Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wisdom From The Running Store: Part Seven

Welcome to the September edition of Wisdom From The Running Store. If you are new to this series, let me explain. I work part time at a running store, because of this I am getting asked tons of questions. Some of which are really good! I know that these people cannot be alone, so I decided to start this blog series. The questions will be a mix of blog readers and customers at the running store I work at.

This months question is from Mel.

"I own a Garmin Forerunner 230 and I cannot figure out how to upload a custom workout from Garmin Connect. Help!"

Awesome question, Mel! This is actually one of my favorite features on my Garmin Forerunner 230. It is available for most Forerunner models, just make sure you check in your Garmin Connect app that it is compatible with your watch.

I'm going to show you how I programmed my first group run for the Couch to 5k program.

Step 1: Make sure you have a Garmin Connect account. It is free and does tons of really cool stuff. It has a ton of preloaded training plans and you can join challenges with friends or strangers to keep yourself motivated.

Step 2: On the left hand side of the page, click the picture with the three little lines. Scroll down to the bottom and locate the Workouts tab. Click on that tab.

Step 3: Select what type of activity you are making the workout for and click Create A Workout.

Step 4: Name your workout! I usually use the date or if the workout has a specific name. For this, I will use C25K W1. Make sure you click the blue check mark to save the name.

Step 5: Start entering your workout. For this specific workout I have a five minute warm up. Then 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. Since that would be eight repeats I clicked the Add Repeats button on the right. I added my steps in and made sure everything looks correct. If I was trying to hit a specific pace for those steps, I would add that in. The watch will actually tell you if you are going too fast or slow. It's pretty cool.

Step 6: When you are finished click the Save Workout button on the right. 

Step 7: After you hit Save Workout two new options will show up. Click Send To Watch.

Step 8: A window will pop up and will prompt you to open Garmin Express. Allow it. This is how it actually gets to your watch.

That's it! Your watch will sync and your step by step workout will be waiting for you on your watch! It's the coolest thing ever. No more wondering how many reps you have left or if you are going too fast or slow. I love it!

Thanks so much Mel for the question! If you have any questions you want answered, just email me or tweet me! I would be more than happy to help!

Do you build your workouts on Garmin Connect? 

Monday, September 26, 2016

My First DNS and The Week That Was

Earlier this year I signed up for the Akron Marathon. It was to be my 6th marathon and completing all of the Akron Marathon weekend races. When I found out I was selected to be on the Rock 'n' Blog team I made the decision to skip Akron. The race would always be there, but this opportunity may not be.

To be honest, I never gave Akron much of a thought. I was upset because they got rid of the marathon finisher jackets (instead of a shirt), the medals didn't look that cool and the social media wasn't as involved as they normally are. Plus, none of my friends were running it - which always made Akron weekend so much fun.

It wasn't until I was resting my cranky foot last Tuesday that it really hit me. I was taking my first ever DNS. Since I started "adult racing" in 2012 I have never not completed a race I signed up for. Whether it be a marathon about a month removed from being in a boot or five races in seven weeks in three states, I have always made it. Not this time. It's not like I'm trained to run a marathon right now, but still. It was a weird feeling.

The only thing that did happen this week was a lot of reflecting. Akron was my goal half marathon last year. Even though the race wasn't what I thought it was going to be, I still achieved my goal of a half marathon PR. There were tons of tears shed and the hunger was still there for more. After my terrible half marathon in Philly last weekend, I realized how much I have changed in a year. I'm smarter and know when things aren't right. I know when to turn things down and when to take a step back.

All things considered, I'm glad I had this experience. I've been told it's better to DNS than DNF, which is true. I would have DNF and it would not have been pretty.

Well, now that I got that off my chest, let's talk about the week that was.

I rested for four days last week. My foot was incredibly cranky and I worked a lot. Seemed like the best time to rest. I did do a 30 minute Jillian Michaels kettle bell workout on Thursday and that was rough. I need to get better with my strength training.

Finished with a headstand and the best picture since Dangle walked through again.

I did run Friday-Saturday-Sunday. I wanted to be smart about it and make sure I took it slow.

Friday I ran two really easy miles after work. Mainly just to test the foot. Everything felt fine and I was pleased.

