Monthly Archives: September 2013

Getting Crabby

It’s Race Week!  Heading into the Crawlin’ Crab 5K this Sunday, I’m not doing my usual Race Week Training and hoping the week’s workouts don’t leave me crabby on Race Day.  I rarely do a long run during Race Week, but I will be this time with a 105 minute long run on Wednesday.  I probably could get away with dropping the long run since I still have 3 more before Savannah, although I’m more inclined to drop one of my speed workouts later in the week if I think I need to.  I’m not going to worry about it today, and kicked off Race Week Three this afternoon.

Last week finished up with the Eagles getting massacred by Denver yesterday, and the loss didn’t leave me as crabby as it normally would have since it was expected.  Luckily, that poor performance by my football team didn’t rub off and I turned in a really good 30 minute tempo run this afternoon.  My legs were a little tired from yesterday’s 90 minute run, but I did a mile warm up before heading into my half hour of work and was ready to go.  The first ten minutes were easy at 10K pace, while the second ten minutes were a little tougher at 5K pace over the gentle hills of Mount Trashmore.  When I first increased my pace, my calves started to get a little crabby, but they did loosen up after about two minutes at the faster pace and I peaked around minute 18.  I very gradually decreased my pace back to 10K speed and finished with exactly four miles in the 30 minutes.

My legs being tired today has me a little concerned about doing a second long run in four days, especially during Race Week.  I’m going to stick with my plan and do a 105 minute run on Wednesday, but I might drop my 2 mile race pace on Friday to give myself two days of rest before I try to set a new 5K PR.  All in all, today was a good start to the week, and I’m all ready for tomorrow’s light strength training session.

Meredith

No Long Run Problem

I pushed my long run back to today because the wind and predicted rain were going to be a problem for me.  Well, it never rained and I missed out a perfectly breezy day to run for 90 minutes.  My surprise rest day was lovely, however, and my legs felt ready to work when I popped out of bed this morning.  While eating breakfast, I checked the weather to see it was going to be awesome and happened to notice, thank you ESPN, that a new World Record had been set by Wilson Kipsang in the marathon.  He put away 26.2 miles in 2:03:23.  Yup, time for me to get back to some serious work.  I know I’ll never be the same league as Olympic runners, but after figuring out how fast I would have to go to hit his 13.1 split (dream on, yeah right, faster), it’s pretty good motivation.

I was excited for my run this morning and getting lost in awe at the thought of running a sub 1:02:00 half, the first 30 minutes flew by.  My legs felt great, the weather was incredible and there were lots of other runners out there with me.  I ran the first mile and a half easy, then hit the 45 minute mark running at about ten seconds slower per mile than Philly Race Pace.  Stopping for some water and to retie my shoes, I was halfway through what so far was a problem free, great training run.  Working some small grades into today’s course didn’t phase my fresh legs and at one hour in, it looked like I was going to beat my distance goal.  Just as I was feeling wonderful, my left knee got a little tweaky when I was forced to run on a very banked sidewalk for roughly half a mile around minute 65, but that problem worked itself out when I landed back on flat(er) pavement.  Since I knew I would hit my goal even if I dropped off my current pace a little bit, and my knee was feeling better, I decided to try running a negative split, knowing that if it took too much out of me, it would simply be another learning experience.  I accelerated to 10K speed at minute 70 and finished the last 20 minutes of my run at a comfortable 10K pace.  Breathing easy as I ran through minute 90, I beat my distance goal by three tenths of a mile and felt incredible.  Finishing faster than I started, and doing so easily, made me realize I really am making progress and that maybe my goal of breaking 1:40:00 at the Shamrock in March isn’t as crazy as I thought.

Tomorrow kicks off Race Week 3 of the Fall 2013 Season and I’m excited for my first 5K road race in a long time.  Before the Crawlin’ Crab, I’m looking forward to another chance at this finish fast thing with a long run on Wednesday.

Now, it’s Sunday, and I’m off to watch some football.  Let’s Go Birds!

