like I want to capitalize on whatever running gains I've miraculously accomplished by actually trying to train and not just hopping on a treadmill once every few weeks to sprint along to a Foo Fighters album.

We've gotten through a month of trips and festivities, now we have to get through this job change and soon, the start of preschool. I feel like all running plans should have a sub-schedule for parents! But at the very least, I'll be even better prepared when my girl's in school and I not only have to balance my running plans with my own responsibilities, but her life and activities too.

Most importantly, as my daughter gets older and sees the many hats that mommy wears, I hope she'll strive to be active, but also know when to let things go at the end of the day. If we learn nothing else from summer vacations, it should be that we can't possibly get everything done. Ever. And it's OK if we don't even pretend to want to try ;)

Funny Workplace Ecard: I can't wait to start blaming my normal lack of productivity on it being summertime.

How are you surviving summer, so far?

If you have kids, are they home or at day camp?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Peachtree Road Race Report

At the risk of sounding like one of those runners, I have to admit that I didn't really go into today too worried about what my 10K performance was going to be. I didn't care if I PR'd, but I knew I'd run a respectable time because one of my usual routes is a hilly 6.5 on many of the same roads of the course. But I have to say that the race still isn't exactly a cakewalk, either!

For starters, it was warm. Not too warm. But it was muggy. Very muggy. My shirt was sticking to the back after just a few minutes of warming up.

Also, there are a lot of people. 57,754 finishers, to be exact. You can run your heart out on a daily basis but unless you ask your buddies on a training run to sandwich you in between their shoulders, step on your heels, and cut you off only to stop short before peeling off to a water station, nothing can really prepare you for race day conditions. I think that's part of the excitement and fun. Or torture, depending on how claustrophobic you are.

The morning started off peaceful enough. I work just blocks from the start line so I was able to sneak into the garage before they started road closures and hang out on the patio with my coffee and Clif "Z" bar while checking all the Twitter and FB updates for the race. While I did not shut my brain off in time to get more than 4 hours of sleep, I felt good having just been able to relax before the start.

Around 6:30AM I started to do a brisk walk toward the start area, where you could see runners filing in from both directions, depending on which transit station they got off at to get to the start. The funny thing about mass transit in a city that loves its cars is that you're surrounded by people who are suddenly foreigners in their own city. Everyone is turning around and doubling back to make sure they're going the right way, even though they've been there before.

A welcome site: hundreds of port-a-johns lining the road on the approach to the corrals. Very little wait and plenty of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Nothing, and I repeat nothing is worse than when you have to do your business before a race and you can't clean up properly. Nothing.

By 7:00 it was time for the first five corrals to line up and get ready for the 7:30 start. You could spot plenty of pros, but many nervous faces. Something I strangely enjoy is the nervous shifting back and forth, jumping up and down, and retying of the sneakers that we all seem to do before the gun goes off. Some of us are unified in excitement. Others, in terror.

I held my camera up over my head to get this shot. The boys behind me look thrilled.

Toward the front of the massive crowd in corral A (first of the "regular" corrals behind the seeded and subseeded runners), we stood beneath the massive flag they fly over the starting line every year. Even for someone like me, who isn't exactly the most enthusiastic patriot, I can't help but feel a strong love and appreciation for our country. Politics aside, there we were, tens of thousands of us, just looking forward to a run. We had mp3 players, sweat-wicking gear and cool sunglasses. Some of the runners were in costume. We all had something to look forward to, from the finish line and beyond. None of us have to worry about war or famine or washing and wearing just one outfit day after day after day. We are SO, SO lucky.

With that exact thought in my head, the flags went down and we were off. Bumping and nudging, hopping and darting around each other so we could each find a space to settle into our stride. It took me at least a mile, I want to say, to hit my mark and feel like I was holding my pace comfortably without stepping on someone or having another runner breathing down my neck.

The course had it's usual fun and obstacles. Depending on whether you wanted to have someone throw T-shirts, confetti or Lord knows what else on you, you had to position yourself strategically. I am not one who does this race for the freebies, so I tried to stay more toward the middle, but I still almost got trampled when I had to stop short for something like ten people cutting me off to grab t-shirts and dinner coupons!

