Friday, July 29, 2016

VO2 Max Testing (Friday Five Edition)

A few weeks ago, I went to a local college and had my VO2 Max tested.  I've been interested in seeing what I could do to make my running better and I had read a bunch on running by heart rate materials.  While I'm still not sure how to incorporate it into my training fully, I think the little bit I've done has helped.  I slow down when I hit Zone 5 and slowly but surly my speed has picked up.  So understanding what my VO2 Max and heart rate zones really were will help me solve a little more of this puzzle.  This is 5 things I learned from the test.

This is not me.  I wish I would have had them take a picture of me all strapped in.  Really.

1.  The mask is just as uncomfortable as it looks.  They hook you up to the mask and then plug up your nose so all of your air is going through the tube.  There were a few moments while I was waiting for everything to calculate before I started that I thought I was going to have a panic attack.  I don't like enclosed spaces and the mask defiantly was making me feel like things were enclosing on me.  But once I got running and pushing it, I didn't think about it at all.  Though I did slobber a little, but they were ready with paper towels.

2.  I did like the cheering.  First, you start out at a gentle run for 3 minutes.  Then every 2 minutes the incline is moved up 2 levels.  At first when it was real easy, every so often one of the 4 people in the room with me would cheer me on.  I thought it was weird at first.  But when I got to the 10 incline level and huffing and puffing, not knowing if I could go on, they were all cheering.  One would tell me I still had gas in my tank every so often.  Without their cheering I think I would have quit a lot earlier.

3.  After some thought on it, I think I did quit early.  There might have been something left in my tank, but I will never know.  When I was at incline level 8 all I wanted to do was make it to 10.  I kept pushing to make it to the next level.  Then I wanted to be at that level for a little bit.  I was huffing and puffing and I wasn't sure if I could go on, so I tapped out.  I really think there might have been enough in me to go to level 12, but I will never know that now.  But it did wipe me out!

4.  You shouldn't go strait back to work after the test.  I did it at lunch time and by the end of the test, I was drenched in sweat.  Trying to cool down and be fresh and perky without a shower was impossible.  I really hope I didn't stink too much to my coworkers when I made it back.

5.  As for the actual results, I found out that my VO2 Max = 34 ml/kg/min.  So, what does that mean?  Looking at the chart, for my age, it is average.  It was shown that my ventilatory threshold was 64% of my VO2 Max.  Ventilary threshold is the point where oxygen to the muscles becomes limited and your body starts using more anaerobic energy.  Basically when you hit a point in your exercise when you are breathing so much you don't feel you can draw as much air in as you need.  The threshold can range from around 50% for those that are unfit to 90% for elites.  If I can get mine closer to 75% I could exercise at a higher intensity without subsequent fatigue, which could lead to faster runs.  To do this, I need to exercise in zone 3 (140-147 for me).

I have found that my average runs have been in the mid 150's, so I have a little work to do.  I did find that my watch did have the same VO2 Max, so that was an interesting fact.  The zones are different on my watch as was noted to me in my test, the big difference being the test had 4 zones while my watch has 5.

What's next?  For right now, I am going to work on getting my average HR down to 150.  Looking back at my runs since I started using my HR monitor, I have slowly gotten down from the upper 150's to mid 150's, so I think it's possible.  I hope that I have the time to bounce back my times before MCM.

The Run Lab does have a biomechanics test, which includes a 2-D strike analysis and 3-D gait analysis, that I will do later this summer.  I was supposed to have a lactate threshold done with my VO2 Max test, but they were out of lactate strips because they just finished testing the whole basketball team.  So they recommended that I come back in August and do the biomechanics test and they will do the lactate test then.  That way, I can see if I have had any improvement on my threshold.

If you are looking to do the same sort of testing, check out your local colleges or gyms.  I've seen ads for VO2 Max testing in both.  I went with the college because they had more then just the VO2 Max testing and I was interested in my gait analysis as well.

