Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sickness and demon treadmills

This week did not go as planned. I was supposed to get in my first week of marathon training, wrap up week 5 of P90X strong, and hang out with my brother who was visiting. Instead, I got knocked on my butt by a terrible sore throat that woke me up long before my alarm did on Monday morning and only got worse as the week went on. I did manage to get in one run on Tuesday night (3 miles), before the chest coughs kicked in on Thursday, at which point I decided that running would need to take a back seat and getting healthy needed to be my focus. The doctor said it was a virus I'd just have to let that.

I spent a lot of time with these guys this week:
Cough medicine, tissues, Sudafed and OJ
Not to mention plenty of chicken noodle soup. I saw my brother for a bit on Friday since I was home sick, and on Thursday we treated ourselves to Shake Shack (that custard felt so good on my throat...the burger? Probably not the most healing dinner, but it is delicious!).

On my run on Tuesday, I was forced to wait in a very long line for a treadmill, so I took whatever one opened up first, which was not the kind I typically like to run on. (We all know we have our favorite treadmills...) I turned my iPad to my book (The Night Circus, so good!), set it to 6.0 mph, and off I went. Two minutes later, I wanted to die. I felt like I was running uphill, in the middle of the day, in 100% humidity. I somehow persevered through 1.5 miles, but I couldn't go any farther. I don't know what it is with these demon treadmills, but as soon as I switched to a different brand of treadmill, I felt like I was running on clouds. It was glorious, and I finished up the 3 miles easily.
My demon treadmill, by Precor
Does this happen to anyone else? Actually, I know that it does. My friend Lani and I have long discussed waging war on the demon treadmill. It's great because it makes you work harder, but it's terrible because you want the treadmill to spontaneously break throughout your run. I think it may have to do with the fact that it faces a wall so it gets little to no air circulation (even with the fans on), and someone suggested that perhaps I hadn't been properly warmed up, but seriously? I've hopped on a treadmill at 6am before doing anything else and had better runs than this one. I am going to be avoiding this demon treadmill at all costs in the future. Not worth it to me, especially when I can run on a non-demonic treadmill without wishing I could fall off.

Other than my single run this week, I did manage to keep up with P90X. I felt that it was easier on my body than running, and there was no cardio involved so my cough wasn't a problem. I took two days off completely, but today I doubled up with the workouts, doing Legs & Back and Kenpo X. I'm still really enjoying it, and while I'm not really seeing any visible improvements or changes, I do feel great overall and know that I am getting stronger. (I also held crane for even longer yesterday - woo!) I'm psyched to keep it up for two more months and see if there are any more changes! 35 days down, 55 to go!

That's it for this week... How about you, any demon treadmill experiences or tips for juggling sickness with working out?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good news

I got some AWESOME news on Thursday morning. First, I waited for an hour in the waiting room, followed by some more waiting in the exam room. But it was soooo worth it! Dr. Metzl came in, asked what I'd been up to, poked around on my leg a bit and cleared me to run again! Six weeks was a long time to take off, but I'm glad it got me into P90X and taught me to be smarter the next time.

So did I dash off to Central Park the moment I was cleared to run? No, no I didn't. I somehow reined in my excitement and waited TWO WHOLE DAYS before running. I know, crazy. Thursday I was lucky enough to be invited to a free session at Pure Yoga, and I decided to go for an 8pm Forrest yoga class.
Description from the site:
Forrest Yoga is an inspiring yoga method that engages the core through strong abdominal exercises and builds flexibility, intelligence and strength. Forrest Yoga uses heat, deep breathing and vigorous sequences to awaken the senses, sweat out toxins, release emotions stored in body tissues and deepen connection to spirit. Erica's classes are fun and challenging, with special attention given to alignment and breath.
It was just what I needed after a busy week at work (yes, it was only a four-day week, but it was busy!). I really loved this class. There was a breathing method that I'd never done before (kind of closing the throat some and breathing in and out through the nose, so (as Erica put it) you can "hear the ocean"). During savasana, she asked us to look deep inside and allow words to float to the top. They did so for me, and it made me feel so relaxed and clear-headed. Like I said, it was just what I needed. Too bad I probably couldn't even afford a membership, but I'm so glad I can take advantage of these offers that they have from time to time.

Friday was Core Synergistics, which is actually a really fun P90X workout. I swear, the hour flies by, and my core was hurtin' the next day! Oh, and Friday was also game night at my friends' apartment.
Wine, boardgames and friends, what's not to love?
We played Cranium, Taboo and some other games I forget. There were probably 15 people there, and we had a great time. I hope we do it again soon!

