How to Improve Your Half Marathon Time (a Personal Checklist)

Last week after a particularly brutal bootcamp class (that included my first ever attempt at one-armed burpees!), I was feeling a bit of that old soreness in my hamstring/hip/glute area.  I immediately called up my chiropractor and have had a few very productive visits.  I'm feeling pretty much normal now and things should be just fine, but I already feel a little sluggish and slow from ramping things down after only a week.  It got me to thinking about how in the world I got out of a three year half marathon slump to have such a great race day last month.  How did I shave off more than fifteen minutes of every half I've done in the last three years?!  Certainly all the wonderful things about the Lake Sammamish Half I covered in the race report (the course, organization, etc.) contributed to a great time.  But, I really wanted to write down everything I could think of that might have helped me successfully cross that finish line, lest I forget...

The most obvious thing I did to improve was to stick to my training, but listen to my body.  If I was a bit run down after running a 5K, I skipped the interval workout the following week and ran trails instead.  I never compromised a long run, but there were a few times that I felt 'off' and postponed it for the following day. 

I'm pretty sure the run streak (I can't believe day 365 is almost here!) has helped with my endurance and weight management.  I lost a couple pounds a month or so into the run streak and I've maintained it ever since.  I'm thinking the lighter me is also a slightly faster me!

The run streak has also lent itself to daily stretching and core work.  Sometimes I just do my mile for the day, take a shower and I'm just done.  But when I was preparing for the Sammamish Half, I was much more diligent about my daily chores.  Every few weeks, I'd add on a few more moves or add time to my plank routine.  I've kind of let that go by the wayside, mostly just doing core on bootcamp days, and I think I'm paying for it!

Another thing I need to get back into is my twice monthly yoga.  It's such a great cross training option, but after the race and then Spring Break, I kinda got out of my habit.

Over the last year I DID get into the habit of having several pairs of shoes in rotation.  Normally, I'd have a pair of running shoes, cross training shoes and trail running shoes.  That's it, and that's probably more than fine.  But I think the addition of an extra pair of running shoes I happened to win from Brooks (yay!) helped condition my feet.  I'd wear my newest Ravennas for long runs, my slightly worn pair for middle distances, my low heel drop/minimalist Pure Cadence on one-miler days, Adrenalines for bootcamp and my Gore-Tex Adrenalines for trail.
Yep, I wear all of these shoes.

I am also so thankful for the gait analysis I was able to do at Everyday Athlete.  Just a few little tweaks got me feeling so much better in my form.  Additionally, it gave me something to concentrate on (distract myself with) during the race.

Which brings me to the most helpful point of all: don't stress about the outcome.  This was a not so happy coincidence for me, coming down with a nasty cold in the days before the race.  I pretty much gave up on any kind of PR aspirations and just ran to get through it comfortably.  All I thought about throughout the race was: my form, breathing, smiling, my music, and what a lovely day it was until the end when I realized I'd been doing a pretty decent clip.  Apparently, this was the key to my success!  I really, really, wish I knew how to create this mild (and helpful) form of apathy without getting ill.  Will report back after my next half!


This Weeks Eats 4.12.15

We've got a shorter list for this week's menu plan because it's BLATHERING WEEK!  There will definitely be lots of food involved, of which I'll report back.  And of course some draaaanks.  It looks as if there's even a signature cocktail that Elizabeth is creating for us, and it looks delicious.
I totally hijacked this from her Instagram account.

It's crazy how times flies, I can't believe this event I bought a ticket for so many months ago is already here.  I'm even staying downtown overnight on Saturday, yay!

Okay, back to menu planning!  The jerked Sriracha roast pork from last week was fantastic.  The flavors were just so complex and addictive.  We'll for sure make this again.  Even though it's a short week, I thought we'd throw in a new dish on Wednesday...

