Thursday, August 13, 2015

B is for Blair, Baseball, and Birthday!

It's hard to believe that my adorable, hilarious, sweet as pie nephew is 2. It seems like just yesterday that I was at the hospital holding a little tiny baby, wondering how I could love something as much as I loved my niece. It didn't take long to realize there was plenty of room for both, and now that he is pretty much a full blown toddler, life is so much fun.

The Holland House: Blair through the years
Blair from newborn to 2

Blair LOVES baseball. He goes to Texas State games with his family all the time, so my sister thought it would be fun to see an Express game in Round Rock. After the full blown First Birthday Fiesta last year, she opted for a much more low key, family only affair. I think everyone breathed a sigh of relief. We all met at my parents for a baseball themed dinner, presents, and dessert before heading north to the ballpark. Blair also loves sweets almost as much as he loves baseball, and could barely wait to dig in to some cupcakes. No party would be complete without Sweet Elise treats, so I made him some fun cookies as well.

The Holland House: Birthday Cupcakes

Sweet Elise baseball cookie favors

Everyone loaded up and headed to the park. It was pretty hot, but luckily our seats were in the shade. I absolutely loved seeing how big Blair's eyes got when we walked into the stadium. He wouldn't let go of his new baseball glove, and had the most fun saying "Let's go, blue" over, and over, and over again. (If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen his cute video.)

Not to be outdone, my niece Georgia stole the show as well with plenty of cheering and picture taking too. Even harder to believe that she will be starting kindergarten in just a couple of weeks.

Overall it was a super fun way to celebrate a birthday, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Marathon Training: Month One

I did it. I survived the first month of training for the Philadelphia Marathon. It's crazy to say this, but I am actually really enjoying the training. Despite the ridiculous heat and humidity, I am finding joy in each bit of progress that I make, and am learning a lot about myself in the process.

At the beginning of June, I struggled to run 3 miles. I was out of shape, and not very motivated. So I used that whole month to get my rear in gear- I cleaned up my eating with the Earn That Body plan, I consistently worked out 5 days a week, and I formed habits that would make July a lot less painful. In July, I did the work. I showed up, gave 100% effort, and took pride in each workout that was faster or longer than the previous. My personality type thrives on schedules, goals, and progress. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that training has been so motivating for me. It also helps that my husband is doing the same exact thing. I don't have to worry about being lame when I get in bed at 8. He's right there next to me. Five days a week, our alarms are going off at 4:30am. We're in this together, and it makes it that much more fun!

The Holland House: Marathon Training

Our training schedule was pretty consistent for the whole month:

Monday- Circuit workout
Tuesday- Recovery run (30-40 minutes, easy pace)
Wednesday- Track/speed workout (2400m test, or 4-6 mile fartlek)
Thursday- Recovery run (30-40 minutes, easy pace)
Friday- Rest
Saturday- Long run (I did distances of 10, 11, 11.5, and 12)
Sunday- Rest

Each month we do a 2400m test on the track. It's basically 6 laps, all out. Your time on this test helps determine what your Marathon Goal Pace (MGP) should be. In June, my time was 13:26. I was one of the slowest in the group, and just tried to view it as just a starting point. In July, I shaved over a minute off that time, finishing in 12:23. Wednesday morning we have our August test, and I'm hoping to finish at an even 12:00. That's an 8 minute mile, and that sounds fast enough for now. At my current pace, my MGP is 10:15, which translates to a 4 1/2 hour marathon. I would love to finish faster than that, but I'm still sticking to my main goal- finish it without a meltdown.

The fartlek workout is basically intervals. We have done one minute fast/one minute slow, two minutes fast/one minute slow, and 3-2-1 fast, with 1 minute slow in between. We've increased the miles that we do this, and have also picked up our pace. I'm proud to say that I can hang with ladies that I wasn't able to keep up with a month ago. It's a hard workout, but really satisfying when done. 

Saturday long runs have been a different ball game. We alternate flat and hilly routes, and they have been a beating. Part of the problem is that we're running them at MGP, when we should really be doing them a minute slower pace. I had two 11 mile runs that were so, so tough. I had almost nothing left at the end. So this past Saturday we actually listened to our coach, and we slowed our start way down. We then progressively got faster over the course of 12 miles. The result was a solid run with a strong finish. I could have continued going, even though I was more than happy to stop! We've been rewarding ourselves with a dip in the Barton Springs spillway afterwards to cool down (the water is a perfect 68°), and I look forward to that almost as much as I do the breakfast tacos and coffee that we have shortly after.

The Holland House: Marathon Training
Barton Springs Spillway

There is absolutely no way that I could be surviving this training without the wonderfully inspiring group that I run with, Gilbert's Gazelles. Gilbert's motto is to "Run with Joy", and we practice that on a weekly basis. I've gotten to know some really lovely ladies, and my husband and his faster group of friends have been so encouraging and supportive- recognizing the progress that I'm making. I'm quickly realizing what a group effort it is to accomplish something like this, and I'm so thankful for the support. 

There are a few other essentials that I absolutely could not survive this training without.

1- Good running shoes. I'm a Mizuno girl, and just replaced my blue Wave Riders with this pretty purple/green pair. I really can't run in anything else! It's important to keep your shoes fresh and cushy, and I plan on purchasing one more pair just before the race. 

The Holland House: Marathon Training Essentials

2- Hydration.  It's hot and humid in Texas, and staying hydrated all week is really important. I recently switched from Nuun to Skratch Labs Hydration Mix, and am a big fan of the pineapple flavor. The Matcha Green Tea with Lemon flavor is surprisingly refreshing too. You can buy single servings to test out flavors, and then a big bag once you decide on a favorite. For Saturday long runs, I also take 1-2 Hammer Endurolytes. I haven't had any issues with cramping, and I've found that I don't have bad headaches later in the day. (This has always been an issue for me.)

The Holland House: Marathon Training Essentials

3. My Garmin watch. Right now I have the Forerunner 110, and I plan to upgrade to the 220 at the end of August. The one I have is perfect for basic pace monitoring, and getting a summary of your run at the end. But I can't program it, and that is a functionality that I'm finding I could really use. Luckily I run with plenty of friends who have the 220, and have been able to rely on them for our interval workouts.

The Holland House: Marathon Training Essentials

4. Anti-chafing balm. Did I mention how hot and humid it is? I produce an enormous amount of sweat on the long runs, and have run into some chafing issues that have been less than pleasant. I use Glide under my arms and on the part of my thighs that rub together (you won't be finding any thigh gap here!) I'm hoping that with a November marathon, this won't be such an issue. But you can bet that I will pack some in my Spi-belt just in case!

The Holland House: Marathon Training Essentials

I'm glad to have July under my belt, and I'm hoping that August goes by pretty quickly because the heat just isn't letting up. For month two, our Saturday long runs will bump up to the 12-15 mile range, and I should start averaging 30-35 miles per week of running. I keep telling myself that if I can keep running in these conditions, then a November marathon in Philadelphia should feel like paradise. It's testing my mental toughness, for sure. But I'm having a blast doing it!

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