Meredith

It’s Windy

It was a little windy on the beach for Boot Camp this morning, and between the 17 mile an hour winds and forgetting there was a pair of races (8K and 5K) on my long run route this morning, I chose to push it to tomorrow.  The weather guessers are calling for rain this afternoon, and I really don’t feel like getting wet, so tomorrow is just fine with me.  It’s supposed to be windy again, but I’ll have to deal with it.  Pushing my run back to Sunday also means I’ll only have two days between this one and my next one on Wednesday, which should be fun.

In addition to being back in the gym and on the road, I also finally received my Bay Days 8K medal.  After the race I had been informed that the top three finishers gold, silver and bronze medals had accidentally been shipped to Alaska, but would get to me shortly.  I saw several posts on the Day Bays 8K Facebook page mentioning that medals had been sent out, but four days later I hadn’t gotten mine.  I left two voice mails and sent two emails over the next few days and heard nothing back.  I did, however, receive an email confirming my entry into the race director’s other event, a color run in Williamsburg on 28 September.  Huh?  Checking all of my bank, credit and debit statements, I was reassured I had not registered for this event.  I brushed this aside and gave my medal one more day to arrive.  It did not.  Maybe they hadn’t returned my calls or emails because they’re so busy promoting this second event, I thought.  Busy or not, that’s a horrible excuse, so I took to the Bay Days 8K Facebook page and posted that I had not yet received my medal.  There was no reply.  My next post was on the Color Run’s Facebook page and, well, that got me an immediate response.  My medal arrived Thursday and while it’s nothing fancy, I earned it and am proud to have it.  The letter that came with it tells me I’ve also earned a complimentary entry into the 2014 Bay Days 8K, which I’ll have to see about when doing my Fall 2014 Race Schedule.

 

Bay Days 8K Silver MedalMy Silver Medal and Finisher’s Medal

This week it felt great to be running and lifting again after seven days off post-Philly and I’ll be rolling right into another Race Week after tomorrow’s long run.  Next Sunday’s Crawlin’ Crab is my first 5K road race in a long, long time, and I’m really excited for it.  The weather report is looking good, and since it should be a whole lot less windy, it’ll be a piece of cake.  With two long runs, 90 minutes and 105 minutes, only two days apart, I’ll mix up my Race Week Training a little it, and head into Race Day with only one day of complete rest.

Bring on the long runs!

Meredith

Good to Be Back

Today is Fit Friday and after missing two in a row for pre- and post-race Rest, it felt good to be back.  The Hokies won last night (yay), I was suitably recovered from this week’s earlier workouts and I wanted to finish up my ‘it’s good to be back at training’ week with a strong long run today and good speed work tomorrow.

When I decided to schedule my long run for this morning, there was no rain in the forecast and planned a later start to Friday morning because I knew I would stay up late to watch the Hokies win.  I did stay up late, and had a restless night, but woke up ready to go anyway.  That’s when I heard it.  The rain.  Wait a minute.  I pulled out my Weather Channel app and yup, no rain predicted.  That threw me for a loop since I could hear, smell and see the water coming from the sky outside my window.  OK, I thought, I have time to wait for this to pass (snooze) and still get a run in before my clients.  Snooze I did not and when I woke up an hour later, I no longer had time to get my run in before work.  Off I went, figuring I could just do my 90 minute run this afternoon, even knowing I had plans to run with a client for this week’s second Two a Day.  Run we did and all 3.5 miles of it were lovely, especially since we ran next to the Neptune Festival vendors on the Boardwalk and had plenty of things to see.  Even after that short, easy run, I lost my motivation to do 90 more minutes today and decided to do tomorrow’s three mile race pace run instead, leaving both Saturday and Sunday open for a long outing.

I waited until evening to get my three mile race pace run in and it was great.  I got a twenty minute power nap that totally re-energized me and was pumped to go.  My legs had tightened up a little bit between running 3.5 with my client and heading out for my own run, so I ran an extra half mile and spent five minutes stretching before picking up the pace.  I jogged off, accelerated into my 5K pace, hit the Start button and was moving right along when at just past the first half mile, I got stuck at an intersection and had to wait for about 15 seconds.  I was bummed, but got right back into it and ended up running a full 5K rather than just three miles.  It felt good to get my legs fired up and I finished in 22:10, which is exactly where I want to be next Sunday for the race.  A big stretch/foam roll and another day of running was in the books.

