Marathon Training Week 4: Take me to the Asylum

My week 4 training was already slated to be a cutback week but I took it to the extreme. I finished the week with 6.5 miles and one CrossFit workout. Thankfully, I really don’t care too much about one week in my un-training plan.

Instead of training I visited my friends in Virginia. Maybe you remember them from my first attempt at a Strongman clinic last year? We got to spend an evening and the next morning catching up before I continued on to South Carolina. They even sent me off with a mug, two pint glasses, a pack of fair-trade root beer, and some Beast Lab bracelets. (HINT: You can score some Beast Lab gear over on their blog!)

Beast Lab cool

The very first thing the Mr. and I did Friday was head to CrossFit for a workout. Our warm up was 9 rounds of 2 rep floor presses. I used 65# for mine and only made 7 rounds. Doing bench press on the floor is probably the most painful thing ever. I won’t be doing that again. The WOD was called ‘The Chief”. It consists of max rounds in 3 minutes of:
3 rep Power Cleans (135 is RX for men, 95 for women)
6 push-ups
9 air squats
Rest 1 minute
Repeat for 5 cycles

The boy and I set up next to each other. I think he RX’d as usual while I went with 55# so I could not worry about hurting myself. We both managed 4 rounds the first cycle. We agreed to hold 4 rounds again the second cycle. The third cycle he told me to go for 3 but I had more than enough time to knock out 4. The fourth cycle I completed 3 rounds and then went for broke with another 4 on the final cycle. Our final tallies were 19 rounds for me and 18 for him. Overall, it was great to get back under a bar and especially with my favorite workout partner next to me.

Beastmode face?
The rest of our weekend was spent between the beach and the pool (and a trip to the bar). We drove out to Myrtle Beach on Saturday despite a 50% chance of rain all day. We got lucky and it was just a little overcast, very comfortable, and dry all day. We even took the dog which was awesome. For being so small she had very little fear of the big waves and water!
Ready for date night. Can’t beat wings and beers (or his face! LOL)
Sand sprints and hover dog
After that it was dinner and back to the pool. Sunday pretty much consisted of being as lazy as possible. Overall, I’ll take a weekend of fun and active leisure over hardcore training any day! Now back to the regularly scheduleprogramming training.

Crazy: Week 1

Last week was my first full week back to running. I was pleasantly surprised by how well my body responded to the sudden return to training. Now if I can just keep walking that thin line between training and over-training everything will be okay!

I ended up with 30.3 miles for the week at an average pace of 10:04 per mile. I’m not setting any land speed records but I’ll take it. I also managed a ‘long’ run of 10 miles using a run/walk technique. I would run until my watch beeped a mile and then walk for 1 minute. I ended up with an exactly 10:40 pace and now I’m thinking this may be how I aim to complete the marathon.

Fastest 5 miler in awhile (spoiler: I beat it this week)
I also have begun adding in more cross training than when I was running previously. My cycling buddy has been busy but I’m planning to get back on my bike as soon as we can. So while I’m off the saddle I have been doing things like push ups, jump rope, kayaking, and back to school shopping. If you can walk the entire mall three times to get EVERYTHING on your list then it counts!
Just try to carry all those bags!
And now I’m into week 2 of ‘training’ and 36 days away from my 8th marathon. I’m doing the typical freak outs over my diet, sleep, and every ache. So far it all seems par for the course with me. And Mr. Wonderful is doing just fine down south. He’s throwing down some long and fast runs while still CrossFitting often. I have a feeling keeping up with him will be almost as much of a challenge as the marathon!
My motivation.

Going South

In the several months I took off from running and blogging (and pretty much everything except working) I went through a lot of changes. The guy I was seeing and I didn’t work out. I jumped jobs AGAIN. The Jeep blew its engine and I traded it in for a Mazda. I guess it was a pretty eventful few months. But it also brought about a lot of wonderful things.

