My Breakfast and Yoga Morning Routine

Even though my morning routine varies a tiny bit with the seasons, the elements of it are always the same.  Breakfast, yoga and some deep breathing help each day get off to a positive start morning routinebefore I have a chance to get off track.

I can’t remember the last time I was woken up by an alarm and am usually up 10-15 minutes before it would go off.  That doesn’t mean, however, I get out of my nice warm bed.  I’ll stay cozy while planning the day and deciding how to complete the day’s check list.  A quick check of my phone lets me know my early morning hasn’t cancelled and I must go on.  After resigning myself to the fact that I can’t stay in bed all day, it’s off to the bathroom.  Usual business and a cold splash of water to the face make sure I’m actually awake.

Since the majority of my work and workout wardrobe is black, I rarely turn on the bedrooms lights to dress.  Ambient light from the half drawn blinds is enough to make sure I match.  Then it’s downstairs to feed both the dog and myself.  Dog food in bowl, my Cheerios in a bowl and by the time I’ve grabbed a spoon Jordy is ready to go outside.  I eat while he does his dog thing out there then return my dirty dish to the kitchen.  Now it’s time to get moving.

I take a deep breath, reach into mountain pose and start my 5-10 minutes of yoga.  It’s at least five but ideally closer to 10.  If there’s a big north  or west wind, I know I have to leave a bit earlier to bike to work.  During my practice I’ll repeat positive mantras and visualize what I’m going to accomplish that day.  At this point my mind is focused and my body is ready to work.  I officially check my email/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram for the first time, hop on my bike and start the day.  The only time this varies is when I have a chance to take my yoga to the beach and bike first.

Why do I stick so steadfastly to this morning routine?  It’s made a big difference.  Clearing my mind and moving my body before I let any distraction in has made me more prepared for sitting at my desk, hitting the gym for a client or tackling a workout.  My focus is better, my attitude is positive and I’m ready for whatever comes my way.  Even heading out for those 20+ mile runs in sub-zero temperatures wasn’t so bad.

Meredith

Do you have a morning routine?  What does it include?

Shamrock 8k PR + Down Time

Saturday I ran my first 8k in three years.  Five days post marathon the Shamrock 8k might not have been the best idea I ever had but I hit a new PR and had some fun.  For the second week in shamrock 8ka row the ugly weather forecast held off.  Predicted rain didn’t hit until after the race and I was lucky enough to stay dry the entire day.

Weather aside, the Shamrock 8k is a simple, flat and fast course that presents a great opportunity push yourself.  This year it was home to the USATF Master’s 8k Championship.  I started in Corral 1 surrounded by masters athletes and speedy high school runners.  The first half mile was a little traffic filled and I definitely got swept up in the pace.

My legs felt OK heading into the race but after about 2k they let me know it was too soon.  My pace decreased in spite of the tailwind and I was OK with that.  I was well on my way to crushing my old 8k best even if slowed down a bit.  I crossed the finish line in 35:48, beating my old PR by over 90 seconds.  Five days post marathon I was more than happy with it.  I collected my medal, a new kooize, a banana and a few snacks before heading into the always wonderful Shamrock Party Tent.shamrock 8k

Now it’s time for a little R&R.  I say a little because I have Run the Bluegrass coming up in a few short days.  The race will check Kentucky off my 50 states list and be loads of fun but beyond that I have no expectations.  There are roughly 1,000 feet of elevation gain over the 13.1 mile course and it will be my first run over 6 miles since the marathon.

Meredith

Did you run the Shamrock 8k?  Do you like the 8k distance?

Plantain Chips + Marathon Recovery

Marathon recovery is moving along nicely and I’m all ready to race the Shamrock 8k tomorrow.  I wasn’t too sure how I’d be feeling about tomorrow’s race after hitting my marathon goal last Sunday.  The good news is a week of rest, yoga, body weight exercises and light running has me ready to go.  I’d like hit a new 8k PR since it’s been quite a while since I’ve raced at that distance but the weather doesn’t look too good.  Rain with some reasonable wind might hamper my efforts a bit.

No matter what happens at Shamrock, I’ve had my best training cycle yet this year, learned a lot and am in a great place to hit my goals for the rest of 2017.  I’m ready for a little post race down time then kicking things back up later in the spring.