Saturday was the day I finally made it to the gym to run a very easy 2 miles...but not before venturing into the snow to meet up with some friends and see the 3D version of Beauty & the Beast. Belle is one of the best Disney princesses (bookworm and brave? And can see inner beauty in a really mean beast? What's not to love?!).
Shawna, me and Katie, 3D glasses ready to go!
I don't think I got to see it in the theater when it originally came out, so it was fun to go and see it with friends. (And in case you were wondering, we were the only people in the theater who were not there with kids...)

Afterward, Shawna and I hit the gym nearby and I ran my first run in six weeks. And it was awesome. I walked a quarter mile, then ran 2 miles easy, going from 6.0 mph to 6.4 mph. I felt great the whole time, and wanted to go for longer, but knew it would probably be smarter to just go 2 miles. I was happy the whole time, and was just sooo happy to be back to running! Nothing felt weird, I didn't feel like I needed to relearn how to run, and I was just so grateful that I could run again! YAY!

Next up: a half-marathon on March 17. A week later, P90X ends (what will I do with myself?!), so till then I'm going to be running three days a week and continuing with P90X as usual. I think I'll be able to do both...fingers crossed!

Monday, January 16, 2012

P90X, Running, and Chili

I'm now three weeks into P90X, and have started week 4, which is kind of like the pullback week of marathon training. Instead of the strength workouts I've come to know and love, there are two yoga sessions, one Kenpo (kickboxing) session, two stretch sessions, and two days of a new exercise that I haven't tried out yet called Core Synergistics. From what my dad has told me, Core Synergistics is no joke. It looks tough, but I'm excited to switch things up this week!

This week marks another exciting (hopefully) event - my followup appointment with Dr. Metzl is Thursday, and I expect he will give me the go-ahead to return to running! I can't believe it's been six weeks since my last run...seems like much longer than that, but luckily I've had P90X to distract me.

With my return to running (and half-marathon in just under nine weeks - yup, I dropped down to the half for the DC Rock 'n' Roll race) but continuation with P90X, I've started to think about how I'm going to combine the two workouts. I want to do P90X over the 90 days, but I also want to run so that I can build up some mileage and avoid collapsing in the middle of the race. I feel that I've done a good job of keeping up my cardiovascular strength both by doing the P90X workouts and by supplementing them with workouts on the StairMaster, elliptical and treadmill, as well as spinning. Hopefully running will become a natural part of my P90X workouts!

If I've learned anything from previous injuries, it's that I can't take on too much volume. Running is going to only take place three to four times a week for the foreseeable future. I think that leading up to this race, I probably won't run more than three times a week - I'm just coming off of an injury, and I've got P90X to finish up!

My plan: If it's possible, I'd LOVE to do both workouts in the morning - just get them done for the day. But that's pretty unrealistic, so instead, I think I'll try to run Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. I'll probably try switching between running in the morning and doing P90X after work, and doing P90X in the morning and running after work. Long runs will be Saturday. Assuming I get cleared to run on Thursday (fingers crossed!), here's what that next week will look like:

  • Monday: AM 2 mile run; PM Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X
  • Tuesday: Plyometrics
  • Wednesday: AM 3 mile run; PM Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X
  • Thursday: Yoga X
  • Friday: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Saturday: Kenpo X, 4 mile run
  • Sunday: Stretch
Miles are guesses...I'll probably run this weekend too, just because I'll be able to!

As you can probably tell, I pretty much love P90X. (I even convinced my friend Summer to do Kenpo with me since she was staying with me for the weekend, and she loved it and found Tony Horton to be very motivating!) I've been discussing its benefits with my friends, so I'll share a few of the things I've been loving about it here, too:
  • P90X motivates me to get up in the morning. I don't have to leave my apartment and venture into the cold. I don't have to wear a zillion layers. I don't have to think about making sure my Garmin is charged, whether I'm going to be too hot or too cold on a run, if I have my headphones with me so I can watch the news at the gym, etc. I just get up, throw on some clothes (though I sometimes even do some of the less sweat-intense workouts in my PJs...), and pop in my DVD of the day.
  • I do a workout for at least an hour a day. Yes, I also walk to and from the subway, which ends up being a 2 mile walk per day. That gets me moving, but doing P90X means that I have a 1+ hour per day workout. When I did strength training on my own, I was pretty diligent about it, but I would do a full body workout for about 20 mins two or three times a week. With P90X, I dedicate a whole hour to a part of the body, which ensures an awesome workout.
  • I do a different workout every day. Legs one day, arms the next, yoga, plyo, the list goes on... Muscle confusion is one of the cornerstones of P90X. Each phase introduces new moves and workouts, which help to make sure you don't plateau. Trust me, you will not get bored with this workout!
  • I'm doing things I never thought I'd be able to do. I held crane for eight full seconds today - my previous record was zero seconds. When I first did Ab Ripper X, I could not do oblique V-ups. Now I can do them all.
  • There's always room for improvement. You can up your reps or weight, go deeper in the squat, hold the pose for longer, etc. I find that I can do new things with each workout, which is always awesome.
  • I feel awesome. I'm eating better and cleaner - I just don't really crave sweets the way that I did before P90X. I feel energized during the day. I feel proud of myself for doing these tough workouts. I generally feel pretty darn happy!
Just my two cents. Thoughts?

