Philadelphia Marathon Training Week #5

August 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

Weekly recap of activity:

  • Monday – 75 minute vinyasa flow yoga class
  • Tuesday – 3 mile run
  • Wednesday – 5 mile run
  • Thursday – None
  • Friday – None
  • Saturday – 10 mile run
  • Sunday – 75 minute vinyasa flow yoga class

Last week marked successful completion of week #5 of marathon training!  Of course I began a half marathon training plan 4 weeks prior to that, so to me it seems like it has been twice as long.  Since I am a newer runner I am really glad I started scheduled training runs back then though because I think building up more of a base has been a benefit to me.

Anyway, this week both my 3 and 5 mile runs felt rather sluggish.  I think the trail running the Sunday before left my calve especially sore.  Yoga on Monday helped a bit, but I felt a bit rough.  I ended up skipping my other scheduled short run of 3 miles.  While I always feel rather lazy if I skip a planned run, I think it was a good call in the end.

Saturday morning I left around 7AM to catch the trolley and get my scheduled 10 miles in.  This would be my first 10 mile run since the Broad Street Run in May.  After last Saturday’s 9 mile run that I kind of struggled through I was a bit nervous, but hoping this would be a good one.  Turned out it was!

I ended up finishing with exactly a 10 min/mile average pace, which is fairly on target for me at that distance.  However the run felt so much better than last week’s 9 mile run.  I ran pretty strong the entire time and used my experience last week to help get me through this week quite easily.  It kind of made me realize how important the ‘bad’ runs really are since it was kind of nice to be able to say to myself “Hey, this feels so much better than last week and you finished that run, so there is no reason why you can’t finish this one!”

My splits did surprise me a bit however, because I felt that I went out slower and it turned out to be my fastest mile by far.  I have been trying not to really look much at my Garmin while running because at this point in my training I really am just focused on getting the miles in at a comfortable, yet goal oriented, pace.  I have alerts set for the miles so I try to just glance at it then.  But I would like to somewhat attempt negative splits  and obviously my sense of pace is still a bit off.  I am happy with my splits in general though, because to me at this point in my running they seem fairly even.  At mile 5 I slowed down for a short time to open a pack of of Clif Shot Bloks, which I tried out for the first time.  I had two then and one more at mile 8.

The only negative thing about this run is that my stomach felt way more upset than usual afterward.  I don’t think it was the Shot Bloks.  Well, they definitely wouldn’t be the only culprit.  I really think I need to get more serious about both hydration and what I am eating during the week, which I hope to expand on in further posts.

This week is a ‘stepback’ week, so my long run will only be 7 miles and my total mileage will be  around 18 miles (same as this week due to skipping the one 3 mile run).  Hard to believe that after that I only have one more long run until the half marathon.  So excited for fall race season to begin!


Hitting the Wissahickon Valley Trails

August 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

On Sunday I went on my first real trail run.  In the past I have done a bit of hiking, but since I wasn’t a runner then I never really ran much on trails.  Philadelphia actually has some wonderful trails within the city in the Wissahickon Valley and one of my summer bucket list items was to hike out there since I haven’t been in quite some time.  I wasn’t sure this one would be completed because I am not too fond of the idea of going out there myself.  Lucky for me however, a group I run with, the Fishtown Beer Runners, was planning a trail run and pot luck.  Perfect opportunity to get out there and I was very excited to run the trails instead of just hike.

Look, I’m running! This is the only photo I got along the way because guess what?  I found trail running to be completely exhausting and about halfway through this 4 mile run I was struggling to keep up with the group of people I was with.  And since I have a hard time admitting that I get lost easily I didn’t want to lose them.  I had run 9 miles the day before, which is long for me at this point, but still trail running seemed a bit more challenging than I thought it would be.  Total respect for those of you who do this regularly.  Of course it is also far more beautiful than the usual sights of the city (especially mine when not out running the Schuylkill River Path), so that helped keep me going too.  In the end it took me 51:10 to run 4 miles.

Afterward we all met up at the picnic tables near Valley Green Inn to enjoy some food and socializing.  Pretty sure I consumed about 4x as many calories as that run burned because everything just looked so amazing that I had not choice but to eat it.

