A New Project for the Ulman Cancer Fund

For the past few years, I’ve been racing and fundraising for the Ulman Cancer Fund through Team Fight.  (You can donate here or through the link in my sidebar.)  UCF’s mission is:

We change lives by creating a community of support for young adults and their loved ones impacted by cancer.

Simple and to the point.  But they do this is so many ways, from Patient Navigators in hospitals, meetups and support groups, the Cancer to 5K program (where participants get one-on-one coaching to get them to the finish line of a 5K and beyond), and even by things as simple as organizing meal deliveries or yard work assistance for patients going through treatment.

The Ulman Cancer Fund has just announced their next project and I think it’s an awesome one.

In 2016, UCF is breaking ground on the UCF House in East Baltimore near Johns Hopkins, a home away from home for young adult cancer patients and their caregivers.  The house will have space for 8 families, as well as communal space for those staying to spend time together and find support in their shared experiences.

This project is surprisingly less expensive than you would think, but UCF still needs our help.  They are embarking on a $3 Million capital campaign to build and sustain the house for three years as well as increase the programming available for young adults and families impacted by cancer.

No gift is too small.  Every $5 gets us that much closer to the goal.  And if you’re in the DC/Baltimore area and can’t give financially, consider giving of your time.  Thank you all for your support.

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Next Weekend’s Race Goals

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As typically happens, my next race has snuck up on me.  Next weekend, I’m running the Donna Half. (Side note: I have no idea what the official name of this race is.  The full is the 26.2 with Donna.  So is the half the 26.2 Donna Half?  13.1 with Donna?  Who knows.)

Last year, coming into this race, I had big goals.  I was in great running shape.  I had been pushing myself all winter and working on my speed.  I wanted a strong finish.  And I got it.  Not a PR, but the fastest race I had run in a long time.  But it was also a very telling race for me.  I kept having to slow down due to my heart rate getting too high, and it felt like I had sort of reached my running peak.

(Yes, I realize if it were my actual peak it would have been a PR, but had it been 10 degrees cooler, I would have had less HR issues and may have gotten that PR.)

Now, that’s not to say that I won’t shave off a few minutes here and there with temperature and weight loss and the right course, but  it was a realization that I’m not going to get much faster no matter what I do.  And that’s okay.

This winter, I’ve been focusing on my cycling.  Lots more time on the bike.  And I’m much happier.  I enjoy trainer workouts so much more than running workouts.  So I still feel like I’m in good shape, just not running focused shape.

I’m not worried about the race.  It has a 32 minute per mile pace requirement.  Yes, you read that right.  32 minutes per mile.  I can totally do that.  So the question is what do I do?  Do I go out and push to see where I’m at?  Do I stop at all of the driveway bars (and the actual bar at mile 7)?  I’m thinking the real answer is somewhere in between.  I want to run strong and not lollygag my way through the race, but I also want to be sure I’m having fun. I said a while back that I don’t want to run any more 3+ hour half marathons, and so that doesn’t allow me a lot of lollygagging time.

So we’ll see what happens.  The goal ultimately is to have fun, because if it’s not fun, why do it?

Anyone else running Donna?

Wednesday Workout Recap

Hey look, I got in all most of my workouts this week!

Monday – 10 mile run.  On the treadmill.  Because there was snow.  It was not fun, but it is done.

Tuesday – Trainer workout.  Pushed RPMs and struggled to get to the 110 goal, but did my best.

Wednesday – Easy 4 miler.

Thursday – Finally back in the office today after nearly a week at home thanks to the snow.  And the roads were AWFUL.  By the time I got home, I was so sick of dealing with it that I refused to go back out.  No swimming for me.

Friday – Easy 45 minute bike workout, plus weight lifting.  I really need to work on my core strength for better comfort in aero.

Saturday – 90 minute workout in the trainer.  Coach gives me a specific workout to do for these, so it’s not as bad as just pedaling for 90 minutes.  Much easier on my brain.

Sunday – 12 mile treadmill run.  NOT easy on the brain.  Could have gone outside, but the trails are in crap shape and I didn’t want to try to plot out a sidewalk course, considering half the sidewalks still aren’t cleared.  So… I got it done.  It wasn’t pretty at all, but it’s over.