Since I had a quiet workout week, I hit the kitchen to try something completely new.  Plantain chips!  I’m not too familiar with plantains but received some from a friend and figured it couldn’t hurt to play.  My first thought was plantain chips since they’re simple and probably hard to muck up.  This experimental recipe is a mash up of others for both banana chips and plantain chips but it turned out well.  I hope you enjoy it, too!plantain chips

Cinnamon Plantain Chips
Ingredients: 
1 plantain, peeled and sliced thinly. 
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil. 
1 teaspoon lemon juice. 
Cinnamon as desired.

Instructions:
Pre-heat oven to 350.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss plantain slices with coconut oil, lemon juice and cinnamon until coated.
Place evenly spaced plantain slices on lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes then flip over for 5-7 additional minutes until edges are browned.

Meredith

Do you like plantain chips?  Have a favorite plantain recipe?  Share it with me!

One City Marathon + What’s Next

The 2017 One City Marathon is in the books.  I had a solid run and was happy with the results in an official finish time of 3:29.19.

I came out of the gate fresh and ready to go.  Too fast.  I settled in around a 7:45 pace and kept telling myself to slow down.  I couldn’t.  A lovely runner named Jim had settled in right one city marathonalong with me and we chatted our way through the first 14.

After hitting the half in 1:41, I knew I had to slow down or I would be in big trouble.  Of course, I also had it in my head that it was race day, I had tapered well and didn’t actually know what I was capable of.  I walked through a water stop at 14 very easily in an attempt to bring slow my body down.  As you can see from the splits, it worked a little bit.

I still felt good downing an extra GU at 18.5.  The fast half was starting to catch up with me and caffeine was just what I needed.  Of course, I also needed water.  Unfortunately the water stop at 20 was all the way on the other side of the road.  Across four lanes on the outside of a turn.  Hitting it would have added even more to my already extra long marathon.  I skipped it feeling confident I could make it to the stop at 22.

I made it to 22 and grabbed a cup of water as I walked by.  More attention would have been a good idea at that moment because that cup was barely full.  I got maybe 2 ounces of water before continuing on.  Not more than five minutes later I started to pay for it as my calves locked up.  I gave them a stretch and tried to slow my run down to a jog.  My pace inevitably crept back up and my calves responded with hostility.  I skipped the next water stop at 24 knowing if I walked I would struggle to run again.  Powering through the last two miles was one city marathontough but I did it, crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.

I had run 26.39 miles in 3:29.19.  While not exactly the race I wanted to run, I learned a lot and will be much better prepared for my next 26.2.  If there is one.

Next up is the Shamrock 8k.  Only five days after this marathon I’m not sure what to expect but it’s been a long time since I’ve run an 8k and would love to see a PR.  I’ll also have to decide if I really want to run the Boston Marathon.  There are 51 weeks a year I’m not that into the idea but when marathon weekend kicks off, I always wish I was there.  I’ll have more on that later because right now my focus is rocking 5 miles this Saturday.

Meredith

Did you run the One City Marathon?  Have you ever qualified for Boston?

**For more of the nitty gritty like parking and hotels, check out my review on BibRave**

 

Marathon Weather Questions + The Plan

One City Marathon weekend is finally here.  With snow and heavy winds in the forecast early in the week, I spent most of it worrying more about whether the race would actually happen than my plan for running it.  I came up with contingency plans, looked for alternate weatherraces on the same day and tried to stay calm.  There is really nothing that can be done about the weather.  Luckily the forecast has turned around and the race is on! 

The weather based distraction was nice to keep me busy during my quiet week but now my legs need some work.  After my last workout Wednesday and two days of rest, I’m seriously looking forward to tomorrow’s three mile shake out jog.  My sanity will take anything.  As far as the marathon goes, I’m ready.

I’m itching to run.  My legs feel good and my plan is solid.  I trained all winter in the cold so the chilly race morning temperatures (feels like 18) will actually be just fine.  I know exactly what I’ll weatherwear and will definitely be avoiding the horrible blisters of last year.  I’ll run the first ten miles a hair slower than goal pace then pick things up when I feel like it.  Hydration stations every two miles will give me flexibility but keep me from getting thirsty.  Energy gels at the start, around 7, 14 and 20 miles will keep me fueled.  My best training cycle yet will keep my head on straight and I can’t wait to cross that finish line.

Meredith

What’s the worst weather you’ve run a marathon in?  Do you stress about forecasts?

