Thursday, May 30, 2013

No Way, May! Recap

So when I went about this whole 'take-two-weeks-off-from-running' business, I had no idea that it would actually turn into three weeks. Due to unforeseen circumstances- not feeling well and the pool opening (which I am managing this summer), causing me to go from work at school directly to work at the pool- I went one week longer than anticipated. And, I tell, ya, it got HARD. I missed the feeling of a run and really working up a good sweat (before it got too hot, anyway). The walking was fine, and I even enjoyed it at first, but walking 3-4 miles takes a long time. It takes about 1.5 times longer it takes to run that far. So while I saved on showers and laundry, I did not necessarily save on time. I was able to add some elliptical workouts in, but they are not the same as a good run.

Cardiovascularly, I have no idea what running will be like when I start again. I am sure it will take me 2-3 weeks to get back to my peak, but perhaps the walking/elliptical has kept my muscles stronger than I realize. I did not gain any weight during this time off, and actually lost some (go figure, right?), but I am sure my muscles have shrunk a bit.

All in all, it wasn't as bad as I realized and I felt fine mentally, but my body did continue to crave a tough workout, so I never felt physically as good as I do when I run. However, I do think I will run less during the summer and incorporate more walks into my weekly miles. I do believe that less is more and I have some big plans for races in the fall (and maybe a few hot ones this summer)!

And one more Prom pic a coworker took from last weekend:)

Until June (I can't believe it's here again)!!!!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Prom 2k13

Meadowbrook High School has it's annual prom last night at The Jefferson Hotel. There is a group of teachers that have made it a tradition to get dinner before prom and then head out for some drinks following the dance. It was so much fun, with our very own faculty prom king and queen and a great poem:) 
Office neighbors!
The other half of the table
Ernie the English teacher reciting a great poem
My former office neighbor!
Counselor, Teacher, Office Secretary
The men with their fearless leader
Ladies take 1
Ladies take 2 with lots of laughing
Yearly counselor photo!
Love my team:)

Who knew I would be going to so many proms after my own two during high school?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Over Halfway!

I have successfully made it (mental state in tack) through 8 days of no running!

Instead of my usual runs, I have been going on 4 mile walks with great friends! It has been a very social way to get some exercise, and I still feel the burn from a fast walk (who knew?).

I have done 3 walks with my neighbor, Sally (on the right)

A lovely walk with Michelle

My running turned walking buddy, Jessica!

 I walked the track at my school with my co-coach before our last game on Tuesday, so I have only gone on one walk by myself and did two short elliptical workouts alone. I have kept up with abs and weights and feel very good! I think I may take this "break" and incorporate it into my normal routine. Sometimes less is more, and in terms of running, I think incorporating more walks into my weekly routine instead of running most every day might be a good idea.

One week to go!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


A college friend reminded me that today is the 5 year anniversary of when we graduated from the University of Virginia!

(Before Stephen Colbert was the Valedictory speaker)

Walking to bars at 7 AM with some great roomies:)

Mimosa's at Biltmore

PC '05!

My love, Cate!

Alpha Chi Omega's

The Rotunda with all the graduates before the processional


The Parentals

Brian had to rep the siblings since Nate was in New Zealand


The day before graduation on the lawn- notice my right ankle is very swollen- I sprained it a few days before!

Seems so long ago and so recent at the same time. I guess we do all look a bit younger! I am excited to see so many of my great UVA friends at reunions in 3 weeks- a great tradition that brings back many alumni for a weekend of reliving college traditions. I will have to work on my alcohol tolerance before then!

Friday, May 17, 2013


“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” 

Trio of counselors!
I'm in a sappy mood today, so bear with me. 

I was never a regular viewer of "The Office," but I decided to watch the finale last night because I was in a sentimental mood. I thought the show made a great point of showing how conflicting people's feelings are towards their jobs, but how the experience, though it can be frustrating, boring, overwhelming, and exhausting, is also one full of love, laughter and great moments and memories.

