Friday Free-For-All – 05/18/18

Friday Free-For-All

I’ve been training my replacement at work this week and it is EXHAUSTING! In every sense. Physically, emotionally, mentally… I’m spent. I have someone looking over my shoulder all day, every day. I’m talking all day, trying to explain complex, quirky systems to someone who has never seen them before. And I’m dealing with the reality that I only have 15 work days left before I go on permanent maternity leave. Thankfully, I get a break next week when she goes on a planned vacation, but that’s also the week the rest of my team is out of the office, meaning I’m basically doing the work of my entire team solo all week. Wheeeeee!

Being so busy at work has thrown my eating schedule completely out of whack. Both in pregnancy and regular life, I need to stay on a pretty specific feeding schedule in order to be ok. If I wait too long to eat I become a) ferociously cranky, and b) nauseous. But with someone sitting my my office looking to me for every minute, I cant always take my usual snack breaks or meal times. It has sucked. A lot. I won’t have my trainee next week so I can get back to normal, but then my last week of work will be more busy and missing snacks and BOO.

We cancelled our Netflix and Amazon Prime memberships. Since we’ll be on a single income for the foreseeable future, we’re really trying to curb spending. Cutting out the time suck of Netflix and the “oh this thing I don’t really need is so inexpensive and easily accessible” factor of Amazon Prime will save us both time and money, which we’re happy about. For now. Talk to me again in three months when I’m home alone all day with an infant and I don’t have shows to binge watch.

Do you use Netflix and/or Amazon Prime? Would you cancel them to save money?

Keeping the “Easy” in Easy Runs

Lately, my schedule has been all “easy” runs. I even type that out in my training plans. “3 miles easy” is the most common phrase in my training lexicon. But after my slow, boozy run last Thursday, I realized that my so-called “easy” runs aren’t usually easy at all. I’m almost always pushing the pace, and end up at or near my 5k race pace, rather than just taking it easy and enjoying the run.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, necessarily. It’s fun to push the pace and see what I’m capable of, and it’s nice to notice an improvement in my times. But actual easy runs are important too. They make me feel good. They’re why I enjoy running. Instead of worrying about how fast I’m going and trying to regulate breathing, I can just enjoy the scenery and be grateful that my body is able to carry me along.

I know a lot of serious athletes would consider easy runs to be “junk miles;” a waste of time and training. But my mileage is still so low and my training so inconsistent, that every run I do is important. Every time I finish a run, it’s an accomplishment.

Since my epiphany, I’ve been trying to put this feeling into practice. At my run club meeting on Saturday, I ended up running about 30-45 seconds slower per mile than I usually do for a 5k training run, and it felt SO GOOD. Usually, by the end of these so-called “easy runs,” I’m breathing hard, and feeling kind of pukey. But on Saturday, I felt good enough to run another 3 miles by myself, at a slightly faster, but still actually easy pace. And again, when I went out for 3 miles on Sunday, I took it actually easy, running 20-30 seconds slower per mile, and felt great. At the end of each run, rather than wanting to collapse, I felt like I could potentially keep going, like I wanted to keep going.

My main goal for this summer was just to bulk up my base by doing lots of shorter runs. By allowing myself these easy runs, I’m confident that I’ll actually get to where I want to be, healthy and happy and still enjoying my running, instead of being burnt out. For instance, we’re not quite halfway through July, but I’m already halfway to my monthly mileage goal of 50 miles. For the first time all year, I’m 100% sure that I’ll meet that goal, and that feels amazing.

All of this isn’t to say that my shorter runs will all be slower. I do really like pushing it once in a while to see what I can do. And I also need to get back to intervals and hill training sooner rather than later. But if even one of my runs each week can just be easy, breezy and comfy, I know I’ll be more likely to stay interested in running and training through the summer and fall, and dare I even say, the winter?

Do you honor the “easy” runs, or do you push it all the time?

Half Marathon #2 Training Plan

This is week one of my 12-week training program for Half Marathon #2.  Last time around, I sort of cobbled together a training plan of my own, because I wanted to include plenty of rest days, and I didn’t want to be running 5-6 times per week.  This time around is no different.  I started with Hal Higdon’s intermediate half marathon training plan, and fiddled with it to make it work a little better for me.