Big Wish 5k Win + Marathon Week

It’s Marathon Week!  I’m ready to run and have had some solid workouts through my two week taper, including a great Big Wish 5k.  Currently the One City weather is looking less than ideal with temperatures in the high 30s, 20 mph winds and an 80% chance of 1-3 inches of snow.  Ugh.  I’m really hoping that changes as the forecast so often does around Hampton Roads and I’ll stay dry.  If not, oh well, there’s nothing I can do anyway.

My training is behind me.  It went extremely well and I feel 100% ready for race day after two weeks of taper.  I wrapped Taper Week 2 with a easy eight mile long run Friday then stepped the intensity up with the Big Wish 5k Saturday morning.  It was a brisk and breezy but sunnyBig Wish 5k morning.  My plan was to to keep my legs firing without taking too much off the table for this weekend’s marathon.  During my two mile warm-up I felt really good.  We went off right on time as I focused on not getting swept up with the fast starters.

I expected to run comfortably around half marathon pace (7:15/mile) but settled in faster.  The first mile ran by in 6:58.  Slow down, I told myself.  My legs and lungs both felt great as I made the u-turn at halfway.  Mile 2 registered as a 6:56.  Since I was feeling so good and picked it up a hair for Mile 3 in 6:45.  I crossed the finish line in 21:19 as first female.

I was bummed I hadn’t looked at the time on my watch after my warm up.  If I had, I would have known coming through those last few hundred meters I was only 5 seconds away from a new 5k PR.  A faster 5k is definitely in my near future and I look forward to seeing what I can do.

The rest of Marathon Week includes yesterday’s 12 x 400M, another short workout Wednesday and a 20 minute shake out Saturday.

Meredith

What does your Marathon Week look like?

Last Long Run, Race + Ready

My last long run before next week’s One City Marathon is in the can.  It was 8 miles of fun with 10k at marathon pace.  It felt short for a long run but refreshing at the same time.  I like to do my last one eight to ten days out from race day and opted for this morning for a few reasons.  One was that I didn’t want to push it to Sunday.  The second was that I didn’t want to tack it on to another workout. 

The third is that In my infinite wisdom I also opted run a 5k this weekend.  I’ll be ‘racing’ the Big Wish 5k Saturday morning with no goal other than something to keep the intensity up heading into marathon week.  It definitely won’t be a PR but that’s fine with me.  I’ve saving it for next weekend.  Plus, with all this tapering, it’ll be nice to get out there with some other runners for a little laughter.

I do have a a little worry sneaking in that with three pure rest days and one shake out day I might go a stir crazy next week.  Recently I’ve used my Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook to fill some last long runof my non-running hours with great success.  These Superhero Muffins are delicious!  I guess my next move is to put some extra reading time and maybe a nap or two on the schedule.

So other than worrying about going taper bonkers, I’m feeling ready.  My legs are itching for a longer workout and my brain is ready for some discomfort.  This has been a successful training cycle no matter what and I can’t complain.  I learned a lot, pushed myself to more miles than ever before and stayed injury free.  All I can ask for now is some really nice weather on race day.

Meredith

How long is your last long run before a marathon or half?  Does it ever change?

Fit Friday: Taper Madness

I thought I might be able to avoid it but I was wrong.  I’m barely a week into my One City Marathon taper and the lack of miles has done it.  Taper madness is here.  With 15 days to go, I feel ready to race though I know more time to let my body rest will only be a benefit.  Here are a few of my go-to taper madness ‘Do’s and Don’ts’.taper madness

DO
Start reading.
  Take all those non-running hours and grab a book.  Or a tablet or an e-reader.  Even if you’re not actually running, you can get your fill of running excitement from any number of books.  One of my favorites is Eat & Run, home to a great story and some tasty recipes.

Meditate.  Practice relaxing.  That hour you’d be running is the perfect time to meditate and visualize yourself yourself crossing that finish line.  Get all the details from who’s standing near the finish line to what it reads on clock then remember if you’re not starting in Corral 1 to adjust it for your expected finish, not the gun time!  Visualization can be incredibly powerful and the more you see it happening, the more likely it is.

Plan.  Study the course map to create a game plan for hydration, find out what food is on the course and decide if you’ll be packing your own.  Figure out what your pacing strategy is.  Then come up with a few alternatives because we all know nothing ever goes just as we planned it.  Learn how you’ll get to the start and home from the finish area.  What’s the deal with gear check?  Read the race’s FAQ page to help you develop a bulletproof plan for success on marathon day.

