Monday, November 16, 2009

Fall frolickings

This past weekend my beloved Wisconsin Track Club raced at NIRCA XC Nationals [NIRCA being an organization for collegiate running clubs that is pretty sweet]. The boys repeated as national champs [woot woot!] and the girls got 4th, which is pretty awesome considering that last year we got 9th. It's CRAZY business though how much faster that team is getting, last year at nationals I was the 6th runner on our team [granted, in a mind-blowingly awful race in which I ran a minute and a half slower than my PR...but yeah] after generally hanging out around the #4 or 5 spot in the earlier part of the season. This year? My previous PR would have put me 10th on our team. Holy crap, my friends are FAST!

I really do miss cross country - both the team aspect and just the races themselves...running fast over hills and through the mud and was just so cool and badass. I kind of missed out on the XC season at Franklin Park here because I was in marathon mode, and something tells me that next fall might be more of a return to the trails instead of marathon madness. I didn't really think about it or miss it until after I finished the marathon, when I saw all of my teammates busting out these amazing times and I couldn't help but wonder...if everyone I've been running with for 4 years is kicking ass now...would I be doing the same? Would I be dropping tons of time too? Or would I be getting left in the dust? It was weird looking at the results and thinking "oh, well if I ran in the same spot as I usually do...I would be PRing by a lot!" Obviously I was committed to a much different goal this season, and only one of those teammates has run a marathon [and she's way better than me in all distances anyway :)] so it doesn't really bother me, but it's just kind of...weird. As I think I said at some point previously on this blog, this is the first time my life hasn't been measured in track and XC seasons, and it's sort of strange not having all these races to improve upon throughout the year and instead just having this one BIG race. I'm thinking that for my Boston training cycle, I'm going to try to include more races in my training, because they're a good stimulus for me to run hard and not slack off, plus they let me keep my sanity a little bit. :)

So, I must have been thinking about running fast when I went on my usual Chestnut Hill Reservoir loop today, because I ran the fastest I ever have on that loop...I'm calling it an "unintentional tempo run" - 5.8 miles at 7:18 pace. It was such a gorgeous, crispy, sunny fall day, and I really got into a great rhythm for the first time in what feels like a looooong time. How has it been a month since the marathon?

On Sunday I actually sucked it up and ran 9.5 miles which was...interesting? It was super humid which didn't help my situation, but I was kind of sad at how exhausted I felt. Then I realized that my longest run in the past month had been 6 miles [once] and I didn't feel so bad anymore. I did keep a 7:49 average pace so that was pretty good, my life probably would have been a lot easier if I would have just slowed down but we all know that's not how I roll. :) Seriously though, I think it's time for this girl to get back into the running groove! My knee is still a little questionable at times, like at the end of todays fast run it was definitely tight and cranky, but I'm keeping an eye on it and stretching and doing strenthening exercises like a mofo...and I think as long as I'm not an idiot and completely overdo it, it will be OK.

I also decided...finally...that this winter, I am going to start doing ABS again! My core could definitely use some work, and it's been so long since I did any ab/back exercises...too long! My new ab workout is called...POWER HOUR ABS! It's kind of like 8 minute IS 8 minute abs, but I keep track of the time using a playlist I made for a power hour a couple years ago. Exactly 1-minute songs that are all fun and get you excited to do some crunches? Heck yes! I'm also going to try to start working some pushups and other arm stuff into my routine because I am a weakling when it comes to my arms! And I figure, any kind of increase in strength anywhere is bound to help my running one way or another!

Well in non-running related news, I had a fantastic weekend. On Friday night the BF and I had an impromptu Mexican fiesta with a couple friends, complete with a couple Coronas with lime and Chipotle-style burritos the BF and I cooked up...yum! Saturday we headed to The Baseball Tavern and watched the Badgers kick the crap out of most-hated MICHIGAN so that was pretty sweet. We decided to go to the aquarium after the game because it was rainy and crappy, and being members, we get in for free whenever we want! They have a really cool jellyfish exhibit:

Cool sea nettles

They also do a lot with bigger sea animals like seals, sharks, and [my personal favorite] SEA TURTLES!!

Myrtle the turtle!

This one is my personal favorite! His name is Bandalier and he's just a little guy...the aquarium does lots of sea turtle rescues around this time of year when turtles get stranded as they head south and get shocked by the cold. I'm a total sucker for random animals [llamas, goats, penguins...] and I think sea turtles may have been added to the list of ridiculous animals that I just love for some reason. :) [Also, I really like the name Bandalier for some reason, and I decided that when I finally get a road bike, that's what it's name will be. Just FYI, I like planning ahead on these things haha]

And finally, I just have to share the dinner I made yesterday....I was really excited about it haha. Being poor grad students/college graduates, the BF and often survive on such delicacies as mac & cheese, ham sandwiches, and black beans & rice...all delicious, but not much fun or excitement, and no real cooking involved! So occasionally we entertain ourselves and come up with something fun, delicious, healthy, and reasonably cheap to create. Last night I got the idea into my head that I really wanted some acorn squash with brown mom always used to make it in the fall when I was younger, but I definitely haven't had it since going to college! I went to Whole Foods [which conveniently and somewhat horribly] is located like a block from my apartment, and picked up some squash, brown sugar, and some things to mix into pasta. The squash was super easy to just throw a little butter and sugar into and bake, then I threw together some pasta [I really like those curly ones, they're fun] with sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and olive oil. Add a Saranac Maple Porter to top it off and...ta da! A delicious fall dinner!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Hump Day!


Lacey Nicole said...

interesting- i also prefer curly or round/textured pasta. haha.

you do the chestnut hill reservoir!!! some of the hills getting to/from there (not sure your direction) are killer!!!!! elliot and i used to run from allston st where his last apt was. :) he went to BC so i've been a reservoir runner for years now, but now that i don't live around there i rarely go. for some reason i REALLY REALLY love running around water...?

it's too bad to feel out of the system isn't it, after graduation? i bet there is a track club in boston you could find to do workouts with. there must be...

the gym i go to is Planet Fitness in Waltham. they have one downtown, too, i heard it is smaller. they are a chain, so check out their website. i believe the rates vary depending on their offers ( you might have to pay like a $50 join up fee for example) but it is $10/mo if you go to just one gym or if you want the any-gym pass (any location) it is $20/mo. it's standard gym-- just cardio/weights. and... tanning. lol. it's quite the crowd i have to say.

power hour is a GREAT idea to use for abs!!!!!!! what exercises do you rotate between? i totally have a power hour mix... lol.

lindsay said...

i feel the same way about my hs xc team. i used to run in the 4 or 5 spot with pathetic 24-min 5ks! lol. now i wouldn't even be in the top 10, but that's a good thing for the program! i am a little jealous of all the girls and their amazing speed, but in a good way of course:)