Have you ever done a VO2 Max test or gait analysis?  Have you found these tools helpful?  Have you ever run based on heart rate?

Linking up with Courtney, Mar & Cynthia 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hills and Heat

We have gotten our hottest weather this past week and it makes even the earliest morning runs miserable.

With the hills we did get some great views

Monday - Speed work on the treadmill.  4.6 for the first mile.  Then rotated between 4.8 and 5.0 every .10 miles for the second mile.  Then rotated between 4.9 and 5.1 every .10 miles for the third mile.  Then for .22 miles I did a 5.2 (making up for the difference between the treadmill and my Garmin).  The treadmill read 3.22 and Garmin 3.0.  Next week I want to up it one more natch and that might be the sweet spot for me.

Tuesday - My FT class at the gym and then Pilates at lunch.

Wednesday - 5 mile run around the neighborhood.  While the temperatures start getting hotter, this was not a very bad run.  Just slow as usual.  I kept cursing myself on how slow I have been, but try to remember that most of that is the heat.  And then a few of us met up at lunch and did another Shaun T Hip Hop Abs video.

Thursday - My FT class.  He really knows how to work us hard.

Friday - I was going to do 4 miles, but ended up skipping.  I had a start of a weird migraine Thursday night and took my medicine to make sure it didn't get worse.  And Friday I woke up and started getting dressed and felt so nauseous.  I decided that it wasn't a good idea to run, so I went back to bed for another hour and ended up working from home.

Saturday - The mother of all runs.  This was the slowest and hottest run I have ever done in my life.  The only thing I have to compare this run too was the Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach run two years ago.  The planned run was 13 miles and we started right around 6:30 AM when it was already 75 degrees.  The first 5 miles were good.  I purposefully took the start slow cause I was afraid I would bonk at the end with the heat.  In one of the very few downhills we got, we ran the finish line to the Richmond Marathon (Half & 8k).  While I've done the 8k a few times, it was the memory of my first half that came to me as I ran down that hill.

Only if this were the finish on Saturday

By mile 7 the wheels started coming off my run.  We had several steep long hills to run up - well walk up for me.  Long parts of the course was in the direct sunlight which was my downfall.

Hills, Hills, and more Hills
We had 3 SAGs along the route and I was so grateful for all of them.  I had to refill my water bottles every time.  I couldn't believe there were some that elected to run without anything and relied on just the SAGs.  I ran through the few sprinklers that were out there, but there were not many out.  It got to the point where I couldn't run in the direct sun, it was just too exhausting.  I ran when I could in the shade, even if it was just a few steps with shade from a tree.

When I got back to the stadium, my group coach said that they were about to send someone looking for me.  Apparently I was the last one back out of the two groups and I started in the earlier one, though the last few ahead of me were not that far ahead.  When I was done, I looked at the temperature and it was 89 degrees with the heat index reading 97 degrees.  I have never run when it was that hot out before and it truly sucked.  As one of the coaches said before we started to not let this run dictate how our training has been going.  I just have to remember that.

Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Five Fun Things I Did Last Weekend (Friday Five Edition)

I had a pretty good weekend last weekend.  I did a lot of things and still had time to relax.  I even had time to do a little bit of cleaning - a very little bit.

1. Escape Room - There is an episode on Big Bang Theory where they do an Escape Room.  Basically you are "locked" in a room and solve puzzles.  This was the second one I've done and the hour passes by in what feels like 5 minutes.  This room was Edger Allen Poe themed and we had several boxes with locks (both combination and key) where we had to solve puzzles to get them open.  We were supposed to find the raven to win and while we found the box where he was in, we did not open both locks in time.  We just needed another 5 minutes, maybe 10.  So much fun.

A fun time had by all

2. Long Run - I know to most people that doesn't sound like fun, but I really do enjoy long runs.  And after our group brought food and drinks and had a social afterward.  There was some good food and a couple new beers to try.  I really ended up liking Evin Twin Mission Gose.  It's a sour/salt beer that did not taste anything like beer.  Most of us shared a can as none of us knew if we would like it.  I did.  Basically everyone else didn't.

3. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! - This was a fun movie.  It was a good mix of a new story line, nostalgia cameos, and a heck of a lot of Chris Hemsworth in a tight white t-shirt.

4. More Downton Abby - I binged more Downton Abby on Sunday.  It's so not what I expected from all of the press it had gotten throughout the years.  It's such a typical soap opera that it's hard to find anything to hate.  Lies, scheming, births, deaths, who's in love with who, and even a back from death.  Great fun.

5.  Kitties - Snuggling with my kitties on Sunday.  Surprisingly, I haven't really posted anything about these loons in my life that are amazing.  I have 3 - yes, I'm that crazy cat lady.  My old lady, Brianna - she will be 17 in September, is my little shadow, and really hates the other two.  And my two boys, who are now 2 years old.  I found them in my back yard two years ago and knew they were mine.  They love Bree just as much as she hates them.  Aiden is my little snuggle bug and Riley is so very skiddish, but lovable when he isn't hiding.

Brianna, Riley, and Aiden snoozing on the bed

Did you do anything fun last weekend?  Are you planning on doing anything fun this weekend?

Linking up with Courtney, Mar & Cynthia 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up

Another week is done and for the most part feel good about the work I have put in.

I have decided that Mondays were going to be my treadmill speed work days.  The first mile was a warm up at 4.5.  Nice and easy.  Then I bumped it up to 4.7 at the beginning of the second mile and rotated between that and 4.9 every .10 of a mile.  The third rotated between 4.8 and 5.0.  Then my Garmin of course hadn't hit 3 miles and since I think both treadmill and non-GPS Garmin are both probably wrong I just went with the Garmin.  So I did an extra .20 of a mile on the treadmill at 5.2.  While I felt I was pushing myself some, I knew I could do more.  I will up the speed next week and each week till I feel like I'm hitting a good breaking point.  I also had my Pilates class that afternoon.  I really wish they were normally on Mondays and Wednesdays as it's a great stretch after my runs.

Tuesday I got to the gym only to find out that they had a water main break and were closed.  They were actually closed for 2 1/2 days trying to sort it out.  So I went to the gym at my work to do something.  I warmed up with a 5 minute walk on the treadmill and found a core workout on YouTube.  I really did enjoy the one I did, but it was only 20 minutes.  I found another one, but didn't like that one as much, and I kept fast forwarding through some of the workout.  So I probably only got a true 25 minutes of core.  To make up for it I decided to do 100 squats.  Ahh, that did make up for it.

Wednesday I got up as early as I could to get out right before the sun rose to do 5 miles.  I actually brought water with me, which is rare on mid-week runs, but necessary when being out over an hour in the humidity we are getting.  It was a strong run and included both long steep hills in my neighborhood.  One thing about the early mornings is that I do get to see some beautiful sunrises.  At lunch a few of us decided to do Shaun T's Hip Hop Abs.  Heeeyyyy!!!  We really use it as gossip time and get away from our desks.  It doesn't hurt to watch a very good looking man work up a sweat.  It helped as my hips were stiff from my run that morning and that worked them out.

Thursday the gym was back open and we had a good class.  I was glad I didn't have to make something up again.  I'm not good improvising a workout.

Friday I bumped up my easy run from 3 miles to 4.  Slowly will be getting my mid-week runs up.  Another hot and ver humid run.  I probably would have benefited from bringing water but I didn't think about it before I left.

Saturday was our long run.  It was a drop back week so we did 8 miles.  The route was basic and nothing to call out to.  I do like running in the city, just a lot of different routes so no one gets bored.  We keep ending on a hill at the last bit of the run every week.  It's probably good for me as MCM will end on a hill, too.

I think the humidity was worse Saturday then it was Friday, but it wasn't as hot.  I keep telling myself that it's good to train in this weather and have the race in cooler temps.  After the run, everyone brought food and drink and we stayed round and chit chatted.  It's nice to get to know some of these people even if none of them are slow enough to run with me.

