Monday, June 30, 2014


Yes, I'm lifting in a running skirt.

So today Coach said we were going for our first 1-rep max.  To do this, we'd begin by lifting 50% of our estimated max 8 times, then add weight and lift 6.  Repeat for 3, 2, 1, 1, 1... and then we'd know what our max was.

She did not tell us to plan for pictures!   Hence insane hair.  

Here I am mid overhead press.  Do I have too much curve in my lumbar spine?  Possibly.  

We maxed deadlift (131lbs) and overhead press (60lb.)  I think the plan is to test this every four week, so we can see how our training is going.  With the amount of running I'm doing, I don't expect to make great strength gains.  

Then I came home, drank chocolate milk, ate dinner, weeded the garden, and mowed the lawn.  I have this cross-training thing DOWN.

And tomorrow is a six-mile run.  Urp.

Great review of the Nike Zoom Pegasus 31.  I'm currently doing most of my miles in the 30 (clearance beats new every time), so it's great to see that they haven't changed it too much.  Plus, Pete's right.  It's a sweet-looking shoe.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week two recap

Sundays are better with flowers:

Tiger daffodils from this spring
Weekly total: 20 miles.

I'm feeling pretty good about training so far, as I was able to complete my long run easily.  I'm not in pain, either, which is new, as for the past three months I've been battling a cranky left glute.  Aggressive hamstring stretching and strength training seems to have helped.

I am, however, unusually tired, to the point that I took a pregnancy test (negative!) and I'm wondering if my iron levels are off.  A check-up Thursday should help sort that out.  In the meantime, this week will be lighter on lifting as it's an interval week and Friday is the holiday.

Week in review:

Monday's strength workout.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bulletproof birdpoop.

Not even kidding a little bit about the title.  Six miles into my planned seven mile run today, I heard a squawk, and felt a bit of dampness on my cheek.  Yes, I got nailed by a bird.

At least it wasn't a mountain lion -- there's one that's been spotted up the canyon east of where I normally run....!

Easy seven miles today.  I'm still battling sluggish legs and turnover.  I'm not a fast runner by any means, and I know that, but for the past month I've been averaging around 9:30 when I don't push it, with times dipping into the lower 9s.  Today it was a struggle to average around 10.  I did add a hill at around five miles to push to a new route to complete seven miles, but I was working very hard.

I've been neglecting sleep a bit lately, so I suspect that's most of it.  Nothing hurts, at least, besides my pride... being under 10 min/mile is important to me!

Muddy day, too:
Love the waffle sole; but so does the mud.

Muddy shoes are happy shoes.
The Nike Pegasus 30 is my go-to workhorse of a shoe, but it is really not great on muddy service roads.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Evil Ewoks

Scenes from a marriage:

"Do you think the Ewoks roasted the stormtroopers at the end of Return of the Jedi?"
"What?  No! Why would you think such a thing?"
"Because they're clearly the most dangerous foe in the galaxy.  They defeated the Empire."
"No, think about it.  They tried to cook Han, Luke, and Leia."
"Right... oh, God, you're right.  And they were playing the drums on their helmets!  Or heads!"
"They're cannibals."
"Well, not cannibals..."
"Okay, fine.  They eat people."
"Did you want to have a burger at the Yub-nub party?"
"Do you think Lando and the rest of them knew?"

I have no idea what prompted this.


I meant to do an easy three miles at 6AM, but this morning when my alarm went off I felt weak and drained.  It was raining, so I seized upon the excuse to head back to bed.  The weather cleared as the day went on, and I met a friend around 3PM for what was supposed to be an easy three.

I took the jogging stroller.

I haven't pushed the baby in the stroller on a run in three months.

The route featured a few rolling climbs.

It was a sunny 73 degrees with 38% humidity, which is basically a monsoon in Utah terms.

End result: 11:37 minutes per mile, death from exhaustion.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Oh my apricots.

I promise you this will never be a running and food blog, because a) Hungry Runner Girl wannabes are a dime a dozen (nothing against HRG, but there are soo many candy! running! yay! imitators out there!)  and b) I am not fantastically excited about spinach salads.

Nevertheless, my cups runneth over with apricots.
Lego Duplo included for scale.
Seriously, this is getting a little ridiculous. We have one tiny tree.  Last year a late frost zapped all of the blossoms, and this year they're all over the place.  