This weekend was a long weekend, which was great. Not only did I get a lot of sleep, but I also had a ton of fun singing karaoke and running around the city with a friend who was visiting. Today was very low key, but in addition to doing Yoga X, I also cooked a big old batch of sweet potato chili, inspired by Kelly at Meals for Miles

Recipe (very similar to Kelly's):
  • 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 big handfuls of spinach
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
Heat the oil in a pot and add the chopped sweet potatoes. Saute for 6-8 minutes, until tender. Add the corn, garlic, chili powder, cumin and salt, and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans and spinach. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Eat and enjoy!
Bright and spicy vegetarian chili
So delicious! So spicy! I love this chili, and I will be making it again soon.

I've got my first Core Synergistics workout in the muscles are already confused!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bring it.

"Bring it" greets me every time I pop in a P90X DVD (along with the sometimes annoying but usually not that bad Tony Horton). I've now officially completed two weeks of P90X, the extreme home fitness program developed by Tony Horton. My fitness inspiration (my dad, who's in his 60s) bought it for me for Christmas and so far, I totally love it.
P90X is broken into three phases involving three weeks of intense training and one week "off" (but still looks tough!). Every workout is at least an hour long, and even on days when it's just legs or just arms, I still find myself sweating (even on days when the heat is off in my apartment).

My first two weeks have looked like this:
  • Monday: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X - This involves a ton of pushups and pull ups. It's challenging for me, and I'm not even doing "real" pushups or pull ups. I'm doing most of the pushups on my knees and I simulate pull ups with a resistance band. Ab Ripper X is a 17-minute ab workout that makes you want to die
  • Tuesday: Plyometrics - Plyometrics is a lot of jumping around, getting the heart rate up. Admittedly, it's probably not the best for my injured leg, but it's only once a week so I think it's OK
  • Wednesday: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X - Shoulders and arms is different types of bicep curls, shoulder presses and tricep workouts. I use resistance bands for this one too, since I only own 5 lbs dumbbells and I don't think that's heavy enough!
  • Thursday: Yoga X - 90 minutes of yoga! 45 minutes of flow, and 45 minutes of yoga stretches. It's really tough, but I always enjoy it
  • Friday: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X - Squats, lunges and pull ups galore! I don't find this day to be all that tough, but my legs are pretty strong after running so much and amping up my strength workouts before starting P90X
  • Saturday: Kenpo X - This is basically kick boxing. It's a nice change from all the strength, and I definitely work up a sweat doing this workout. It's not my favorite, but I don't mind it
  • Sunday: X Stretch - An hour of stretching. Much needed after a week of kicking my own ass!
Since there's no trainer to kick your butt, it's really up to you to make the most of it - up the reps, up the weight, push yourself. I can't run for another two weeks, so this has been an awesome way for me to feel like I'm staying in shape. My dad really benefited from it and improved over the 90 days, and I hope I can do the same!

I like it because it makes me do strength training, and at an hour at a time (and honestly, the workouts fly by)! Before starting this, my strength workouts were either done during Total Body Conditioning (which I stopped doing during marathon training...not smart!) or in a 20- to 30-minute workout I did on my own. One thing I don't like is that on the straight-up strength days, I don't get much cardio. Yes, I'm working hard, but I like to SWEAT.
I <3 Sweat!
So we'll see how it goes. I hope these next 76 days go by just as quickly!

Other than P90X, some other fun has been had this week. First, I received 96 ounces of Chobani in the mail, a giveaway I won from Megan at Runner's Kitchen!
Massive box with a massive styrofoam cooler and cold packs!
I've entered plenty of giveaways in my time as a blog reader, but this was the first time I won anything! Greek yogurt is a pretty darn good thing to win if you ask me. I don't know WHAT I'm going to do with all this Chobani, but I know some will be used for baking, and some will make a regular appearance in my day as a snack!

Friday night I went out to dinner with four college friends. We wanted to go to Tertulia, but the wait was two hours so we went to Extra Virgin instead. It. Was. Delicious. I have no pictures, but we had some pinot grigio and a delicious bread basket. For dinner, I had the pistachio crusted goat cheese salad with roasted beets, endives, water cress and a Granny Smith vinaigrette, along with a side of Brussels sprouts. YUM. I hope I can get back there again to try brunch!

Yesterday was pretty great, too:
59 degrees and sunny?! Amazing. I may have slept till 12:30pm (P90X really wears me out!), but I got up and walked across the (very crowded) park to get to Trader Joe's to pick up the fixings for curried cauliflower soup (which I made today - delicious!). 

