Monthly Archives: January 2011

Sticky 4 Mile Tempo

Sorry to rub this in your face, but we’ve been having beautiful weather here in Texas.  My car said it was 70 when I left work to head to the park!  It felt great except for the humidity.  I felt sticky just walking, and I was completely disgusting by the end of the run.  I’m not sure how I’ll handle the summer humidity while running. 

But for all of you up North, don’t worry – we have our fair share of nasty weather coming our way.  It starts with thunderstorms tonight, a wind advisory for tomorrow and a hard freeze advisory tomorrow night.  And they (the weather people) are actually predicting snow for us on Friday!  I’m a little excited :)

Despite the humidity tonight’s run was awesome.  Maggie and I planned to do the 4 mile tempo run just a little faster than we did last week’s 4 miles.  And we did!  The first mile warm-up pace felt good at just over 10 minutes.  My legs were feeling stiff in the beginning but I could feel them loosening up as we went.

The second and third tempo miles felt fast.  I didn’t really want to slow down.  My legs and breathing both felt pretty good until the end of the third mile, when I had a burning feeling shooting through my legs.

Although the tempo miles felt good, I was ready to slow down when we hit mile four.  We started the mile at a 10:30 or so pace, but after we began to cool down, I could tell we were starting to push it again.  We hit our 5k at 29:10 (another new 5k record).  I would have been happy to keep it slow, but my running partner was a speed demon tonight!  I found myself pushing to keep up with her, but it was great motivation to really give a little extra toward the end.  And I was happy I did because it led to a great time.  Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:11
  • Mile 2:  9:04
  • Mile 3:  8:52
  • Mile 4:  10:00
  • Total:  38:07 (9:32 average pace)

Once again, it’s great to see week to week progress.  Our fastest tempo mile last week was 9:06.  Part of me wonders if sometimes we’re just not pushing ourselves as hard as we could.  But it’s nice to see progress.

I hope y’all stay warm if you’re in the blizzard this week!  And if you live in the South – any tips for surviving the “hard freeze” would be greatly appreciated.  I’ve never heard of covering pipes or leaving faucets dripping all night until I moved down here.  I’m not even sure I know what covering the pipes means :-p

Sloppy Joes

I first began cooking my junior year of college, after moving out of the dorms and into an apartment.  At the time I had just a few recipes that I would make over and over again, including this recipe for Sloppy Joes.

I love the version from Allrecipes.com, and after becoming a vegetarian, I’ve continued to make a meatless version of it.  It doesn’t take long (even less time if you don’t have to brown the meat!), and it’s great comfort food.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package soy ground crumbles
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

I always start by chopping up the veggies.

Sauté the veggies in olive oil with the garlic.  I love the smell of onion and garlic cooking in the kitchen.

Next, add the soy ground crumbles and break them up.  Then add the ketchup and the rest of the ingredients.  Now it will smell really good in your kitchen!

Pat eats his Sloppy Joes on hamburger buns, and I eat mine on sandwich thins.

What do you put in your Sloppy Joes?

Banana Bread

What are you supposed to do when you have rotting bananas lying around?

Make banana bread of course!  In grad school I had a roommate who would always make banana bread when we had rotting bananas.  It was bad for the waistline, but her bread was so, so good.  I’ve actually never made it myself before.

I searched some of my favorite sites and cookbooks for a recipe and couldn’t decide which to try.  Many were similar with just slight variations, so I made my own.

Ingredients:

  • 4 “ripe” bananas
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup shredded (unsweetened) coconut

Start by mixing the bananas, butter and egg in a bowl.  I put the butter in the microwave for just 10 seconds to soften it and then went to work at mashing the bananas.

I then mixed in the rest of the ingredients.  I even broke out the handheld mixer for this one.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

It was delicious!  It came out a little crumbly, but I think I cut into it too soon.  After I gave it more time to cool the bread seemed to thicken a bit.

It’s very moist.  I think the flaxseed adds a nice nutty flavor, and the unsweetened coconut is very subtle.  If you want a sweeter bread I would try sweetened coconut.  I will definitely make this one again.  In fact, I have 4 bananas sitting on the counter now, just waiting to ripen :)

6 Miles or Dip Week

I set up my training schedule so every 4th week I see a dip in my weekly mileage and a shorter long run.  From what I’ve read, giving yourself a week of lower mileage allows you to keep up with your training, but gives your body adequate time to recover.  Although I like to see my mileage increase each week, I would also like to avoid injury.  I hope it will also help me to avoid burnout from trying to always top my distance from the previous week.

Over the past 4 weeks I ran 6, 7, 8, and 9 miles.  Today it was time to drop back to the 6.  Maggie and I met for a late morning run.  I expected our normal running trail to be less crowded today since the Houston Marathon is tomorrow, but it was busier than usual and filled with lots of walkers.  Which meant lots of zig-zagging around other people.

The last time I ran 6 miles (on January 2, 2011), I ran at a pace of 11:09/mile and finished in 1:06:54.  It is amazing to see the improvements I have made after just one month of following my training plan.  I cut more than a minute per mile off my pace!  Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:00
  • Mile 2:  9:49
  • Mile 3:  9:58
  • Mile 4:  9:51
  • Mile 5:  10:12
  • Mile 6:  9:36
  • Total:  59:26 (9:55 average pace)

That’s more than 7 minutes off of my previous 6 miles.  And it felt pretty good!  By the time we hit mile 5 I could feel myself getting tired.  I know it’s all mental, but I wanted to slow down a bit so I could really push it in the final mile.  My left knee started hurting during the last half mile, but it wasn’t terrible.  We sprinted the last 0.20 miles as fast as we could to have a strong finish.

