Thursday, August 27, 2015

Week in Review: August 17-23, 2015

I figured it was high time I finally posted a week in review.  There hasn't been much progress on the marathon training front-- shin splints still got me down-- but I'm going to pretend like I'm all healed and recap my week like it's all good because 1.)  I'm strong.  I can get over this, no problem.  2.)  The power of positive thinking.  3.)  5 weeks is my limit for stupid things.  I am SO OVER shin splints.

So, here's a quick peek at the workouts from last week:

Monday:  Yoga for Runners
Tuesday:  REST DAY
Wednesday:  Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1 with 3 lb. weights
Thursday: REST DAY
Friday:  5+ miles easy at 10:02 minute/mile pace
Saturday:  12+ miles long at 10:10 minute/mile pace and Yoga for Runners
Sunday:  3+ miles fartlek at 9:57 minute/mile pace

Total= 20.39 miles

This is definitely not where I hoped to be in week 5 of marathon training, but sometimes life throws you curveballs.  My focus now is on recovering from my injuries-- I do not want to make things worse.

I tried to alleviate my soreness by taking the first half of the week off.  When I finally went running on Friday, I felt the best I have all season.  The humidity was low (hallelujah!), the sunset was glorious, and my shin splints felt nearly nonexistent.  On Saturday, I could feel a vague ache in both shins, but I was able to run 12 slow miles. 

So pretty!



On Sunday, I probably made a mistake.  I've been so bummed about not hitting my four days of marathon training each week that I forced myself to at least hit three.  Although Friday and Saturday were relaxed, by Sunday I felt not so great.  On Monday morning, I could really feel the pain, especially in my right leg.

My plan going forward is complicated.  I don't want to make things more severe, but I also don't want to miss my races (August 30 and September 6).  I'm going to incorporate some backwards running (some people online claim this helps by stretching the lower leg-- we'll just see) and be hyper vigilant about stretching and icing, AND I'll be better about spacing out my runs (no more three in a row streaks).  If I still don't feel better after next week's 5k, I'll take 2-3 weeks of total rest.

Wish me luck in my 10k on Sunday!

~Tomato Face

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The annual return of my shin splints

They’re baaaaaaack.

Yep, my recurring shin splints made their annual return at the commencement of marathon training.  For some bizarre reason, I tend to get mild shin splints for 1-2 weeks each July.  On further reflection, it’s not so bizarre at all—my legs are most likely adjusting to increased heat and humidity, higher mileage and more time in less-supportive shoes (like sandals and ballet flats).

One day I set out for 5 miles and had to stop at 2 because my shins and calves were so tight, they felt like they were going to snap in two.  I stretched and massaged for a few minutes, and I only made it to 3 total miles before calling it a night.  I missed out on a group run I really wanted to do the next day, but by that Friday I was feeling a bit better (the compression socks I wore helped, too).  I was well enough to attempt my long run, but I decided to cut that short as well (8 planned miles turned into 6.5).  I definitely do not want to risk a more serious injury this early in training—better to rest and repair when I have something treatable than to push to the extreme.

So here I am in week 5 of marathon training, and I’ve had to cut workouts from every week and reduce mileage of executed workouts.  SO.  MUCH.  FRUSTRATION.

In happier news, I finally made it on Saturday to the East Falls Bridge for the first time since the Philly Marathon.  Woah.

My training schedule mileage-wise is geared to my late November marathon, but once again, my goal time race will be the half marathon (although this is me saying that in Week 5 of training—things could change).  After achieving a sub-2:00:00 last fall, I am not yet certain what I want to do in the distance this year.  1:55?  1:50?  1:45?  (not likely)  Or do I want to forget the time part of it and focus on a different goal, like running the whole way through?

All this isn’t to say that I don’t have a time goal for the marathon: I hope to break 4:15:00, but I feel that that will come with training diligently for the half (but at this point, who knows if any training will get done).  Since I’m still a relative newbie to the marathon, I’m not as stressed about hitting a certain mark in that race.  If I finish, I’ll be happy.  Hopefully I will naturally shave some time off in my second go around, but that is not my main focus.  Improving in the half marathon, a distance I have now run many times, is a much more achievable goal.