One of which was meeting the kind of guy I never dreamed existed. We clicked from date one… which was amazing considering I was working 13 hour night shifts and skipped about 3 hours of sleep to meet him for lunch. It wasn’t long before we were spending all of our free time hiking, running, going to concerts, and playing in the great outdoors. The only downside was knowing our time was limited. See, he lives 600 miles from me and was only home for the summer. Check reviews on the best folding picnic table for outdoor activities
Even his dog is awesome
When it came time for him to leave we both had trouble saying goodbye. I promised to visit. He was sure I never would. And next thing I know I’m on my way to the Carolinas to spend a four day weekend with him. And it was without a doubt one of the best weekends of my life.
We went bar hopping Friday and I got to meet a few of his acquaintances. Saturday we were up bright and early to cheer on his friends at a CrossFit competition. I have never in my life felt so tiny as I did standing next to the ripped men and women of Carolina CrossFit. I am certain I looked like an idiot walking around with a huge grin on my face the whole time. I forgot how much fun it is to cheer and crew for athletes. (Which reminds me that I should really volunteer for a race soon.)
I may never be this much of a beast
After the competition it was time for our own workout. A nice 5 mile trail loop was a joy to run. It was flat, well groomed, and fairly scenic…. except for the 90 degree temps and the raging humidity. For the second time that day I was humbled as an athlete. It only reinforced my desire to get back in shape and be able to keep up with my boy and his friends. Then we had dinner with one of his running partners and her boyfriend. She is training for the Chicago marathon and kept us all laughing with her stories.
Sunday was more of the same. Another trail run in a beautiful park. There were so many things I don’t see in Pennsylvania. Armadillos, huge snails, Spanish moss, and cacti. I loved every minute of our time on the trail. Well, except for when I twisted my ankle on a root. But I do that in PA too. Guess you can’t leave clumsy at home.






After all the adventures and craziness, we are both still very into making this work. So I guess it’s time for some southern races since I’ll be making the trip fairly often!
Time to start knocking some more states off the list!

Week in Review: Part 5 (End of the Year!)

This week was my first cutback week of the training cycle. I was looking forward to it but also dreading it. I really enjoyed seeing big numbers the past few weeks and I hated to see my average drop back down right at the end of the year. I decided to use it as a mini-taper for an end of the year PR attempt at the Harmony Silvester 5k. Shane and I have raced this for three years now and I set a PR last year. I hoped to repeat that feat this year…. But you’ll have to wait for my race report tomorrow!

On to the training week!

Monday: 3 miles in 37:05 (run/walk) + weights.

Tuesday: Off (Christmas!)

Wednesday: 1 mile warm up, 8 hill repeats at 10% incline, cool down + CrossFit WOD. Total: 3 miles.

Thursday: 1 mile warm up, 6 miles steady state. Total: 7 miles.

Friday: 2 mile warm up, 6 x 200m repeats, cool down. Total: 4 miles.

Saturday: 3 mile walk.

Sunday: 3 mile easy run.

Total: 23 miles in 4:08:27.

Picture Fun and a Challenge

The holidays are here and so is the fun! From getting a new hairstyle to new clothes and eating goodies it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or so the song says…

Making cookies with my kiddos was a nice touch this week. Of course Ash’s cookies went in a separate tupperware since I don’t think anyone likes baby drool flavor!

Gem decorating cookies


Ash eating sprinkles


So much fun!


Final products
Holidays also mean end of the year fun and get togethers so I took the time to get a new ‘do.
Sheila is a genius!
And what’s Christmas without presents?! Running Skirts hooked me up with an awesome outfit for my cold weather workouts. I love the fit and fabric and the color of the top. There’s even little leopard print accents on the pants! Too fun! The headband stayed put through a CrossFit workout too.
Fits wonderfully! (And I need a new mirror.)
Speaking of presents, I spent two nights making a cross stitch (my first ever attempt) for Christmas. Gem gave it to her great-grandma for Christmas. I hope she liked it!
And really the best part is just the large amounts of quality family time. 🙂
Mom & Ash fun!
Just as fun but also serious, I’ve been challenged to a dual. Well, not really but kind of? It’s a running challenge. Altra Zero Drop tweeted to ask “Why do you run?” I saw one of my running idols, Harold from a A Veteran Runnah,answer the question and my own answer came to me. I run because I want to be better! Like Harold who I saw in action (from very far behind) at theRunner’s World Festival.
Harold’s PR’s are really impressive (for a retiree or not!). Somehow our tweets turned into a challenge. We’ll compare our PR’s at the end of 2013 and see who has improved the most to crown a winner (of what, we don’t know). So as of right now my PR’s for 2012 are:

5k: 24:27
10k: 59:30 (soft)
13.1: 2:20 official, 2:08 time trial
26.2: 4:34:05

And, of course, there’s ultras but these aren’t part of the challenge.

So what do you think my chances are? Anyone else want to join in on the fun?

Counting Blessings

This week is going so much better than the last couple. I’m finally feeling the extra energy from training instead of feeling tired all the time. I’ve been catching up on housework and homework. I’ve even been playing more with the kids. And after the news about the shootings in Connecticut today I’m really glad that I have. I’m not going to rehash it any further than saying my heart breaks for the families and friends and everyone affected.