So, I'm going to be making jam, but I also made a delicious apricot sorbet based on this version of the Perfect Scoop's sorbet.

  • 2lb ripe-to-squishy apricots.  (Mine are small -- I used about thirty.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T white wine.  (Totally optional, but it helps keep the sorbet soft and scoopable.)
Remove the pits from the apricots, put them in a saucepan, add a cup of water.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it for about ten minutes.  Stir it when you feel like it -- this isn't a fussy recipe. 

So unfussy that you can blog while it simmers...
When the apricots are very gooshy, remove them from the heat.  Add the sugar and stir it till it dissolves, then add the vanilla and the white wine.  Let it cool, then puree it.  Chill it thoroughly, and then freeze it in your ice cream maker.  This recipe makes about four cups of sorbet.  

Oh, right, this is my running blog.  

An easy four miles today at the crack of dawn, averaging 9:30 pace.  I prefer to run on trails or service roads, as the camber on the streets tends to aggravate my hip, but today I felt the need to hit the pavement and some of the rolling hills on my route (+/- 200 feet.)  So away I trotted at six AM, and came home, looked in the mirror, and discovered that apparently a flying ant had crashed into my face and drowned in my sweat.

So glamorous.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tabata, n.

def., latin for "beat DOWN."

Today the plan called for either rest, or cross-training, and I opted again for a lifting workout.  I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep this up, but four days running, two days lifting, and one day of rest seems to be working okay so far.

What I did:
-warmup with inchworms, spider-walks, box squats, around the worlds
- practice cleans

Coach has a nefarious plan to turn us into Olympic lifters.  Not going to happen!  This is supposed to be our light week because next week we are going to do something called a 1-rep-max, which the Internet tells me is a way to

- 3 x 5 squat, very light, with full depth
- 3 x 5 bench, at about 80%
- Tabatas: 4 minutes - alternate crab walks and push-ups
- Tabatas: 4 minutes - alternate windshield wipers and what I'm going to call single-leg seesaws -- balance on one leg, keep hips square lean forward bringing trailing leg to parallel behind you, repeat.

Can we talk about Tabatas?  These are high-intensity interval training sets.  We did 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, 4 times, for each set.   All I knew was that my buddies who Crossfit never shut up about HIIT and Tabatas and how they're more fit than cardio bunnies and eat free range organic unpasteurized bears for breakfast, etc.

Tabatas are evil.  EVIL. I finished feeling energized, and spent, and mystified that I was breathing hard from lying on my back swinging my legs from side to side (the windshield wipers.)

Interesting read today: Caitlin writes about tattoos, musing aloud why they have become more common among active women.

My off-the-cuff take on it is that a woman who is active, who has learned her physical limits and how to push them further, is less likely to adhere to beauty standards that admonish her to be small, delicate, ornamental and perform traditional femininity.

Once you get past that, well, ink is a great way to embody non-traditional beauty.  It's not just that it's not traditionally feminine that makes it appealing, I think, but that it is permanently so, a way of marking one's defiance of a certain set of norms.

Of course, if they keep it up, tattoos will come to signify, "middle-aged female athlete."

(Which is not only great, but think of all the bros with those barbed wire tattoos!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not a morning person.

I'm really not a morning person.  I don't mind being up early, particularly, but I am not mentally or physically competent until at least 10am.  Six AM, alas, is when I have time to run before the kid wakes up and the work day starts, so that's when it's getting done.  It helps a bit that it's summer, and so running after 9am is just intolerable.

Today's run of five miles started slowly, which is typical for both mornings and mornings after deadlifts.   But the splits improved:  10:21;10:28; 9:54; 9:50; 9:16.

Here's an interesting piece on rethinking the importance of dietary fat.  Here's the issue in a nutshell.  Mid-20th century Americans arguably ate too much meat and fatty foods, but the dietary advice framed the problem in terms of the macronutrient fat, instead of calling for less consumption of meat and dairy.

And you just have to look at the shelves in your average grocery store to see what happened.  It's pretty easy for food scientists to ensure that packaged food embodies the latest trend.  Low-fat? Low-carb?  Gluten-free?  Omega-3s and DHAs and the rest of the alphabet soup?

I don't know if our diets truly needed to be changed.  But if they did, it seems that we went the wrong way about it.  Instead of eating fewer cookies, we ate low-fat cookies, and pretended that they didn't count.   Instead of eating less yogurt, we came up with 100 calorie key-lime lite yogurt with Splenda.