Saturday I tried out a new running location. I will be coaching a Couch to 5k program through the running store and I needed an easy loop for us to start on. Luckily I found a one mile loop not too far from the store and I LOVE IT! Pretty flat and shaded with a water fountain and indoor bathrooms! Score! I didn't have a lot of time but I did run four miles and they felt really good. The temps dropped a little bit which made a world of difference.

Sunday I went to the same loop to get in six miles. Again, I took this week super easy. Since The Great Race was going on downtown I knew there wouldn't be as many people out. It was 50 degrees when I started! I was so excited. I started in a long sleeve shirt! Well, the sun came out and I was hot so I changed half way through. I could not believe how great I felt. Breathing was on, no foot pain and I was super relaxed. It was exactly what I needed.

Weekly Total: 12 miles
September Total: 59 miles

I have three weeks until my next half. The plan for the next two weeks is a long run of eight and 10 miles. Nothing crazy, just building myself back up. I hope to run three to four days a week or as many as my foot allows. Still no speed work and I want to try to be as consistent with my speed as possible. This week my runs averaged 9:11, 9:06, 9:11 and I think that's about perfect for right now.

So here's to the next few weeks before a new adventure. I have never been to St. Louis before so if you have any tips please let me know!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

Part One: The 5k

On Sunday morning Kat and I woke up early and got ready for my 18th half marathon. I started getting ready, not even thinking about the weather since Saturday was so beautiful. As I was getting dressed Kat told me it was already over 70 degrees (it's 6am) and about 85% humidity. Oh man, this isn't going to be good.

I decided I would be a game time decision on running in my singlet or a sports bra. Usually when it's that warm out I just woman up and rock the sports bra, but I have only raced in a sports bra once and wasn't sure how I would feel.

Flat Steff!

The gang met down in the lobby again and we walked over to the art museum for the We Run Social picture. It was fun to meet/see some of the people we didn't get to see at the meet up. I had decided to keep on my singlet and rough it out.

Photo from Dani

Kat and I

Note the humidity fog. Yep, this was going to be interesting.

I was starting in corral 5 so I cut out a little early from chatting and weaved through 30 corrals. It was crazy. While I was standing in the corral I was just sweating. I thought it was more because of the amount of people standing around me. For being a faster corral, there was a lot of fun going on around me. For example, three men behind me decided to sign up for Brooklyn while in the corral! It was awesome!

Anyway, as the start was getting closer I was pretty excited for how good I felt. My foot was cooperating and my sweating was calming down. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.


It was finally our time to go. Focus Steff. The plan was for the first three miles be around 8:30, then settle in to an 8:45ish pace for as long as I could. There were some slight hills within the first 8ish miles but mostly downhill after that. Plan intact, let's do this!

First two miles felt fantastic. I think I was at 8:30 and 8:15 respectively. Right after I went pass the mile two marker I knew something wasn't right. I was just sweating.

Dani's wife Tori said she would be somewhere on the course and I was secretly hoping I would see her soon. I passed by Andrew and Briana and waved to them. Soon after I looked to my right and there was Tori! I stopped and took off my singlet and she held it for me. (Seriously the greatest thing that could have happened). This was right before the three mile mark so add in some crazy time for me to take off my bib and pin it to my sports bra.

5k split: 28:45

Next up was a slight out and back with a little incline to start. I'm feeling much better since I ditched the singlet. I saw GB and he was not smiling which made me sad, but I completely understood.

On the way back down I looked over at this little restaurant and I saw a friend from high schools parents (the same one I was suppose to run with on Saturday). So I yelled hello. Her mom proceeded to pick up a bull horn and starts screaming to me. It was awesome! Everyone looked and I waved like the prom queen. Hey, I needed the smile.

At mile five I stopped to take my chew. When I started running again a dog lunged at me! Luckily nothing happened, and I don't think he was being aggressive more wanting to run with me. Either way, little freaky.

A little after the five and a half mile mark I looked at my watch and it said 52 minutes. I knew today was not my day to sub-2. So I had two choices, I could ride the struggle bus through the next eight-ish miles of this race or just start doing intervals and enjoy myself. I went all the way to the left of the road and stopped my watch. Saved what I had already done and started over with my 4:1 intervals.

