Thursday, June 30, 2011

St. Louis Half Marathon Training Plan

Look what I did!
Whoop Whoop! I am super excited to have finally signed up for my fourth half marathon! I've been scouring my Runner's World magazines and the inter-web in search for my next race, and the Rock'n'Roll St. Louis Marathon quickly made it to the top of the list. This is the first Midwest race for the Rock'n'Roll tour and I'm pumped to be apart of this inaugural event. The Rock'n'Roll series is known to have wonderful organization, great courses, and spectacular support and I can't wait to experience it first hand. And bonus: St. Louis is an awesome city known for the soaring arch, great cuisine, and beautiful riverfront. (No I am not being paid to promote St. Louis or the Rock'n'Roll tour, I'm just stoked to have finally signed up for a race)

Random fact: All 3 (now 4) of my marathons have been in different states. I've run races in Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and now Missouri. At this rate, I may as well up the ante and set an ultimate goal of running a race in all 50 states!

I'm surprised that I love races as much as I do. Inflamed IT bands and runner's knee have been the bane of my running existence and I have yet to start a half-marathon without an injury holding me back. This time around I plan to do things a little differently.

All of my training mistakes and errors have helped me learn to listen to my body and be in-tune with what it needs. I know that I must slowly increase my weekly mileage and that my body needs two rest/stretch days focusing on loosing up my hips. And I also know my body needs strength training while I'm increasing my mileage, specifically in my hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. I believe running can be trial-and-error and hopefully I have worked out most of the kinks!

So, without further adieu, here is my St. Louis Rock'n'Roll Half-Marathon training plan:
Yea, I don't expect you to be able to read that. Here it is in a Google Document.

I loosely based the plan on Hal Higdon's 12 week intermediate half-marathon program. And for the first time, I am serious about the speed-work! You will also notice where I incorporated my strength training from New Rules of Lifting for Women. The orange weeks show the 'pre-weeks' before my official marathon training begins (which is in the blue). In the weeks leading up to August 1, my main focus will be hitting those weights!

When it comes to training schedules my motto is flexibility, flexibility, flexibility! If I'm feeling good that week and want to kick it up a notch, you better believe I will! And if three days of full-body strength training becomes too much, I'll will be quick to scale it down to two.

I'm really excited about this plan and even more excited about the possibility of completing it injury free! And hopefully, in four months, I will have a new PR under my belt!

Disclaimer: I designed this training plan for my current fitness and commitment level. I am not a professional, I am not saying this plan will work or is safe for you

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Snapshots {Week 2}

Happy {Week 2} of Summer Snapshots! 

I had a crazy night celebrating my one year blogiversary yesterday. One thing I know, the Clarks know how to party: baked cabbage and sugar snap peas for dinner with a bedtime of 10 o'clock. PARTAY! 

Speaking of my blogiversary, did you see the new fitness page? It's a one-stop shop for all things fitness and I'm super excited to expand it even more. Ideas are running through this little brain of mine. 

This week was kind of random and event-less. Our dinners were sparse due to the fact that we will be gone this weekend so I did't want to make a trip to the grocery store. We are currently living on veggies and peanut butter- I'm loving it cause I could eat veggies all day everyday; Josh on the other hand is having quite a hard time. 

But, without further ado, here are my week's snapshots:
Thursday: My flowers have a love/hate relationships with me. They love me when I give them water (which is rare) and they hate me when I don't (which is often). But these pretty little guys have some tough skin, because they are flourishing despite my negligence. 
Friday: Ajax had some fun with a luna moth. Yea, Friday nights are crazy at the Clark house. Like I said, we know how to party.
Saturday: Racking up at the local farmer's market! It was bustling this weekend with lots of veggies and specialty items. I bought some honey-almond goat cheese from a local farmer and it is divine.
Sunday: Day 1 of New Rules of Lifting for Women
Monday: Fetch with our fur-child. I love summer evenings of extra daylight and warm weather!
Tuesday: Pizza night! I'd like to say this is the only night of the week where we indulge, but I'd be lying.  But at least I make sure I have a good workout in to make up for it. That works, right?

You can link up to!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Blooooggg
Happy Birthday to you!
And many more....

Today is the blog's 1 year old birthday! Can you believe it? If I was a good blog-momma I would have gotten a cake. But then you could have called me crazy because I got a cake for an inanimate object, and that is just strange. Although there is no cake, I did get my blog a little present: A new page! Make sure you give my blog some birthday-love and check it out!
I have a lot planned for this next year and a lot that I want to accomplish. I want to thank you, my awesome readers, for having an interest in what I have to say and I am really excited about what the next 12 months hold! 

