Friday, May 8, 2015

The 2015 15K Mastodon Challenge is Tomorrow! Why Do I Keep Doing This?

The 2015 Mastodon Challenge 15K is tomorrow!  This will be my third year; before I get to that, here is a  brief recap of the first two:


It was the best of races, and the worst of days.  I had signed up for the 15K - my first time at that distance - as a training race for what was going to be my first half marathon a month later.  On the spur of the moment I had done a half marathon for training two weeks prior to the Mastodon.  Achieving a fitness level capable of completing half marathons was my biggest accomplishment of 2013.  It followed a nearly 50-lb weight loss in 2012.

I used the Galloway run/walk method for both halfs and the Mastodon.  During the first half, I felt my best between miles 4 and 9.  By mile 12 I was exhausted and not having fun anymore, although I perked up when I heard my name over the loudspeaker at the finish line 2:29 after I started.

The night before the Mastodon run, my husband, brother-in-law and I spent the evening with their mother at her house.  Her health had been rapidly declining, and we knew she wouldn't be with us much longer.  I helped my sister-in-law get her ready for bed, and we made a plan to do the same the following night and as many nights after that as necessary.  We did not realize how short her time was; she would pass away the next afternoon.

The race was on a Sunday that year.  We planned that I would race, and my husband would go to Mass and then his Mom's house.  I offered to skip the race and go with him, but he sent me on my way. 

The weather was overcast and raining by the end of the race, and in the 50s I think.  Here is the elevation profile:

I remember thinking that it would be easy after the first 5.5 miles, but by then even those teeny-tiny rises looked big to me!   The effort must have showed on my face,  because for the final mile or two the volunteers kept asking me if I was OK. 

My plan was to run 2:30/walk 0:45 for the hilly first six miles, and then try to run the final three.  I started the interval app right away, but ended up ignoring it and skipping the first several walk breaks since the course started off downhill and I just went with the flow.  Then a funny thing happened when I started doing the intervals.  Obeying the app, I ended up running up most of the hills and walking the flats and downhills!  Another racer even noticed and commented a couple of times. 

I'm #1401, orange shorts and blue shirt and cap.  On my right, in sunglasses and flowered tank, is my "cheerleader," who noticed that I was running up the hills and walking down.  She predicted that I would run the whole way next time.  That didn't happen, but her encouragement meant so much to me that I purchased this picture because she's in it!

I finished in 1:36 for a pace of 10:22 per mile - almost a whole minute faster per mile than my half-marathon pace two weeks before!  I was so surprised that to this day I still wonder if the clock malfunctioned. The runner who had commented on my hill-running was at the finish line cheering me on.  I went home and told my husband that 15K was my favorite distance.


I've come to realize that many runners don't repeat races.  But this one is 10 minutes from the house, and I have an emotional connection to it.  Also, I remember that I liked the distance in 2013 (when I was in half-marathon shape, which didn't last long).  I've decided that being able to complete 15K is a fitness level that I'd like to maintain.

I started this blog at the same time I started my training for the 2014 race, as a way to keep myself motivated and accountable.  Both the blog and the training turned out to be two of many false starts in 2014!  Spent quite a lot of time putting together a training program targeting the Mastodon 15K as my goal race.  The plan included hills and speed work.  I still used the run//walk method for any distance greater than 6 or 7 miles, and I was undecided whether to do the intervals again or try to run the whole way.

I did get some good workouts in that I wrote about here, here and here.  But, as I also wrote about, I ended up skipping a lot of my weekday runs and tried to make up for them by incorporating extra hills and speed work into my weekend long run.  That was Mistake #1.

Long run training route, winter 2014. 
2015 was worse!

Mistake #2 was training in ill-fitting shoes.  The new ones I had gotten in the fall never seemed quite right and my feet hurt, so two weeks before the race I did my final long run in an old pair.  Instead of relief, I got a black, painful toenail!  Which led to Mistake #3 - a new pair of shoes for the race!  Bad timing, I know!

Thunderstorms were predicted, but at the beginning of the race it was just a soft rain. The rain didn't last long, but the air stayed so soupy that when the sun came out we all wished the rain would come back to cool us off!  It had been a long, cold winter, and no one had run in warm, extremely humid conditions yet that year.