One thing I had forgotten about this race was the fake finish line. That's right. This is a shot of runners along the last stretch of the race, about to get their photo snapped at what looks like the end, but is really about 500 yards from the actual finish. You can't really see from this picture, but they are just ecstatic about this. So was I. Hopefully, my true emotions won't actually be reflected in my race photos :-D

When I finally reached the REAL finish line, I did my best to keep moving to get around people who stopped dead in their tracks, visibly wrestling with the pros and cons of throwing up on the street as their stomachs began to heave. Not the most attractive visual of the conclusion of a race, but that's what it was. It was climbing up into the 80's with 1billion% humidity. Here are some nice post-race shots, however, away from all the vomiting.

The Finishers Field
No blood, but definitely sweat, which brought on some tears.
 I made my way quickly to the water tables and then off to the side to fumble with my belongings, trying not to drop things from my dripping fingers as sweat began to sting my eyes and blur my vision. I dropped a Nuun tab in my bottle and chugged it in about 32 seconds. I then retrieved the coveted race T-shirt, a simple, cotton T but with a design created by a local artist and then voted on by the runners. It's as big of a badge of honor as any race medal.

Following the race, getting back to wherever you start is always tricky. Peachtree Rd. remains blocked for several hours as the last runners finish and then cleanup commences. Most people follow the course back to the nearest train station, which allows for a more amusing glimpse of what we might have missed while running.

The sign behind the stage reads "Fur Bus". I did not stop to ask why. I love that the couple in front is about to make out and likely drunk at 9 in the morning.
The whole time, I had a vague idea of my time and pace, but didn't fret much over finding out how I did, since I already suspected I ran better than last year. My stopwatch didn't start even though I thought I hit the button, and I knew my chip time was close to the clock time, which I was happy enough with. Having started my day with just the Clif bar plus a handful of Cheerios, my thoughts shifted to other priorities.

Fortunately, the hubby thought I ran hard enough, regardless of time, to warrant treats for both of us.

Poor kid was forced to eat pizza, too. Just because Mommy ran - it's a rough life.

While stuffing my face I could no longer resist the urge to check online to see if official race times had been posted. Upon finally viewing my chip time, you bet I poured myself a little bit more of that beer.

7:16min/mile pace? What???

Time to start training to try to get into the sub-seeded group!

Hope you all have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday Night Spin - Happy Fourth!

Before we get to the new playlist, some mundane details about my life :)

This weekend, the regret of having bought a mattress online without actually trying it - a problem that has amounted to about 6 months of poor sleep - finally caught up with my husband in the form of me completely refusing to allow him to spoon with me. We had gone to the biggest moneypit ever Ikea the previous week to test out some new beds, but with the intention of waiting to see how we weathered a few months of preschool before making a purchase. Yet come Sunday, the hubby decided to work his way out of the doghouse and give me a new mattress to sleep on that very night:
SULTAN HULTSVIK Memory foam pillowtop mattress IKEA
easier to sleep on than it is to pronounce

It's a good thing I sometimes live in blissful ignorance of the state of our bank account, as it turns out we were better able than I had thought to spring for the new mattress. Get it? Spring? Oh.... sorry, couldn't resist. I'm really glad we/he went for it, even if I wasn't sure we should spend the money. Sleep is so important. I've been reading a lot of articles about it lately, like this one from the Huffington Post. While I sometimes joke that I pride myself on my ability to go on 5 hours of sleep, several nights in a row, it's really nothing to brag about.

Today I started of pretty well-rested and well-fed. I had my usual bowl of cereal with Silk Vanilla Almond, but I've been working on shrinking the amount of cereal and increasing the amount of fruit on my plate. I think this is easier in the summertime, when ripe, juicy, too-sweet-to-be-good-for-you fruit is in abundance just about everywhere.

I needed to make sure we both started off on full tummies because I hate when we set out on our morning trips only to wind up starving and eating cookies or froyo by 11:00AM. While I did have to cave and let her have samples at Whole Foods as we were there looking for MSM and chia seeds*, I managed to tame the beasts in both of our bellies to get us home to eat the food in our fridge.