DON’T
Be a Weather Monster.  Yes, the weather is a big concern for a 26+ mile event when you’re out there for hours and hours.  No, you can’t do anything about it.  Checking it every hour for three weeks will just stress you out and that’s no good at all.  Get a ballpark idea of what the race location’s weather is typically like that time of year, use your plan and make an educated guess.  The truth is it’ll probably change anyway.taper madness

Change.  Whatever you’ve been doing for the last 13 weeks, keep doing it for the next three.  Your body is repairing, healing and getting ready.  If your taper madness boredom leads to happy hour, you’re wrecking those weeks of hard work with poor sleep and dehydrated muscles.  Stick with the diet, nutrition and sleep patterns that have successfully carried you through your training.

Get nervous.  Something always goes wrong but that’s OK.  You trained then you planned and you’re going to show up.  There’s only so much you can control so don’t worry about anything else.  Bad weather, misplaced water stations and potholes all happen but with a solid plan you’ll be just fine.  Trust your training and yourself.

Meredith

What are your favorite ways to tackle taper madness?

Taper Time + A Strong Finish

It’s here!  Taper time!  My final long long run is in the books and marathon day is less than three weeks away.  I’ll be sharing my race plan for the One City Marathon later but for right now I’m looking forward to a little time to heal up.

Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m far from injured.  It’s just the usual aches or hints of stiffness that sneak in after weeks of heavy mileages.  My left foot is a little grumpy for my first few steps every time I get up and some extra ab work has probably pushed them a little far.  Taper time is exactly what I need both physically and mentally.  I’m definitely ready to tackle 26.2 but need these three weeks to let my body get in the best position it can to help me succeed.taper time

I had a strong finish to my heavy training and will work to keep it going right through the finish line.  This week’s last long long run was 21 miles.  My goal was to run 8 easy miles, 10 at marathon pace and 3 more easy.  It didn’t go quite as planned.  It went better!  The easy 8 went off without a hitch and when I went to pick it up 15 seconds a mile, I couldn’t.  Instead of settling in at my goal marathon pace, 7:55, I found 7:45.  I was very comfortable there despite telling myself to slow down every ten seconds.

When one of my half mile splits around Mile 16 was 7:36 I thought I was done for.  I felt good but was waiting for things to turn south.  They never did!  I cruised through those 10 miles at a hair too fast a pace but had a strong finish and felt great.  Maybe my marathon pace isn’t 7:55 after all.  I’ve struggled to find it throughout training, instead finding a slightly faster or little bit slower pace more comfortable.

No matter what, it’s taper time and I have three weeks to nail down my pacing plan.  I can’t wait for race day to see what I can do.

Meredith

What do you do at taper time?  What if you’re running ‘too fast’ but feel good?

Fit Friday: Love Your Treadmill

I’m not sure why so many runners dread the treadmill.  More affectionately known as the dreadmill, this is one piece of equipment I can 100% get behind.  While it does have its downfalls, the treadmill is a great friend to a runner and I wish it didn’t get such a bad rap.  Even though I stare at a wall when I’m on mine, here are treadmillfour great reasons to give running in place a little more love.

It’s always there.  No matter what’s going on outside the treadmill is ready.  Whether you’re facing 30 mile an hour winds and sub freezing temps like I avoided this week or 100 degree days with 90% humidity, it’s ready to go.  Feeling less than motivated?  Walking across the room is much easier than dressing up to go outside.  In a rush?  Not waiting for satellites definitely saves time.

Steady does it.  Set the pace and go.  It won’t change unless you tell it to.  Unlike running outside where crossing streets or catching sight of a pretty bird can distract and slow us down, the treadmill keeps us clicking along.  It’s easy to come off pace when we leave it to ourselves.  Not the case on the old ‘mill.  Use this training tool to practice pacing and have more success on race day.

Variety.  The treadmill can handle just about anything you throw at it.  From a long run to speed work, the only limit is your imagination.  It’s especially useful for those of us who live in the flatlands and want to hit some hills.

Rock out.  There are lots of safety issues outside.  From traffic and cyclists to dogs and potholes, the great outdoors can get dodgy quick.  Running with music is iffy at best and depends heavily on your location.  At home?  Turn that jam up.  You won’t have to worry about anything crashing into you, getting bitten or tripping on a root.

Meredith

What kind of relationship do you have with the treadmill?