The original intermediate plan calls for running 4 times per week, with only one rest day, and speed work every week.  While I believe that speed work is important, I also really like my hill repeats, so I wanted to incorporate those, too.  And I wanted 2 rest days per week.  Maybe I’m lazy, but I just CAN’T commit to working out 6 days a week.  I just can’t.  I also had to move the 5k race to make my September Color Run fit.

So basically, this is what the plan looks like:


Running:  Tuesdays will be alternating 400s, hill repeats, and tempo runs.  Thursdays will be easy runs, and Saturdays will be long, slow distance.  The 5k race will be the Color Run, and the 10k race will most likely be Jost Running’s Oktoberfest–the medal is a bottle opener!  So fun!

Cross-Training:  Mondays and Wednesdays will be cross-training (hopefully Body Pump and Yoga, respectively), with rest days on Fridays and Sundays.  I may throw in yoga on Sundays every once in a while too, to help sore legs after long runs.  I would also like to keep up with daily push ups, squats, and hip strengthening exercises.

Obviously, things may change depending on what we’ve got going on, but I’m hoping to stick to this schedule more closely than I did with my last one.  My last training cycle was a lot longer, so I had more wiggle room for skipping long runs and making them up later.

I’m a little nervous about this training cycle because for most of it, we’ll be living in Underhill with Ben’s parents.  The area where they live is not exactly conducive to outdoor running (although, they do have hill repeats covered–Harvey Road is a BEAST!)  This means that most of my running will likely be done on a treadmill or indoor track, which is a surefire recipe for boredom.  I’m hoping that my hunger for a sub-2:30 half will keep me motivated and help me push through.

How do you train for a race?  Do you pick an existing plan, or make your own?

Manic Monday – 08/04/14

Welcome to another edition of Manic Monday, where I recap the previous week and lay out a plan for the upcoming week.

Ummm, holy crap, it’s August!  How did that happen?!  This year is just flying by…  Anywho, this week was a good week.  While I didn’t manage to do my long run, I had a couple of great shorter runs, and did some at-home cross-training, so I feel good.

Monday (Scheduled Cross-Training)
Monday turned into an unscheduled rest day.  It was POURING most of the day, so I only walked TO work (~2.2 miles), and Ben picked me up in the evening for grocery shopping.  We made a quick dinner, and were in bed, lights out by 9pm, which we both totally needed.

Tuesday (Scheduled Hill Repeats)
I actually woke up 5 minutes before my alarm (5:10am, ugh!) and got my tushie out the door.  This time, I did 4 repeats of Battery Street instead of 3, and my average pace was a whole minute faster than last time I did hill repeats!  Woo!  Progress!  I also walked to and from work (~4.4 miles), did a 1 minute plank, 10 push-ups, and some clam-shells for my hips.

Photo Jul 29, 6 07 52 AM

Wednesday (Scheduled Cross-Training)
I walked to and from work (~4.4 miles), did a 1 minute plank, 10 push-ups, and clamshells.

Thursday (Scheduled 4 mile run)
I got up at the ungodly hour of 5:15 am and did 4 awesome miles. I felt really good the whole run, and probably could have gone further if I’d had more time. I’m definitely getting faster-woo! I also walked to and from work (~4.4 miles). After work, we had dinner with our friends Aimee ad Andrew. Aimee is 40+ weeks pregnant, so we spent a lot of time trying to convince the baby to come out 🙂

Photo Jul 31, 6 11 35 AM

Friday (Scheduled Rest Day)
We had a long day of driving.  Ben and I drove down to MA to meet up with our friends Pepe and Shannon so we could all carpool to a wedding in CT.  Our friends Jayson and Lauren got married 🙂  But since hotel rooms were $189 (!!!!), we drove back to MA that night and crashed at Pepe and Shannon’s.

