Week of 12/4-12/10 (35)

Last Sunday of the semester! Classes are over, 3 finals loom over my head, and by this Wednesday night I will be halfway done with junior year of undergrad.  What!?

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This weekend was full of studying, holiday parties, lunch dates, and watching “Suits” on Amazon Prime.  And it snowed!  I’m currently jamming to Jim Croce while I take a break from studying and wait for my laundry to dry.

Over the past two days, I’ve probably consumed about 300 grams of sugar, so I’m kind of crashing from sugar jitters into a sugar coma that isn’t conducive to productive studying.  Sorry, Spanish final grade… #Ididthistomyself

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Annual cookie party! The shortbread jam and molasses cookies were the BOMB

Anyway.  I had a really good last week of training and life.  Sorting stuff out with my coaches, starting to feel normal again while running, and looking forward to building the strength and the booty in the weight room.

Week of 12/4-12/10:

  • Monday: AM: 30 min bike.  Trainer for stim/heat + stretch.  PM: lap, active warm-up, lap, speed ladder, hurdles, 5 miles, general strength, foam roll, rope stretch.
  • Tuesday: lap, active warm-up, 2 miles, 3 mile tempo (6:27, 6:17, 6:22), 2 miles.  I am out of shape!  Lift in weight room- felt strong but weak (as in, I felt good but know I will be much stronger.)  Stim + NormaTec.
  • Wednesday: AM: 60 min pool (30 swim, 30 aqua jog).  My swim pace is getting faster!  PM: circuits, rope stretch, foam roll.
  • Thursday:  AM: lap, active warm-up, 8 miles, upper body lift in weight room, NormaTec + stim/heat.  Run felt stiff and tiring but good meeting!  PM: 20 min bike.
  • Friday:  AM: 6 miles kinda fast, felt good! 4 x strides, speed ladder, hurdle drills, general strength 2.  PM: circuits (4 min elliptical w/u and c/d)
  • Saturday: 9 miles (started at 7:20s, cut down to 6:40s, and my last mile was like 6:25).  It was rainy and cold but I felt awesome!  The group was great.
  • Sunday: 30 min bike.  Planning on doing yoga tonight, but we’ll see if that happens 😉
Total: 35 miles + 140 min XT + lots of strength
Had some really good runs and cross trains throughout this week.  Tuesday and Thursday weren’t fun; I definitely could not have gone much faster or longer than Tuesday’s measly 3-mile tempo, and my legs felt tight and unpleasant throughout Thursday’s run.
But Monday and Friday went really well, and we crushed Saturday’s long run!  6:40 miles felt almost easy, and I really pushed the last mile since the run was shorter than usual.  After spending over an hour in the freezing rain and wind, it took us awhile to warm up afterwards.  My roommate and I hibernated in our apartment eating oatmeal, drinking coffee, and listening to Christmas music while a fake fireplace crackled on the TV (lol).
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A wee bit chilly!

Shoutout to strength- the guns are unreal right now!  When we first realized we’d be doing strength routines every day, we were a little apprehensive and overwhelmed, but the circuits have turned out to be more like cross trains, and each routine works different muscles, so it’s not like we’re hitting the same thing every day.
I’m excited to increase the mileage and continue to focus on deliberate practice.  Everything we do is incorporated into our training for a reason!  I should hit low-to-mid-40s throughout this coming week.  Haven’t decided when I’m going home, but I’m looking forward to finishing out the semester strong (hopefully)!  Tomorrow brings a Spanish exam from 2-5 pm and a business analytics exam and pressure cooker from 7-10 pm.  The grind is #tooreal.
Have a great week and get after it!
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Thanksgiving and season wrap-up

Happy Monday! aka the time of year when it is finally socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music.  Due to a fire on campus, the power is out as I’m typing this, so there’s a bit of an eerie vibe.  I also realized how woefully unprepared I am for winter when I had to scrape frost off my car this morning using an old Sweet Frog gift card and a wooden spatula.  #nice.

After five days at home, I woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to avoid hitting the post-Thanksgiving traffic on the drive back to school.  I didn’t want to leave that early, but I made a pit stop at Starbucks to motivate myself 😉  It ended up being a good choice because the traffic report on the interstate turned completely red later in the day.

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Thanksgiving break was pretty great.  I drove home last Monday after class and got home in time for dinner!  I hadn’t been home since August and was feeling extremely homesick and burnt out on campus.  After a crazy couple years, my family is feeling a little more “settled”, so even though I’ve been out of the house for longer, it felt more like coming home.  On Tuesday, I ran for the first time since regionals- 30 minutes felt decent, but new strength circuits afterwards killed me off and I could hardly walk on Wednesday!  I ran with a friend on the canal on Wednesday, and it was beautiful outside.

