June 30, 2010

More HP Blast Photos

Lacing up our shoes with the timing chips - truth be told, I could have had a much better time because JJ and I got our chips mixed up and I put his on by accident. I could have been 10 minutes faster...shoulda, coulda, woulda!
Here's a photo of me between mile 2 and mile 3 - more truth telling....we were actually on a "water & walk break" here, but I saw the camera guy and "got my run on". You can tell by the laughing and smile on my running buddy's face that it was pretty funny...notice how she started to run also, with her water cup in her hand!Right after the run, we cruised the vendor tent area - filled up on some fresh baked pretzels, goetta sandwiches and cashed in on the 2 free beers.
After a nice long nap, shower and some R & R on the couch, it was time to head back to Hyde Park Square for the night. Some great music by a local band called The Rusty Griswolds, great company from my running group gals and of course more adult beverages. It's been a long time since I've partied it up like that, so we topped the night off by grabbing some late night munchies....stuff like loaded cheese fries, wings, and all that good & greasy stuff. It was so much fun and a great way to end the day!

June 27, 2010

Hyde Park Blast

Finishing the Blast was totally awesome! I had so much fun at the run yesterday morning - the weather was pretty good and being one of about 2,000 runners was a great feeling. The race started at 8am and I finished in under 1 hour, which was one of my goals. I actually had a better time on the run than I've had the entire 2 months of training when we've done 4 mile runs. Here's a great group shot of the gals I've been running with:
Here's how I finished: my total chip time was 54:14 - that's a 13:34 pace per mile; in women ages 30-34, I finished 184 out of 221 runners, and overall I finished 1757 out of 2056 runners.

I started out strong, felt very confident and comfortable for the first 2 miles of the run. There were 2 water stops along the route and they definitely came in handy when I felt like I was in need of them. There was a long gradual up hill in between mile 1 and mile 2 that was pretty brutal. I really focused on pushing through some of the pain that my legs were feeling and finished the up hill with a power walk, then went right back into the 2 and 1 interval run/walking. As we approached the 3rd mile, I told my running friends that this was the spot I was worried about, we were coming up on the approach to a really big hill and it's also the area where my negative emotions have gotten the best of me on previous training runs. The gals were really encouraging and one friend told me to focus on the upcoming water stop and not the up coming hill. We pounded through mile 3 and then it was time for Handasyde hill. We started the hill on a run interval, our coach encouraged us to at least try running for 1 minute, so I picked up my feet and marched up the hill. I made it on a run for about 1:30, then it was a power walk to the top. Once we hit the down hill, we only had a half mile to go and it was smooth sailing from there. As I came down the street where the finish line was it was so awesome! People were lined along both side of the street, cheering everyone along and I spotted JJ there, ready to snap some pics as we ran it in. It was really fun to see him and that gave me a little boost to pick up my feet and "sprint" it in for the last few seconds! Here I am approaching the finish line:
Something I haven't touched much on in these training run posts is about what the Hyde Park Blast actually raises money for and what the event supports. The Blast was started 10 years ago by 2 local residents who wanted to have a community event that raised money for good causes and aided in the fight against cancer. Since 2001, the event has raised over $220,000 for several local organizations like Cancer Free Kids and the Wellness Community and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

My next post will have some of the official race photos and some candid shots from the awesome after party, which let's just say, I might have enjoyed a little *too* much!

June 23, 2010

HP Blast Run #12, #13 & #14

Okay, run #12 just about made me want to quit this whole training process. It was a Tuesday evening run, so it was super hot outside and no breeze at all. We did a 4 mile route, much of which is along the same route as the Hyde Park Blast course. I started out fine, right in the pack with my group. But early on, like around mile 2 I was really feeling some pain. My legs felt like concrete, my hamstrings were screaming and I still had 2 miles to go. I fell to the back of the pack...walking when I was supposed to be running. I knew that I still had a long way to go, so I tried to push forward and not get too down on myself. After the mid-way water stop, I thought I could kick into gear and re-join the group, but the next challenge was Handasyde hill, which I've written about what a beast this hill is for all runners. I didn't even attempt to run this - by the time I walked to the top of the hill, my coach was waiting for me and tried to cheer me up with the fact that I only had 1 mile to go. In the end, I finished the 4 miles in 1 hour and 8 minutes. That breaks down to about 17 min per mile - usually I pace about 14 min a mile, so it was a slow day for me for sure. What I took away from run #12 is that one crappy run, does not mean it's time to give up and it doesn't mean the next run will be crappy too. Lots of things go into play when running - weather conditions, hydration preparation, eating the right foods before a run, getting enough rest, etc. This run was a bad one for me, but I've been working really hard for this and I'm not quitting. I left the training group that night fighting back tears because of how shi**y I felt, but in the end I was out there doing my best and that's all I can ask for from myself.