And today? Today I went to Madison Square Garden for the Professional Bull Riders season opener. My friend Jessica has a discount for it, and since another goal I have for this year is to say yes more, I decided to give it a shot. 
Jessica and me - flannel shirts for PBR!
I'd heard of a few other friends going to it and heard that it was really fun, so I figured, why not? Jessica managed to convince her sister and our friend Allison to come along too, so we had a good little group.
Bucking bull
It was SO much fun!!! I never expected to have so much fun at a BULL RIDING event, but this was really something else, and not something I would have EVER done otherwise. 

It was a great week overall, and I'm also looking forward to another week - my friend is coming to visit and it's a long weekend! 

Have you ever done P90X or other "extreme home fitness" workouts? What did you think of them?

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy New Year!!! I kind of can't believe that 2011 is over -- it was a big year, with lots of travel and exciting changes.

In February, my family took a 2 1/2 week trip to China, Thailand and Hong Kong. These were all new countries that I got to tick off while visiting my brother who's teaching English over there until July. We visited during Chinese New Year, which was awesome. We went to Beijing, Dali, Kunming, Phuket and several islands around Phuket, and Hong Kong.
Chinese New Year fair in Beijing
Me in Dali
An island somewhere off of Phuket
Long tails off of an island
My brother and me at Victoria Peak
As you can imagine, it was pretty much the best vacation ever.

The next big event of 2011 was running my first marathon on May 1 along the C&O Canal in Maryland. It was an exhilarating experience, and I worked my ass off to run a 4:13:12 marathon.
Super excited!
Even better? I trained injury-free for 18 weeks. Yes, two of those weeks were spent in Asia, which probably didn't hurt in helping me avoid injury, but it was pretty great to train for a marathon and never have an injury. Next time I hope I'm as smart as I was then...

After the marathon, I took a trip to Seattle and Portland with Lani and Emily for our annual trip. We met when we transferred to the same college at the same time, and now we take a trip someplace new every year.
Pastry from Piroshky Piroshky near Pike Place
In 2008 we went to South Dakota and Wyoming, 2009 was Vegas, southern Utah and the Grand Canyon, and 2010 was Boston. We're hoping that we can make 2012 an international destination (even if it's just Canada) for the fifth annual ELM trip.

In June, I started a new job and geared up for more marathon training. I didn't blog at all in June, but I took Core Fusion classes for two weeks through a Gilt City deal I got. It was a nice change from running all the time, but come July I was ready to train!

(Most of my pictures from the summer involve sweaty pictures of myself that I've already posted here, so I'll spare you...)

But I fit in some fun, and in July my friend Jennifer (who lives in Zurich) came to visit. It was so fun to show her around my city and spend time with her. I saw Sufjan Stevens in concert, ate crabs in Maryland, and went to Coney Island for the day. On the running front, I ran Summer Streets, took many pictures of gorgeous sunrises, and drank a lot of coconut water.

In October I turned 27 and PR'ed at the Staten Island Half Marathon, finally running a sub-2 hour half marathon and clocking in at 1:58:59. Before I knew it, November 6 was there and I ran the New York City Marathon, PRing in that race with 4:06:31.
Sweaty and happy
As you've read, this was pretty much the best day of my life. I absolutely loved this race, and I plan on finding a way to run it in 2012. I will definitely be doing the 9+1 program again this year for guaranteed entry into the 2013 NYC Marathon.

After the race, I treated myself to a 10-day adventure in Europe, stopping by London and Zurich (Part 1 and Part 2) and squeezing in a couple of runs there as well. When I got back, I found out that I had a stress fracture and have put running on hold (only 2 1/2 weeks to go till I can run again!).

But just because I can't run doesn't mean I can't stay fit. The doctor said I could do absolutely everything except run, so I've been hitting the elliptical and StairMaster, spinning, and walking on the treadmill for cardio, and taking yoga classes and doing strength workouts as well. Just last week, I added P90X to the mix and so far I'm loving it (though we'll see how I feel in 83 days...). 

And as for my goals for 2012? (Yup, goals, no resolutions here.) 
  • Finish P90X - this will happen
  • Run a sub-4 marathon - ohhh how I would love for this to happen...
  • PR in the half marathon - it'd be icing on the cake!
  • Be totally injury-free all year - I know what I did wrong, and I know how to avoid injury in the future
  • Do 9+1 - this shouldn't be a problem
  • Go to a new country/state - already planning my 2012 adventure! Spain? Portugal? Somewhere else?
  • Go to the Astoria beer garden - this has been something I've wanted to do since I moved to New York. I WILL do it this year!
  • Explore as much as I possibly can in New York - see new things, try new things, meet new people
There are probably more, but I think this is a good place to start! 

I hope you all had a wonderful 2011. Mine was pretty great, and I think 2012 is going to be an awesome year!