Though I had a lot of fun I am not sure I will be doing any trail races or even runs in the near future.  With my current goals as a beginner runner I’m not sure it would be very smart of me.  I had some near-falls due to sloppy footing and my calves are still a bit sore.  But I am very glad that I at least got to get out there once this summer and I would love to add more trail running to my repertoire next year since I really do love being outdoors.

Regaining Momentum

August 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

So it has been about a month since I updated here.  Shocking.  I think I wonder so much about what to do with this space and how it really fits in with anything else that I just end up neglecting it altogether.  Unfortunately a familiar pattern of thought right there.  I know I need to stop thinking so much about  how I fit in this world and what others think of me, and I have to a large extent.  Trust me.  However, I still admittedly have some growth to do in that area.

One of the main things I wanted to write about here is my race training.  As mentioned previously, I am running a half marathon on September 16th (less than a month away!) and have been training for it during much of this summer.  I actually switched over to a marathon training plan (Hal Higdon Novice 1) when the timing was right to line up with the half.  So currently I am in week #5 of this plan with the intention of then running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18th.  This will mean cutting out week #17 of the Higdon plan (sorry Hal!).  Of course in true me fashion I haven’t actually signed up for the full marathon yet, but I am planning to finalize that by Labor Day Weekend.  I even purchased Hal Higdon’s Marathon and thought about opening it up and giving it a read a few times.  Serious business!  Truthfully, I’m just lazy when it comes to reading anything that isn’t a magazine these days.  Attention span, where are you?

My longest run far was Saturday’s nine miles, which was a bit of a struggle.  I feel like a lot of this was mental as my actual pace wasn’t at all off with my normal pace for long runs , though I slowed a bit.  I also didn’t get out until near noon.  While this weekend the temps were actually quite pleasant, I feel like I would have had a better run if I weren’t out during the hotter point of the day.  The reason why I think a lot of it was mental was due to how much talking to myself I had to do and the fact that the lat mile was so incredibly easy once I realized it was the last.  My last long run of 8 miles two weekends before was not at all like this, though the pace and run itself was quite similar.

My goal time for the half is under 2:15, which the trusty McMillan Running Calculator tells me is totally possible.  And in my mind and body I think this is totally possible as well.  My goal for the full would be 4:45, which the McMillan Calculator also tells me is possible.  However, more realistically I do have a B goal of just finishing in under 5 hours.  I won’t lie though, I wish I could go by the Oprah standard of 4:29.  I mean I feel like I should be as fit as Oprah was when she ran the MCM, but I am sure that is based on somewhat faulty judgement.  I’m no Oprah and my current training times do not indicate that this is a goal I should be setting for myself at this point.  We’ll see.  For now I would be thrilled with under 4:45 as I am still a bit intimidated by 26.2.

Anyway, hopefully I will have much more to add in coming days.  I really think actively blogging will help me in various ways.  My life and my attitude about it is changing and evolving so much  lately, but there is also a lot of anxiety and fear that needs to be dealt with as well.  I guess I just need to keep reminding myself of this:



Weekly Recap

July 22, 2012 § Leave a comment


  • Monday – None
  • Tuesday – 3.5 mile run
  • Wednesday – 2 mile run
  • Thursday – 1.5 mile run to meet up with running group, 1.5 mile run with running group
  • Friday – None
  • Saturday – 90 minute vinyasa flow yoga class
  • Sunday – 5.0 mile run

Running followed my training plan exactly aside from being short half of a mile on Thursday.  I definitely lacked int he yoga department this week, only getting the one class in.  Could feel it while in that class.  My muscles were so tight!  My run today felt amazing though and I wanted to go even further, but being new I am a bit afraid of deviating from the planned runs.  Probably wouldn’t be a big deal at this point when all runs are under 10 miles, but I’m a bit stringent with plans to begin with.

Most memorable event of the week: I attended the WXPN XPoNential Festival this weekend (yet another item on the summer bucket list)!  So many great artists played over the three-day period, but the highlight for me was definitely The Hold Steady.  They are such a great act to see live.  Part of the magic of live music for me is feeding off of the energy of both the performers and the audience.  When either or both is lacking it makes seeing a live show a bit pointless personally.  With The Hold Steady that is never the case.  Both the band, particularly frontman Craig Finn who is quite possibly the most animated lead singer out there, and the fans are always so into every minute of it all.  The band played this same festival in 2009 but had to stop early due to a really bad storm.  Very lucky that this didn’t happen again this year, because at times I was very afraid it might.  It rained all night, but certainly nothing major.  Here is a video from that 2009 performance (Franz Nicolay, the lovely man in the white suit playing the keyboard, is unfortunately no longer part of the band):

Best thing I ate: Probably everything I ate when I went to my hometown on Monday for the Mt. Carmel Festival!