Lets take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at some of my top posts:

He Never Makes Mistakes. -An ode to my amazing brother.
The New Year -Recap of 2010 and resolutions for the new year.
The Journey of Route 66 -My Tulsa Route 66 marathon race recap
Gamers -Life married to a "Gamer".
Happiness -There is no better time to be happy than now. Live and enjoy the moment!

Here's to another year!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Running Story: Goes On

Way too long ago I began a series of posts retelling of my relationship with exercise and running; however I never finished. Today I want to share with you that spark which has led me into the person I am today. To catch up, please read the following posts:

Not only was my running buddy unable to train with me, we also found that she was unable to run the race with me. WHAT?! I was heart broken. I was semi-okay with training the final 4 weeks alone (2 were taper weeks, so it wouldn't be so bad), but the thought of running the entire 13.1 miles solo was completely horrifying.

So I did what any insane normal person would do and stopped training. I didn't pick up my ipod or running shoes for that entire 4 weeks. I was in denial that I would be running the Mid-South half-marathon by myself and I didn't want to face the truth. However, reality was that I had already paid my entry fee and booked my hotel and I was way too frugal to waste money. So on November 7th 2009, with fears and anxiety at it's highest, I arrive at Wynne with absolutely zero confidence in myself.

Don't let the smile fool you, I was shakin' in my Asics. 
Luckily, my boyfriend at the time (now husband) was there to cheer me on and encourage me to give it all I got.
Looking back, I was so clueless about what to expect. I showed up at the start line with 200 other runners and thought this was a BIG race. Since I had only been in local 5Ks, I was excited to see all the support! And on top of it all, they even had these people called "pacers"- a then foreign concept to me of people who volunteered to run the race and give you a steady pace. 

I attached myself to this man in the yellow, who was the 11:00 minute pacer; God bless this man. I don't remember his name, or anything about him, but he kept me laughing and talking the entire time I was with him. He made the first 6.5 miles fly by!
However, since I was only doing the half (and the course was an out-and-back) I turned around at 6.5 while my amazing pacer continued on with the full marathoners. Before turning around, I had a fleeting thought to continue onto the full just so I'd have the company. Yes, I was that scared to finish by myself; I truly didn't believe I could do it. But I quickly came to my senses and turned around knowing I would have to tackle the next 6.5 miles on my own.

Worst 6.5 miles of my life. I was hurting, bored, tired, hurting, hungry, thirsty, hurting (did I already mention that?) and completely done.
But after 2 hours and 31 minutes and an average pace of 11:50, I finally crossed the finish line. I had completed my first half-marathon.  
I had done something that I never thought I'd be able to do, all within less than a year's time. My biggest reward? Knowing that I didn't let fear or anxiety stop me. That I accepted that I was scared and unconfident, but did it anyways. I fought hard to accomplish the goal I had set out months earlier and it was one of the proudest moments of my life.
This one goal, this one experience has changed my life forever. Since then I have completed 2 additional half marathon, a sprint triathlon, and countless other races. I have found a love for exercise and healthy living that I never knew existed. And I don't intend to stop. My life has changed for the better.

So if you have some audacious dream which you think people would merely laugh at, don't be so quick to throw it out. With determination, you can accomplish anything. If you really want it, it's yours. And it might just change your life in ways you can't even imagine. 

"I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept my faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

Friday, June 24, 2011

The New Rules of Lifting for Woman Plan

I haven't always been one to love exercise. In high school I participated recreationally in soccer and track, but not because I was good or I liked it- it was just something to do. In my first few years of college, exercise was the last thing on my priority list. Sure you might have found me at the gym couple of times a week, but only to delay that thing you call "studying". However, even then, not much effort was put into training or accomplishing anything in particular; I would just get on the elliptical and pedal until I was tired. And lifting weights? Puh-leeze! That is what boys do to get all big and bulky, which was the opposite of what I wanted my muscles to look like- which was long and lean.

Since college I have found a love for running and training for races. I truly believe that it was my Type-A personality, and a few loose hinges, which drew me to the beauty of training plans and set schedules in which you need to prepare your body to run long distances. I would hang my schedule in multiple places, allowing myself to circle the day if I completed the workout and cross out the day if I missed it- motivation at it's finest.

Strength training was a completely different story. The only reason why you would see me pick up a dumbbell was because my running scheduled said to. I had heard that lifting weights would decrease my risk of injury and increase my speed, but I had no idea what I was doing in the weight room. No rhyme or reason; no plan. Basically I dreaded my 'strength training' days. I had the same mindset as I did in college: weight lifting=big, bulky muscles.