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My family went to a local family friend’s house for Thanksgiving like we do almost every year.  This year, there was quite an eclectic gathering of 20 people.  But it somehow all worked! IMG_9789.jpgThere was an incredible amount of food- two turkeys, three kinds of stuffing, two types of mac and cheese, an addictive sweet potato/brown sugar/pecan casserole, cranberry sauce, roasted vegetables, rice, gravy, salad, mashed potatoes, butternut squash and kale casserole, rolls…the works.  And for dessert: chocolate mousse made by yours truly, pumpkin pie made by my pie-connoisseur-brother (he bruleed the top with a blowtorch), homemade whipped cream, apple crisp, and lemon bites.  Additionally, approximately 15 bottles of red wine were consumed.

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Making homemade whipped cream!

Overall, it was a great Thanksgiving.  So much to be thankful for. 🙂  My brother, dad, and I went hiking and rock scrambling on the Billy Goat Trail on Friday and then went out for pho to warm up.

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Part adrenaline junkie, part monkey

On Saturday, I ran six miles with a high school teammate, went to brunch with some friends from high school, took a bath and finally used my jacuzzi jets after a year and a half, and then we had a dinner party with my stepsister and her family.  I made vegan chocolate chip cookies to accommodate all parties, and even the anti-vegan family members thought they were delicious!  (Pretty much just sub a flax egg for regular eggs and coconut oil for butter.)

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Last Sunday, my team had our Team Thanksgiving.  We made food, dressed up, and played ridiculous games per usual…it was a blast 🙂  And the food was delicious!  I made cranberry sauce, chocolate mousse, and a crockpot dish with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, pecans, and a spiced apple cider glaze.

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I think that about sums up Thanksgiving break!  Honestly, I did not want to come back yesterday, and I felt pretty depressed about the prospect of being back for a few weeks.  I’m not sure why this is happening my junior year (rather than freshman year), but my roommate mentioned that she felt the same way, which was somewhat reassuring.  Even though we’re still homesick and disenchanted (and in my case, 110% broke), we are excited to get back into training, crush finals, and get ready for Christmas!


On another note, I want to briefly recap my break week and plans for transitioning back into training, as well as some goals for the upcoming track season.

Cross country 2017 recap:

  • Ran approximately 1,300 miles (from May 22 to November 10). So I beat last year’s season total by 9 miles!
  • 5 races
  • After a great summer of training (and not doing much else honestly), I arrived on campus feeling fit and ready to go.  I started working out with the top group, and my team felt cohesive and excited for a strong season.  Unfortunately, team-wise, we never got it together and were plagued with injuries, illness, weird circumstances, etc.  It was very demoralizing.
  • Individually, I felt like I really hit my stride in mid-October, right as my team was starting to fall apart.  My race at Penn State pumped me up for CAAs, and I wanted to try to contend for the win!  However, my body started rebelling, and I had a terrible race at CAAs, finishing 19th.  This persisted through regionals (fatigue, nausea, headaches, every run was bad), and by the end of the season, nothing was going well.
  • Interestingly, weight room did not go well this year.  I adore the weight room; lifting has always been fun for me, and I love to push myself (like chin-ups with chains!) and notice my form stay intact when I get tired during a race.  But this season, it just didn’t click.  I felt weak, tired, and did not progress in the weight room.

SO.  Not the way we wanted to end things, and I’m hungry for so much more.  In retrospect, there were some systematic issues that didn’t work for anyone on the team, and we have had discussions and brainstormed on how to be smarter going forward.


Looking forward to the 2018 track seasons:

After taking ten days off from running, I ran 19 miles and cross trained for 30 minutes last week.  I also completed some new strength circuits that will be incorporated into our training going forward.  20ish minutes of burpees, push-ups, jump squats, etc. left me hobbling around!

I’ve gotten bloodwork done and gone to the doctor to figure out what is wrong with my body.  In addition to the fatigue, my hair has become brittle and thin.  Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten any conclusive answers yet.  Tests for mono, thyroid issues, Lyme disease, anemia, etc. all came back negative.  So we shall see.