  • Monday - Pizza
  • Tuesday - Chicken with Artichokes, Tomatoes and Mozzarella (an old favorite Emeril recipe)
  • Wednesday - Classic Spaghetti All'Amatriciana (trying this recipe from Blogging Over Thyme)
  • Thursday - Burgers on the grill with Alexia fries
  • Friday and Saturday - BLATHERING DAYS!
  • Sunday - Spicy Avocado Enchiladas (I have leftovers of this great dish via The Novice Chef.  It's a great recipe to double and freeze half the sauce in one Ziplock and half of the rolled/stuffed tortillas in another.  I just buy more cheese, easy peasy.)
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Books I Read in March 2015

Unbecoming by Rebecca Sherm

This was another novel I could see people comparing to Gone Girl, in the sense that we're dealing with characters that emerge as morally ambiguous as the plot moves along.  Grace was definitely one of the more complex anti heroes I've come across.  I waffled greatly between wanting to see her get what she wanted and wanting her to be held accountable for her actions, despite any suffering she's endured.  I really enjoyed the detail that went into the character and her experiences in the art world, but the pace didn't pick up for me until the last third of the book.  I'd definitely recommend though.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This book is SO going to be in my favorite books of 2015 list.  It's alternatively narrated by twins Jude and Noah and their heartbreaking story of love, loss and redemption.  They have become two of my favorite literary characters ever.  Their voices are so unique, funny, passionate, vivid, and poetic.  The two have a falling out and we alternate between Noah's point of view from the past when they were kids, to Jude's point of view in present time as teenagers.  I was FURIOUSLY turning the pages waiting and hoping for them to finally understand each other and to know the whole story.  Just a deftly and beautifully told story that comes to a wonderfully riveting ending.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

I must say that I was a little disappointed with this book.  I really enjoyed Fingersmith (which I read in January) and expected the same from this bestselling novel by the same author.  Alas, I kept waiting for some complex plot to evolve.  It was a rather straightforward story of an illicit affair gone wrong, a murder that brought up some skeletons in closets, and a pretty tense, but unfulfilled, ending.  Not good enough for a 600 page tome.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

This book is described as '3.5 in the Lunar Chronicles' and it seems that Marissa Meyer was stretching to make it even that much of a book.  There were some important plot points and character arcs revealed.  But, I think they could have been abbreviated and added as a foreword in the upcoming final installment.  It was nice to revisit the series and it DID make me really excited for the final book.

I'm linking up with Everyday Reading's quarterly roundup, so here are links to the books I read in January and February!


This Week's Eats 4.5.15

Happy Easter Bunny Day!  I'll say one thing for the Easter Bunny, he sure does bring on some seriously good candy.  For the most part, Halloween involves candy that's readily available throughout the year.  There aren't any specific Christmas candies I can think of, and I'm pretty sure you can get chocolate coins year round.  Besides, it's more about the COOKIES when it comes to Santa.  

Easter is the ONLY TIME you can get these:

And one of the more polarizing candies out there:

My husband is firmly in the 'no Cadbury Creme Egg' camp, and I'm very much in favor of the Cadbury Creme Egg.  Whatever your opinion, or religion, hopefully you enjoyed a lovely Spring day!
I don't really know what they're trying to convey here...
Last week's meatloaf and potatoes were excellent.  However, I just added one turkey sausage link into one pound of ground beef so as not to overpower the meat. It turned out delicious.  Also, adding panko crumbs to roasted potatoes is GENIUS and we will be doing that for always, amen.  Thank you Cooking with Curls for this revelation.  This week...
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


April Goals and March Recap

My list for March was super short, but I've got a lot on my plate in the coming months to make up for it...

March Goals

Run a smart half marathon.  I think that I did this so well, that I can just throw the other two goals out the window!

Recover and decide on a new running goal/plan. Well, I've definitely 'recovered' and have done a speed workout or two since the Lake Sammamish Half.  But, I really haven't settled on a goal race.  However, I've put into practice a running schedule of one long run (at least 6 miles), one half marathon paced run (at least two miles with a warm up/cool down) and one 'other' run (interval, tempo, trail) per week, along with two cross training days (usually two bootcamp classes, or one and a trip to yoga).  I think this should keep my base mileage in a good place (and keep me from going crazy) while I still think about a goal race.