*I've been reading a lot of bloggers proclaiming the benefits of chia and decided that for $13, I'd grab a bag of it and start throwing handfuls of the stuff on my cereal and in my yogurt to see what all the fuss is about. Of course, I don't really pay attention to my mental or physical state other than to double-check that my eyes are open and I have a pulse, so we'll see.

From the best web know-it-alls ever, wikipedia:
In a one-ounce (28 g) sample, dried chia seeds contain 9% of the Daily Value for protein (4g), 13% fat (9g) (57% of which is ALA) [<- that's alpha linolenic acid, or "good" fat] and 42% dietary fiber (11g), based on a daily intake of 2000 calories. The seeds also contain the essential minerals phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium and sodium in amounts comparable to other edible seeds, such as flax or sesame.
I'm thinking chia seeds in conjunction with the MSM and base-chain proteins I already take for muscle and joint maintenance and repair, I should be more than good to go as I get ready to start on my fall marathon training cycle.

Do you do the chia?

Switching gears now - HA! Gears! I'm on a roll today... how about some spinning music? had a bunch of new music for $.25/single so I figured it was time to load up on some fresh songs. All of my playlists from June through September definitely keep with a summer theme, but this one I made a little more party-worthy with the Fourth of July in mind. I couldn't find any sufficiently rockin' patriotic songs, though. I considered Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" but it doesn't lend itself very well to any cycling drill, really. Maybe I'll just keep it for my own listening pleasure.

Blister in the Sun - 4th of July Mix

1. "The Sound of Sunshine" Micheal Franti - Warm up, flat road, alternate lead legs.
2. "Party Rock Anthem" LMFAO - Add a gear, do some moderate spin-ups on the chorus, going up about 10 rpm from your warm-up pace on each run.
3. "Sweet Emotion" Aerosmith - Add another gear and start your first hill in the seat. About a minute in, add another gear and take it up to position 3, keeping a strong cadence. Alternate 1 min. aggressive climb with 30s. seated recovery.
4. "Beverly Hills" Weezer - One more gear, getting to that "pedaling in the mud" point. Sit and climb on the verse, take it up to 3 and try to pick it up on the chorus.
5. "Block Rockin' Beats" Chemical Brother - Flat road, recover 30s. Take it back up to a moderate pace (75% effort) for 30s. then gradually add a hair of resistance back in every 10s until you reach the max you can maintain your cadence at. Hold it there for 1 min. Recover + repeat.
6. "Wild Ones" Flo Rida feat. Sia - Sustained run, light resistance (1-2 gears up from your flat road) to start. First run from the start through the 1st verse, recover on the chorus. Add a gear and do the second run in position 3.
7. "Sunshine" Matisyahu - Jumps at light resistance: 45s on each count, 8/4/2, cycling through twice. Try 1-counts at the end if you're feeling extra jumpy :)
8. "We Are Young" Fun. feat. Janelle Monae - Add resistance to start at medium resistance or higher. Add another gear every min. of the song, or until you're fighting to keep going at 60rpm, or until you reach your max resistance you can pedal smoothly at. Stand if you wish.
9. "Blister in the Sun" Violent Femmes - Flat road flush out. Recover!
10. "Mercy" Duffy - Add 3-4 gears, keeping a relatively easy cadence. Before each chorus transition to position 3, then slide your rear back over your saddle to "hover", focusing on using those hamstrings to draw your knees up toward your chest.
11. "Uprising" Muse - Last aggressive climb. Keep your resistance where it's at to start. Add a gear and climb in position 3 on the chorus, picking it up any amount that you can. Take it off when you sit for the verse. Add 2 gears for the 2nd chorus, 3 for the 3rd, etc. Even if you can't pick up the pace, don't slow down!
12. "Bright Lights" Matchbox 20 - Take it back to medium resistance as we start our down climb. Start in position 3, then take a gear off and pick up the pace in the seat for each chorus until back at a flat road. Spin it out to the finish!
13. "Starlight" Muse - Cool down
14. "I'm Yours" Jason Mraz - Stretch

Happy 4th to everyone! Hope you get in some good races, runs and/or rides!