Going into track, I’m determined to be smart, listen to my body, and strive for the highest but quietly and humbly put in the work.  This will include:

  • More cross training!  As cross country progressed, I pretty much stopped cross training completely.  Last spring, I couldn’t put together consistent mileage, but cross training left me feeling strong as hell.  While I hope to maintain consistent mileage this season, I want to swim and/or bike at least twice a week.  My mileage might be a little lower, but it’s all about quality and sustainability.
  • Build more explosive power!  I naturally have pretty good speed for a distance runner.  However, my speed has not really developed since coming to college!  I want to incorporate more dynamic explosive exercises into my track training so that the last 400 meters of the 5k are actually impressive. Jumping squats and lunges, burpees, box jumps, and speedwork.  Embrace the pain!
  • Mentality: focus when you need to, relax when you need to, remember that you adore running, and don’t take life too seriously 🙂
  • Yoga!! I did a good job incorporating yoga into my training throughout the summer but definitely slacked in season.  Last spring, some of us would meet for relaxing yoga sessions every Wednesday and Saturday, and I want to restart this!

Already this week, I’m feeling much better than I had been at the end of cross country.  My body seems to have somewhat recovered, and I’ve been running happy.  I have no desire to do anything except easy, maintenance mileage for now, and I’m trying to appreciate every run.  But I still skipped out on doing yoga yesterday.  One step at a time…

 

First week of summer

This time of the year is always strange.  My brothers are still in school for another month, summer training hasn’t really picked up yet, and my internship doesn’t start until the end of the month.  Every year, I have trouble with the transition to summer mode because I’m the type that gets anxious if I have “nothing to do” on a given day.  I tend to feel guilty and unproductive even though the ability to relax is just as important for overall health as things like sleep and exercise!  So the beginning of this past week was hard, but I’ve been able to enjoy the leisure time more each day!

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Highlights of this week:

Miles run: 16
Minutes cross trained: 70
Number of times I went out to eat: ZERO! (I’m really proud of that- trying really hard to be more frugal.)*

*Okay, I did go to Starbucks twice, but only because I had a gift card!

The few miles that I did run felt good.  There was some bunion pain, but the rest of my body didn’t feel as lethargic as I’d thought it would!

One day, a friend and I went on a picnic and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  Another day, I went hiking with another friend.  I read a cliché summer book (The Vacationers) in one three-hour sitting.  We ate dinner outside as a family and tried fruitlessly to keep the mosquitos away with Citronella candles (didn’t work).  I spent hours and hours outside, soaking up the Vitamin D and beautiful weather.  One night brought a counterintuitively peaceful summer thunderstorm.

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I’m trying to cook even more (and be more creative in the kitchen), and my brother has been helping with the food photography because he has a nice camera 😉  This week, I made the pancakes mentioned in the last post…

Lentil stew stuffed sweet potatoes from The Cutting Veg

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Topped with yogurt and fresh basil (sounds weird, tastes incredible)

…and I also sauteed turnip greens for the first time, so as to not waste them.  Yum!

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Roasted turnips and sweet potatoes, fresh tomato, sauteed turnip greens, mushrooms, green onions, and garlic with chicken

I also made copycat Levain Bakery cookies!  I’ve never actually been to Levain Bakery, but these cookies turned out incredible.

Last but not least, I cooked my first live crabs yesterday.  I love crabs and hadn’t eaten them in years!  They were delicious.  What a cool experience.

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Now that I’m at home, I have access to a plethora of foods that were much more difficult to access at school.  We have the seasonal vegetables from our CSA.  Turnips, radishes, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce…all local and much fresher and more flavorful than anything you’d find at the grocery store!  Amazing farmer’s markets.  A semi-stocked pantry (although with two teenage boys and a college runner, nothing lasts long in this house).

This is allowing me to continue to develop my passion for cooking, for which I am so grateful!  It’s also been easier to avoid going out to eat and be more innovative and think of what I can make with the ingredients that we already have in the house.  Three cheers for saving money and eating cheaply, but healthily!

I’m itching to start training for real, but reminding myself to be patient!

First race in uniform! + Thanksgiving, finals, and other things

I am currently smack in the middle of my first set of college finals, along with my running break.  So far, I’ve taken my microeconomics final (fine), bio 220 final (HORRIBLE), and I just turned in my final paper for my freshman seminar.  Next Wednesday, I have my Spanish final exam and final paper due.  After that, I head home for a month of running, sleeping, holiday cookie baking, dog sitting, and friends!

Thanksgiving break was pretty fun.  Although I did not repeat the Thanksgiving debacle of 2013, I did gorge myself pretty heartily over the five days.

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My brother and I after a solid hour of eating

Every lunch and dinner that I ate from Thursday to Sunday was leftovers.  Whoops.