Ash squishing me on the couch a few days ago.
I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am this week and how happy I am that I have a perfectly average life. I have a husband and kids and dogs and mountains of laundry and homework and dishes. I also have the ability to run and lift heavy weights and give back to the community. I signed up to volunteer for a 5k race in a few weeks. The race is being put together by Team Odysseyand benefits the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation. Being able to give my time to help such a good cause feels very good and I hope it will make a small difference to a family affected by this disease.
Blessed to be able to move
As I finish up finals this week I can hardly believe that I only have 12 classes left! I can’t believe I’m going to have a ‘real’ degree before I’m 30. I also can’t believe I’m going to be 28 in less than 2 weeks! There is just so much going on that makes my life amazing.
 My living room transformed into a train station yesterday.
I love being a small part of wonderful brands and companies. FitFluential, INKnBURN, and Aquaphor have all touched my life and my training. And now I’ve applied to be an Altra Zero Drop ambassador! I’ll find out in only a few weeks if I’ve been accepted. (Feel free to tell them how awesome I am!) Either way I’m still in love with their shoes. I’ve been running in my Superiors more and more and I’m hoping they’ll be the shoe that gets me through my first one hundred at Burning River.
Altras in Action
I’m loving every minute of my trail runs. I feel stronger, faster, happier… I’m blessed to have a trail just out my back door to run on. For the kids, the dogs, my own mental health I appreciate having that crushed limestone right outside.
Happy trails….
Everything in life is really about perspective. And I’ve realized that everything hard about life is what makes it worth it. When my muscles ache, my lungs burn, my feet blister, my mind gets foggy with fatigue and trying to force knowledge into it, my hands dry out from dish washing, etc. I need to remember that life is worth living and celebrating every day. And I will choose to celebrate by moving, breathing, enjoying and even indulging a little sometimes…. like those cookies at the race meeting! 😉

Week In Review

I think it will help me (and maybe those of you who want to follow in my madness) if I post a review of my training. I’m going to try and make this a weekly post, hopefully every Sunday, and use it as a way to keep my motivation up.

Because we all need more cat pictures on the interwebz
So here is the week of November 26 to December 2 in review:

Monday: 5.5 miles at 10:45 avg. pace + CrossFit

Tuesday: 6 miles at 9:58 avg. pace. This included speed work intervals.

Wednesday: 5 miles at 11:56 avg. pace. Recovery run + CrossFit.

Thursday: Rest. (Sick)

Friday: Unscheduled rest day due to being sick.

Saturday: 6 miles at 9:52 avg. pace. The middle miles were fast tempo.

Sunday: 10 miles at 11:20 avg. pace. A shorter version of a long run.

Total: 32.5 Miles

All in all it was a good week except for the illness that snuck up on me Wednesday. Let’s just hope this week doesn’t hold any nasty surprises!

Randoms, Running and WOD’s

Since signing up for Burning River 100 I have been focused on getting into training and finally finishing my first hundred. I have been plotting with an amazing ultra beast and my CrossFit coach. I’ve been having salad at night in front of the TV instead of M&M’s (those come later) and I’m drinking more water than I ever knew I could hold. (Glad hubby pays the sewage bill!)

This week is my first week of real training since Marshall University Marathon. I was so excited (and I still am) but I forgot how much real training sucks too. It’s been a fun couple days mentally readjusting to not being able to easily walk up and down stairs or get up from the couch. And it’s not even a ton of mileage yet either!

Today I took it easy and ran my prescribed mileage at recovery pace. And then I hit CrossFit for some more torture training. This was the WOD I was given by my coach:

I didn’t push super hard. I wasn’t out of breath when it was over. I focused on slow and steady but still my legs wanted to rip themselves off and club me with my Altra shoes. As you can see I only managed 8 rounds + 2/3 of a 9th round. I really can’t wait to get into shape where a 30-ish mile week and two CrossFit WOD’s don’t total me. Instead of being upset I’m just going to use it to fuel my fire. By July this won’t even be worth doing as a WOD, maybe not even as a warm up.

In other news, Christmas is bearing down on us (which also means I’ll be another year older, you can send presents). Most of my shopping is done and everything that’s here is wrapped. Even the Christmas cards went out already. I’m pretty proud of myself! But what I’m really ashamed proud of is this:

My poor Lily has been walking around shivering in our drafty old house. She is always on my lap or under a blanket or trying to cuddle with our other dog. I finally took pity on her and bought her Dachshund pajamas. Yes, there are companies that make extra long clothes just for weiner dogs. And yes, I am now one of THOSE people. My dog wears clothes….

In other (odd) news, I’m not racing this weekend. Shane has signed up for at least one 5k and may do a 5k/10k combo race the next day. It’s really weird for me to say no to (THREE!) races but I know I need to put in my long run and then rest up for next week. Eyes on the prize and all that jazz… What’s cool is that I might be able to be a spectator and cheering squad for once!? Never gotten to cheer on Shane in a race before. Maybe Sunday could be the first!