Shortly after this I saw Dani. I told her how Tori had my singlet and I stopped racing. She was having a rough time too. I texted Joe, just in case he was tracking me, and told him what was happening. I said that I felt fine but it was too hot to race. I never heard back so he must not have been tracking me. It was around this time that I took as second with myself. I was so "happy" that I stopped focusing on this race a few weeks ago. If I would have really been focusing and this happened I would have been so angry.

10k split: 59:50

So now that I am enjoying myself, I can just take in how beautiful this course actually is. When I ran Philly in 2012, we did not run this part of town. We were along the river and it was just beautiful trees and landscape. There were spectators and bands and I really enjoyed all of it. Mind you I'm still really sweaty. I walked every water stop because it was a cluster. Not from the people working it, but the runner who do not understand water station etiquette. I also made sure to take Gatorade every time it was offered.

Around mile eight was a little bridge to take us to the other side of the river and back towards the finish. Yay, downhill! It was soon after I saw Phil again. He was still taking over the Rock 'n' Roll Snapchat and we decided to tell everyone how miserable we were. I was getting ready to take a walk break when I saw my friend from high school and her brother!  I decided to skip my walk break and run over to them.

If she could have punched me I think she would have. I'm just chatting about how I saw their parents and how I stopped racing a long time ago. I think I'm running about a 10:15 pace now, and I use the word running loosely. I didn't want to be a distraction to them so I started moving along.

10 mile split: 1:41

Almost done! I finally saw the Brooks Running rocker dude so I needed to take a picture of him.

I kept seeing Phil too so that was fun. We would say hello and keep moving. It was around the 11 mile mark when I saw him and noticed he needed a buddy. I told him the intervals I was running and asked if he wanted to join me. He said sure. Within the about two miles we ran together we saw people dropping. Literally dropping on the side of the course. It was really scary. We (I mean me) are cheering on other runners, because I feel fine. I am so happy with me decision to run/walk so I could enjoy this experience.

Phil ended up leaving me when I took a walk break somewhere in mile 12. I wanted to take some pictures so I took the walk break.

I was high-fiving spectators, cheering people on, thanking everyone and just really enjoying myself. I have no idea what my time is, and I don't care. I am so proud of myself for making it this far.

As the final hill came I knew it was the finish. I ran a little faster and gave out some more high-fives. Crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. No idea what time I ran, but I knew I finished my 18th half marathon!

Finish time: 2:14.

Am I proud of what I did? ABSOLUTELY! I finished another half marathon! I ran smart and finished what I started. Considering the conditions, I was really happy with what I did. I finished another Remix Challenge weekend and had a blast the entire weekend.

When I completed the race I also finished the Eastern Odyssey Challenge. This challenge was for running Rock 'n' Roll DC, Virginia Beach and Philly. It was my first limited edition medal from RnR and I love it.

I can't share a course map or elevation chart with you guys because I don't have a full race. I can tell you it is relatively flat and with the right conditions could be super fast. Today was not one of those days for me. Some people did really well!

Overall thoughts on this race, it was great. The crowd support was awesome, a really great course and tons of water stops (I believe there were eight).  Do I wish things went better time wise, of course, but it's not all about that. The experience was incredibly humbling and I am happy with the decision I made.

Disclaimer: I was provided entry to this race as part of the Rock 'n' Blog program. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia 5k Recap

Let me start off this recap by saying, I had the best time this entire weekend. I traveled to Philly alone, but stayed with Kat. Through conversations we discovered that Dani (and Tori) and Briana (and Ezra) were also staying at our hotel! So, we had built in friends. We had so much fun the entire weekend and I am incredibly grateful for the whole experience. Thanks guys!

L-R: Dani, Ezra, Briana, Kat and me.

Okay, so Saturday morning the gang headed over to the start of the 5k. I had planned on running this race with a friend of mine from high school who is getting married next weekend. I could not find her! I felt super bad, but lucky for me as I looked around the corral I saw GB! He wasn't allowed to race this, so I told him we could run together.

As we started GB and I were just chatting. Nothing crazy. We haven't seen each other since Chicago so it was nice to catch up. He was doing his Garmin shoot that morning so he was a little tired. There was an awesome band during the first mile too! The course is an out and back, so we were kinda waiting for the leader (not kidding).