Best thing I drank: While I drank many beer this week, most were rather common for the area.  This definitely isn’t a bad thing.  I had beers by Flying Fish, Victory, Yards, Sly Fox, Weyerbacher, Philadelphia Brewing Company and McKenzie Brew House.  Actually, the only non-PA/NJ beers I had this week were a Founders Porter and a Tecate.  I think the last time I had a Tecate I was actually in Mexico (and a decade younger).

Philly Food Swap

July 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

On Wednesday night I participated in my second, and I believe what was the 4th, Philly Food Swap event!  If you have never participated in a food swap before the idea is pretty simple.  You bring a number of your homemade, pre-packaged goods that you want to trade one-for-one with others.  For this swap which had a maximum of 40 registrants I decided to bring 15 items, but it is up to the individual person in the end.  Each swapper sets up a station with their goods and usually some samples of the items up for swapping.  A sheet is filled out for each item stating what it is and what it might pair well with.  The first hour of the swap is setting up and testing out the goods.  This a group of amazingly talented people who all brought a variety of items.  Above is only a very small sample of some of what was offered.  It is truly impressive!  Anyway, once you have sampled the goods you can write on the person’s sheet what you might be willing to trade them for.  This is in no way binding, but gives everyone an idea of who they might want to approach come time for the actual swap.  Then it is announced that the swapping will begin and that is where it can get a bit hectic.  Everyone goes to up to the people they are most interested in swapping with and the goods end up going fairly quickly.

For this swap I brought three different things: peach mango jalapeno preserves, tomato basil jam, and pickles made with Troegs Perpetual IPA.  I adore the pickles and others seemed to like them as well.  The tomato jam is also a favorite of mine and it seemed to go over fairly well.  However the peach preserves didn’t really get much love I think and it is rather understandable as I honestly wasn’t too crazy about them myself.  I made them last summer and really enjoyed them but this year I decided to use Pomona’s Pectin which meant I could lower the sugar dramatically.  Thus last summer’s were more of a jam and this summer’s were more of a preserve.  While I certainly don’t think they tasted bad I wasn’t that thrilled by them and ended up with two still left after the swap.

I got some really fantastic items in the trade however: nettle pesto, hot fudge sauce, raw peanut butter and fudge balls, a whoopie pie, a vegan fruit tart, a vegan brownie, hot sauce, worcestershire  sauce, pickled red onions, pickled yellow beets, strawberry rhubarb jam, and balsamic black pepper strawberries!  So excited to find a use for all of them.  The tart, raw balls, and half the pickled beets are already gone though!

The setting for this swap could not have been more perfect.  It took place at the Wyck Garden in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.  It is part of a site that was the home to one family for over 300 years.  Such a great place, especially when you are used to a more modern urban setting.  The next swap will be held on October 4th  at Greensgrow Farm, which is a wonderful urban farm in the Kensington section of Philadelphia (and not far from where I currently live).  Go to the group’s Facebook page for more information and to stay connected!

Buona Festa!

July 17, 2012 § 1 Comment

Yesterday I decided to take the train into my hometown to attend the last night of the 137th Our Lady of Mount Carmel Festival, which is apparently the longest running Italian festival in the United States.

It all began in 1875 at 232 Pine Road, at the home of Antonio Capelli.  There, he, along with a small group of fellow immigrants, prayed in front of a painting of the Virgin Mary.  They also formed a procession in front of the home.  They prayed in thanks— for their safe journey to America, for a successful farming season, and for the blessings and good fortune found in their new home of Hammonton.

The procession still takes place on the feast day (the 16th of July), though is much smaller than previous years.  I was happy to make it into town on the train for the very end of it however, as I hadn’t seen the actual procession in many years.  As a kid the main focus was of course the fact that a carnival was set up in the middle of town for an entire week.  Yay, rides put together in a day!  But I rode them all hundreds of times and still live to tell the really boring tale.  At this point in time the only carnival attraction I had much interest in was the “World’s Smallest Horse” booth, but only because it reminded me of Li’l Sebastian (RIP).

