Thursday, January 29, 2015

Three Things Thursday: Biking and Not Biking

1. I've decided not to do the Seattle to Portland bike ride as I'd planned on my 2015 race schedule. I do want to do it eventually, but I'm just not ready for that now and I won't be anytime soon. I particularly realized this as I read about it often filling up quickly, and turned out I wasn't too disappointed about the idea of it already being filled up by the time it opens to non-members of the organization that puts it on. 

As such, I'm also going to reduce my biking mileage goal for the year down to 1,500 miles.

2. But, I will be biking more, because I got a new toy for my birthday! I haven't had a chance to install and try them out yet, but looking forward to it, probably tomorrow. :)

3. And I still want a big last hurrah* before trying to get pregnant, so I'm seriously debating doing a full marathon this year. But I can't do Portland (first weekend of October), because that's potentially a smidge too late in our plan. I might do the full at Foot Traffic Flat, which is July 4 (I've done the half for a few years). It is, as the name suggests, a very flat course which would be nice. Though I'd like to have more time, and do one in August or September, I can't find one, and I suppose those months should be dedicated to Hood to Coast and triathlon training, respectively, anyway. I'm going to work on increasing my long runs, and if I'm close to 10 miles by mid-March (providing a 16-week official training cycle from that point), I think I'm going to do it.

*My instinct was to spell this hurraw, because the lip balm is awesome. And so is the company - when I ordered a bunch in December (some for stocking stuffers, some for me), they included the night treatment "moon balm" as a freebie. I'd actually considered ordering it, but the scent combo sounded weird. And honestly, the scent isn't my favorite, but I do feel like it's relaxing and helping me sleep (or is a really effective placebo). 

PMT Style Challenge: Pinned Outfit

This week's challenge: wear an outfit you pinned. I actually only recently started a "fashion" pinterest board, so, this was more thinking of a variation on outfits I've seen on blogs and such that I liked, and then finding a pin along those lines to make it a bit more concrete. 

I've tended away from button-up shirts for business wear, primarily because I don't like having things on my lower arms; any long-sleeve knit gets pushed up for the majority of the day. And then a button-up under a sweater is just silly, because you're wasting the comfort of the sweater by putting a non-stretch fabric underneath it. Ridiculous! (Although I do love the aesthetic of sleeve cuffs popping out at the end of a sweater sleeve, I just can't handle the discomfort of it.)

However! In the last year or so I've acquired a couple sleeveless button-up shirts, and have started wearing them under v-neck sweaters. I'm not sure why I hadn't ever put it under a cardigan, since v-necks and cardigans really are the staples of my work wardrobe. 

Left: Source

Sweater and collared shirt from JC Penny. Slacks from Target. Heels from DSW. Necklace and earrings from Etsy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fight for Air Climb 2015

This weekend I had a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence: I placed first in my age division in a race!

Granted, that's primarily because it seems most of the better stair climbers did the longer distance, 160 floors, while I did one of the shorter options of 80 floors. Had I maintained the same pace for twice the distance, I would have been just in the middle of the pack! This was definitely of those times when placing very much depends on who shows up for your race.

The Fight for Air Climb, which benefits the American Lung Association, is a stair climbing race; the Portland event is held in the US Bancorp Tower. They hold climbs all over the US, but this particular one is a joint weekend with Seattle (the Seattle race on Saturday, and Portland on Sunday) (we only did Portland! I'm pretty impressed with those who did both.)

The event overall began at 9, but start times were assigned in 5-minute increments over two hours. Instructions were to arrive half an hour before your designated start time to check-in, get your bib, etc. 

Arriving by MAX, we allowed plenty of cushion and got there about 9:30 for our 10:15 - 10:20 start time. We found the check-in table, got our t-shirts (Side note: races who do tech shirts really need to do gendered fit shirts. This is the second race recently to do unisex tech shirts, and while I don't mind wearing a unisex t-shirt casually, somehow the drape of a unisex tech shirt is just really weird and I can't see myself wearing it in any circumstances), and put on our bibs and timing chips. 

The volunteers were nice, but they all seemed sort of uninformed, and it was rather difficult to figure out where to go for what - where the bathrooms were, heck, even where the start line was! West Side Athletic Club was kind enough to open up their bathrooms to the race participants - but the check-in volunteers apparently had no idea and didn't provide this fact when we asked about bathroom locations. Once you asked people where to go for various things, it was well-organized, there was just a distinct lack of signage and proactive communication on site.

But eventually we found the bag check, confirmed where we would need to go after completing the first set of 40 stairs to go to the second stairwell for the next 40, and figured out where the start line was. We headed over there about 10 minutes early, but there wasn't a line and apparently it's not that strict. They try to space people out, which the assigned start times obviously help facilitate, but once you're there they'll let you start.

