Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I'm in a PA State of Mind

I had a fantastic weekend.

The week leading up to it was tiring. My Vitamin D had not quite kicked in yet, and I am in the process of switching to a new job, so I am splitting my work time between two labs in two different buildings and learning the ins and outs of a new (technically, a job I was doing a few years ago) job while maintaining responsibilities at my current job. It was stressful, and the new job is a little less flexible in terms of hours so that makes mornings (not my best time of day) a little more problematic for me (especially if I stay at John's the night before or have a morning workout to squeeze in before work).

I managed to get out of work a bit early on Friday (after working late Thursday), picked up John up at 4:30, and we hit the road for Syracuse. Why? Billy Joel concert at the Carrier Dome! If I had a bucket list (which I don't really).. Billy Joel would be on it. We bought these tickets months ago and it has always seemed to be so far in the distant future until we finally hit March, and then time flew by!

We checked into our hotel at around 6, got a quick dinner at Chipotle, and then went to park by the field house on South Campus. We got stuck in a loooong line of cars for 20 mins or so, at which point I started freaking out that we were going to be late, but we ended up in the parking lot, on a shuttle bus, and into the Dome before 8 pm. (Sidenote: I'm not sure how we managed this; we must have picked the right "entrance" into the parking lot because apparently many people were stuck in traffic for hours, waited in huge shuttle lines, and missed part of/the entire concert. Frankly, once we parked, we could have walked/ran the mile or so from the parking lot to the Dome if necessary. There was NO WAY I was going to miss the concert, especially at $100 per ticket!). We got to our FLOOR seats (our friends Ken and Emily were already there) and I managed to hit the concession stand (for John) and get a t-shirt (for me) while Gavin DeGraw was playing (because.. who cares about Gavin DeGraw when he's followed by Billy Joel - amirite?).

Can I just say - it was awesome!!!

1) Billy Joel still sounds a-freaking-mazing and he's 65 years old - he SOLD OUT the Dome, and this was his 7th sold out show there!
2) he played/sang for 2 hours straight!
3) he played "The Downeaster Alexa" which is MY song! ***best moment EVER***
4) you could hear 37,000 people singing along to Piano Man which was the coolest thing ever
5) floor seats rocked because we had folding chairs, and the bleachers there are super uncomfortable
6) Billy Joel is officially BA

John and I!

John, me, Emily, Ken

It could have been a logistical nightmare getting out of there, but it wasn't. We bolted the minute the encore ended and beat the crowds outside. We got right on a shuttle and got out of the parking lot with no problem. As we were cruising down the highway, back to the hotel, we could see the lines of cars backed up waiting to get on the highway. We were in bed by 12:15 - not bad!

The next morning, we had plans to do our long run(s) in Syracuse. I had 16 miles, John had 2 hrs 20 mins, so I had mapped out a 7 mile loop for us to do twice (and then I would add on the extra). I was kind of excited about this because I lived in Syracuse for about a year and was looking forward to running around my old neighborhood. But.. it was cold and raining, and it had snowed overnight. So we decided to eat a big breakfast and hit the road to my dad's house in PA, and then run there (weather looked better). So that's what we did. My dad lives about 2 hours from Syracuse so it's not a bad drive. John got his first taste of rural PA (at least with me) when we stopped at the local Dandy Mini Mart (i.e. gas station) that's about 5 minutes from home to get some snacks/supplies and the first guy we saw standing outside had a huge belly hanging out from underneath his t-shirt. Lovely. We visited for my dad a bit, and then changed into our running gear and headed into town.

We ended up running a 4 mile loop 4 times in the next town over from where I grew up. Sounds boring but it was pretty great. We could stop at the car and refuel/remove layers and doing small loops like that kept the run distance from seeming overwhelming. Plus I could point out interesting (at least to me) landmarks and tell stories to John for the entire run! After having a not so great 14 mile run last weekend, this run was a much needed ego boost, as it went really well. I was instructed to run at a relaxed/moderate pace until the last 3-4 miles, and then try to pick up the pace 10-20 seconds per mile. At mile 11, our average pace was 9:31 (I have never been one to push the pace on long runs).. and then I ran every mile faster than the one before it: 9:03, 8:44, 8:35, 8:33, 7:52 for the last 5. I ran the last 2.5 or so on my own because John turned around early (his run was a little shorter than mine). I know this does not seem like any kind of speed demon workout, and I am certainly not a super fast runner, but after years of dying at the end of long runs, this shows progress. Also, I have only been running consistently for.. 1 month? I was very happy with how I felt and how I was able to pick it up at the end (vs. last week's run where I was unable to speed up). This kind of run puts me in the appropriate mindset for the Pittsburgh Marathon which is rapidly approaching. I am even starting to get excited about it!

