one girl's adventures in
the world of ultramarathons...
and other stuff...
When I first moved, I was living in New Jersey with my sister and commuting nearly four hours each day to work. During that time I didn't work out at all and felt really tired all the time. I was eating poorly (and not enough) and I lost a lot of energy and inertia that I had spent over a year building up.
In November I was able to move to Park Slope, Brooklyn and join a pretty amazing gym: CrossFit South Brooklyn. Since, I have been there I have been able to make some new friends and workout at least twice if not three times a week.
I am no where near the shape I was in in 2010, but am at least maintaining my conditioning and building strength (15 pound squat PR, what? what?). It's been a struggle to balance work and working out. Although, lately I have been starting to feel a little flame in the pit of my stomach reminding me how much I miss the competition and comraderie of ultras.
I think I will hit a tipping point in the next month or so and sign up for a race and commit to my old habits (including eating better, UGH!).
I miss my San Diego running buds dearly, so here's to finding some in Brooklyn!
I feel bad that I have been neglecting this blog lately. Unfortunately I have been out since May with a shoulder injury and training has been sporadic at best. I'm also in the midst of a cross-country move from San Diego to New York, so I've been a bit busy.
Since I don't yet have a job in NY, I have a feeling I'll be running and updating my blogs more often!
And my shoulder, it's fine. I have been diagnosed with frozen shoulder which is basically when all of the soft tissue in my shoulder joint gets inflammed. The inflammation is so bad that it actually locks up the shoulder joint and I was unable to move it for months. I'm in physical therapy now (very, very, painful PT) and on my way to recovery. There are still a few things I can't do, like pullups for instance, but for the most part I am crossfitting and running again.
I have a 5k this weekend, that I am wholly unprepared for. It's going to be painful, I know.
Next time I write it will be from the East Coast.
So, you might be wondering where I am (you being my two readers). I've been taking it easy for about five weeks now. I hurt my shoulder at CrossFit (not exactly sure what triggered this), but basically I've lost most of my range of motion. My shoulder/arm/neck are all extremely tight and I'm in a bit of pain. I went to the doctor this morning. He was not very optimistic since it's been five weeks of ibuprofen & rest with no improvement. I'm still trying to run a bit, but even that makes my arm sore after a while.
In one week I head back to the doc to see if some anti-inflammatories are working and for him to tell me what the x-ray says. If there is no good news then, I head to the ortho team. Sigh. I'm terrible at being injured, plus I pretty much detest going to the doctor, too much waiting around. Let's all just hope I didn't tear any tendons.
I know, I know, it's been too long since I've written a blog post. I have been busy and this blog hasn't been a priority, but guess what? I'm racing this weekend. That's right, for the first time since October I am racing again. It's a 13 mile trail race and I'm super stoked. I have never been to the course (in fact, I should probably Google directions to the start). I haven't been running a ton like I was last year, but I'm pretty sure I can handle 13 miles.
So what has been keeping me busy? The CrossFit Games Open for one. I'm out now, failed last week's workout, but I'm not too concerned about it, I was just doing it with my team for fun!
I have been a busy bee over at Minted Condition, my design blog and freelance design business.
Oh, and I chose not to blog for the sake of blogging, I wanted to actually have something to say. So onto my real thoughts...
I've been thinking about food, a lot, and mostly thinking about how I have not been eating great for about a month now. Sure, I don't cook pasta, buy bread or eat sandwiches, but my life has been filled with doughnuts (3 + a week), pizza (my weakness), fritos and candy, lots and lots of candy. And you know what? I haven't noticed a dip in my performance nor my body composition (okay maybe a teeny bit here, but not much). So that makes me want to eat more candy, even though I know I shouldn't.
Part of me says, "Do a whole 30 to get back on track" and the other part says "F*** it, you only live once." So that's what's been going on lately, I certainly haven't been a model of fitness and nutrition, but it's been fun!
Helen is one of my all time favorite workouts. I've kept excellent records of this WOD since I started crossfitting.
Helen consists of:
3 rounds for time
400 m run
21 kettlebell swings (1 pood for women, 1.5 pood for men)
April 22, 2009
used 12 kg (3/4 pood) for the swings
used the big green band on pullups
August 17, 2009
red band for the pullups
Somehow finished all of 2010 without doing this WOD???
February 8, 2011
12:14!! Major PR, beat my best time with a lot more weight!!
Recipe time!! I make up a lot of my own recipes and don't always note the exact quantities or cooking times, so sorry if you have trouble, but for these foods it's not a big deal if you change the quantities slightly.
Sweet Potato Pancakes
When I say sweet potato pancakes I don't mean the breakfast kind, I mean potato pancakes, but with sweet potatoes.
Use about 1 potato per person (I used legit sweet potatoes, not yams, but I'm sure yams are good too).
Peel, cut & boil the potatoes until tender ~20 minutes. Then mash them with about 2T of oil per potato. (I'll admit I used butter because in Robb Wolf's book he said occasional grass fed butter is acceptable).
