Friday, June 26, 2015

To Sum It Up

Not gonna lie, I was gonna blow things off over here today. On top of being totally spent from the week (and having tired-hangover from last weekend's work related shenanigans) I somehow managed to get something in my eye which became infected and now the whole damn thing is swollen, puffed up, and achy. Seeing hurts. It's ridiculous. Despite said eye-puff, I still got up and finished up the total body workout required to complete week 4 of BBG. I took my phase 1 progress pics (begrudgingly) and wouldn't-you-know-it? there's been some progress.

Right, so anyhow. I haven't watched enough videos or ads recently to hit one out of the park on Friday Feature, so I was going to skip it. Quality, not quantity, right? Well, except if it involves a survey. Then quantity, quantity, quantity! Hungry Runner Girl posted this runner survey today, so I hopped on board and am paying it forward to you. Pick one and share in the comments, please!

1.  Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail? Beach path.
2.  If you could choose the flavor of gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be? Orange or red (fruit punch). NEVER GONNA HAPPEN. Why is it always lemon lime?!
3.  If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it? A new sports bra, unfortunately. I hate spending money on them! I just read on Carrots N Cake that sports bras should never celebrate a birthday though, so it's time for a few new ones.
4.  Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run? Either. I do well with a plan, but right now between training cycles, I just see what I feel like and what I have time for.
5.  Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill? Start downhill, finish uphill.
6.  When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do? Yoga, though right now I'm all BBG all the time.
7.  What is your preference—>  Out and back, point to point or loop runs? Loop, though I run a lot of "lollipops" -- out and backs with a loop on top.
8.  If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be a—> Good pair of shoes for you and patience. Too many people start too aggressive, wear the wrong shoes, or give up too early saying their knees can't handle it, they aren't built to run, or simply, that they can't. 
9.  Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs? Deer. Wild, wild deer.
10.  Ever gotten lost while out on a run? Only once, I think, and "lost" was like... took a wrong turn in a neighborhood and wasn't sure where I'd pop out. Nothing too distressing.
11.  If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days… what would that meal be? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Ruffles potato chips. 
12.  Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often? Shorts.
13.  At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go? Usually after a mile or so, but on a long run I usually feel like I'm clicked in and ready to go the long haul by mile 7. It's a different gear.
14.  What do you do with your key when you run? I usually run from home and don't need it. If I drive somewhere, I lock it in my car and use my OnStar app to unlock the car when I get back. That discovery was a revelation.
15.  If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be? Reach the Beach -- so. much. fun.
16.  What type of run is your least favorite type of run? 800s on the track.
17.  What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to get your run on? I haven't needed much lately... I've really wanted to get out.
18.  When you go for a run, do you leave right from your front door or do you drive somewhere to start? Almost always right from the front door, especially since having the baby. It's just easier.
19.  When running in daylight—>  are sunglasses a must or an annoyance? A must! Love my free purple glasses!
20.  When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting? Usually I'm too far from home to quit ;)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Short & Intense versus Long & Lax

A couple years ago, I bought a Jillian Michaels DVD at Target: 30-Day Shred. A friend had recommended it to a running group as a good cross-training workout and I was game to check it out. Holy hell, was it hard. My heart was racing, I was sweating buckets, and short of breath within minutes. I just need a quick break, I remember thinking. Jillian Michaels barked back, reading my mind, If you want to get fit in 30 days, you have to work hard for every second of the workout.

Oh. Right.

It's a funny shift from my usual workouts, which are generally comprised of long, slow runs. I used to joke about marathons and my long run pace, that I didn't like to make myself uncomfortable. Run for four or four and a half hours? Sure, as long as I didn't have to run fast. 800s on the track are, for me, sheer torture. Let me plod and I'll plod a helluva long time.

I've thought about the former Biggest Loser trainer's tough love over and over again in the last four weeks as I bust out circuit workouts for the Bikini Body Guide. And by "bust out" I still mean heart racing, sweating buckets, short of breath as I mention thanks to Ms. Michaels up top. Monday I must have done nearly two hundred lunges and definitely spent a good portion of my 28-minute workout jumping, or skipping if you count the kind with a jump rope. If you want the short workout, you better push hard. This morning, for the abs and arms circuit, it was pushing through straight-leg jack knifes and every push-up variety imaginable. It was praying the next set was bent-leg sit-ups or tricep dips and not more of those godforsaken mountain climber push-ups. It was hard -- really hard, actually -- but then it was over. And quickly.

Suffice it to say, I'm loving Kayla Itsines and her damn Bikini Body Guide. One more circuit workout (Full body. Good lord.) and I'll have completed four weeks. I'll also be due to take a progress pic selfie, which will definitely make me want to cry until I realize my jeans feel looser and my arms might be getting just a tiny bit toned. But I'll think about crying.