Mile 1: 8:28

A little after we hit the mile marker we saw the leader coming down the other side of the street. We started cheering. This theme stayed for the rest of the race. Along with the elites, I also saw PRO ambassador Ashley kicking it! I was so excited and screamed really loud for her. We saw Phil too and had a nice yell for our fellow Rock 'n' Blogger kickin it!

The turnaround came and we turned RIGHT INTO THE SUN! Guys, it was blinding. I was so excited for the turnaround and to see my friends. We saw them all and I cheered my heart out! I was just having a great time.

Mile 2: 8:26

As we are getting closer to the end this beautiful view of Philadelphia starts peaking through. GB told me this was actually the same finish as the half so we would see it again. Since I have not ran in Philly since 2012, it was really neat to see the beautiful view. As we got closer to the finish line I started to realize something, we needed to go uphill! Oh man! Thankfully there was an awesome bagpipe band KILLING IT right before the hill.

Mile 3: 8:37

As we made our way to the finish line there was a Rock 'n' Roll camera man following us in! It was so much fun! Little did I also know that Michelle was taking our picture! We crossed the finish line and just gave each other a huge hug.

Photo courtesy of NYCRunningMama

Photo courtesy of NYCRunningMama

Thank you Kristen for sending me this!

Finish Time: 26:44

Thanks again GB!

It was a blast. GB made it so easy and I'm pretty sure we smiled the entire way! GB had to cut out quick but I found Phil (he was the RnR Snapchat takeover for the weekend) and we made our way to the finish line to cheer everyone else on.

Phil, Kat and I at the finish!

I have said this before, but Rock 'n' Roll puts on some awesome 5k races. The shirts are cool and the medals are always great. This was no exception. I loved the course, the entertainment and the volunteers. Everything. This entire race was awesome.

Below is the course map and elevation chart.

Disclaimer: I was provided entry to this race as part of the Rock 'n' Blog program. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Motown Philly Back Again

This weekend I will be taking on my 18th half marathon at Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia. This race is a huge deal for me. Not just because it was suppose to be my "goal" race for 2016, but I am returning to the scene of my very first half marathon.

On November 18, 2012 I achieved one of my biggest goals in life. I finished my first half marathon. Despite training on a dislocated hip for a good chunk of my training, my 1:51 was my half marathon PR until my tenth half marathon last September.

There were a few reasons why I picked the Philadelphia Half Marathon as my first half. The biggest reason being the time of year. This race is usually the week before Thanksgiving so this way I could be home for Thanksgiving. As a native Eastern Pennsylvanian, running a big race in Philadelphia seemed only appropriate. I didn't do any research on the course or elevations. I had no idea what I was looking for. It ended up being the best first half marathon I could have asked for.

Last year I wanted to run RnR Philly but the dates just didn't work. I needed to go back to Philly. Even if it wouldn't be my best race, I had to go back. So, when I talked to my coach about kinda training this summer, it was obvious that Philly would be the goal.

While things didn't end up the way I thought they would with training, I'm still thrilled with what I accomplished during this training cycle. I ran three half marathons and two 5ks. I PRed my 5k and came really close in my other one (11 seconds). While my half marathons weren't the best (1:56, 2:16, 2:10) I could not have been prouder of myself. I did what I wanted to do each time. In Chicago I wanted to have my best race of the year (check), Maryland I wanted to finish (check) and Virginia Beach I wanted to pace Kat to a 2:10 (check).

I was trying to think of goals for this race, but I don't want to put any pressure on myself. I'm still not 100% (I'll give it 80-85% max) and I have a few more races left this year that I need to be healthy for. Mostly, I want to break two hours again. The course is great and the weather looks perfect. If I do it, great! I'll be thrilled. If I don't, then I finished my 18th half marathon and that's just incredible to me.

I want to thank you all for following my journey this training cycle. I hope that by being real through some pretty crappy times I helped you realize you might not be alone and things don't always go according to plans. You have to take things as they are thrown at you and be vulnerable.

Here's to a fun weekend with friends and rocking through Philly one more time!

Will you be at RnR Philly this weekend?