I will likely do my long run after Beach Boot Camp tomorrow morning to get it out of the way so I can have a restful Sunday heading into Crawlin’ Crab 5K Race Week.  It’s going to be a relaxing Friday night tonight, a not too early Saturday, an Eagles filled Sunday and I can’t wait.

Happy Weekend!

Meredith

Rolling, Rolling

It’s my fourth day back in action after Philly, and yesterday’s unscheduled Two a Day was fun.  My legs were OK after my 6.5 mile bike ride, but tight after my run and it took a painful foam rolling session to get me fixed up last night.  I knew strength training today would help get my blood going again, relieve whatever soreness was left this morning and I woke up this morning for the most part ready to go.

With a little bit of stiffness still hanging around, I was dreading finding only one thing in today’s WOD.  Burpees.  I really, really didn’t want to see burpees on my to-do list.  My quads were exhausted, I have a long run coming up tomorrow and they’re not particularly enjoyable to begin with.  My hopes of seeing anything but burpees were quickly dashed when I pulled up today’s workout on the way to Beach Boot Camp.  Much like all I saw on Tuesday was Double Unders when I looked at the workout, all I saw today was a 14 minute AMRAP of Burpees and blah blah.  After Boot Camp, I spent ten minutes rolling my way to a big improvement and my quads were feeling much better as I headed into my strength training.

Well, the Burpees and blah blah was actually Burpees, Kettlebell Swings and Sumo Dead Lift High Pulls, and would have normally made me happy.  I like Kettlebell work and 14 minutes?  Come on, that’s nothing.  Damn those burpees for ruining everything.  Doing lots and lots of hip stretching, foam rolling and close to 40 burpees as part of warm up, my legs eventually came around and I had to admit I would survive.  I felt pretty good for the 14 minute duration of the workout, and when my left shoulder starting getting a little ouchy a quick shake solved the problem.  Strength training in the books, I hit the floor once again with a friendly foam roller and my legs are, for now, feeling much better.  I’ll stretch and roll again later to stay loose for tomorrow’s run before I get in front of tonight’s Hokie game.

Playing at Georgia Tech, they’re not favored in Atlanta.  Favored or not, they’ll hopefully look little better than last week and earn another win.  Tomorrow it’s back to long training runs with an early (7ish), but I’ve done earlier (5ish), 90 minute outing.  After that 90 minutes, I’ll train a few clients then head out with my last one of the day for her race pace run, giving this week its second two a day.  Even though it’ll be an easy run for me, it’s still mileage and a second workout.  I’m sure I’ll be just fine and am really happy with the back to training week I’ve had so far.  Finishing up with strong runs tomorrow and Saturday will put another seven days of Savannah prep in the books.

Meredith

Additional Biking

A tough first day back in the gym yesterday left my legs a little sore this morning, but they loosened up as the day moved on.  In fact, I thought they felt so good, I decided to do a second, additional little workout today.

I’ve been going for short bike rides on Wednesday lately, and mistakenly thinking it would help my quads feel better, I decided to throw one of those in, too.  A nice easy 6.5 miler didn’t make my legs feel much better, instead it reminded them they worked hard yesterday and didn’t really feel like they needed to do any additional biking before their speed work.

Luckily for me, my workout schedule it up to my brain and not my legs, so the run stayed in.  At least all I had on the calendar for today was ‘speed work’, leaving me the freedom to choose what I wanted to do.  I chose a 30 minute surge run, rather than 400, 800 or 1600M repeats, while my legs were complaining on the second half of my Additional Biking.  I’ve only done a few shorter (5K, 35 minute) surge workouts, but I really enjoy them.  My speed work, which includes those surge runs, has really helped me get faster (fancy that), and since I like doing these  more than 800M repeats, why not?

I stopped for a little snack after my additional biking and gave the grumpy legs a stretch.  Close enough to better and it was off for my 30 minute surge run.  I did a half mile warm up, then spent the first six minutes just below half marathon race pace (which is now a bit faster than it was before Philly) then spent the next 24 minutes hitting 5K pace for one minute then dropping to half marathon pace for two.  Neither the distance I traveled nor the rate at which I traveled were exactly where I wanted them to be, but using soreness, and an additional bike ride, as an excuse, I’m OK with it.  It’s back to strength training tomorrow and I’m ready to go.