My main reason for attending this event?  THE FOOD.  Food is however my main reason to attend most events, unless the beer is more awesome than the food.  This is NOT the case for the event, though I did have a Yuengling in the beer tent.  And I’m pretty sure Yuengling might actually be a newer addition to the beer tent, which from what I remembered only sold pitchers of Coors Light in the past along with some Smirnoff Ice.  Yeah.  Anyway, if you want some form of pork on a roll this is your place!  I had half of a roast pork, provolone, and broccoli rabe sandwich, which in my humble sandwich obsessed opinion is the Philadelphia/South Jersey area’s best sandwich offering and half of an Italian sausage, pepper, and onion sandwich.  I have not had either in years because I haven’t really been a meat eater much of my adult life (complicated relationship there) so I definitely enjoyed every bite of each.

I also had some Italian cookies and funnel cake.   Then afterward I went over to Royale Crown Custard with my mom, which is now another thing I can cross off my summer bucket list.  Royale Crown makes all kinds of ice creams in-house, but the main draw (again in my opinion) is the custard, which is creamier than you can possibly imagine.  I got a waffle cone with vanilla custard, rainbow sprinkles, and some crunchy things.  I wish I would have just gotten sprinkles as those crunchy things are not nearly as good as I remember them being.  Ah well, I’ll have to remember that for next year.  This is really the best soft serve I have ever had.  Nothing else compares and therefore I can’t really eat it other places (but I still might).

Overall it was a fun, nostalgic night back home.  I even got to see the fireworks display at the end of the night.  I was glad I made the trip down there, though I think my stomach might not have been.

Weekly Recap

July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment


  • Monday – 75 minute vinyasa flow yoga class
  • Tuesday – 3.5 mile run, 90 minute vinyasa flow yoga class
  • Wednesday – 1 mile run/walk with shelter dog, 2 mile run
  • Thursday – 1.3 mile run to meet up with running group, 2.2 mile run with running group, 0.66 run home from bus
  • Friday – None
  • Saturday – 2.5 hour yoga workshop
  • Sunday – 5.0 mile run

I tried to add in more yoga this week, including a workshop!  The runs were mostly what was called for in my training plan.

Most memorable event of the week: The yoga workshop I attended on Saturday was great (and is so far the only thing I can cross off my summer bucket list)!  It was called “Hands to Earth” and it focused on arm balances mostly with a bit of inversion practice.  This is where I am looking to evolve my practice the most as it has not been until recently that I have even been very capable of getting off the ground.  The workshop was taught by John Vitarelli of Dhyana Yoga and emphasized proper forms of chaturanga, upward dog, and downward dog as being the basis of any arm balance or inversion.  So of course this workshop was rather intense!  I definitely have never stayed in chaturanga for such a long time in my life.  Aside from the progress in more commonly performed arm balances like crow and firefly, I got to see some progress in others that are less likely to be thrown into the normal vinyasa flow class.  We did eka pada bakasana II and it felt amazing to find that I could actually go up into it and stay!  So amazing that I have just been doing it randomly around my apartment ever since.

Best thing I ate: I have been preparing meals a lot at home, but haven’t had the desire to prepare much so hardly anything seems to stick out.  Boring.

Best thing I drank: I went to a bottle share hosted by Philly Beer Scene and Philly Tap Finder and got to have tastes of many great beers.  I was pretty nervous about going as I really did not know anyone who would be there and I feel at beer events people kind of stick to who they know.  Then again it also tends to be heavy on the male presence, not that there weren’t some females there, but I just always feel a bit odd when I’m so in the minority.  Admittedly, I’m terrible at striking up a conversation with others and as much as I said to myself I would try I felt a little overwhelmed.  I realize this is turning into a story of my social awkwardness rather than a recap of the best thing that I drank.  Ah well.  Anyway, everyone brought some really great stuff, much of which you can’t find here in PA and/or stuff that has been cellared and held onto for a while.  I used to buy far more bottled beer and share it with others in the past, but lately I don’t really know anyone who is into it anymore so it was a great way to get to do something like that again.  There are talks of this being an ongoing even so hopefully I will participate in more in the future.  Here is a photo of some of the aftermath (I really need to get better with this photo thing, and blogging in general):