This will never be a diet blog, because I am categorically against counting calories.  I care about nutrition, however, and I'm humbled by how little we know.

 In the meantime, I'm selfishly hoping for a backlash that makes it easier for me to find more whole milk yogurt...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Women should clean!

...and jerk!

Today's strength workout focused on learning the technique for the "clean" part of the "clean and jerk."  With relatively light weights, we started with a hanging pull, driving our hips and shoulders up, and then basically racked the bar up on our shoulders.  I'm intrigued at how much of weightlifting is about technique, transferring the energy of one's hips and glutes to one's wrists.

Anyhow, lots of fun.  I'm not too worried about lifting a ton right now as I'm thinking of it as only cross-training while I'm training for this half.

What I did:

  • -practice cleans
  • - 3x5 dead lift at about 80% (2 warm-up sets first)
  • - 3x5 standing press at about 80% (2 warm-up sets first)
  • - for 10 minutes on rower: 1 minute at about 85%, 1 minute at easy pace
80% for me on deadlifts is about 85lb; standing press only 45lb as I don't quite yet grok the starting position.  

Up tomorrow at 5:30am:  5 easy miles.

On writing and running.

Rachel Toor brings us a lovely essay on the similarities between writing and running.
To her observations I'd add that both writing and running, at least in my particular case, demand continual, patient effort.  I am not a naturally gifted runner, and to get to the point where I can run several miles without injury has taken careful training over seven months.  Likewise, if I wish to write well, I need to write every day.   I can't just sit down and write an essay any more than I could jump off the couch and run a marathon.
In both disciplines there are junk miles.  In running, miles that you run just to practice; in writing, sentences you write just to keep the thoughts from freezing and seizing up.  It takes time to find my stride in both running and writing.
Yet improvements happen in small invisible increments, until one day, the flow is effortless and beautiful, and I run miles without thinking faster than I have, and the words cover the page.
Today's plan has me doing a "fun workout", for which the authors of Train Like A Mother suggest something like soccer or cross-country skiing.  It'd be nice to play soccer, but look, I'm running because I don't have time for another sport (and also, no skills.)  So today I have a date with some heavy weights.
The apricots have ripened.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Week one recap.


  • 3.77 miles/9:42 pace/36:32 minutes
  • 3 miles easy running + 4 strides (pick ups for 30 seconds, recover)
  • First day of the official half marathon training program!  I felt good after the first mile; the difficulty with my short route is that the initial path to the trail is straight up hill:

  • 5.04 miles/10:02 pace/50:35 minutes
  • The plan called for 4-5 miles of easy running.  What I did was a shuffling slog.  It was a strange run -- it wasn't too taxing, but I felt as if my legs were splayed all over the place, and that instead of propelling myself forward, I was just bouncing along.  Frustrating, and it shows in the pace.
  • The plan calls for cross-training or resting, and I opted to make Wednesdays one of my strength training days.  
  • What I did:
    •  500 M row or walk/jog 2 laps, regular stretches (inchworms, lunges)
    • Around the worlds with 10# plate, air squats (full range of motion)
    • 5 x 5 Dead lifts at ~85% effort (100lbs max.)
    • 5 x 5 Overhead press at ~85% effort (55 lbs max)
    •  3 minutes of planks (2 sets of 1:30)
    • Foam rolling, trigger point tennis ball, and half-pigeon.
  • Then I followed it up with two hours of gardening, moving a cubic yard of soil pep into the beds.  No need for more planks!
  • Ten minute warmup, then repeat for six: 30 seconds hard running, 1:00 recovery, ten minute ish cool down.
  • This is the first time I've ever done speedwork, even little baby step interval speedwork like this.  I was spent by the last recovery.  I suspect that the point of most of this is to get my body to understand how to change paces and what running quickly feels like.  So far, body's response is a giant WHOA.
  • Splits for 30 second pickups:  6:44; 6:53; 6:58; 6:32; 6:48; 7:45 (dead.)  
  • Strength training, glorious strength training.  The area with the racks and benches was closed off, so we had to improvise from Coach's plan:
    • - Medicine ball tosses (10 each: underhand, overhand, left, right)
    •  5 x 5 back squat (40lbs only because without a rack I had to clean & jerk it!)
    • - 5 x 5 dumbbell bench press (25lb max)
    • - 3 x 8 low rows (
    • - 5 100m sprints on the rower
    • Then we rolled some foam.  (It really should be called this.)