On a professional note, I had mentioned partnering with the USCAA to help with one of their newest initiatives, Fitness Focus.  The first issue is out and features my insight on the important of breakfast.  Check it out here and let me know what you think!  I also entered the Intuit Small Business, Big Game contest a while back, and while I’d religiously voted for several weeks, had recently fallen off.  It was quite a surprise to get an email informing me I had made it to Round 2 this afternoon, but it’s also pretty neat.  Now I have to update my profile and make, eek, a video.  This will take some serious thinking!  Starting right now, you can click here to vote and help me win a commercial during the Big Game 🙂

Meredith

 

 

Double Unders.

I posted last night and almost immediately took a gander at the strength training I would face today at North End Crossfit.  There was an entire workout listed, but all I could see was Double Unders.  Nope, not enthused, not excited about it.  I went to bed knowing my lack of coordination wasn’t going to be the end of the world, and that I could push through the lashings to my lower legs, or at least accidentally miscount my jumps.

At least today wasn’t Tuesday Two a Day, which was good because my body pretty clearly let me know I came out of the gate a little strong yesterday.  The first day back in training after taking a week off to Recover from Philly called for a 60 minute tempo run and I set the goal of getting further than I did on my last one.  Easy.  My fresh legs felt great, the cooler weather was awesome and the small ups and downs of Mt. Trashmore barely phased me.  I hit my goal by running 7 hundredths of a mile further than I did in August, and was very happy because that was on flat roads and this was not.  As happy as I was to have succeeded, my calves tightened up as last night wore on and I wanted to quit when I saw multiple rounds (four) including 66 Double Unders each staring me in the face for today’s strength training adventure.

I hopped out of bed for Boot Camp this morning to find my left knee sore and my calves still pretty grumpy.  An hour on my feet at Boot Camp worked the knee right out, but my calves just wouldn’t let go.  Exactly how I wanted to head into 264 Double Unders.  With tight calves.  Double Unders are one of my Crossfit nemeses (see Overhead Squat and Snatch, as well).  They take rhythm (got it) and coordination (not so much).  This is why I run, it doesn’t require extreme levels of coordination and I am not particularly coordinated.  Ask anyone who has played a sport with a moving ball with me.  Really, do it.

Excited or not, I headed into the gym right after Camp and got down to it.  Luckily, the workout started with something I can definitely handle: 5×3 Back Squats.  It felt good to be lifting heavy again and my legs were doing great.  Moving on to four rounds of 33 calorie rows and 66 Double Unders they still felt OK.  Rowing was wonderful, it’s one of my favorite cardiovascular activities, and then it was on to jumping rope.  By Double Under number 17 of Round One, my left calf cramped, requiring a stretch.  After that, things actually went surprisingly well.  Speed ropes hurt when you swing it into your legs, rather than under your feet, and I did manage to slam myself a few times but no blood was drawn and I kept plugging away.  Rowing was a nice break from the torture of Double Unders and by Round Three, I was actually starting to feel pretty good.  With a previous record of five Double Unders in a row, I hit nine a few times and wanted to jump for joy.  Rather than jumping to excess, I jumped for 25ish more Double Unders and headed into Round Four.  Last row in the bag, I really wanted to get my last 66 Double Unders in at least sets of six.  Imagine my surprise as I got to nine, kept going and got twelve in a row.  I did sets of eleven or twelve for my last round and finished with a smile on my face.

No, twelve Double Unders in a row is not many.  For someone who can barely connect with a slow pitch softball, however, this is quite an accomplishment.  A good Welcome Back to training, yesterday’s solid run and today’s improvement with Double Unders have me excited for speed work tomorrow.  I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet, but whatever I decide to do, I’m going to nail it.

Meredith

More Training

It’s Monday, Rest Week has ended and that means it’s time for more training.  I went back to work today after a weekend filled with fun and football and I’m really happy that good running weather has officially arrived.