Today I change my mindset. Today I know what strength training can do for my body and for my endurance running. Today I pledge to follow the New Rules of Lifting for Woman and to "lift like a man, but look like a goddess." I pledge to stick to this program like I would to training for marathon.

The NROLFW provides you a day-by-day, move-by-move exercise program which makes it simple and easy to follow. The workouts are detailed and the days are scheduled, which is what drew me to the program in the first place. The plan is broken into 8 stages and each stage contains 2 workouts which alternate 3 times a week. Sounds like a lot of numbers, and it was a little confusing at first, but the author Lou Schuler goes into great detail and explains it efficiently.

The only thing I am concerned about is incorporating the NROLFW schedule into my half-marathon training program, which I plan to start by mid-July. I hope to set a solid foundation with the NROLFW program these next few weeks and then ease it into my marathon schedule, with the goal of not over training.

In attempt to keeping me motivated and honest, I am going to get real with you guys. Yep thats right: awful pictures, embarrassing numbers-the works. I know I will regret posting these photos for all of the inter-webs to see, but hopefully it will keep me accountable and help me push myself to change.

As of 6.23.11

BMI: 21.5
(On the outside I'm smiling, but on the inside my crying)
Beginning measurements:
Chest- 33in
Right Bicep- 11.75in
Left Bicep-11.75
Waist- 30.50in
Hip- 35in
Right Thigh- 22.75in
Left Thigh- 22.50in

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Snapshots {Week 1}

Did you notice my new picture above? I figured since my wedding was over a year ago, it was time to change it up a bit.

I've never joined a linky party before, but have always wanted to be apart of the fun! It's like a secret club that anyone can join... and everyone can be the cool kid. You can't beat it! So when I came across "Summer Snapshots" from Starfish Jewelry, I was super pumped to link up!

I am to take a picture everyday of the week to document this hot and humid season! Hopefully, it will keep me motivated to take photos all summer long; my husband is practically jumping with joy.

I was a few days late this time around, so hopefully next week I can follow the rules more strictly. My type-A personality loves to follow the of the many attributes I got from my mother, along with my hair color, freckles, and big 'ole bee-hind.
Friday-We picked up our 3rd CSA basket to enjoy organic, local produce all week long. Yum! (Still not quite sure how to prepare my cabbage...I tried to eat it raw in a salad-Yuck!!)
Saturday- I competed in my first triathlon. It rocked. I'm hooked.
Sunday- A mountain of laundry to do. How do only two adults wear this many clothes?!
Monday- I had an awesome swim/run workout with friends. Speed workouts are much more efficient with running buddies! And I love that I'm incorporating more cross-training in my workouts now.
Tuesday- Josh let me help with grilling just long enough to take a picture of me grilling. He immediately put down the camera and took away my spatula.
Wednesday-Pizza day! Domino's pizza has made a weekly appearance at our house lately; the 7.99 deal is literally too hard to resist, especially to my pizza-loving husband.

You can link up too!

Monday, June 20, 2011

CSA: Basket #3

If you need to catch up, check out these previous posts:

Basket #3 has been by-far my favorite basket! When Rose sent out the email last Monday listing the basket's contents, I knew I wouldn't be able to resist. Plus, we still had 5 more baskets to use so it was like free food (well, if free means you paid for it months ago...but it now seems like free produce because it doesn't come out of our monthly budget).
The basket contained:
Salad Greens
Nabechan green onions
1 quart blue crop blueberries
Lavender flowers
Grass fed and finished ground pork
Primax green cabbage

Blueberries? Lavender flowers? Ground pork? Sign this girl up!

I've been eating blueberries and sniffing lavender flowers at every chance I get! Josh has been giving me some pretty weird looks, but I don't care. Best part? Josh doesn't even like blueberries so I get the whole quart to myself. Pure bliss.

Not quite sure what I'm going to do with the cabbage yet; I've never actually cooked cabbage so I'm in new territory here. Also, I have no clue what to do with these lavender flowers...Can you cook with them? Maybe some kind of tea? I have no clue; I'm too busy smelling them. I think I have a problem.

Hello. My name is Alex Clark. And I have an addiction to lavender flowers....and blueberries.

Obviously, I need to stop cramming my face full of blueberries and research some recipes. 