Have you ever found a good video in YouTube to do a core workout?  

Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, July 15, 2016

My Favorite Shows I've Been Binge Watching (Friday Five Edition)

A few months back I got rid of cable.  Part of me has found it freeing not turning on the TV the moment I get home and the other part is loving the binge watching.  I have found so many shows that I never watched before.  With thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, I now can watch almost anything.  I haven't been all night binging yet, but I have put off things like house work and errands, but really, I will find any reason to put those off.

1. Gilmore Girls - This show is about a mother/daughter relationship from the daughter's sophomore year to graduation of college.  I've seen most of the episodes several times, but with the new movies coming out later this summer, I had to watch it all again.  I really love the idea of living in a small town like that where everyone knows everyone.

2. Jessica Jones - When I was younger I read some comic books.  Mostly X-Men and Spider-man.  Now with the super hero craze, they are bringing out all these characters I've never heard of.  Jessica Jones is one of them.  This is about Jessica who has super strength and a man who is obsessed with her.  The catch is this man can control everyone by just speaking to them.  How do you get rid of a stocker that can control everything you say and do?  Very fun series.

3. Sherlock - This is the British version of Sherlock Homes played by Benedict Comerbatch.  I do love mysteries including almost any Sherlock type tv show, movie, or book.  This series does take place in the modern times, and not the 1800's and is so engaging.  The only problem I have with it is that the seasons are only 3 episodes.  So there are only 7 of them to watch.  As a side note, I really like Elementary (the US modern day version of Sherlock with a female Watson) as well.

4. Downton Abby - So I only recently got on this bandwagon and have been enjoying it.  It's about a rich family in the early 1900's and the interactions of their life and their servants.  I just finished season 2 and I have to say it such a soap opera.  I love it!

5. Seinfeld - This is another show that I've seen most of the episodes several times.  I've been watching this as I tend to like something on in the background.  I still find this show hilarious and relevant.  And it's fun to watch a show before everyone had cell phones as a reminder how things used to be before we were all connected 24/7.  And the catchphrases - "These pretzels are making me thirsty" and "Master of my domain" and "Yada, yada, yada" and "Not that there's anything wrong with that".

** Bonus **
Series that I look forward to either when I have time or they finally come out on a streaming service.
1. The Flash - Season 2 (then I will be caught up and can watch new episodes on Hulu in the fall)
2. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
3. Stranger Things
4. Silicon Valley
5. Luke Cage

Do you have a show that you are binging on now?  What show do you most look forward to?

Linking up with Courtney, Mar & Cynthia 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

My Self Worth

So there is an amazing letter in the Huffington Post that Jennifer Aniston wrote.  It is about how she is not pregnant, but really about much more.  She talks about, not only the body shaming we have as a society, but also how women are looked down on for not having a husband and children.  Go read it, I'll wait.

I'm 40.  I'm not married.  I don't have children.  And I'm overweight.  On top of everything else, I have 3 cats, so, yes, I am a cat lady. 

I hit all points that she was talking about.  And I do feel it from time to time from strangers, family, and friends. 

"Don't you want to get married?"
"Kids would make your life so much better!"
"If you lose some weight, you might find a man."

Yes, I have heard all of that, to my face.  You know what I tell them?  I'm happy!  And really I am, but like everyone, I have those moments of self doubt.  Maybe if I lose 20 or 30 or 50 pounds, I'll be more happy.  In truth I have lost that weight and was no happier then I am now.  In fact, I was more miserable being so caught up in obsessing over everything I ate, even weighing myself multiple times a day.  I couldn't go out for dinner without knowing where we were going at least the day before.  And they had to have an online menu so I could plan out everything I ate that day.  I do try to eat more sensibly, but I want to enjoy life.