I have had a lot of conflicting feelings this year regarding what my next step is in terms of my job. Do I want a different school? A different level? A different city/state? A different job entirely? My emotions range from "I can never come back here!" to "This isn't so bad" to "This is the best job ever!" I definitely am in a groove at work, have good relations with my coworkers (at least I think) and am easily able to get everything done (well) while also being able to explore new ideas and ways to do my job better (though I don't always strive for such an outcome). Some days are easier to get through than others, like it is with any job, but while I love my coworkers and my students, I also feel stifled and in a funk at work. I don't feel I have the freedom to truly be the best I can be and do not always agree with things I have to do. I also some days wonder what it exactly it is I want out of my job that would make me the happiest- maybe it's me and not my job? It has been a roller coaster.

Where am I going with all this? Clearly I am at a crossroad, but the episode of "The Office" reminded me that no matter what choice I make or what changes I make, I will be ok. I will be ok if I stay at my current job, and I would do well at a new job. Life is all about choices, and while they are hard to make, they will lead me down a path that will ultimately cause me to grow and learn and become a better person (hopefully). I will keep you updated.

Counselors and the best office manager ever:)!

"There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that kind of the point?"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

One Ends, One Begins

I have not talked much about coaching soccer this spring, but the season officially ended Tuesday! We have been in season since February, played 12 games (I think), lost all of them (I know), and practiced 2-3 times a week with Friday's off (I have my priorities). The season overall was good, partly because the girls were such a great group, but also because my co-coach and I split up the duties well so if one of us couldn't do a game or practice the other one had it covered. We obviously weren't the most talented team, but we were very young (6 of the 13 girls were freshman and we didn't have enough for a JV so everyone made Varsity), and the girls had an upbeat attitude despite some tough games. I don't know how effective I was as a coach considering many skills we worked at ALL SEASON still were not mastered at the end, but I enjoyed getting to know a new group of girls. I think that is the best part of coaching- forming a close relationship with students I otherwise wouldn't have met. Hopefully if I coach again next year I will be able to get the word out earlier to get more girls to try out. Conditioning will also be essential. But I will need another co-coach as awesome as my one this year, since she is leaving:(.

You would think with soccer ending I would now have all this time on my hands, but instead my summer job starts up next week! My pool has it's first meeting this Sunday to gear up for the opening next Friday. I am not quite ready to think about starting another job so soon after one ended, but this will only be tough for about 4 weeks until I am done with work. I will probably be working a few 3-8 PM after work shifts and weekend hours while the other two managers cover the rest of the days. I will have more information on this this weekend. I am hoping this ends up being a fun way to spend summer and not an added stress or frustration to work out with my busy wedding schedule.

And I have made it to day 5 (almost) of no running! The walking has surprisingly been great and now that the temperatures are heating up, it is nice to not have to overheat myself on a run! I have had some moments of realllllly wanting to lace up my sneakers, but I have also done many walks with friends and have more lined up for tomorrow and this weekend! It's nice to turn my exercise time into social hour! Though something ends, it doesn't mean something new and fun doesn't begin:)

Friday, May 10, 2013

No explanation necessary

Do I always have to have a reason to post something? Because the above picture is just too good not to. I'm sorry, but cats are amazing creatures.

I just went on my last run (tear) for two weeks! I did 4.1 miles at a good pace, especially considering the hot weather in Virginia today. You know I don't like running in heat, so an 80 degree run is pushing it! But I felt good. I will do a shake out elliptical workout tomorrow morning before heading to the beach to visit a friend and that will be it for two weeks. Think I can make it? I'm not so sure!

However, I did get to finish the book I am reading by the pool as I cooled off after my run. I love the evenings this time of year because you get chilly but not cold when the sun goes down, so it is enjoyable being outside. If you are interested at all in television networks and why they make the choices they do in terms of what shows get on air and what the process is like, you should read "Desperate Networks!" Or maybe I am a nerd who really likes all that stuff (remember my Nielsen Ratings post?).

A funny cat picture, running updates and a book recommendation- what more can you want from a blog post? 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Rough Start

No Way, May! has not been good to me! This rain and humidity is messing with my workouts and eating habits. I haven't been able to be outside as much as I like in the afternoons and evenings, which leaves me more time on my couch and closer to my kitchen:) It is also Teacher Appreciation Week, so all my good "Intuitive Eating" intentions are clogged with cookies, cake and other delectable sweets at work! It is a well-known fact that I have no self-control around my sugary friends, so it has been a hard few days at work on top of a delicious weekend of wedding and baby shower food goodness. Ugh!