How should I prepare my cabbage? What am I to do with these lavender flowers?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tri for the Roses Race Recap

Well, despite angst and doubt I completed my first sprint triathlon. And, bonus points, I far surpassed my goals- I finished 4th in my age group and 9th overall! In spite of my training being lack-luster and my run-throughs being less than impressive, I was able to push myself harder than I realized I could (kind of like I did during the Route 66 half marathon)- shows that racing is a very mental sport!

The night before, I eased my fears by doing what I do best- organize! Who knew you needed so much for a triathlon?! My bag contained: big and small towels (I was unsure if they provided something to dry off with, which they did), flip-flops, shoes, socks, a change of clothes, race outfit, water bottle, head band, goggles, watch, and ipod. Whew! Thats a lot.
 A quick shot before heading out that morning, nerves at their highest! Bag packed and ready to go!
Josh, being the wonderful husband that he is, volunteered to be my official groupie- taking pictures, lugging around my bag, and cheering as loudly as he could. However, I'm not a fan of this creeper photo- here I am walking into the fitness center. The triathlon was all indoors, which was awesome because it reached the upper 90s today! Racing in a 70 degree air conditioned room does wonders for your time.
Like any other race, first thing I did was pick up my packet. I was given a bib to pin on my shirt for the bike and run; you are also body marked with your number for the swim. #10 rocks!
We went in waves of 7 due to number of lanes and stationary bikes; I was in the second wave which started at 8:05. During the swim, I tried to remind myself not to hyperventilate and go too fast at the beginning. 
I felt like I paced myself well; my legs and arms didn't get tired but my lungs sure did! For me, swimming is so hard because you can't breath continuously like you can when running or biking; you have to condition your lungs to breath in a completely different way!
I finished my swim leg in 5:43, smashing my run-through times! Next, I ran to the transition area where I had my shirt, socks, shoes, and ipod waiting for me.
I hopped on the bike and began peddling as I got dressed- I had watched the first wave do this and it saved some major time during transition. I only had to bike 6 miles and I pushed myself hard.
The biking leg is where I did much better than I thought I would, knocking over 4 minutes off my run-through time and finishing in 20:27. Having someone peddling furiously next to me brought out a competitor-side of me that I never knew I had.
Before I knew it, I was off the bike and running laps around the track, 28 laps to be exact. Yea, I felt like a hamster running in so many circles. My trick was to choose a girl ahead of me and try to 'pick' them off one by one- very effective! It caused me to finish in 18:52, with an average pace of 9:26.
The person who was recording my laps finally signaled I was on my last lap and pointed me towards the finish. Victory!

My final race statistics:
Swim: 5:43 (initial goal-under 6min)
Bike: 20:27 (initial goal-21min)
Run: 18:52 (initial goal-under 18min)
Transition times: 1:23
Total: 46:25

Looks like I ended up being pretty close to my original plan! And look, a finisher's rose- my kind of race!
The top three in each age group, plus overall finisher, received a beautiful bouquet of roses. Sadly, I was a mere 1min,40sec from being in the top three of my devision. At least I have a new goal for next year!
And the best part about the day? My dad and brother came up to support me! Now that I think about it, they could have possibly been the key to me reaching my goals.
My muscles are super sore-I'll make sure and get good stretching in today and tomorrow.

And I think I might check out more spring triathlons- I feel so confident now! This may be my new obsession...exciting!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tri Training

The day is drawing near....
We are now in the single digits....
My first triathlon is this Saturday and I am super nervous!

My dedication to training hasn't been quite as hard-core as I had planned and, compared to my initial run-through, I haven't whittled off as much time as I imagined I would.

That may be because I feel like this in the water:
I haven't spent nearly enough time in the water this past month. I assumed that since I already new how to swim free-style that I wouldn't need that much training...but boy was I wrong. I feel no where faster now than when I tested my skills over a month ago!

And, as slow as I'm going, I might as well be biking through mud:
This is one of the hardest parts for me. I can't seem to find a balance between pushing myself and saving my legs for the run. I find that when I push myself hard my legs immediately cramp up during the run.

It doesn't help that I have elephant legs when I'm running
Like I said with the biking, my legs immediately start to cramp up when I get off the bike! It takes me 5 minutes to get warmed up for the run, but 5 minutes is way too long for a little 2 mile leg. Cardio-wise I could run at a really fast pace, but that dang bike kills my legs!

I now only have two goals going into this race. 1) Finish. 2) Don't finish last.

Not too high of expectations, huh? I'm just going to try to enjoy the race and do the best I can. And the best thing about this being my first triathlon? I will definitely PR, no matter how slow I go!

Do you sometimes set expectations too high for yourself? Are you flexible with your goals?

