Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December Recap, 2013 in Review, and 2014 Goals

December Stats:
Running miles: 5 (not making progress, I know)
Walking miles: 0 (stopped keeping track)
Cycling miles: 148

YTD stats:
Running miles: 391
Walking miles: 125
Cycling miles: 1704
Total Human-Powered miles in 2013: 2220

With Thanksgiving coming very late in November and Christmas celebrations spread out over a few days, December FLEW by. My hip started to bug me at the beginning of December so I backed off the running (what little bit of it there was to back off from, anyways...). I spent 8 hours on the trainer doing Sufferfest videos and got to go for 2 outside rides on warmer days. I did a little bit of strength training, but not as much as I should have done.

2013 in Review and 2014 Goals
Looking back, 2013 was both epic and not so epic. The epicness: running my first marathon and riding my first full century. While I am very proud of these accomplishments, the rest of my year just felt kind of...off. When I was running a lot, I didn't really bike much. Thanks to messing up my hip, I really haven't run much since my marathon, so I've been cycling a ton and really loving it. I wish there could have been more balance between the two. Over the past 6 months, cycling has moved from my #2 love to my #1 love. Cycling brings me just as much enjoyment as running does, except it hurts way less the next day. When I was running a lot and when I do get the occasional run in now, I'd sometimes wake up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. Cycling? Not so much. Ugh, I sound like an old person! Anyways, I'm totally fine with this shift, but sometimes I feel like I'm abandoning running like it's some sort of SPCA animal (that sounds so weird, I know).

Fitness goals for 2014:
I considered setting a lofty mileage goal for 2014 of running/riding/walking more miles than I travel in a car. But I realized it'd be a total PITA to keep track of how many miles I rode in a car, plus my estimated mileage was somewhere around 5,000+ miles, so I don't think that's a very realistic goal for me. I don't really have a specific mileage goal in mind, so I'll say more than last year, which was 2220 combined running/walking/cycling miles. 

  • Stop making excuses for not running and be consistent.
  • Finish the Blue Ridge Half Marathon. They made the course 2x harder for 2014 so I know this is going to be a PW (personal worst). I know this seems like a defeatist attitude, but I'm just being realistic. 
  • I've logged 16 hours on the trainer since the beginning of November. I'd like to get to 48 hours before the end of indoor training season (March/early April?). 
  • Ride in at least one century, preferably more.
  • Build my confidence with riding on the road and descending. 

Starting back in January of this year I decided I'd try the Paleo diet, but I always referred to it as my "Paleo-ish" diet because I rarely went a day without eating a little something non-Paleo. I definitely made some healthy changes to my diet in 2013 which I will carry into 2014 and beyond, such as eating more "whole" foods and eliminating fake foods out of a box that have a million ingredients. But recently I've come to the conclusion that a diet, Paleo or not, is not for me. A diet insinuates restrictions. Personally, when I don't stick to these restrictions, I beat myself up mentally. I can tell myself oh, it's okay to cheat occasionally, just do so in moderation. To me, cheating = bad. So even if I tell myself it's okay, it's still classified as being "bad" in my mind. I've realized that this is an unhealthy way of thinking, so I'm backing off of the whole Paleo/diet thing. I have really enjoyed making a lot of new Paleo recipes, so I'm definitely going to keep those in the dinner rotation most of the time. I just won't feel bad for eating oatmeal for breakfast, having some rice with my dinner, or even enjoying a little ice cream.

My nutrition goals for 2014: 
  • Eat healthy stuff.
  • If something makes me feel bad (stomach ache, etc.), don't eat it. This includes feeling the need to finish everything on my plate even if I know it's way more than I should be eating.
  • Eat in a way that helps me to become a stronger, healthier athlete. 
  • Don't beat myself up for having a treat (a treat, not a cheat). 

So those are my fitness/nutrition goals for 2014. I know none of them are crazy, out-of-my-comfort-zone goals, but I like to be able to actually achieve my goals and celebrate when I blow them out of the water. Hopefully in another year I'll be doing just that. 

Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blue Ridge Marathon Course Changes & Discount Code

The Blue Ridge Marathon recently announced some changes to the 2014 race courses as well as the race options available. I'm pretty excited about these changes so I wanted to pass them along. I also wanted to pass along a 20% off discount code that is good until 12/24/13. Just simply use the code BLITZEN when you go to register.