P.S. Remember when I lamented the fact that I was signing up for a fitness program called Bikini Body Guide? Turns out I was on to something because in a recent interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, Kayla is quoted as saying, If there's one thing I regret, it's calling my guides 'Bikini Body.' I hear you, girl. I hear you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Not so deep thoughts from an early morning run.

My alarm went off at 5:05 this morning, which felt kind of cruel after going to bed at 10:30 and being up for a while in the middle of the night with the baby, who is either teething, ear-infected, or voraciously hungry this week. I've been doing the five am thing more or less daily and while I'd probably wake within minutes anyhow, the alarm is kind of brutal. Regardless of the actual volume, it feels oh-my-god-so-loud. Still, I jumped out of bed almost immediately, willing myself to get a move on before I desperately tap for snooze and roll over.


In what has to be a personal record, I was washed up, eyes-in, dressed, and out the door in a matter of ten minutes. I also rocked the brand new Brooks Run Happy tank my sister gifted me for my birthday, which was kind of fun. I'm not sure why I never just bought it myself, but I've wanted one for ages. New gear always makes exercising easier, don't you think?


The weather was really nice again this morning -- I've been lucking out like crazy -- even if it was a little too humid to call it perfect. The sky was really pretty, too, with lots of bright spots and dark clouds and an almost textured look painted across the horizon. I stopped here and there to try and capture it, but eventually gave up and got on with my run, knowing my time was short.


Yesterday was BBG leg and cardio day, so 24-hours after that leg quivering workout, I was still a bit fatigued. Since I'm still not pushing into NYCM training for another few weeks (though fast approaching... wowza!), I wasn't hung up on pace much, and pushed only a little. My first mile was 8:37 and my second, 8:13. The second mile surge is something that continues to confound me, since most of it is uphill. Each time I hear my split shave time from the first, I'm incredulous, but pumped. Surely it relates to being a bit more warmed up, but with a pretty sturdy climb following a long, slow drop, it's definitely a thrill.


This route is really nothing to write home about, aside from it being so well traversed by several generations of Kinvaras that I can detect my mileage to the step. I thought this morning about more beautiful routes, or oceanside jaunts, thinking how the sky must be even more spectacular floating over something other than highway or neighborhood or Dunkin' Donuts, but that I'm lucky to have an easy, nearby route where I'm comfortable and safe most any hour of the day. Mile three felt fine at 8:09 and mile four kicked my suddenly-very-tired butt, still registering at only 8:23.

My peace of mind, of course, was that there was only one more to go -- back uphill, of course, but brief none the less. As I cranked out the last of my seemingly endless lunges and squats yesterday, with seven minutes to go, I reminded myself that during a marathon, or even a half marathon, I'd generally kill for only seven more minutes. To the end of the road and back, I'd tell myself on the race course. You can do anything for seven minutes, I reminded myself yesterday. It occurred to me again this morning, tired and climbing towards home.


The positive thinking and reminding myself to be tough paid off, as I arrived back at my driveway, five miles complete and another 8:09 mile in the bag. Not bad for a push, but don't push too hard kind of morning. Five miles, 41:34, 8:18 pace.

Monday, June 22, 2015

24: a day in the life with a (nearly) 9-month old

Hi, my name is Jillian. I used to write here a few days a week. Remember?

Woah... time sort of got away from me there for a minute. I'm emerging from two weeks of mayhem on the job, so while all is well in the wellness category, time has been at a premium, and I found myself constantly running behind with a long list of to-do's to be done. Sunday -- Father's Day -- we rested, and it was glorious.

And similar to the blink-and-you-missed-it couple of weeks I've been having, I haven't posted a day in the life since FEBRUARY, when the H-man was 20-weeks old. My goodness, how he has changed. I spent some time glancing at the clock (let's be real: my iPhone) and taking notes last Tuesday (see! good intentions!) and while the day was different than our norm, it's definitely indicative of the way Nik and I juggle work responsibilities, home life, and our commutes on a daily basis.

5:05 AM: Alarm, about 10 seconds later I hear H whimper. He's still asleep but Nik gets him and brings him to bed for morning snuggles. I get up and dress to run. It's a real life struggle to actually make the choice to go if I hear Henry wake up.

5:20 AM: Out the door into the super foggy morning. It's damp and cool, actually really comfortable. Run an easy 3.5. Love every second. Home by 6:00. 


6:00 AM: Pump real quick! TMI, I know. Super fast shower so Nik can get ready and out the door on time. 

6:10 AM: Nurse the babe and watch the news. Catch up on email. Snuggle. H is extra snuggly and less figgity than usual, which I am loving. Henry plays on the bed and crawls around the room on the floor while I get ready for work. Nik leaves by 6:30 or 6:40 after getting H dressed for school and all sunscreened up. I love how much time he spends outside at daycare. 