Getting me to those two big races are a few smaller events in the late summer and early fall:  the Philly 10k on August 30, the Magnificent Mile 5k on September 6 and the Conquer Run 5k on October 3.  I don’t expect to PR in the 10k (hello, it’s in AUGUST, and last year’s race weather was BRUTAL), but I would love to finally nab my sub-25:00 minute time at one of the 5ks.

First, I’m crossing my fingers for these nasty shin splints to go away so that I can get down to business!

~Tomato Face

Monday, July 20, 2015

3rd Annual Independence Day Run (Pictures Post)

Oops-- leave it to me to procrastinate!  I thought I should (finally) share a few photos from my annual Independence Day run with you all.

This year's excursion did not reach the same levels of epic-ness that last year's did, but I still managed to throw in 7 miles of awesome Philly detours.

Due to some holiday traveling, I had to bump up my run on the calendar, but that allowed it to coincide perfectly with the Tall Ships Festival, a special one-weekend-only bash that brought the infamous World's Largest Rubber Duck to my fine city.  Alas, the Duck was nowhere to be found on either of the two times I ventured to Old City during the festival, but that's okay.  I had a blast revisiting some of my favorite historic attractions, even if I was a puddle of sweat by the end of my journey.

Rainbow crosswalks in the Gayborhood, 12th and Locust Streets

Tall Ships Festival on the Delaware River



Corn Exchange Building, 2nd and Chestnut Streets

Christ Church, 2nd and Market Streets

Not the Duck I was looking for, but a Duck (Ride-the-Ducks) nonetheless!

Philadelphia skyline as seen from the halfway point of the Ben Franklin Bridge

United States Mint, 5th and Race Streets

National Constitution Center, 5th and Arch Streets

National Museum of American Jewish History, 5th and Market Streets

Independence Hall, 5th and Chestnut Streets

Hope you had a great Fourth!

~Tomato Face

Saturday, June 13, 2015

About that time I won an age group award (Girls on the Run Spring 5k Recap)


I wanted to race again before this summer became too miserably hot (haha, too late—it’s still spring and we’ve already had several days in the 90s).  I thought a late spring 5k might present me with the chance to PR, but I did not want to run West River Drive again.  Luckily Girls on the Run was holding their spring 5k at the Philadelphia Zoo on June 7.  Score!

I’ve wanted to work with GOTR for quite some time, but my work and class schedule doesn’t allow me to join regular practices.  The organization also gives the option of being a “running buddy” at their races, but for this event, I elected to run solo.

When I was reading up on pre-race information, I noticed that this 5k would be giving awards to the top three placeholders in each age group.  “Hey,” I thought to myself, “I might have a shot at finally making a podium!”

As I waited for the race to begin, however, I spied some serious competition.  While at first there were only preteen girls and their running buddies onsite, more and more solo runners started to arrive.  So I adjusted my expectations and decided to have fun, in the spirit of GOTR: this run was going to be about positivity and confidence building, not pressure.

And they're off!
With my newfound motivation, I didn’t stress too much as we started queuing for the race itself.  I started out near the front of the pack, but gradually I was crowded in by young runners and their parents and mentors.  ‘Twas okay—this was about the kids (and I was more concerned with not stepping on a youngin’ or accidentally elbowing somebody than I was with getting to the front).

We went off with a very faint cry of “go,” and it was all tangled limbs and confusion as everybody tried to find their pace.  I started off slow so as not to collide with any of the kids, but I was able to pick myself through the crowd within the first half mile.  I was moving along at a fairly fast clip, but still I enjoyed the shade (shade!  So unlike West River Drive) that the zoo course provided. 

With our first loop inside the zoo complete, I settled into a brisk but comfortable pace behind a pack of three girls (these chicks were half my size and kicking up serious dust).  I eventually ended up alongside one of the three, and we began to chat.  “Are you trying to win?” she asked me.  BLESS YOUR HEART, I thought.  

I told her that no, this was not about winning—I was out there to support all the girls and have a fun time.  

Having the girls nearby helped the time to pass quickly.  I followed on the heels of a seven-year-old for much of the race—I swear, she had one of the steadiest paces I’ve ever seen.