Saturday (Scheduled 7 Mile Run)
This ended up being a rest day.  After a big brunch and driving home, we only had about 2 hours before we were due to go to a dinner party at our friend Erik’s house.  The spread was AMAZING.  We started with a soft cheese plate, then had a spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese, and the main course was a pork, veal and beef meatloaf with a glazed bacon topper, and we finished with a chocolate espresso Dacquoise (Google it, it’s amazing).  Holy hell, it was delicious.  Before bed, I squeezed in 10 push ups and a few sets of clam shells.

Photo Aug 02, 10 00 50 PM

Sunday (Scheduled Rest Day)
Ben and I slept in till about 10, which was totally necessary after yet another whirlwind weekend.  After a leisurely breakfast and some blog catch-up, we had a very productive day of cleaning, packing, sorting through crap, and meal planning.  We were both exhausted, though, so we didn’t actually make it to the grocery store.  Oh well!  Right before bed, I did some squats and push ups using the Runtastic Squats and Push Ups apps (thanks for the heads up, Lauren!), and also did some clam shells and leg lifts for my hips.

My main goals for this week are to keep up with some light cross-training like hip strengthening exercises, push ups, and planks, and to fit in a long run this week.  I may need to squeeze the long run in during the week, because we have another wedding weekend in Maine this coming weekend, and I’m not sure what running conditions will be like.

How was your weekend? Did you manage a long run?

Manic Monday – 07/21/14

Welcome to another edition of Manic Monday, where I recap the previous week, and lay out a plan for the following week.

This was my first week recommitting to the #Chewsday Challenge, and my first week of my new training schedule, so it’s kind of a big deal.  Overall, I’m pleased with how it went.  I didn’t get in as much cross-training as I’d like, but the good news is, I’m still biking to and from work pretty much every day, which really helps keep my overall fitness/activity level up.

Monday (Scheduled Cross-Training Day)
Ben and I were thoroughly exhausted from our reunion weekend in Maine, and it was pouring after work, so all I did was bike to work in the morning (~3.7 miles).

Tuesday (Scheduled Hill Repeats)
I woke up at 5:30 am and got my tushie over to Battery Street Park for some hill repeats.  The hill there has about 193 feet of elevation over about 1/8th of a mile, so it’s a great hill.  To the hill from my apartment is a good little 1/2 mile warm up, and then I went down and up the hill three times, and home.  Total mileage was 2.25 miles with an average pace of 11:07.  I also walked to work in the morning (2 miles) and rode my bike home (~3.7 miles).

Photo Jul 15, 6 17 48 AM

Wednesday (Scheduled Cross-Training Day)
I rode my bike to work and from work, for a total of about 7.8 miles.

Thursday (Scheduled 3 mile run)
Totally slept in instead of running, but I did do a 1:30 plank, and rode my bike to and from work (~7.8 miles)

Friday (Scheduled rest day)
Since I skipped my Thursday run, I squeezed it in after work.  I only made it 2.4 miles because it was really warm and sunny, but it was better than nothing.  I also rode my bike to and from work (~7.8 miles)

Photo Jul 18, 5 36 34 PM

Saturday (Scheduled 6 mile run)
So, I didn’t run.  Ben and I slept until 10:30, and then spent a leisurely day watching Netflix, playing video games, and cleaning.  And it was just what we needed.  In the evening, we went to the VT Brewers Festival (recap coming soon!), which was lots of fun.  Afterwards, we stopped by a friend’s birthday party, and then I went home while everyone else went to the bars.



Sunday (Scheduled Rest Day)
I wish I could say that after being lazy on Saturday, I got my run in on Sunday.  Sadly, this is not the case.  I slept in late again, and while Ben was gallivanting to a barbecue two hours away, I continued to clean and video game.  It was awesome.  I think Ben ended up being a bit jealous that he didn’t stay home too.  We ended the evening with home made chicken curry on brown rice and Netflix.  Sweet deal.

So how was week one of the new plan?  All in all, not too bad.  I haven’t made it over to my new gym yet, which is kind of sad, but I’m planning to pick up my ID card on my lunch break today, so that I can hopefully make it to a class or two this week.

