Monday, March 17, 2014

Signs from the Universe

aka What the Heck Have I Been Up To? (aka sorry this is wayyyyy long)

Before I get into why the Universe is sending little old me signs when it probably has other important things to do (but it's the UNIVERSE, so it can like, do a LOT of things, it's really NBD), let me back up and tell you what I've been up to. There have been a lot of changes.

First, right around the beginning of February I made a pretty big diet change. I know that I feel best when I eat as little processed food as possible and when I exclude dairy (wahhhh...cheeeese...). I had been lurking around the Vega Sport Website and was looking at their Thrive Forward program. They have tons of free recipes that are heavily plant based and vegan. I've been using their protein powders for a while and really like them. Their energy gels and electrolyte powders are great too. They don't upset my stomach like most do and are all natural. It's all vegan too, for those that need that.

Now, before I lose some of you, I'm not vegan. However, since I don't eat much meat and can't really have the dairy, these recipes are great for me as is, or to add some meat to. I'm loving making "power bowls" which is basically a grain on the bottom (1/2-3/4c of quinoa, brown rice or barley usually), lots of greens (I actually really love kale, so that works), whatever veggies are around (bell pepper, onion, carrots...can't do broccoli), some protein and then whatever fun toppings you have (seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit, avocado, olives etc). Sometimes I make a sauce out of cashews (you can find the recipe for "cashew cream" on the Vega site or on other blogs) to put on top. That's usually my lunch, and I'll have plain rolled oats with unsweetened coconut milk (in the carton in the dairy section, not the canned stuff...totally different), fruit and nuts for breakfast. For dinner I usually have eggs, tofu or some chicken with whatever leftover veggies we have. My new favorite snack is a couple of pitted dates with peanut butter in the middle.

P.S. If you want an easy, really yummy tofu recipe check out this one from Eat Live Run (you have to scroll down and as a side not, I don't agree with her calorie breakdown, just go by the package label).


That was change number one. Then I finally went to spin class. I kept on chickening out, because the intro class was a wee bit to early for me to make it to. For some reason I feel especially wary of new things in the morning. I was saying this to my personal training partner and she was like, "DUH GIRL. Just go to the Saturday morning class and tell her you're new. She is awesome and will help you. I promise!" And I did. And she was so right. AND THE CLASS WAS AWESOMEEEEE!!! I am now addicted.

Before I knew it I felt totally different about training and food. I had been waiting since last summer to figure out how to motivate myself. There's no magic. There's nothing I purposefully did. I was just sick of feeling crappy because I didn't eat right and at the same time, got caught up in spinning. My swim class also started up again so I got caught up in a pretty good routine. Spin for 45-60 minutes two times a week, 75 minutes of swim, 60 minutes of personal training and 1-2 runs of about 3 miles (the mileage will be increasing soon). It's like all of a sudden I don't question if I'm going to do a workout. I just go. It's as automatic as going to work or making a stop at the grocery store. I feel really good.

As fate would have it, The Husband uncharacteristically insisted we sign up for the Ras na hEireann 5K in Somerville. We usually try to go to that or it's sister run, The Jingle Bell Run every year, but this year I wasn't feeling it. I was only getting in one run most weeks, but more often than not I skipped it for another workout, or I did treadmill sprints, so I had no idea where I was with my 5K time. Usually I am bugging him to do races, but this time he insisted. 

That Sunday we went to do our usual 3 mile loop. It's pretty flat, starts with a downhill and ends with a decent little uphill. It was mercifully in the high 40s after weeks of temps in the teens. The ice was melting and I figured our loop would be clear. Not so much. We had to cut off part of the loop due to it being covered in ice. There wasn't even a shoulder on the side of the road to run on. I figured it was still almost 2.5 miles and on we went. At one point I commented that I was actually enjoying the run and it seemed like The Husband was able to easily run my pace. When I'm not doing so well he has to stop and walk every so often because he literally can't run that slow. I forget what my total time was, but it ended up being about 2.6 miles at a 9:50 pace! I typically run a 10:30 to 11 minute pace (except for one glorious day where I set a 5K PR of 31:24 or a 10:08 pace). The entire time I had a song stuck in my head that I really liked and I joked that I would have to make sure that it happened for every run from now on!