A sixty minute tempo run marked my return to training today.  I ran late in the afternoon and my legs are ecstatic to have work again.  My last 60 minute tempo run was three weeks ago on the nice flat roads, but today I ran before evening Boot Camp at Mount Trashmore.  With runner friendly weather conditions, I hoped to get a little further than last time even with the park’s hills.  As expected, the weather was lovely at 72 degrees with low humidity, and helped me beat my last 60 minute tempo outing, when it was 80 degrees and quite a bit more humid, by 7 hundredths of a mile.  A great start to my after Philly, before Savannah training that includes the Crawlin’ Crab 5K and Wicked 10K if I do say so myself.

With cooler temperatures on a daily basis, I hope to see some serious progress over the next few weeks.  I saw small improvements over the summer but with all that heat and humidity, big steps were hard to earn.  After friendly weather conditions met me in Philly, I could tell that all the suffering had paid off, and as fall rolls around, I’m really looking to get in gear.  I set a lofty goal of taking three and a half minutes off my current half marathon PR at the Shamrock in March, so with just over five months to go, I have plenty of hard work in store.

I’m less than two weeks out from my next race, the Crawlin’ Crab 5K, and hoping to set a new, sub-22:30 minute 3.1 mile PR.  The short race will be more of a hard training run than an all out effort, but since I haven’t raced a 5K on the road in quite a while, I’m sure to beat my current record.  My current training plan has been working well, and I’ll be sticking with it as long as I continue to see improvements.  There are of lots of ways to tweak it, too, and when I plateau, I’ll give lighter shoes, adding a day of running (more speed work, yay!) or going back to in-season two-a-days a try.

Tomorrow I’ll be on the beach for Boot Camp then head to the gym for my first good old fashioned strength training session in two weeks.  Bring on the soreness :).

Meredith

Havana

Located in the Great Neck area of Virginia Beach, Havana Great Neck is a locals’ favorite and doesn’t see much tourist traffic in the summer due to its location away from the OceanfronthavanaA Cuban themed menu features both tapas and entrée selections that are sure to satisfy any palate.  Specials such as bacon wrapped, boursin stuffed flounder and seared swordfish decorate the menu boards on a nightly basis and the dining room is a lively place filled with food and laughter.

Familiar with the location’s popularity, our party of two chose to make a reservation rather than risk a wait.  Using their website, online reservations were simple, but I did notice the web service mentioned they do not take same day reservations after 5pm.  Because the restaurant doesn’t open until 5, my buddy and I were left hoping to have gotten it in.  Upon arrival in the Mill Damn Crossing Shopping Center, plenty of parking allowed us to pull close to the front door, and we were promptly assisted by a friendly hostess who had, in fact, received our reservation, although at 630 it appeared we didn’t need one.  The dim, but warm environment is dressed in chocolate leather booth coverings, turquoise tile work and dark hardwood floors.  The dining room was little more than half filled, which explained the ease of parking, but when full, both the tables and parking lot become more difficult to navigate.

Seated at table with two chairs on one side and a bench seat booth on the other, we were immediately greeted by our knowledgeable, attentive and friendly server and placed a drink order.  Quickly realizing it was difficult to hear, even in the yet to be crowded dining space, I was joined on the booth side by my dining partner.  While we were now able to hear one another, leaning back against the leather cushions provided little comfort against the vertical wall.  For those with poor posture, this is the place to work on improving it.  Scanning the menu while waiting for an Alluring Apple martini to arrive, my eyes were filled with a wide range of Cuban inspired fare.  A tapas menu to compliments the full-sized entrees, and the portion sizes for those who wish to share or sample several different options are a personal favorite.

Drinks arrived and our table started with a half order of the chicken nachos from the back page tapas menu.  A plate heaping with shredded chicken and cheese smothered nachos was topped with diced tomatoes and plenty of shredded lettuce arrived without much delay.  Delightfully seasoned, the fresh salsa was perfectly flavored to pair with melted cheddar and jack cheeses and Cuban barbeque chicken.  I am a nacho fanatic, and these are certainly near the top of my list.  A definite must at every visit.  Without totally satiating our hunger, the half order of nachos left us ready for more of Havana’s offerings.  Looking around the room, it was clear the entrée servings were larger than either of us was prepared for and we flipped the menus over to once again review the smaller sized tapas selections.  Having looked on us several times while we enjoyed the nachos, our server was quick to take our dinner order and clear the used plates away.