Heat the oven to 400. Then place large spoonfuls of mashed potatoes on a cookie sheet much like you are making cookies. Except they need to be a bit more "disc shape" instead of just balls of potato. Cook 20-30 minutes until the bottom is brown, then flip and cook another 15-20 minutes.
What I like about these as opposed to just eating them mashed is that they get crispy. I really miss crispy foods in the paleo diet like potato chips etc, I don't feel like a standard paleo diet has enough CRUNCH!
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
& Carrot Ginger Soup
Roast 4 packages of trader joe's pre-cut butternut squash with rosemary sprinkled on top (maybe 2 T rosemary) at 400 until tender (20-30 minutes.. Can't remember the timing).
Then use a food processor or blender and mix the roasted squash & rosemary with a total of 4 cups of chicken broth. I do it in 3-4 batches so as not to overfill the blender.
Pour it all into a saucepan to heat up, if it's not soupy enough for you and looks too much like baby food add more broth!
I also use the exact same instructions for carrots with ginger and nutmeg. I'm thinking of doing turnips & jalapenos for next week! But, I wouldn't recommend parsnips, tried them and hated it.
Paleo Banana Muffins
I know some people wouldn't approve of my paleo banana muffins, but I think they are totally legit and make a great snack to grab on the go.
3 bananas (brown ones will be sweeter & easier to mix)
1 cup almond flour
2 T olive oil or coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all of the ingredients well. Distribute into lined muffin tin (makes about 12).
Bake for 10-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Optional: fruit cubes such as apples, pears, peaches. These will make the "muffins" more moist, but add some extra carbs. You can also add 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes or yams if you want a higher carb:fat ratio. Other good extras: raisins, dried cherries, nuts.
Not to toot my own horn or anything, okay, I’m totally tooting my own horn. I’ve had a great week, 4 PRs this week.
- Half marathon by 35 minutes (old 2:30, new 1:55)
- Clean & Jerk by 5 pounds (old 98, new 103)
- Mile by 14 seconds (old 7:01, new 6:47)
- Shoulder press 1 rep max by 5 pounds (old 70, new 75)
Yeah, it’s been a great week, I guess this whole paleo thing actually works, since I’ve been nearly cheat-free for about a month now (cheats were dairy, not gluten, the gluten stuff sets me back about a week, the occasional dairy doesn’t seem to affect me too much).
Anyways, I’ve had some good reads this week and wanted to share:
Zatsiorsky, Scaling, And Power by Jon Gilson - He puts actual numbers on scaling for WODs, I always went by feel, but I’m going to try his method next time.
The Juice Cleanse: A Strange and Green Journey by Judith Newman - Just another affirmation for paleo, these crazies are trying to detox just for a few days, but then go back to their normal diets and put all of those toxins right back in. Might as well just eat paleo and be detoxed for life right?
Running a Different Path by Matt Fitzgerald - I get inspired by elite runners just like any other runner, but when I read this woman’s training plan I was thankful that I am not an elite. 120 miles a week in preparation for her first marathon, yikes! Now, I remember why I don’t read running magazines, they only focus on conventional training methods (a.k.a. more, more, more miles!).
I think the Rock N Roll LA Half Marathon may have been my best race ever! My favorite is still the 50k, because that was totally awesome, but this was the best I’ve ever felt during a race.
I’ve been running for 1 year now and had 4 races. The weird thing about this one was that I went in thinking of it as just another training run. Of course, I wanted to do well, but I felt unprepared for it. I have been in recovery mode for a month. And I didn’t follow any of my normal pre-race routines, in fact all sorts of things were very off for me that I thought would ruin my race:
- Didn’t eat my normal pre-run breakfast (I had a plan, but it was foiled due to a lack of fridge in the hotel) So I ate beef jerky, a zone perfect bar, a banana and a clementine
- Slept on a mildly uncomfortable stow-away bed
- Didn’t eat that great of a dinner the night before (french fries & half a kobe burger without the bun)
- Spent Saturday sightseeing and sitting in LA traffic instead of relaxing
- Didn’t do a CFE style taper, just took 3 rest days leading up to the race
Obviously, none of these things seemed to matter once I got to the start line. I told myself that I was going to finish in 1:55 and I needed to maintain an 8:45 minute mile average. Luckily I had the Garmin and I kept it at 8:43. I went out too hard the first mile, but slowed it down to the right pace by the third. At the beginning, I honestly thought I would only really be able to hold that for the first half then I would slow to a 9:00, but I managed to hold onto that pace the entire race.
First quarter of the race I felt great, this it pretty normal for me. Around mile 4 my left foot started cramping up, I just had to tell myself to relax, if I think about it too much it gets worse.
The hills didn’t really start until about halfway through, but I just picked someone ahead of me and kept running at my pace up the hill until I caught them, then picked another target. I think all of that trail training on hills made these hills seem like gravy. I did have to remind myself that it’s not okay to walk the hills on a short road race, as I have been walking lots of hills on the trail training to prepare for ultras.