I am not looking forward to my running break, either. Since my PR on Saturday, all I can think about is running more races before it gets too hot. I have done two morning runs this week to beat the afternoon rain and storms, and both runs have been uncharacteristically fast for me. I have no idea what is going on- if it is because it is light in the morning now or warmer, but I am running a good 2 minutes faster on my 5k route than I did a month ago. This week is a taper week, so I have kept my runs short, but, man, they have been good! I officially have to stop running for my two week break after my Saturday run, so I am hoping I can get in a good 4-5 miler before I leave for the beach that day. I think my mental state next week will not be at my best level, but I am hoping I will get into a "rest" groove and enjoy some walks and a more leisurely schedule. I will also be able to sleep later in the mornings, which I will enjoy! I am probably one of the only people I know who even when she gets 9 hours of sleep is still tired!

Needless to say, my plan may backfire at me, but hopefully this first week of May is not indicative of the whole month. I also do not have many celebrations on tap, so I think once I get into a more consistent groove, I will be good! My summer job should start up soon, which will also keep my afternoons full.

But, does anyone in Richmond want to run the Stratford Hills 8k on June 2nd? It may be the race that keeps me going this month:)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Carytown 10k and some other things...

This was a very full and fun weekend! I tend to think my weekends will be busier than they are and I won't have any time to relax, but I was pleasantly surprised that I had time for myself this weekend in addition to all the fun activities! Welcome to my unnecessary anxiety:).

Friday afternoon I was able to get all my grocery shopping done and pick up my race packet for the Carytown 10k after work. I also met a friend for coffee and got in a great, cool evening run! I love running when it is chilly (50's-60's) and the sun is setting. It was nice to get out on an evening when I typically don't have time to run. I was even able to catch up on my shows Friday night that I had missed due to a busy week! Oh how Friday nights have changed since college....

On Saturday morning my mom and I walked the "Discover Richmond" course that was a 10k walk through the historical sites of the city. It ended up being very chilly, but I ran into old friends and people I knew, and the course was beautiful! It amazes me how I have lived in Richmond for almost 20 years but still discover new places or places I don't remember seeing:) Afterwards, I hung out at my condo cleaning, organizing (Goodwill donations!) and getting ready for the wedding of Kristina & Dave! Kristina is a sorority sister who I lived with my 4th year at UVA. Her and Dave are as cute as they can be, and I was excited to attend their wedding. They got married at Stratford Hall in Tappahannock, Virginia (about an hour and a half north east of Richmond) at Robert E. Lee's birthplace! It was a beautiful day and I carpooled with two friends, so driving to and from the wedding wasn't bad. The setting was beautiful, and though it was chilly for my tastes, we had a nice time and got back to Richmond before midnight!

Kristina and her dad- he was telling jokes to her the whole way down!

Wedding Party


Alpha Chi Omega girls

The Table!

Steph- who I don't see enough anymore!

This morning I ran the Carytown 10k. I was a little crazy when I registered for this race knowing it would be the morning after an out of town wedding, but it (literally) runs right by my place and is one of the last races I can do before it gets too hot for my liking, so I had to do it! I have been running consistently but have not done many longer distances lately, so I did not think I would do very well. As luck would have it (or maybe all those wedding cookies?!) I actually PR'ed by over a minute! I broke my previous 10k record of 55.34 with 54.23! I knew by mile 4 that I would PR, so I tried to enjoy the race. I can never quite figure out why some races are better than others, but everything clicked this morning and any discomfort I had I was able to push through, which is not always the case. I also think the fact that it was chilly and cloudy made me feel better- I definitely run better in cooler temperatures. This is my last race until fall, so I think I went out on a good note!

After the race, I attended a baby shower for my friend's brother and had a nice time catching up with old friends and neighborhood parents. The nice thing about living in the town I grew up in is running into people I know all the time and being able to catch up! I definitely take it for granted sometime!

Hope you had a great weekend! Seven more weeks until summer vacation:)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

No Way, May!

I thought of a great "theme" for this beautiful spring month of May! I am taking a month "off" from my normal lifestyle.

As a runner and a person who lives a generally healthy existence (despite my rampant sweet tooth), sometimes I get bored or tired of the same old lifestyle. The same foods, same running routes, same routine to every day. I actually like routine, but breaking away from it once in a while is not only invigorating, but healthy, too!