Run #13 was SO much better than run #12, and I was extremely thankful for that! I actually woke up the morning of the run to see it down pouring rain and lightning outside. I figured the group run would actually be cancelled, but after checking my email like 50 times, no such luck. The lightning and thunder calmed down by the time I needed to leave to meet the group and the rain had slowed to a steady light rain. The turn out for the group was small to say the least! But those of us who showed up stretched out our legs and hit the streets for a 4 mile run. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be - I managed to dodge all the big puddles, keeping my shoes pretty dry and I was glad I threw on a hat at the last minute to keep the rain from out of my face. We ran a few bridges during this run and I handled those much better then I had in the past. My pace was just about the same as the whole group and I didn't take any walk breaks when we were on our 2 minutes runs. Although I left the run that morning looking like a drowned rat, I was happy with my performance and felt much better about this whole process than I did coming off a such a crappy run earlier in the week.

Last night we had our final group training run (run #14) - it was a really short run, only 30 minutes. We ran a very familiar route...just 15 minutes out and 15 minutes back. The heat and humidity was back in the 'Nati and of course that made for some tough breathing moments. I ran the whole time with one of the girls who is training for a half marathon. It was nice to run and talk with her, but we both noted how much our conversation had dropped off on the back half of the run b/c we were getting pretty worn out from the humidity. After the run, the training coaches sponsored a happy hour, so we all enjoyed hanging out after the run and chatting it up a bit while indulging in a few adult beverages - courtesy of the coaches!

The Hyde Park Blast is 3 days away and I'm ready. I'll do a run/walk tomorrow to keep my legs fresh and then I'm splurging for a 1 hour massage on Friday afternoon. It will be early to bed on Friday night for me, then the run starts at 8am on Saturday morning. I expect to keep the same pace I've had while training, which is averaging to be a 14 min mile pace. Temps are supposed to be in the 70s in the morning, warming up as the day goes on into the low 90s. My goal is to finish well before those temps rise into the 90s - I plan on having a beer in my hand by that time!

June 20, 2010

It's JJ's birthday!

to my wonderful husband - who loves to live life on the edge...
I hope it's a great day - I love you!

June 15, 2010

HP Blast Run #8, #9, #10, & #11

Training run #8 was a great run for me. Our group tackled most of the same route as the Kicks for Kids 5K that I had done a few days before the training run. Lots of people were talking about how they felt after the organized 5k, most felling okay with their times but everyone definitely noted that the heat really took a toll on their ability to breath and keep up their energy on the 3.2 mile run. During the group run, I met a new running coach and she was telling us her "running story". She didn't start running until she was 50 years old and now that she's been running for a few years, she really enjoys it and looks forward to the groups runs. She has participated in several half marathons and when she runs those, she does the interval run/walking like I've been training. But instead of the 2 & 1 intervals, she does 9 & 1 intervals - runs for 9 minutes, then walks for 1 minute. I was really inspired by hearing this and it gave me some needed motivation to press on to finish the group run strong that night.

For training run #9 I had to work that morning, so I couldn't participate. I did meet up with a gal from the group the night before and we had a great long walk at a local park. It was fun to chat back and forth about life and it made the time pass quickly!

Run #10 was our longest training run - 4 miles - the same distance as the Hyde Park Blast run coming up in a few weeks. The weather conditions really helped make this a great run, especially being that it was my longest run ever. It was in the mid 70s, with cloudy skies, and it even sprinkled a bit around mile 3. Now I wouldn't have guessed I'd like running in the rain, but it was just the right amount to cool off in and then since we were close to the end of the run, there wasn't too much time for the air to get all muggy. My legs were definitely feeling some pain at the end of this run, like they should have stopped around 3 miles, but it was good to push myself and felt great actually being able to "run it in" for the last 2 & 1 interval!