Two things were clear. #1 I had more energy, because I had been eating much better. #2 the added workouts, and spinning in particular, had made me MUCH stronger. I felt so different when I was running. I just felt like I had more power, another gear and that I had some added endurance to carry it out. I also had the voice in my head to tell me it was a fluke. That I wouldn't do it again and certainly not on race day. I have a tendency to choke on race day. Argh.

A week later we go out and this time I know the ice is gone. We're going to do 3 miles this time. I am totally not motivated and I know my resistance to go is self-sabotage. If I don't try I can't fail right? No. Because choosing to stand aside, to not make a decision, is failure too. I eat breakfast, I eat lunch, I take a nap and then can't avoid it any longer. I also so actually get that song stuck in my head again. We head out and I pray that every light will go green so we can't cross. They don't.  I beg for the traffic at the Fens to be heavy enough that we can't get a window to get through. It isn't. No ice. No packs of rabid Canadian Geese. No stopping. Nothing. My legs burn and I'm scared to look at my watch. 3/4 of a mile in and all of a sudden it's back. I catch up to the husband and check our time at mile 1. 9:04. WHAAAAT?! Yes. We run another mile, this one much harder and get there by 18:24, a 9:20 second mile. Now I really hurt. I slow down for a bit and then crank it up again. We dodge the crowds leaving Symphony Hall, run up the hill and finish. 3 miles in 28:41, a 9:34 pace.

So, I PRed my 5K, right?


I knew better. It's notoriously crowded (5,000 runners) and for all but the fastest should really be just for fun. I figured, if I started well ahead of my pace time I'd be fine. Nope. I just have a really really hard time running in a pack of so many people. The pace was fine, but I tend to slow a little and surge a little. Not by huge margins, but enough that I need some space. I also wasn't trained for this course. It's hard. The first mile is a hill, there's a decent one at mile 2 and then a monster at 2.5 (that wasn't there until a recent course change). That last mile does me in.

My A goal was a miracle sub 29, which would require a 9:20 pace or so. Possible but not likely. My for real B goal was sub 30, a 9:40 pace and one that I've done before. I've been dreaming of it for a while, but never been so close. I should have had a C goal of PR but I got kind of caught up in the sub-30.

I ran a 31:58. Whomp whomp. I figured, hey! This course is hard! I'm pretty sure it's at least a course PR, right? Well, I looked it up when I got home and in 2010 I ran it in 31:57. Yep, I missed by ONE SECOND!!! (well two seconds to beat it) I was happy to get into our favorite Pub, The Burren, and see our favorite band, The Johhny Come Latelies. I was also happy to get some (well one) of the free beers Harpoon donated, as evidenced below.

Today I'm already stalking 5Ks to find one without such a crazy course and one that is relatively soon catches my eye. The course is FLAAAAT with a slight downhill at the end. It's perfect. It's close to home, not too early, has 1/10th the runners of my last one and also has a USATF Grand Prix race as part of the 5K to add to the atmosphere. There's actually lot's of stuff that weekend that will leave me amped to race, so how could I not? Well...the fear of failure. I can chalk my performance yesterday up to not being ready for a hilly course and the crowds. What if I fail under ideal conditions? Then it was really all just a fluke. Or, uh, maybe I just had two bad races. So, I should try. Or maybe I should wait. But I could try now AND later.

I realized that if I have any chance at getting a ticket into the 5:30 spin class I have to leave NOW. I head out and try to shake the race off. Of course, as soon as I get on my bike and I'm pedaling to kill the extra few minutes before the official warm up starts, my brain starts at it again. YOU WILL FAIL. YOU WILL BE AWESOME. YOU WILL KILL IT. I go through all of it and all the reasons to run/not run and almost miss the instructor announce that we're starting our group warm-up. It was the song she put on that snapped me out of it. It was MY song. My fast running song. The one that got stuck in my head during my training runs. This song:

I shake my head and start laughing. This is too good. The song is pretty random. I love music and I hadn't even heard of him until a couple of weeks ago. The signs are there if you want to see them. I knew I needed to sign up when I got home.

And so I did. I'm not saying much else about it other than it's soon and I will fill you in when it happens.

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