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I also met up with my three best friends from high school for some holiday cookie baking on our last night home.  It was a lot of fun!

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After a nightmarish journey back to school due to post-Thanksgiving traffic, my roommate and I decorated our room for Christmas!

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Last Saturday was my first race in uniform- the 3k!  In the two weeks leading up to the race, I started experiencing pain in my lower right leg and foot, which I think was due to a combination of dead shoes, transitioning to the track, and just overall accumulation of training since June.  Also, I hammered easy runs and training in general over Thanksgiving break…oops.  There was one maintenance run especially where I ran with my (ALL-AMERICAN! YES, SHE GOT IT!) teammate and other speedy teammates, and I was dying.  Not fun.  I forced my legs to survive until the race, so they were less than 100%.  Oh, well!

We got to the venue around 3:15 and warmed up around 5:45 for 20 minutes.  It made me so happy to be back in the indoor track environment; I love indoor so much!  Even though it was a different venue with college teams instead of high school, it still made me really nostalgic for those hours spent sitting on the nasty yellow bleachers at the PG County Sportsplex in high school.

My coaches seeded everyone really fast so that we would be in the faster heat.  The first heat went off, and we did strides while we waited.  It was my first time wearing buns!

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We lined up and the gun went off.  I knew I was going way faster than I’d be able to keep up, but I just settled in and decided to enjoy it even though I knew I was going to die.  By lap 5, the bothersome pain that had been bugging one of my legs decided to flare up exponentially worse.  Both of my legs were on fire.  It felt like my shins were being ripped apart, and the feeling was getting worse every lap.  I tried to ignore it and focused on working with one of my teammates, and we came through the mile in 5:33.  The next seven laps were a struggle, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but yes, I ended up running in last.  Oh, well!

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The burning in my shins was horrid by the end of the race, but I finished in 10:47.  Not a terrible time for my first race in uniform!  I know I’m in much better shape than that, though.  After the race, I cooled down, then iced my shins for awhile, then gorged myself on Panera and chocolate chip cookies.

This break from running has been good to my legs so far, and I’m looking forward to getting back into training and doing all the little things that I’ve slightly neglected recently.  I love running.  I love indoor track.  I am so excited to race again. 🙂

 

Chocolate is greater than homework (and everything else)

I have lots of physics homework.  I have a math quiz tomorrow.  Most importantly, I have a 25-minute oral presentation for English that may happen tomorrow.

But am I currently working on any of this?

Nope.

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To be fair, I was doing my homework.  I’ve typed up five pages of a script outline for my presentation, but I can never concentrate for more than an hour without eating.

So…chocolate!

On Friday, I really, really wanted brownies.  I arrived home from school at 1 pm (it was an early release day) and opened the baking cabinet to find…

No chocolate chips.

No baker’s bars.

No unsweetened chocolate.

Gahhhhh!!!

I did, however, find a cup of vanilla Greek yogurt in the refrigerator.  I can’t stand vanilla Greek yogurt by itself, but then I thought: “Can I use this in brownies?”  I found a recipe online (granted, it called for stuff that I didn’t have), made a few tweaks, and waited to see what would result.

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Success! A fudgey yet cakey brownie (sans chocolate chips) made with vanilla Greek yogurt!

Recipe:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
*Optional: 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Mix flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. In a mixer, combine butter and sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, egg whites, and vanilla; mix until incorporated.  Slowly add flour mixture, followed by yogurt.  *Add chocolate chips if using.  Spread into an 8×8 pan and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

I would have preferred if they didn’t have butter and whatnot, but they were definitely not as unhealthy as they could have been.  They turned out delicious and I probably could have taken them out of the oven a couple minutes earlier, because they did continue to bake while cooling.  Leaving them be (in a sealed container) for a day makes them much sweeter and gooier.  Yay!

This weekend has been a mixture of chocolate, boredom, exercise, and schoolwork-related death.

Today, I decided to make hot chocolate truffle cookies, after failing at making these last week.  This time, it was a success!!

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They aren’t very photogenic… but they taste amazing!  Another plus is that they have zero added sugar.  (They have dates in them)

Yes, I did take pictures of cookies on a windowsill.  But I think their truffle-like decadence makes up for it.  Seriously.  They are so good.

I’ll admit they’re a tiny bit dry, but that makes them all the better for dipping in milk! Yum! Or even better– eating with vanilla ice cream!!

All this chocolate consumption has me worried for regionals on Wednesday…… I’ve officially decided to run the 2 mile! Eek!