I started out briskly running up the stairs - which lasted for about one and half flights! Especially considering how half-assed my training was, it was not possible to do more than just steadily keep walking up. After a while, you're breathing heavy - even though you're just walking up, not moving that fast! - and your legs are burning. It's a different "race" environment in that there obviously isn't room for spectators to cheer you on! There were a few water stations, and the people staffing those were nice and cheered you on while you passed, but most of the time was in a quiet stairwell. 

On the first stairwell - which everyone used for their first 20 or 40 flights - I passed a handful of people and was passed by a few as well. After the first 40 flights there, all subsequent climbs (to get to 80, 120, or 160 total flights) were done in the second stairwell. After getting to the top of the first one, I waited a couple minutes for an elevator down, and a girl who had just finished her third flight was also waiting. We chatted on the way down, and she had also signed up for 80 flights, but was going for 160, just had one set of 40 left! I had been seriously contemplating just ending there, but that kept me motivated to at least finished what I planned.

Heading over to the second stairwell, there was a line of 4 or 5 people - as before, they tried to space you out, but the timing was dictated by people's pace, not by designated start times now. There were timing mats at the bottom and top of each stairwell, so the time spend waiting in between clearly didn't count towards your total finish time.

For the second 40 flights, I didn't even try to bust out a sprint at first, just went slow and steady the whole way. I paused briefly at the water stops to take a small cup of water, but otherwise didn't stop. There were more people passed and passing (etiquette here is to pass on the inside, stay on the outside to be passed, but it was never overly crowded or difficult to pass or be passed), and a bit more camaraderie and cheering each other on with the higher level of traffic in that stairwell. 

As I said, it's obvious that the real competitors did the 160-floor option, but I'm nonetheless proud that I placed first in my age division for the 80-floor distance (last race in my 20s, too!). I think I do want to do this race at least one more time and do the full 160-floor distance. 

This is a pretty fun race for a few reasons:

1. Novelty (and automatic PR if you've never done one before!).
2. Indoors, so weather doesn't matter.
3. Short-ish, so even if you don't train well, you're not going to be miserable for too terribly long. 
4. An "individual" race in that you have the staggered starts, so if you are undertrained and being miserable, at least you're not literally at the back of a pack, seeing the faster people finished while you're still slogging along.

Though a few communication issues, it's overall a well-run event and for a good cause, and definitely a race I'd recommend doing at least once!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

PRC 5k Training Week 4 & Fight for Air Training Week 8 & NROLFW Phase 1 Week 6


Monday pm: Easy run 3.05 miles (13:08 pace)

Tuesday pm: Tempo run 3.1 miles (10:51 pace) + NROLFW phase 1 workout A

Goal: 3 miles @ 11:30ish
Actual: 11:09, 11:10, 9:53

Ok, no, that last one wasn't tempo effort! After impressing myself with the first two miles (I actually thought 11:30 would be hard and would have actually been ok with anything under 12:00 - instead 11:10 felt challenging but doable to keep up), I decided to kick it up a big notch just to see what I could do. Soooo close to my mile PR, but I was dying at the end.

Wednesday am: Easy run 2.0 miles (13:10 pace) 

Friday am: NROLFW phase 1 workout B 

Sunday: Fight for Air Climb 80 floors (19:48) + easy run 2.05 miles (13:46 pace)

Total running: 10.2 miles
Total stairs: 80 floors

Friday, January 23, 2015

Four Things Friday

1. Though I only do an "official" weigh-in at the end of the month (I don't, and am not trying to, lose weight quickly enough to register much more often than that on our analog scale), I do step it on about once a week or so. After hovering just above and below 145 for a while, I'm finally down a couple pounds! Hoping that holds through the next week, and continues on that trend. 

2. I'm so excited that we're almost to the time of year when there's daylight for evening runs! Tuesday I was at CPE all day, rather than the office, so I got home much earlier than usual this time of year, and was able to head out shortly after 5 and be in quasi-daylight/sorta-dusk - but not complete dark, no headlamp needed! For much of busy season, I'm working much later than typical sunset, but if it's daylight after "normal" business hours I can head out for a run at 5, and then come back to the office for a couple hours, and at least enjoy a small bit of daylight.

3. When you split chore responsibilities with your SO, how much do you weigh available time to do a chore versus amount of caring about the chore? Ummm, asking for a friend.