Home Again

It’s been an awful week for my running, as in I’m posting a big old zero. However, I did have a lot of neat experiences so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to while I’m not pounding pavement, trail, or a barbell.

Monday was a typical workday. On Tuesday I took a training class on Computer Radiography and then came home to pack for my trip to Brunner Island Power Station. Brunner Island isn’t really a nice place and I wouldn’t go there for vacation but for a work trip it wasn’t bad. This time we were doing a boiler survey which means locating several areas and marking them with paint. Then those areas are sandblasted and me and my coworkers take readings on the tubes inside the boiler. At this site we took something like 36,000 readings!

Brunner Island
Water Wall Tubes
I arrived at Brunner around 8PM on Tuesday and checked into my super-sleazy motel. Thankfully 15 of my coworkers were staying there too so I didn’t feel too scared!
I could feel the creepiness in the atmosphere.
Wednesday was the day we did the layout so it was pretty quick. I was out of the plant by 1 and then back at the motel to do my homework. A couple hours later I was headed to dinner with my cousin (and I forgot to get a picture!). Thursday and Friday were the days we had to take the readings. That meant 13-14 hours both days and never seeing the sun. I stayed one more night and drove home Saturday morning. I spent most of Saturday unpacking, washing laundry, and cleaning fly ash and coal dust out of my car.
Today was the day to make up for lost time with the kids though! We went to a covered bridge festival and had a blast. They even had a tractor made up like a train to take the kids for rides in barrel ‘cars’! We didn’t come home with too much besides cotton candy and pumpkin pie but the kids had a blast so it was well worth the trip.
Train ride!
The best part, aside from spending time with my kids, was coming home to find a huge box of Reebok gear waiting for me! I had signed up for Team Reebok for the Canton 5k & 10k on Saturday but missed it for obvious reasons. I wish I could have represented this weekend but I’ll definitely be wearing my new gear for CrossFit tomorrow! I can’t wait to get back on schedule and get back to running again (just in time to taper for Baltimore)!

So what did I miss this week? Any big news or big races? Got photos you care to share? I’d like to start sharing reader photos and stories once a week or so if I can get some interest! You can email me at sbrunazzi @ gmail. com. Just take the spaces out! 😉

And The Gym Hits Back…

I am blessed to have a CrossFit box only 15 minutes from my house. It takes time away from my family to go there after work but my husband and I agree that it is the best option at this point. And, let’s face it, I really do love CrossFit more than I ever did personal training.

I went back for my first WOD in forever last night. After getting another text message from my ex-trainer I really needed the stress relief. I was hoping for slam balls but the workout my coach selected was almost as good. Five rounds of 400m run, 7 x deadlift, 15 wall balls (10 pounds), and 30 single unders (jump rope). I finished in 25:10 which I think is pretty good for my first time back!

Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to fit in my runs without going to the gym on my lunch breaks. I planned to get up an hour early today and do my 4 miles but when the alarm went off I was way too exhausted, probably from the WOD last night. So instead I have my clothes, shoes, and Garmin in my bag and I will stop in the park on the way home. Tomorrow I will have no choice but to get up at OMG-early and put in my 8 miles. But in the end, I just have to focus on what matters. A PR at Baltimore in October and hopefully a PR at Baker 50M. At the very least I need to get my second piece of the medal.

I am blessed to be surrounded by family, friends, and readers who really care. I value every bit of input you all have given me over the years whether I agreed with it or not. The honesty and straight-to-the-point advice is often just what this stubborn runner needs. So thank you all very much!

Have you tried CrossFit? Do you regularly WOD? What’s your take on it, whether or not you actually attend a box?

Mission Impossible?

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted (what else is new?) but that’s because I’m working on something big, EPIC is probably even better (though overused). It’s a top-secret mission only my husband and I know about but the clock is ticking down and planning is in the works for something incredible!

In the interim I’ve been working hard at CrossFit. I went from a 3 rep max of 75lbs on backsquat to a 3 rep max of 95lbs! I wanted to go for the triple digits but my trainer wouldn’t let me. I guess a 20 pound PR will have to do for now! I’m also nailing kipping pull ups on almost every attempt so I’ve moved on to mastering double unders. Hopefully I’ll achieve one soon! My WOD’s would go so much faster if I could do this:

To top it off I’m aiming for my highest ever mileage this month. I’d really like to make it a 100 mile month. I know there’s so many runners out there that are pushing 100 mile WEEKS but I have a life ya know! I’ve never broken 90 for a single month so that is my base goal! Only 29 miles to go and 10 days to do it.

So I’m off to do more online shopping and research and then maybe some running before get on bunk beds! I’ve got goals to reach and missions to accomplish! Oh I can’t wait to post about what I’m about to do but you’ll just have to stay tuned in for that day!