One of the pacers at the start described three hills to me, so once I topped the third one around mile ten, I was feeling home free. HA! I must not have been listening to her very well because I turned a corner at mile 11 and about 400 meters ahead was about a 600 meter very steep hill. Everyone I could see on it was barely trudging up it, most were walking. And my right calf had been cramping. I found a salt tab in my hand bottle and took it before I started the ascent. That brought immediate relief to my leg. I charged up this last hill leaving as many as I could in my dust. Then it was a quick descent into downtown LA, with only 1.5 miles to the finish. Of course the last mile sucks, I felt like I was running in slow motion, but my Garmin still said 8:43 average.
As I neared the finish line my legs magically picked up the pace to a sprint for the last 200 meters bringing me in at 1:55:19.
24 hours later I still have a smile plastered to my face. I could not be happier about my time. It was exactly what I wanted. I would have been happy with a 1:59:59, but I crushed that time and I’m stoked!
I think running a half marathon after a 50k is brilliant, the mental aspect of this race was so easy. 10 miles in I was like, “Hey, I only have 3 to go,” instead of 23 more! I had very mild pain compared to most of my races and my energy level stayed pretty consistent throughout (thanks Genr8!). I had no IT band flares, and the only pain was in my left foot and right calf which ended up being fairly mild. Of course, they hurt like hell this morning, but I was able to ignore it for 2 hours yesterday. This was a true time trial, as I was totally smoked at the finish and I know I left it all on the course!
Now I can’t wait for my next race, so I can get that runner’s high again!
// Photo of my friend Lisa and me (right) at the finish
First of all, I must say I'm totally stoked to have been featured on the CrossFit Endurance main site last week! Pictured above.
I know I want to do another 50k, and there is a great one in the PCTR Series in the Santa Monica Mountains Nov. 21, but I'm not sure I can recover and train again by then. I started to run again this week, and while I may have run a little too much for my first week back, my legs are smoked.
First time I noticed a problem was Monday, we did 3 x 400m on the 4 minutes at the gym. I was hitting like 1:29+ 400m rounds, I definitely can do better. I figured since it was my first run it was normal to move a little slowly.
Then on Wednesday we did a 5k time trial at the gym, and I was so slow: 26:49. Based on the improvements in my sprints + middle distance stuff in the last 9 months (which is the last time I got a PR on a 5k time trial) I should have crushed my old time of 25:05.
Wednesday evening at the track I was starting to feel quite glum about running. So I was totally slacking on team 400s. That is until about 25 meters into a lap I heard Ayo come up behind me and I figured since I had been sandbagging the rest of the evening I could keep up with her for a lap. I totally did! That was a first, she's always been much faster than me.
Then, 2 laps later we were at it again, this time I decided I could not only keep up with her, but probably push a little. She said she kept feeling my pull out ahead and we ended up finishing at the same time. It was awesome to have that competition, everyone said it was great to watch us go head-to-head in complete sync. I guess we had the same cadence and stride, someone told us it was a sub 1 minute lap, but we didn't time it.
So I was feeling better after that. Friday morning I managed to get myself out of bed at 5:45 am to go for a short run. At this point my legs were totally, completely done, they literally had nothing to give me. I kept trying to talk myself into it, but at 1.3 miles I turned in and headed home. I was moving ridiculously slow, like 11 minute mile slow.
I'm worried about tomorrow, at least I'm resting today. I hope I can bust out a few good miles with Aubyn tomorrow. If it goes terribly, I might have to reconsider this November race.
I read Robb Wolf's new book, The Paleo Solution, over the weekend. I couldn't rave more about the book and about Robb's knowledge, experience and ability to make things relatable & funny. However, when I was reading the chapter about actually doing paleo I remember all the struggles I had when I first started (and am still having). Talking to friends and coaches over the past year I have learned some useful tips in surviving day-to-day paleo without gouging my eyes out.
I'll be sharing the tips here, sometimes weekly, sometimes less often. I'm hoping to share new things not covered in the book, since everyone should go read it, but there might be some overlap. I've found that the paleo diet works best if you are really compliant, but we aren't living in a paleo-friendly bubble. This is real life, where sometimes there are donuts at the office, deadlines at work, parties with beer or two kids to feed. You can't always make time to cook amazing cave man meals, but you can survive and thrive on the paleo diet if you find some tricks that make it work for your life
If you lose momentum to cook throughout the week, plan your meals most difficult to least difficult, so on Fridays you are preparing your easiest meal. If you gain momentum throughout the week, then do the opposite.
For me, Monday and Tuesday are easy, I'm happy to spend a lot of time chopping, cooking and cleaning, but by Wednesdays I'm starting to wear out from the week. Fridays I usually end up at Chipotle or the Whole Foods pre-made food section, but I could avoid this by making Friday's meal so easy a caveman could do it. I can't believe I just used that phrase, but it was so fitting, thanks GEICO.