Group run #11 fell on a weekend when JJ and I were out of town. Now according to my training schedule, I should have gone ahead and ran on my own, but to be honest I was ready for a break. It had been a very long week leading up to our weekend get-a-way, so I really made the most it by relaxing and getting some much needed sleep.

Today marks 12 days until the Hyde Park Blast 4 mile run. I'm excited for it, nervous at the same time, and really ready for the huge party that goes on afterwards too...guess I need to register!

June 05, 2010

Grilled Chicken & Veggie Kabobs

This is one of my favorite meals to make during the summer months. It's super easy and fairly healthy in my opinion. A few weeks ago I bought some metal kabob skewers which are great - I'm used to using the cheap wood skewers, which usually work out fine but the last few times I've used them, they have broken off or the pointy ends start to split as I load up the chicken and veggies onto the skewer. So my advice if you are going to try this recipes is to buy some metal skewers - I got mine at Homegoods for like $5 or something like that!

Ingredients & Directions:
3-4 pieces of boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces (2-3 inches)
1-2 green peppers, cut into pieces
half of a red onion, cut into pieces
1 package of mushrooms
half a bottle of italian dressing (I use Wishbone Robusto Italian)

Throw everything in a zip lock baggie and marinate for a few hours. (Some recipes call for just marinating the chicken, but I've found that the veggies are delicious when they are marinated in the dressing too.) Load up the ingredients on the skewers, alternating between veggies and chicken. Grill on medium-high heat for about 12-15 minutes per skewer, rotating the skewers to make sure the chicken cooks on all sides. Cooking time will depend on your grill - just watch them close so the chicken pieces don't dry out too much.

Our grill has one of those side burners, so to go with the kabobs I chopped up red potatoes, mixed in some olive oil and seasonings (black pepper, chef Tony's, and some dried parsley) and cooked them along with the kabobs.

Enjoy this delicious summer dinner. It's a great recipe to have on had for a cookout with friends or family. What are some of your favorite grilling recipes?

June 02, 2010

HP Blast Run #7 - Kicks for Kids 5k Run

Training run #7 was a charity 5k (3.2 mile run) that raised money to benefit the Kicks for Kids foundation. This event also happen to take place over Memorial Day weekend, when my college roomies were visiting for our friend's baby shower. Sometime last fall, the idea came up about some of us participating in the Flying Pig marathon relay run - which is set up for 4 people to run about 6 miles each to make up for the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Though we had good intentions, this plan never really took off for many reasons, but once we nailed down the date of our buddy's baby shower, I checked out what smaller distance runs were available for us to participate in. Turned out the Kicks for Kids 5k run was taking place and this was also our Saturday morning group run for my training group with the Bob Roncker's Running Spot in preparation for the Hyde Park Blast run at the end of June.

After a night that pretty much consisted of the wrong kind of hydration (i.e.-beer and not water), JJ, Alina and I laced up our shoes and headed out for the 3 mile run. It was a beautiful day in Cincinnati and this race started over in Northern KY, travelled down along the river for a short bit, then hit 2 of the different bridges that cross back and forth between Ohio and KY. Here's a picture of me and Alina on the "purple people" pedestrian before the run started.

The three of us started the run together and it was really great to see all the people participating. There were around 1,200 people taking part in the event. I was able to run for about 12 minutes straight and then finished out the course with a combination of running & walking. Catching my breath at times was challenging and is one areas I've found where I need to improve. I need to start listening to my body - taking deeper breaths more often, and responding when I feel I'm starting to go into panting mode. I know that I let my mind wonder and end up feeling down on myself when I can't keep up with other people's pace. What I'm really trying to work on is not letting that happen - it's my new goal to not let those negative thoughts creep in and take away from the positive things that are happening when I'm out there giving this running thing a try!

Here's how I finished: #439 out of 527 female runners, my total time was 44:10, which breaks down to 14:15 per mile. All in all, it was a wonderful day spent with a dear friend and my husband. Alina encourage me the whole way throughout the run, pushing me when I could run it out a bit and recognizing when I need a walk break. As we finished jogging across the purple people bridge together towards the finish line, I heard JJ cheer out "Way to go Lenna" and that just simply made me smile with joy!

And what's the best way to celebrate completing a 5k run? Breakfast, of course! Pancakes with chocolate chips, scrambled eggs, potatoes, ham and mushrooms, engligh muffins, juice, fruit, & coffee - you name it, we had just about all of it from First Watch.