I read this article, which talks about runners needing to take breaks from running and training for races. While I am by no means of the marathon caliber, I still have not had any big running breaks since my half marathon in March, which I started training for in late December. I semi-trained for the 10k in April (and walked miles and miles around Spain for 10 days), and I have another 10k coming up this weekend that I have been working towards. My body has really not had much time to heal from running and the stresses that puts on my joints. This is what the article says:

I see a bad habit forming in many runners: the lack of a recovery cycle after their big races or racing seasons. Today, far too many are simply finishing one race (often a marathon) and immediately starting to train for the next one. You can get away with this a few times, but usually runners get burned out and leave the sport for new activities after doing this too often. The grind of always "training" weighs you down. Runners may also reach a performance plateau after a few races and fall well short of their true running potential, simply because they don't allow a proper recovery phase.

In fairness, I understand this drive to move from one race to the next. I love running, too, and there is nothing better than being fully engaged in training for a big race. But never taking a break ignores one of the most important principles that we learned from great coaches and athletes over the last century: Top runners require a regular, full recovery cycle.

Great athletes build annual breaks into their training year. Not a reduced week or two of training every now and then, but weeks of complete rest. They don't only rest, but they gain weight, too. Some add 5 to 15 pounds to their normally light frames while they enjoy time with their families, take vacations and generally do things they normally can't because of their training.

How can they do this? How can great athletes allow themselves to get out of shape? How can they tolerate the downtime without worrying about the competition?

While we worry about losing our fitness level, or that the competition is training and we're not, these athletes know that planned annual breaks rejuvenate the body and mind in ways that outweigh losses in fitness. The worriers who plow through often take similar breaks, but rather than planned vacations, they are mandated by injuries, overtraining and burnout. Planned breaks take the pressure off -- you don't feel that your training is never-ending, jumping from one goal to the next. Science is discovering that the chemistry of the brain, the hormonal system and the immune system are compromised during hard training. Breaks rejuvenate these systems, allowing us to train better, more consistently and with more zeal across the next training plan.

Will you lose fitness? Yes. How much is hard to calculate and will depend on how long a break you take. But it's not about how out of shape you get, but about how recovered you are and how ready to attack the next training cycle.

Remember that the recovery phase isn't just the downtime, but also the time needed to rebuild mileage and pace. Many runners fail even when they do take time off, because upon their return, they jump right back into full training -- again feeling the need to "get in shape." You'll need to plan on three to five weeks of rebuilding to your full training load. I usually start at 50 percent of full mileage, then increase 10 to 20 percent each week (with a recovery week of lower mileage every two to four weeks) until I'm back to 100 percent. Use common sense and build back slowly.
In the end, what's the rush? A few weeks of downtime never ruined anyone's running career -- quite the opposite.

I took nearly a month off after my last marathon. I gained a few pounds. I enjoyed some new hobbies and time with family. But most of all, I rediscovered the desire, motivation and passion that drive me as a runner, and I couldn't wait to challenge myself to do better. The next training cycle went even better than expected because I carried all the fitness from the previous cycle, plus my recharged motivation. I was able to run 2 minutes faster in the 15K than I had the year before. I'm convinced the recovery phase played a large role in this breakthrough.

Here is how my mileage varied before and after my recent marathon:

Greg McMillan is an exercise physiologist and USATF-certified coach who helps runners through his website

I am taking this advice to heart, and following my 10k this Sunday, I will be tapering my mileage next week before taking TWO WEEKS OFF FROM RUNNING! Starting Sunday, May 12th until Monday, May 27th, I will only allow myself to walk for exercise. No runs, no elliptical, no biking... nothing! I will also, during all of May, be following an intuitive eating meal plan, where I will stop tracking my calorie and nutrient intake each day (since I am not running it won't be as important to keep a close eye on my intake) and will instead practice listening more to my body and eating mindfully. I am hoping that by taking time off from exercise I will become more in tune with how much and what kinds of food my body needs while it recovers from a long 5+ months of training. I will not step on a scale for the entire month either (get it, "No Way Weigh, May!")?

I, obviously, will be documenting this endeavor, including how I am feeling without being able to use exercise as a mental and physical release, but also including some new hobbies and activities I will be able to participate in. I will be starting my summer job around my running break period, so that will fill up a lot of my time.

Anyone want to join in with me? It should be a good mind-body experience:) Or any tips from those who have done something similar?!