Singers Make Great Runners

SirensI’ve been singing since I could talk.  There are home movies of me at 5 years old, singing Frosty the Snowman in front of our fireplace and swatting my baby sisters as they tried to sing along, because they were stealing my thunder.  There are cassette tapes of me and my sisters singing songs to my grandparents.  I have been in school concerts, choruses, plays and professional performances.  As I’ve begun running more and more frequently, I’ve realized that my lifetime of singing actually gives me an edge in my running performance.  Here are a few reasons why:

I hydrate like a boss.  Mrs. Bushey, my chorus teacher from 8th through 12th grade, drilled it into our heads that hydration was important.  She told us that our pee should be light yellow, if not clear, all the time.  We were encouraged to bring water bottles to school and drink that water like it was our job.  I have been in the habit of good hydration since I was 13 years old, and that habit has helped me tremendously as a runner.  I know a lot of my runner friends struggle with staying hydrated, but I LOVE water.  I crave it all the time.  I keep a 32 oz Nalgene bottle on my desk at work, and try to drink one before lunch, and one after.

Click for Source

Click for Source

I’m already a belly breather.  In singing, a lot of your vocal power comes from your diaphragm.  As a singer, you are taught to breathe not into your lungs, but into your abdomen, expanding all the way around, in order to get the most from your breath.  I naturally breathe into my belly 90% of the time anyway.  But not everyone does.  There are lots of articles out there about runners and belly breathing, and for most runners, it’s something they have to train themselves to do, something they have to really work on.  I’m lucky, because I just do it without even thinking about it, and I know it helps my performance.

Being in rehearsal for a performance is pretty similar to being in training.  When getting ready for a performance, you start preparing weeks in advance.  You practice several times a week.  In each practice, you warm up your voice, do your vocal exercises, and work on your song(s).  You are dedicated to your schedule and don’t miss any rehearsals.  You make sure you’re drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest.  On the day of the show, you bring all your gear, warm up, and do your thing.  And no matter how much you’ve practiced, sometimes things go wrong–your accompanist flubs, your voice cracks, or you miss a breath.  But no matter what, people clap and cheer, and you can’t wait to do it again.  Sound familiar?  When training for a big race, you train for weeks, but anything and everything can go wrong on race day.  But the cheering crowds get you through, and when you get that PR or medal, you can’t wait to sign up for another.  Transitioning from the structure of rehearsals to the structure of training for a race was kind of a no-brainer.  I just wish I was as good at getting up early for runs as I am at getting up early for rehearsals…

I perform well in front of an audience.  I have a dear friend who regularly runs 10+ miles.  I asked her if she’d do a race with me someday, and she refused, flat out.  Her excuse?  She doesn’t want people to see her when she runs, because she gets sweaty and red-faced.  So she only runs at night.  With her husband, or alone.  I, on the other hand, apparently have no issue looking like a fool in front of a bunch of strangers–in my years on stage, I’ve been seen in such fantastic get-ups including but not limited to:

…a giant pink bird:

Seussical the Musical

Seussical the Musical

…this ridiculous wig:


Beauty and the Beast

…a full-on BDSM outfit:

Rocky Horror

Rocky Horror

…and last but not least, my birthday suit (the musical “Hair”)–and no, I don’t have any pictures of that!

So really, being a sweaty lobster-face is not the weirdest way I’ve looked in front of a crowd.  And having people cheering and clapping ALWAYS puts a smile on my face and makes me work harder.

Any other singer/runners out there?  Do you think your singing training has helped you to be a better runner?

Back to the Fucshia!

I’m officially registered for the Burlington, VT Color Run on September 13!  I signed up for their VIP mailing list, and as a result, I got early an registration perk, and a registration discount ($25 instead of $35 for a team registration).  I am captain of team “Back to the Fucshia.”  Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for the fabulous name.  My buddy Paula came up with it when we ran the Boston Color Run 2 years ago.

Post Color Run

Post Color Run Boston 2012

If you live in Vermont and are interested in joining my team, you can email me at darlinrae[at]gmail[dot]com.

Have you ever done the Color Run before?  Did you have fun?