To tell you the truth, I have never wanted kids.  I never babysat when I was a teenager.  I have never changed a dirty diaper in my life.  And really, I have never been around kids for more then an hour at a time.  It's not that I don't like them, I just never saw myself as a mother.  Though I have always said, if it happened accidentally I'd be thrilled.  Really I would.  Cause my kid would be awesome!

Now while I never thought I would have kids, I always thought I would fall in love and get married.  Well, I've fallen in love a few times, but never married.  While I always thought it would be nice to have someone around to talk to, to share the chores and the errands, I'm actually really happy living by myself.  I get to choose what to watch, to go to bed and wake up whenever I want without disturbing anyone.  And the best part, I get the whole bed to myself.  Well, sort of.  The cats do like to sleep on top of me.

Those negative thoughts do creep in though.  I have suffered from bouts of depression throughout my life, so it's very easy for me to get swept up and get sad about it all.  It's really easy to let the media swarm my head with the latest diet fad or exercise craze.  Or who married who or who just had a baby and how their life is just perfect.  I just try to process my sadness and remind myself that I have a fabulous life. 

I'm 40.  I'm not married.  I don't have children.  I'm overweight.  And I love my life!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer is Here... (Weekly Wrap-up Edition)

This past week was the first week of upper 90 degree temps with humidity to make it feel like it's in the 100's this year.  We have actually had a half way decent May and June, so this hit us like a brick of, well, heat.

On Sunday, I was being proactive and decided to go for a 4 mile run.  It was a good run that felt good the whole way - which is why I added the forth mile.  It was good that I ran on Sunday, cause I woke up on Monday, the 4th, and decided I didn't want to run.  It didn't help that it was all rainy.  Not that I don't run in the rain, I was just crabby.

Tuesday I did my normal class at the gym and Pilates at lunch.  I know that two work outs sound like a lot, but my gym work out is to get some upper body strength and core work, plus it is a very social class.  Pilates is a good stretch out for me.

Wednesday I decided to go to the gym at work to use the treadmill.  I know that most runners hate the treadmill, but I find it useful for speed work.  When I did my VO2 Max on the treadmill the week before, I remembered how much faster I can go on a treadmill without having to take walk breaks.  The first mile is a warm-up and then the next two miles faster with sprints.  I didn't push it too much being my first week of speed work, but it was faster then outside.

Thursday was a repeat of Tuesday.

Friday was another good 3 mile run.  I tried to get out there as the sun rose, to beat as much heat as I could.  It was still in the upper 70's with 95% humidity at 6 AM.  I'm starting to get a little faster, not a lot, but a little.  My IT band isn't hurting as much either.  I have to thank PT for that.

On Saturday our group did 11+ miles.  It was another hot morning with the temps reaching 80 degrees on our run with 80% humidity.  It was a tough run too, with a lot of hills, but they kept us in the shade for most of it.

We ran over two bridges.  The first I HATE, and not because of the big hill after the bridge, but because the side of the bridge is very open and you can see all the way down.  Oh and I'm terrified of heights.  And there was only one side open to pedestrian and bikers, so I was made to move over to the scary side several times.  I couldn't wait to get to the hill.

Views from the Nickel Bridge
There were a lot of rolling hills on the other side of the river.  I really kind of liked that road.  It was a bit curvy and had a couple of blind curves, but it wasn't used much by cars and basically all shade.  No matter how much I hate hills, I know they are good for my training.

We crossed the Lee bridge going back across the river.  I have heard some things about this bridge as it is part of the Richmond marathon.  The reports I have heard in the past are that it's very windy and super long.  While it is long, I wish we had some of the breeze that everyone talks about.  Every so often a truck passes and there is a little bit of breeze, but beyond that, it was hot with no shade.  But very pretty.

Views from the Lee Bridge

I made it back in one piece.  Unlike last week, I hit all of my run intervals, even if they were going up hill.  It was a very slow run, I hope because of the temperature and not because I can't get my speed up on long runs.  It's a work in process.  Oh and I found my new favorite running item.  I have a couple of these towels from races and they are the perfect size to tie to my belt and still wipe all the sweat from my face.  Really needed on Saturday.