We refueled with a PA staple - Tastykakes, and my dad's eggplant parm. and then went to see "Fiddler on the Roof" at my high school (my dad wanted to see it). They did a pretty good job, and it was something different to do on a Saturday night. Sunday we just hung out with my dad and fiddled with the old video camera (we want to transfer our old home movies from the 8 mm cassettes they are currently on to DVD or some other modern storage system), before heading back to Rochester at 1 pm. We got back, did a trainer ride, and that was the end of our (very busy) weekend! This coming week and weekend will be much more low key. No obligations for me other than workouts and studying (and one dinner out with friends), plus I am on "spring break" so there is no class tonight! It's definitely a relaxing weekend to which I am looking forward!

Friday, March 13, 2015

hello, spring!

So.. it's March. I'm not exactly sure how that happened. The days have been whipping by.

Life has been the same: work, school, social life (a relatively successful one at that!). Because it was winter, there was also some cross country skiing. Not much running.

I got to the point where I was so frustrated with myself over my laziness, that I signed up for the Pittsburgh Marathon (it was the plan anyways) and hired miss Jennie Hansen as my run coach. Better late than never!

That, combined with the (finally) melting snow has prompted actual training miles! Real, outdoor runs! Shorts! New outfits! New sneakers! The return of the joy of staying active!

I would say I'm working out 6 days a week, with Tuesdays off (because I have class), bike rides Thursday and Saturday, and runs the other 4 days. It's good, exciting, and consistent, and hopefully it will keep me from overdoing it. I'm confident that Jennie will get me to the starting line in Pittsburgh (which is in less than 2 months) ready to run 26 miles, and then after that, we can focus on a fall PR/BQ attempt. That's the plan anyways!

I also have a few other races scattered in there: the Seneca7, the Flower City Half Marathon, the Shoreline Half Marathon, and the Rochester Half-Marathon. A currently undecided fall marathon. Probably looking at a PR attempt at the Roc half if all goes well.

One weird thing that has been happening is I've had some major exhaustion going on. Back in Feb., I worked a week of overnights, and then John and I traveled to VT that weekend, and then I ended up getting sick the following week. The fatigue that came with the sickness persisted even after my nasty cold went away, and after a while, I stopped believing that it was caused by the aftermath of the nights/sickness combination. I know I have a lot going on in my life, but it's been this way since 2013 and I've always managed to stay healthy and on my game. I successfully trained for 3 Ironmans while working a shift rotation, I've made it through 2 marathon years while simultaneously in grad. school and working full time. Doing a lot in a day isn't a new concept for me. I like going to bed knowing that I've accomplished things at my job, intellectually, and physically. However (and this is where things get weird).. insomnia is my baseline. I've had trouble sleeping my entire life - it's the norm for me and although it got really bad a few years ago during the job with the shifts, it's since gotten manageable again (with the help of medication and sleep doctors and whatnot). So, when I started passing out at night within 30 seconds of crawling into bed while being seriously cuddled by my boyfriend (and I am a strict *don't touch me while I'm sleeping* kind of person), I started to think that something was up.

I ended up getting blood work done and found out that I am Vitamin D deficient. NBD right? Everyone in the Northeast is probably Vitamin D deficient. A lot of times you don't even know. However, I have been having symptoms like crazy, which is what prompted the blood test, which prompted a prescription for a giant weekly dose of Vitamin D.. for the next 3 months! I'm hoping it helps. It's hard to live a busy life (of things you want to do) when your body is telling you to go to bed at 8 pm and not get up until 8 am. Sorry.. not possible. Most nights I don't even get to my homework until after 8 pm!

The good news is that there is a solution, that I love my life and want to keep going the way that I have been going, and am excited to get my energy levels back up! I have too many things to accomplish to slow down now!