Instead of offering a marathon relay option as in previous years, the Star K 10K option has been added to the race. I have a feeling that this will be a very popular option this year for those who aren't ready to commit to the half or full...but with 1000 feet of elevation gain, this is definitely NOT an easy 6.2 miles! On the 10K course runners will start just after the full and half marathoners and follow them up Mill Mountain. The 10K and half courses split from the full marathon and continue up to the Mill Mountain Star. Once at the Star, the course takes a quick decent down the "old road" on the front of the mountain. Then 10K runners return down Jefferson street to finish at Elmwood Park. The registration fee for the Star K is $35 before 1/1/14 and $45 thereafter.

Probably my favorite change this year comes to the half marathon course. They made it harder! Like twice as hard. Previously the half marathon course went up Mill Mountain and the rest was relatively flat. The course has changed majorly this year; the half marathon now has two mountains to climb. In addition to Mill Mountain, half marathoners get to climb the infamous Peakwood Drive (aptly nicknamed "Pukewood"), which is Mountain #3 on the full marathon course. This addition means that the half marathon course has a total elevation gain of 1897 feet. Whew! The registration fee for the half marathon is $65 before 1/1/14, $75 before 3/17/14, and $85 thereafter.

The full marathon has also undergone some minor changes, mostly to the last 4-5 miles. My guess is that these changes were made to avoid the Roanoke River Greenway, which has been flooded for the last 2/4 years causing some last minute course changes. The registration fee for the full marathon is $80 before 1/1/14, $90 before 3/17/14, and $100 thereafter.

The start/finish area has been moved from near the Roanoke City Market Building to the newly renovated Elmwood Park. Although I really love the Market Building area, but I feel like this will be a more spacious location and would allow for more post-race activities that won't feel squeezed in between downtown city blocks. There are a couple parking garages nearby so parking shouldn't be an issue.

The YMCA Kids Marathon is back again this year, as is the Unofficial Official Double Marathon (yes, people run America's Toughest Road Marathon twice, back-to-back, starting at 2-3 AM).

Of course, all of the other awesome things about this race will also be back again in 2014...most importantly the amazing scenery, the friendly people, and one of the most challenging road races you've ever done.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

October & November Recap + Winter Training Tips

October Stats:
Running miles: 30 (woot woot)
Walking miles: 12
Cycling miles: 55

November Stats:
Running miles: 19
Walking miles: 1 (I kind of stopped recording my lunch walks)
Cycling miles: 112 (all on the trainer)

YTD stats:
Running miles: 386
Walking miles: 125
Cycling miles: 1556
Total Human-Powered miles in 2013: 2067

As you can see, I've gotten pretty lazy with my blogging recently so I've combined my October & November recap!

I more than doubled my running miles in October (only 12 in September) so my hip is definitely getting better. It did flare up a week or two ago, so I backed off from running a little bit. Before I know it, it'll be time to start training for the Blue Ridge Half (in April), so it'd probably be a good idea to have a good base before I try to start training! I should probably get on that...

With the end of DST at the beginning of November, running after work usually means running in the dark. I really don't mind running in the dark. It's actually kind of fun, as long as you're proactive in being safe. The most important thing is to be able to SEE and BE SEEN. At a minimum, you use a decent headlamp and wear a reflective vest. Anywhere else you can incorporate reflectives or lights is an added bonus.

Cycling in the dark (and cold), on the other hand...well, I think I'll stick to the trainer. All 112 miles in November were on the trainer, and all of them were done with the help of my new Sufferfest videos. I decided to invest in a few of these videos to make my time on the trainer a little more exciting, and I'm very glad I did. All of the videos are "fun" (in a masochistic kind of way), entertaining, and most importantly, a really great workout. All of this makes the time on the trainer go by much faster, and if you've ever spent a significant amount of time on an indoor trainer, you'll appreciate this. I'd definitely recommend these videos. So far I've done A Very Dark Place, Revolver, There is No Try, and Hell Hath No Fury...and I plan to gradually add to my collection. Most of the videos are $12.99 and IMO they are worth every penny. I'm interested to see if they make me a better cyclist once the outdoor riding season returns. I have a feeling they will, but you never know until you're out there riding.

So, those are a few of my winter running and cycling tips...if you have any you'd like to add, please share with everyone in a comment below!