My new favorite running accessory
Ready to hit next week hard.

Do you have a favorite running accessory?  How hot has it gotten in your neck of the woods? 

Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Wardrobe Malfunction

My running schedule this week was a little up in the air.  I knew I wouldn't be running on Friday so I got a run in on Sunday.  Running four days in a row wasn't hard per say, it was more of looking for something else to do.  I'm not sure how people run every day of the week.

Wednesday I woke up and started getting dressed.  I bent over to get something out of a drawer and my back spasmed.  Like bad.  I walked around a bit to see if I could work it out and it started to.  I thought I'd try to go for my run and then I bent over again and it really flipped out.  So no run on Wednesday.  I thought about staying home and feeling sorry for myself, but I've pulled my back out one too many times in the past.  I knew how to get through it faster was to continue on with my day and keep moving as much as possible.  And that helped.  As did my physical therapy.  My PT thinks that my back went out because of my fall last Saturday.  I'm not 100% sure why it would wait that long, but it may be why.  Who knows.

Friday I didn't run in the morning for two reasons.  First, I was having a VO2 Max test in the afternoon and that would throw off my results.  Second, right about the time I would have run, it started pouring rain with a ton of thunder and lightening.  While I don't mind running in the rain in the summer, I don't want to be out there if there is lightening.  So that all worked out.  I'll have a post later on this week going into the VO2 Max testing in further detail.

Saturday we made it back into double digits.  I was really looking forward to 10 miles.  It's weird, but I kinda like those really long runs.  I just get in a zone and 2 hours passes without too much complaining.  Since it was the 4th of July weekend, we were encouraged to wear red, white, and/or blue.  I put on a blue tank top and added a red skirt over my shorts.  It was cute.

The run started out great.  I was doing a 2:1 and of course was left in the back on my own within the first mile.  For the most part, I don't mind running on my own, as that's how I have always trained, but I wish there were a few people a little slower so I have people around. 

By mile 6 I start to feel rubbing between my thighs.  I have a bunch of these shorts, ones that go down to right above the knee, that I love.  I got a bunch of them at Target a couple years ago and they have worked out perfectly, till about a month ago.  Slowly, but surely, one by one, they are starting to rip on the inner thigh seam.  I specifically made sure that the ones that I was wearing were not worn down in the seam area.  And it wasn't.  But it ripped anyway.

I tugged and maneuvered my shorts the best I could as to stop the chafing, but it really didn't help.  By mile 7 both seams had ripped.  Oh was I in pain.  I tried to pull them down, I tried to pull the seams together, I tried to pull them all the way up, and nothing helped.  I must have looked ridiculous messing with my shorts the way I was, especially under my skirt.  At the second SAG, they had some sort of petroleum jelly that I lathered all over my inner thighs.  At that point, I just pulled both legs up as far as they would go and continued on.  I'm so glad I had a skirt on.  I wish I could have brought that with me and rubbed on my legs a few times more for the last few miles.

The holes in my shorts (had to put washcloths inside the legs to show the holes)
By mile 8 the wheels of my run started to come off.  It was in the upper 70's by then and about 95% humidity.  On top of that, the last couple miles of the run had almost no shade.  My heart rate was constantly really high and I was just pooped.  My wonderful 2:1's came undone and I just ran when I could and walked when I couldn't.  My inner thighs hurt, I was hot, and I was almost out of liquid.  Thankfully I was almost back at the stadium and I couldn't wait.  That was the only thing keeping me running when I could.  I knew the more I ran, the sooner I would be back.  Kinda the thoughts that went through my mind during the marathon run of Dopey this past January.

After a day of lubricating my thighs with Aquafur, I was so much better.  I guess that is it for any long runs with my most favorite shorts.  I am in the process of trying to find a pair to replace the ripped ones, but I haven't found a pair that is as comfortable, yet.