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

I'm home sick today from a wicked stomach bug. I haven't been able to keep anything down and I feel super weak from being up all night. Here is a post I had saved for a day just like this. Wish me a speedy recovery!

Just like Fraulein Maria, there are a few things in my life that make me happy. While cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels do sound nice, here are a few of my favorite things that I couldn't live without:

My tea kettle: It is green. It is cheerful. And it gives me steaming water for my tea each morning. What more could a girl ask for?
My Asics running shoes: specifically the GT-2150s. This is my third pair since 2008 and they have never let me down. Best running shoes ever!
Google Reader. How else am I suppose to keep track of the 50 blogs I read, most of whom post 2-3 times a day?! I won't tell you how many hours a day I spend on this thing, but it can easily be classified as obsessive.
Teen Mom. Yes, I know...I'm 25 and still watch MTV. Some girls I love and some I just want to slap, but there is something about this show that keeps me coming back for more. Plus, watching it reminds me that I am not ready for a kid. Is it sad I need MTV for a reality check?
Laura Mercier's Eye Basic concealer; I use the color 'Wheat' because I am pale like that. It goes on thin and non-cakey however completely hides the circles under my eyes and makes my eye-shadow go on smoother and stay on longer. I started wearing Mercier's Eye Basic about a year ago and it was life changing. I try not to leave the house without it on!
Our TV remote: Now, I'm not a techy kind of person but this little guy sure makes my life easier! Josh has a million things linked to this touch-screen remote and it is quite simple to work. Also, we only have one remote for everything and No clutter = A happy wife. 
And now a little Julie Andrews to brighten up your day:

What are some of your favorite things?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

CSA: Basket #2

Incase you missed it, here is my first post about Community Supported Agriculture and our first basket experience!

Josh and I received our second basket of produce from our amazing CSA farm- Mason Creek Farms out of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Since the recent devastating floods in the region, we missed a few weeks due to damages; however, lots of yummy veggies and fruits were saved and Josh and I were able to enjoy the spoils of our CSA share.
In the basket we received:
2 bags of salad greens (best I've ever had!)
Philadelphia white box radishes
Shiitakes mushrooms

Salad is coming out my ears and my lunches are packed full of fresh veggies. The bag 'o' mushrooms was ridiculously huge and I ended up giving half of them to a friend. I haven't really touched the radishes much; I'm not the biggest fan of radish in my salads and I'm not quite sure how to cook with them. As for the carrots, I don't think I could ever go back to non-organic carrots again. The flavor, the crisp, the color... holy yum!

Eating through my CSA has got me thinking a lot more about eating locally and seasonally. I have been eyeing the book Clean Food by Terry Walters which is actually more than just a 'cookbook': 
"CLEAN FOOD is an encouraging, easy-to-understand guide to eating closer to the source and benefiting from the rich nutritional profile of the freshest, in-season, locally grown ingredients. " (source)

Due to world-wide distributions and modern processing, we rarely think about eating produce that are in season. The grocery store shelves look the same in January as they do in June. By choosing to eat seasonally (weather you are apart of a CSA or not) you receive the utmost health and nutritional benefit from your produce (source). Plus, in-season food is packed full of much more flavor. 

So next time you are browsing through the produce section, imagine what your ancestors would think as you pick up that watermelon in April or that corn-on-the-cob in February. Now don't get me wrong, a non-season veggie is better than no veggie at all, but stop and think about what you are actually putting into your body. Make a conscious decision to choose health over convenience. 

Have you read Clean Food? What are your thoughts on eating seasonally and locally? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summertime Love

Despite the Arkansas heat, Josh and I made it a priority to spend some time outside this week. I love summertime! I love being outside and I love soaking in the sun (even though my skin repels sunlight). 

One of Josh's favorite summertime activities is grilling. (Yes, our neighbor is a rock star and owns a limo)

And I have to say, I kind of enjoy it myself. I don't really touch the grill; my job is just to prepare the food. But I like being out there to watch Josh work his magic.
#1 Grilling Rule at the Clark household: An adult drink is a must! Josh's choice of beverage is an ice cold Corona with a slice of lime.
I do not do beer. Uck! The smell; the taste...grosses me out!
Wine for me please! White or red, I don't care! But I can only handle a small glass or two; anymore and I definitely feel it the next morning.
Ajax loves when we spend the evening outside. We attempted to teach her how to catch frisbees last night, however she couldn't quite figured it out. They kept hitting her in the face. Then Josh and I would laugh at her; we are such good parents.
"Hi. I'm Ajax, and I love to eat grass."
What is your favorite summertime activity?