Once I'm dressed, and usually running at least five minutes behind, we go downstairs to pack breakfast and lunch and get out the door. Henry plays in his bouncer and bangs blocks together while I pack his lunch box. Snap a quick photo and video of H playing a Coke bottle on the dining room table, throw a splash of milk into the tea Nik made me and out the door.


7:25 AM: Daycare drop off (and hang out). I can't get out of there in less than 10 minutes. 5 months into daycare and it's still hard to leave the little man!

8:05 AM: Like I said, already running five minutes late. Arrive at the office and go directly to the caf for the largest tea available and a banana. 

8:10 AM: Pop some oatmeal in the microwave and top it with banana and chopped strawberries. My sister was right... they are so sweet this week!

Work and meetings straight through until lunch, including my annual review. Eek! With a major fundraiser on Saturday, I'm flat out on details. [Editor's Note: I survived] My highlight of the morning though, is fielding a "do not mail" call. We chat a bit and when I confirm I'll remove the caller from our list, she sighs and says, "oh, but you do sound so nice!"

12:05 PM: Run downstairs to pump and work on a quick blog update. Ugh. Still hate it.


12:30 PM: Back at my desk. I'm starving! Working lunch.  

3:55 PM: Oh my god, already?! Head downstairs to the chapel for mass. 

4:15 PM: Six months ago I was invited to a mass and dinner to be held June 16, honoring two priests in my office that I really, really like. The mass was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their ordination. I knew it would be during a busy week, but also knew I'd make it work. Fast forward: it was way busier than expected, and therefore, even nicer to make time for this special mass. 

These two priests met at what was essentially an information meeting at the seminary. They have been best friends ever since. Each had a chance to speak about what the occasion and their friendship has meant during their priesthood and truly, I don't think there was a dry eye in the house chapel. It was incredibly powerful and a beautiful tribute to the power and importance old friends.

The more outgoing of the pair spoke of great travels, good laughs, and the number of pizzas they've consumed over a quarter century. The more reserved painted a scene that showed the two priests kneeling bedside praying as one's father passed away, and later, the best friend's parents standing in for his own at another special occasion. It was absolutely the pause and reflection I needed in the heart of an otherwise muddled and rushed week; a reminder of the moments that matter most.

5:30 PM: Despite good intentions (I know. I knowww.) I really couldn't swing a late night with dinner after mass, but I was able to find a colleague to use my seat, and squeeze in a little while at the reception. A few, nice minutes of social time with my co-workers.

6:18 PM: On the road. 

6:20 PM: Only then... traffic stopped. At first I just thought it was crazy cross-town traffic, but unfortunately there had been a terrible accident and the road was closed due to a flipped Jeep. Prayers, prayers, prayers. It looked awful.

6:38 PM: Arrive at Stop & Shop to pick up my Peapod order, aka the best discovery of all time. Thanks Jen Skala. Damn, all out of pears

6:40 PM: Back on the road. Two minutes. I know. It's incredible and costs all of $2.95.

6:46 PM: HOME! I feed H right away and then he's all smiles. I pretend to smell his toes, making faces, and he cannot hold it together. I love having someone think I'm hilarious. H, Nik and I sit around and crack up. 

7:35 PM: Up to bed for baby's bedtime. Three books, two songs, one story, and our bedtime prayer. 

7:51 PM: He's down. Fussing, but exhausted. Will see how this goes... 

7:56 PM: Nik goes up for a pep talk. Round two. *ding!*

8:04 PM: He's out. 

8:35-8:54 PM: Clean bottles, re-pack bottles, pack H's lunch and mine. (Editor's Note: more on this routine later this week) Tidy up. Sort of. Head upstairs and give now-sleeping H another goodnight kiss. 


9:00-10:00 PM: In-bed periwinkle manicure and research for a European summer vacation. No decisions, but lots of daydreaming and wanderlust. 


10:28 PM: OMG! 10:28?! Bedtime!

What time do you go to bed and get up in the morning? What color are your fingers or toes painted right now? (A few days later and my fingers are already bare, but I'm still wearing coral on my toes.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Race Recap: Newport 10-Miler

*Whoops, edited to include my splits!*

Despite swearing I wasn't going to race again until fall after the New Jersey Half Marathon in April, I caved and couldn't resist registering for the Newport 10-Miler, which I had had my eye on for months! The photos on Facebook were stunning and Newport is one of my very favorite places (plus, the place where I was born!), so finally, in early May I signed up and brought my sister and her boyfriend fiance (yay!) Chris along with me.