Choosing the Chicken Tostada and Petite Casa Filet (medium rare), we waited with another round of beverages.  The meals were delivered sooner than expected, coming out of the kitchen on warm plates.  Served with a dark rum-peppercorn sauce over roasted garlic mashed potatoes, this Cuban take on steak and potatoes is done extremely well.  The sweetness of my Alluring Apple accented the spice in the steak sauce beautifully and it’s hard to go wrong with a garlic mashed potato.  The fist-sized portion was cooked magnificently and simply melted under my knife.  Just right to fill my belly after the Chicken Nachos, the steak did leave enough space to taste my friend’s Chicken Tostada.  Steaming hot when it arrived, the shredded chicken filled a corn tortilla that rested on arroz moro, the Cuban version of rice and beans.  After a little time to cool down, the queso draped chicken was smokier than what had been on the nachos and rather delicious.  Both plates cleared, I headed off the visit the facilities.

Crossing the almost filled dining room, I easily found the Ladies room.  The restroom was a little brighter than the restaurant, and it was clean, though it would be a little tight in case of a line.  Returning to the table, I took a moment to observe the bar area, where young professionals, adult families and well dressed couples were both standing and sitting on tall bar stools down its length.  To the right of the bar is a second entrance to Havana, while the left side is capped by the kitchen entrance and open pantry kitchen area.  Watching salsas and salads as they’re prepared surely fuels the hunger of those seated nearby and reassures those who aren’t about the freshness of their meal.

The go-to meeting place for locals when they want an after work cocktail or are out on date night, it’s no wonder Havana is a Virginia Beach favorite.  Great service, an always varied menu and excellently prepared food highlight the easy to find restaurant’s qualities.  A noisy dining space and tempting drink menu make it a less than ideal choice for the night before a big event but with protein rich selections that are sure to meet any post-race caloric needs, Havana’s relaxed, yet professional, might run into anyone atmosphere is a surefire way to turn a good race day into a great night.

The End of Rest Week

It’s the End of Rest Week and I had a busy Fit Friday that didn’t involve a workout, but did have a long to-do list that was topped off by a wonderful dinner at Havana.  You can check out my review tomorrow, it’ll be right here.  With no big weekend plans, a nice relaxing Friday night led right into an equally easy Saturday morning.

Today dawned with a couldn’t be better, perfect morning on the beach.  It was so nice that I wished it wasn’t the End of Rest Week so I could have gone out to enjoy a run.  Gorgeous weather and temperatures in the low 70s made for a fun morning Boot Camp and after finishing up with my clients, I hurried home for a quick lunch before the Hokie‘s kicked off at noon.

The Hokie‘s played an ugly game today.  They opened the scoring with a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown and from there it turned into a mess of a game.  Both offensive and defensive scoring kept the game moving right along, although Logan Thomas’s two interceptions in the first half didn’t help much as we went into the half down 21-14.  No scoring in the third quarter made the fourth pretty exciting.  The Hokie’s scored a touchdown with just over three minutes remaining to tie it up, and Marshall marched right back down the field to turn the last minute and a half into quite the nail biter.  An interception in the end zone gave the Hokie’s a chance to prevent overtime, but poor clock management pushed them right into it.  With a scoreless first overtime, a Marshall turnover and a missed Virginia Tech field goal in the second, a third overtime rolled around.  Logan Thomas ran for a touchdown and a two point conversion in that third overtime to put the Hokies up 29-21 and that’s how they walked off the field.  A much needed win at home sends them off to Atlanta for a Thursday night game at Georgia Tech next week.

Sunday’s usually a Rest Day and holds nothing special since the Eagles have already played.  I’ll use the official End of Rest Week to finish up and post my review of Havana, then it’s back to work on Monday.  The Crawlin’ Crab 5K is coming up in a short two weeks and will be a good test of how my after Philly training has gone.

Meredith