  • 6 miles at an easy 9:49 pace.  Half roads, half easy trail, only one hill to bother about.
  • Running the day after lifting heavy is a bit challenging.  It takes a while for my legs to warm up.  It didn't help matters that after a few weeks of running without music, I brought along my iPod shuffle only to have it die two minutes into the run because as it turns out one needs to charge these things.  Who'd'a thought?
  • Nothing like getting home at 7am just in time to hear the baby wake up and demand MILK STORY STORY MILK.  Honestly, awesome mornings, but I could use some time to shower.

Week One Long Run


Nothing like six easy (9:49) miles at sunrise to start the weekend off right.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The training plan.

There are about a million half-marathon plans on the Internet (rough estimate), and I picked the Another Mother Runner: Half Marathon Finish It plan from the Train Like A Mother book.

I'd recommend the book for its training plans, which were designed by a coach.  It has two plans for each of the 5K, 10K, and half and full marathon distances,  The "Finish It" plans are designed to get you into condition to finish your first race at that distance, and the "Own It" plans are more intense, designed for achieving a PR.  The book is less helpful with respect to nutrition and cross-training, so if you want lots of help with that, you'd need another book.

I read about half the Internet trying to find a plan that fit where I was.  I can already run eight miles comfortably, which I define as "finishing the run without wanting to die and having sufficient energy to get through the rest of the day", but I'm a complete beginner at this distance and I've been running only seven months.  As a result, I was in the position of being just a bit advanced for some beginner half plans, as I don't want to cut back to a 4 mile "long run", but not nearly ready to think about serious speed work or tempo runs, mostly because I have no idea what a good pace is for me.  I think this plan hits the sweet spot for me of being challenging without requiring a lot of running know-how.

The one difficulty is that I also want to do some moderate strength training, and fitting it all in without compromising energy levels or ramping up the time commitment is tricky.  

Right now, my plan is to use the cross-training and "fun workout" days as weight-lifting days, but the deadlifts from Wednesday are still beating up my legs, so we'll see how that goes.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Best laid plans.

Sometimes, one plans to get up at 5:30am to do a bit of speed work.  One lovingly lays out one's gear and shoes. Charges the Garmin.
Heads to bed prepared to dream of race routes. 
Then the baby wakes at midnight and won't settle until two.
I'll try for an evening... refueling now....

Update:  7:30pm run for the win!  P.S. Wow, speedwork.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Strength training.

I named this blog "Bulletproof" because that's my main objective in training for this half.  I want to be injury-free and energetic; I work full-time, I have a toddler who never stops moving, and I'm 35, which is an interesting age in that some days I feel twenty-five years old, and some days I look in the mirror and see my grandmother peering back.

(She looks pretty good.  But still.)

At any rate, everyone and their mother recommends strength training for runners, and I actually really enjoy lifting.  It's fun, satisfies my need to track progress, and the only reason I'm not focusing on weightlifting is that it's harder to commit to a program that requires me to go to the gym more than a couple of times a week.  (See above re: toddler.)

I'm lucky in that I have a friend who is a certified weightlifting coach, so throughout this training cycle I'll be lifting heavy twice a week.    Deadlifts, squats, overhead presses, and tons of mobility and core.  Women should lift heavy weights.

(I am nowhere near any of those benchmarks.  Maybe the planks.)

This is necessary because while I haven't been seriously injured (knock on wood), I'm really good at tweaking various muscles and joints, and in the past, they've kept me from running.  And these days I just don't have time for injury time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Boob milk from a cyborg!

And that's why I've never tried a GU.

That, and:

  1. I try to eat real food as much as possible.
  2. My longest run has been only 8.5 miles, so I haven't needed a GU.
  3. I really want to refuel with gummi bears.  Think about it.  Nasty GU, or tasty candy?  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Only half crazy.

I started running seven months ago.

For the first time in my life... it wasn't horrible.

Then I kept at it.

It turns out it can be nice to run, especially out on the trails.

I ran a five-mile race.  Then I ran a six-mile relay leg.

The next step was to sign up for a half marathon.

Pick a training plan.

And, of course, add to the Internet's collection of running blogs.