I’ve noticed these past 3 weeks that I feel really sleepy after these long runs.  When I get home I always stretch and foam roll, and then shower before eating some lunch.  After lunch I have been falling asleep on the couch (while cuddling my puppy – it always seems to fit her nap schedule!)… but I’m not sure why I feel so tired.

I’ve never been much of a napper.  Usually when I nap I have trouble falling asleep at night.  I thought the past few weeks were because 8 and 9 miles were farther than I’ve ever run, but I didn’t expect to feel so sleepy after just 6 miles today.  I wish I didn’t get so tired, because between the long run and my nap, I feel like I’ve lost most of my Saturday.

Do you take naps after your long runs?

5k (unofficial) PR

The training plan called for an easy three miles tonight.  But after Maggie and I came so close to running a 5k in under 30 minutes on Tuesday, we decided to see if we could meet that goal tonight.  So we settled on a goal of a steady but somewhat speedy 3.1 miles.

I wanted to take the first mile a little slower, and speed up as we went.  I always worry that if I use too much energy early on, I won’t have any left by the end and I’ll want to walk or jog too slowly to meet a goal.  I guess this is why negative splits seem to be encouraged, but it can be hard to keep it slow when I feel most of my energy at the beginning of the run.  We did great with this tonight though.

Our first mile felt good, but the second mile felt rough.  I wanted to slow down and have a nice easy jog, but tried to push through it.  By the time we got to the third mile, I was telling myself that one mile is easy – and it didn’t seem so hard to keep a fast pace.

Not only did we beat our goal of 30 minutes, but we beat it by 36 seconds!  Not bad at all considering the time for my first 5k back in December was 31:42.  Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  9:48
  • Mile 2:  9:32
  • Mile 3:  9:18
  • Mile 3.1:  8:10 pace
  • Total:  29:23 (9:29 average pace)

The excitement of our run today (and all your encouraging comments) was the push I needed to sign up for a real 5k on February 12, 2011:

2011 Texas Med 5k

I know I can set a real PR at this race – and hopefully do just as well as we did tonight!

What race(s) are you training for?

Feeling Speedy

The title says it all:  I felt speedy tonight.  I did six quarter mile intervals tonight.  I had a lot of pent up “energy” from today, and I felt much better after running it out.  My splits (by pace):

  • Warm up:  (10:46)
  • 1/4 mile 1:  7:45
  • Recovery:  (10:59)
  • 1/4 mile 2:  7:26 !!
  • Recovery:  (11:09)
  • 1/4 mile 3:  8:14
  • Recovery:  (12:53) -> this is where I began walking
  • 1/4 mile 4:  7:41
  • Recovery:  (13:17)
  • 1/4 mile 5:  8:00
  • Recovery:  (14:22)
  • 1/4 mile 6:  7:38
  • Recovery:  (11:36)
  • Total:  3.25 miles, 32:58 (10:09 average pace)

I’m pretty happy with these speeds.  You’ll notice my recovery pace got slower and slower as I went – but walking seemed to allow me to speed up during the quarter miles.  Also, during my last recover, “Awful” by Hole came on my iPod and gave me the push I needed to jog the whole thing.

I was hoping to do at least a few of the quarter miles at around an 8:00 pace.  I had no idea that I was going that much faster!  I’ll be honest – I loved the feeling of weaving in and out of other runners.  There were a few runners who would pass me while I was jogging/walking, then I would speed by – then they would pass me again.  I wondered if they thought I was weird for doing that, but hopefully they weren’t paying too much attention.  If only I could hold those paces for more than a quarter of a mile :) 

I think speedwork is starting to grow on me.  I really have noticed improvements in my speed each week.  Being a fairly new runner, I have a feeling that the longer I run the slower the improvement will be.  But a big part of why I’ve been motivated to keep running is that it doesn’t take long to notice improvements.  Even if it’s just 2-3 seconds off a mile or average pace, it’s something.

Do you do speedwork?  If so, do you enjoy it?  What is your favorite speed workout?

4 Mile Tempo

It was great to get back to my normal running routine today.  Maggie and I ran a 4 mile tempo run in pretty good time.  This run felt great.  I’m finding that the fourth mile is always my favorite.  That seems to be when my legs really wake up and I get a jolt of energy.  Part of me was itching to keep going tonight, but I didn’t want to overdo it.  I’m supposed to run the next two nights now, and I didn’t want to hurt myself or wear my legs out tonight. 

The goal for tonight was a warm-up mile at 10:30, 2 miles at 9:40, and a cool-down mile.  Of course, we ran our speedy miles in less than 9:40, but I pick that pace because it’s my 10k goal pace.  Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:35
  • Mile 2:  9:28
  • Mile 3:  9:06
  • Mile 4:  10:15
  • Total:  39:25 (9:52 average pace)

Our 5k was somewhere around 30:08.  Getting close to my goal of finishing one in under 30 min!  I’m actually thinking about registering for a 5k in February, but I haven’t decided for sure yet.  It would mess with my training schedule, but I’m sure I could work around it.  We’ll see!