I packed a backpack before going to bed Saturday night, reminding myself that the only thing I really needed to complete the race was my shoes and socks. I threw a bunch of other stuff in there and hit the sack. It was a pretty good night -- Henry woke up around 11 and needed some settling -- but for the most part I slept pretty well until my alarm at 4:45. Waking up, I realized I really didn't have anything handy for breakfast (Henry has been eating all of our bananas like a champ!) so I poured a water bottle and hit the road, hoping to swing by Dunkin Donuts en route to Rhode Island. As a wrench in those plans, I slept pretty much the entire drive, so ended up at Fort Adams a bit hungrier than I would have liked, pre-race.


We arrived at Fort Adams with about 40 minutes until the start, which was plenty of time to collect our numbers, drop gear at the car and get through the actually pretty fast moving porta-potty line. Luckily, there were KIND bars in our race bags, so a coconut and almond bar replaced the bagel and large tea I was really craving, but did the trick to get me started. THEN, at the start line I realized I left my Gu in the car, so Caitlyn graciously shared a few Chomps with me -- ever the accommodating middle sibling. So much for only needing shoes and socks! Finally, after a few selfies, we were on our way. 



The first mile was crowded! I had no idea what pace we were going but it felt slow and pretty jammed up. I've never gotten this way before that I can remember, but I was actually a little irritable. Still, it was good to hold back a bit as a warm up, I guess. 

By mile two, things shook out a bit and I was able to start carving out a little room for myself without tripping over other runners. I took it a little too fast, though, freaked out by the slower first mile. When we emerged onto Ocean Drive, there may as well have been an audible gasp. The ocean and sun looked completely gorgeous and I thought for the first time how lucky I was to be out running on such a beautiful course. It was a thought that played on repeat throughout the race. 


Mile three clicked in again sub-8:00 and with it the very predictable thought: gosh, do you think you could actually run 10 miles sub-eight?! Not this weekend, but HEY, new goal, I'm coming for you

Mile 1 - 8:57
Mile 2 - 7:48
Mile 3 - 7:54

The course thinned out really nicely and I ran the rest of the race with more or less the same little crowd. The girl in the blue tank, the guy in the Sox hat, the mama with a gorgeous French braid (I saw her stop to kiss her kiddos), and the guy in the bright blue shirt. These were my people. 

Along the way there were some little pockets of spectators too. Not a "well supported" course, per se, but it had a nice small town vibe. And did I mention the views?


 As we approached mile four or five, a road sign buoyed our spirits and garnered some laughs: Slow Down! In hindsight, I guess I listened. The whole course was rolling, not with any real doozy hills, but pretty much constant and enough that you noticed. If I didn't run hills regularly, I will have felt them much more. Despite pretty solid inclines at mile five and again at mile seven, I never found myself looking ahead at them and groaning or dreading them. Up and over!

Mile 4 - 8:11
Mile 5 - 8:11
Mile 6 - 8:26

If I'm remembering correctly, we turned off Ocean Drive and onto Bellevue Avenue around mile six. Bellevue was nice and shaded and lined on either side by gorgeous mansions that helped pass the time nicely. I gawked quite a bit. Then, when I hit mile seven, to avoid dialing back from being tired, I worked on reeling people in and passing them as best I could. It worked here and there, and my little posse rolled together, picking people off one by one, but never really shaking one another.


By the time I saw the street signs noting that Fort Adams was straight ahead, I was pretty ready. I knew we had one more mile to go once we were on the Fort's grounds, so I felt like I had a pretty good sense of the course and my pacing. I had slowed up a bit in the last couple of miles, but knew I would turn it on with a mile to go.

Mile 7 - 8:20
Mile 8 - 8:18
Mile 9 - 7:59


Sure enough, when we hit the mile nine mark, I chugged along (after taking a photo-on-the-go of Optis getting ready to sail -- that's what I used to sail as a kid) and charged for the finish. I alllllmost picked off blue tank girl, but she got me at the end. Nothing kills me quite like getting passed at the finish, but then again, we can only prepare and push ourselves, right? As Meb says, we don't have any control over anyone else's preparation. We can only control how we show up at the start.

Mile 10 - 7:22


So, I crossed the finish line and stopped my app and was pumped to have run 1:21:25 -- 8:09 pace! Only then I went to check the posted results and I was posted at 1:22:25. WEIRD. It's the silliest thing to be sore about an 8:14 instead of an 8:09, but I have to be honest... I kind of am. Where did that minute go?! I'm mystified.

10 miles, 1:22:25, 8:14 pace. ALSO: 19th of 242 in my age group and 111th female of 1521. Top 7% in both, which were pretty awesome numbers in my book. This race might just become a tradition. A beautiful course, lots of waterfront options for celebratory beverages after. Win-win.