Even though I had brushed aside thoughts of a PR, I wanted to run the course the whole way through.  Sadly, I wimped out and took a short walk break on a particularly gnarly hill.  The zoo was full of them hills!  I still like my elevation gain, but my body wasn’t into charging up the steepest one.

My walk break separated me from my seven-year-old "pacer," and without her to guide the way, I became lost several times.  There were orange cones and volunteers at several turns along the course, but other splits (the zoo has many of them!!) were unmarked.  I found myself questioning, slowing and turning around many times.  To this day I still do not know what the course was supposed to be (there is a map online, but being that this was only my second time ever at the Philadelphia Zoo, it means nothing to me).

Thankfully I managed to spot the girl runners or a volunteer each time to lead me back to the main path, but I know I lost some valuable time due to my confusion.

Eventually I found myself at the final turn, and I tried my best to power through.  In the end, I finished with a time of 26:19.  It wasn’t my best 5k, but it was a good effort, especially given my loss of direction.  I knew I had finished near the front, but what I didn’t know what that I had finished third overall, and first out of all adults—automatic age group award!!!  My seven-year-old pacer finished second—she was a little powerhouse!


Overall I loved the zoo setting, but I wish the course had been more clearly marked.  I was happy to support such a good cause and see so many kids achieve their goals.  I’ll be back in future years!

Course: B+ (grading based on course and setting, not the markings)
Expo: N/A
Post-Race Experience: A
Event Organization: C (due to a lack of course markings and chaotic start line)
Overall Grade: B+

After the race, I hung out in the zoo, and it was awesome.

I was probably more excited than any of my preteen counterparts who had been in the race.

I saw lions, gorillas, otters, peacocks and so many other kinds of animals.  I even took a few laps around the lake in a swan boat.





Yep, I am truly a kindergartner at heart.

This weekend I was originally supposed to head to Hershey for a 5k, but then I saw the weather forecast (90s, sunny, humid) and decided NO.  So it’s air conditioning and resting all the way instead.

What are you up to this week?

~Tomato Face

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Vacation is over, time to be real again

Well, hello lovely people!  Yours truly took another long vacay from the blog, as well as a vacay in real life.

Post-Broad Street I’ve been doing a lot of noshing and working and cleaning, but not a whole lot of running.

I’m starting my first grad level course (!!!) over the summer, so before that could begin, I needed some R&R.

I headed to the beach, one of my favorite spots to decompress.  I ended up doing a whole lot of hiking and walking—over 40 miles, to be exact!

Beach storm rainbow!

It felt SO GOOD to walk on the sand (when I wasn’t nearly dying of exhaustion, of course).  I am used to hitting the hard pavement, so switching it up to softer surfaces for a week was restorative for my body.  I struggled mightily when I attempted to run on the boardwalk, however.  

The view on my run was pretty sweet.

After a good showing in last month’s 5k, I thought I would time myself in the mile.  The boardwalk is a straight stretch that seemed perfect for such a feat—sadly, I went out too fast into a headwind (d’oh!) and I didn’t come close to beating my time for mile 1 of the 5k.  I felt so embarrassed by my failure that on my second vacation run, I didn’t even try for speed.  Oh well, a vacation is a vacation for a reason!

I was able to mix it up on a mixture of trails.  I saw dolphins, coastal birds galore and a very grotesque groundhog (the creature was MASSIVE and TERRIFYING).  Other than being attacked by a horde of flies on one walk (I thought I was in a horror movie) and suffering from one giant mosquito bite on another, I loved my time in the great outdoors.

Getting rustic on the trail.


Marsh as far as the eye can see.

It’s always disappointing returning to the real world after time away, but thankfully I had a nice birthday surprise waiting for me courtesy of my friend Nora: Garrett’s Mix popcorn!!!  Yes, I ate the whole tub myself.  Proud of it.

So excited for this treat that I couldn't even keep the camera still.

I am intending to get back to a regular running schedule (promises, promises), but this past week was insanely hot.  I did catch a beautiful sunset though.

Thanks for trying to be pretty, Philly.  You're still my #1 girl.

Crossing my fingers that this week will bring normal weather (and some legitimate workouts and subsequent blog entries)!

Happy June!

~Tomato Face