Trail running is always the most fun 'other' choice.
Read at least five books.
I read four and a half - so close!  In my defense, we got HBO this month and totally caught up on Girls and Game of Thrones.  I'm so excited not to be a year behind now.  PLUS, I read The Paying Guests which is nearly 600 pages. So.  Maybe I'll get this accomplished next month.

April Goals

Start birthday prep for the kiddos.
Both have birthdays in early May, so it's a bit hectic for us.  We've decided on a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in lieu of a party again this year.  But, now that the kids are starting to form closer friendships, we're trying to also plan a fun, low key outing with a buddy or two.  I'm going to try my best to avoid Chuck e' Cheese, but I can't rule it out...

Get Easter Baskets
Yeah, we're not real religious around here, but does one categorize the Easter Bunny as such?  It's a nice excuse to enjoy a pancake breakfast, maybe some hot cross buns and relax while the kids are distracted by their goodies.

Fill up our spring break.
We might get a little stir crazy after nine straight days of family time.  It will be LOVELY to sleep in, not do homework, etc.  But I've gotta get in a special activity or two, even if it's a trip to the movies.

Enjoy The Blathering!
This is one of those gimme list items.

Keep up with my aforementioned fitness plan.
With Spring Break and The Blathering, this might prove to be a bit difficult.  I shouldn't have trouble keeping up the run streak (SO CLOSE TO A YEAR!), but I'm going to give it my best shot to get each of those workouts in every week. 


This Weeks Eats 3.29.15

If there's on thing there's no shortage of on Pinterest, it's salad recipes.  And, for the most part, they do not disappoint!  We tried this recipe I found via Averie Cooks tonight and it was DELICIOUS. 
I loved the addition of aged white cheddar, especially since I usually have some leftover in the freezer from mac and cheese dishes.  Generally the salads we make call for blue or feta cheese, so it was a refreshing change.  I made a few additions, because there are some things I just cannot forgo in my salad: red onion, chicken (or some extra protein for a dinner salad), and a handful of romaine for crunch.  So, yeah, I'll be adding those ingredients to this week's salad... 

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


The Beats Half Marathon Discount Code!

Yep, ANOTHER discount code to share!  This is another new race that is being organized by the same folks at the Snohomish Running CompanyThe Beats Run will take place on July 26th, 2015 and this half marathon is all about the music.  There will be a DJ at each mile along the course, and given my taste for good EDM, I'm VERY excited to check this race out.  Plus it's at Marymoor Park in Redmond (great location for easy race logistics) and will have Nuun on course, just like my favorite half marathon!
They've announced the DJ for the post race party, who has a single signed to one of my favorite artist's labels (Tiesto).
From the race director: X-Vertigo, originally from France and residing in Los Angeles, has been without a doubt one of the biggest up and coming, electronic music artists of 2014. In 2013 alone he signed on 3 of the biggest labels in today's music industry. His single "Kings" was signed on Tiesto's Musical Freedom label and topped #18 on Beatport's Progressive chart. His second single "Dusk" was picked up by Armin Van Buuren's Armada/Trice recordings which topped at #48 and was part of the Armada "Best tracks of 2013" Compilation . Finally, Nervo & Ivan Van Gough ft Beverly Knight's "Not taking this no more"(X-VERTIGO vs Bass King remix) was signed by #1 Dutch label Spinnin' Records and stayed on the Electro House Top 100charts for nearly a month.  You can give a listen here.

They've begun announcing DJs for the course, and I'm pretty excited to run without headphones for 13.1.  So come on out and join in the fun!  Register here and use code: HALLBERG15 for 15% off registration.

Disclosure: I was offered a race entry in exchange for getting the word out about the race; although it is sponsored, all opinions are my own.