4. I recently realized that I don't actually like lasagna. I've always loved my mom's lasagna - a basic recipe, just noodles, sauce, cheese, and cheese. I've never found another lasagna that I really enjoyed. I thought, for the longest time, that it was just those other lasagnas that I tried weren't to my liking. But now I think it's that I don't actually like lasagna, and my mom's is the exception, not the other way around. It's like pudding - I can't stand pudding (the texture is so gross!), but I love chocolate, so chocolate pudding's fine. Similarly, lasagna in general, which often includes things (meat or veggies) mixed in the sauce or between layers is not ok, and that's what most lasagna is; it's only when it's pared down to the bare minimum, which are all things I love, that I like it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Trying to Be a Morning Runner

The hot topic of the week seems to be about when you fit running or other exercising into your day. ("Timing is Everything", "Morning or Night?", #1 of "8 Hacks for Runners") 

Historically (with one exception, my very first busy season - I still have no idea how I got up around 6 to exercise most days, but I did), I'm an afternoon/evening runner and exerciser. This isn't a conscious choice per se, it's just that I'm prone to getting up in the morning with just barely enough time to put myself together and get out the door in time to be at work. No matter my good intentions, an early alarm is most likely to be met with multiple presses of the snooze button, and still actually get up just in time to leave in time, without fitting in anything extra like exercise. 

On the rare occasions I do manage to get up and run first thing, it's never quite as quality a run. I haven't eaten or had caffeine (nor does getting up even earlier, to have time to eat, digest, and go to the bathroom first, sound appealing), and it just takes me a while to be fully alert, so I feel pretty sluggish. I never plan on doing actual workout runs (tempo or speedwork) in the morning, just easy miles.

For the most part, I really enjoy running in the evening, typically right after work:

  • It's typically warmer (ok, this isn't a good thing in the summer).
  • It can be a really useful tool to pound out stress and anxiety that has accumulated over the course of the day.
  • For many people - definitely for me! - my energy level is higher at this time of day.

So why am I trying to exercise in the morning? Well, that has plenty of benefits, too:
  • You start your day with endorphins. 
  • Most races are in the morning; practicing that time of day will get your body used to performing then.
  • You get it done and other things that come up won't interfere or delay it.

It's that last thing that is both why I want to work towards being a morning runner - leaving my evenings free for other activities or simply to not feel like I "have" to do something when I'd rather not - but at the same time makes me hesitant, and gives me pause every time I read it on a list like this.

Running isn't just something on my to do list, that I want to get it over with and check it off. I enjoy running! Of course, just because I get in a routine of running in the morning doesn't mean I can't also run in the evening when I have the time available. But I think I'd miss having a run to look forward to after work if it became a rare occurrence!

Do you run in the mornings or evenings? What's the best thing about the time you choose?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

PMT Style Challenge: Wear a Bright Color

I know it's only a couple weeks, but I'm really enjoying the prompts and incentive to do more with my work attire. I even took some time Sunday night to plan out outfits for the whole week, so I could be a little creative without it being stressful each morning as I'm rushing out the door.

This week's challenge: wear a bright color. Um, beyond my fluorescent running clothes, I truly don't own anything "bright". All of my work clothes (and most of my casual clothes) are jewel tones (plus black and gray). As such I modified this challenge to wear "bold" color, especially in a way that puts it front and center (i.e., not hidden under a black blazer or cardigan). I ended up doing a couple outfits this week along those line:

Dress outfit: I bought this dress for Christmas - it was on sale, comfy, and fit perfectly. For Christmas, I wore it without a jacket or sweater (it's sleeveless, but we were indoors for all celebrations) and a thin belt on the waistline (it really does need something to break up the expanse of burgundy). I was hoping to get use out of it for work, too, which I thought would work well since it is definitely work-appropriate with its higher neckline and longer hem. However, it's such a "bright" color (in my world), I felt self-conscious wearing it - especially when I knew I'd add something else to the top, making it essentially a bold colored skirt, drawing attention to the area that I usually hide in plain black slacks.

I don't completely love this outfit (I think partly because the hemline actually feels too long, at least if I don't wear heels with it, I might shorten it by an inch or so), but I did get a couple compliments! It's ridiculous comfortable too, as both the dress and blazer are knits.

Dress, blazer, and tights from Target. Boots from Fred Meyer. Necklace from Etsy.

Pants outfit: I planned out this top with a skirt and heeled boots for today, but when I realized today was the last of the week without rain so I could wear flats (without my feet getting wet), I switched it to slacks.

I would normally wear this green shirt as an undershirt, not the prominent piece - under a more neutral blazer or cardigan. I also don't think I've ever worn a collared shirt underneath something other than a v-neck sweater, so utilizing the scoop-neck tee as a topper in that way was also branching out in a fun way.

Top from H&M. Collared sleeveless shirt from Goodwill (originally JC Penney). Slacks from Target. Shoes from Payless. Necklace from Etsy.
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