Wheels Spinning in My Brain

eugeniu / Pixabay

The downside to the current weather is that the majority of my training has been happening indoors.  This is good because I can keep current on a lot of tv shows, but it’s bad because indoor training requires less thinking, especially on the bike trainer.

Of course, the big thing on my mind right now is my 70.3 race.  Nevermind that I have a number of races before then.  That’s the big one for 2016, so I keep thinking about it.  My big concern, as per usual, is the time limit.  So I find myself entering potential times into race calculators to figure out what I have to do to be able to finish.  And I set up all sorts of scenarios for myself.

“Okay, it’s a fast swim, but let’s say that I have a slow swim.  And what if I’m so tired by the end that I just walk the half marathon?  How long do I have to finish the bike?”

“What if I don’t hit my goal bike pace?  How fast do I have to run?”

“What if I take five extra minutes in transition?”

It gets a little bit ridiculous.  A big part of it is that I know that my biking is where I have the most room to improve.  And I have a new bike this year, and 10 pounds less (so far) to haul around on that bike.  So theoretically, I should be faster even without the increased training.  But I want to be fast.  I want to get to the run knowing that no matter what happens, as long as I keep moving forward, I will hit the finish before my time is up.

Really, I should just stop worrying and focus on the training.  I can only get better, and my olympic races this year will give me a good idea of how my big race will go.  After all, it’s over 230 days away.  Plenty of time to train.

Treadmill Tips and Tricks

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With all of the snow and cold weather, I have been seeing a lot of comments from people who are stuck doing their run training on a treadmill.  And many of those people are struggling with getting in longer runs on the treadmill.  I even saw someone say that they struggle with getting in even a mile before they get bored.

I have learned to love my treadmill, so here are some tips and tricks that I have learned to get me through.

Cover the display

You know the saying that a watched pot never boils?  Well, watching the miles tick away on the treadmill display makes it feel like your workout is never going to end.  Watching the clock is never good for anyone.  So cover up the screen with a towel.  Don’t worry, you’re not going to accidentally run way too many miles.  Move the towel every so often to check where you are in the workout and you’ll realize that the time is flying by.

Play with the settings

Running intervals on a treadmill helps pass the time.  My coach currently has me doing some faster miles in the middle of my long runs.  It breaks up the workout, which helps with the monotony.  So consider adding some additional speed.  And what about the incline?  Adding some incline work can change up way you’re using your muscles.  I’m not saying you should be running at 9%, but maybe bump up a half percent or a full percent for a bit during your workout.

Distract yourself

I’m lucky.  I own my own treadmill, so I have it located where I can watch tv while I run.  One thing that I like to do is that if I have a big workout that I’m dreading, I make sure that I have something I really want to watch.  Maybe that’s a movie, maybe it’s a tv show that I have waited to watch until my workout.  I know some people take iPads to the gym with them and watch that way.  Just be sure you don’t knock your iPad onto the floor.

When I used to go to the gym, I would let myself watch total trash tv while running.  Keeping up with the Kardashians style shows.  There’s always something trashy on somewhere.

If you don’t have (or don’t want) the tv option, consider podcasts or audiobooks.  Music is great, but songs are so short that I start to think about how much time is passing.  “Well, that was two more songs, so I have to be at least another mile in.  Wait, I’m not?”  But something longer, especially listening to a story, really helps.  Podcasts are in right now, and there are a ton of great ones out there.  If there’s a subject you like, there’s probably a podcast about it.  And they’re free!  I also really like audiobooks.  I can rent them from my library, but an Audible subscription isn’t bad either, especially when you think about how long an audiobook is.  Having a book read to you can easily take 8-10 hours, so that’s a number of solid workouts covered.  Or just get the Harry Potter books in audio form.  Those last forever.

These are some really simple tips, but they’re what gets me through a long treadmill run.  I did ten miles earlier this week, and will probably have a longer run coming up soon.  Would I love to be outside?  Yes.  But it’s all going to depend on weather.  I’d rather stay safe and run inside than risk falling and injuring myself right before a race.

Now… what should I watch next?