Again, I ran the first one and a half to two miles, then did run/walk intervals.  I expected to be slower than in 2013, and I was: 1:49, pace 11:44 minute/mile.  I was happy with that, considering how uncomfortable the weather was, how much my feet hurt, and how lackadaisical my training had been.

Because of my sore feet, I only did one other race in 2014.  In September I got my feet X-rayed and got diagnosed with extensor tendonitis. No stress fractures - yay!  The doctor didn't tell me to stop running; he recommended some exercises and inserts in my shoes.


I started the year with new shoes, inserts and a 4-running-days-per-week training plan, which I quickly realized was way too ambitious.  Mistake #1 was Cheez-its, Mistake #2 was peanuts, Mistake #3 was beer, #4 . . . well, you get the idea.  The race motto is "Get Your Mastodon On," and I feel like I did!  On my belly, on my thighs, etc.  So, 20 or so lbs heavier this year than last and the tendonitis still flares up.  But, I proved two weeks ago that I can run 9.3 miles - with no walk breaks - even if it did take over 2 hours!  Cohoes, I've got my Mastodon on and here I come!

Run Like a Mastodon!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

#28FitDays - Week One is a Success!

I'm happy!


My motto for the 28-Day Challenge is "Healthy Weight by Day 28!"  Down three pounds in week one; with three weeks and seven pounds to go. I think I should make it!  After a few false starts this year I may have finally turned things back around!

I fell behind on posting my daily recaps.  Here are some highlights:

  • I invented the Luscious Purple Power Smoothie (recipe here)!  Great breakfast with a hard-boiled egg, but it's so thick and cold you can't drink it fast!  You might even need a spoon!
Allow extra time to avoid

  • Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta for lunch, Days 5-7 (recipe here).

  • A whole week with no cheez-its and no peanut butter snack crackers!  (You'd have to have been a bug on the wall in my office to know how overboard I was going with this, and if you did know I would be very embarrassed!)

  • Four out of five work days without visiting the office peanut bowl.  Again, that wouldn't be an issue if I could do like everyone else and eat one or two at a time.  I take handfuls, and make multiple trips!  (Or should I say, "I used to . . .?)

  • Four out of five work days without potato chips.  Unfortunately, I visited the peanut bowl and ate the potato chips on the same day, but thanks to my long run on Saturday I had the activity points to spare! 

  • Only one serious after-dinner binge - at least all those pistachios were unsalted!

  • Plenty of cardio (but that's never been a problem for me):  226 minutes running, 150 minutes walking and 120 minutes of aerobics!

Week 1 WOW!

Coming Up in Week 2

  • Still trying to wait until lunch time to eat lunch!  Might make it easier to stay away from the peanut bowl and vending machine mid-afternoon - LOL!

  • 15K race on Saturday, and then a break from running.  Hoping to do some early morning lap swimming!

This challenge seems to be just what I needed! 

Thanks for reading!

Luscious Purple Power Smoothie

I like my smoothies thick and cold like a milkshake.  This one is so thick it's almost more like soft ice cream!

 Luscious Purple Power Smoothie

8 oz unsweetened almond milk - coconut milk blend
1 frozen banana
1 oz vanilla-flavored protein powder
1 tbsp oats
a handful of frozen blueberries
4 ice cubes
Blend until smooth.  You might have to spoon it out of the blender into your glass!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

WW Points Values for the #28FitDays Transformation Challenge Recipes

Here are the points values for the recipes listed here, in the same order listed in the document.


Breakfast Pizza - 11 points
Mini Ham and Cheese Quiches - 7 points
Kris Carr's Smoothies & Juices - 7 points
Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Goddess Smoothie - 8 points
Chris Freytag's Green Energy Smoothie - 5 points
Sausage Frittata with Mushrooms -  7 points

Lunch & Dinner

Chicken Lettuce Cups - 11 points
Chicken with Walnuts and Spinach - 5 points
Citrus-Sesame Chicken Salad - 9 points
Fiery Buffalo Wings - 4 points
Giant Mushrooms Stuffed with Greens and Mozzarella - 9 points
Grilled Pork Tacos with Avocado-Radish Salad -10 points
Grilled Tuna Nicoise Salad - 8 points
Italian Bean and Vegetable Soup - 5 points
Lemon-Pepper Shrimp - 6 points
Linguine Bolognese - 8 points
Kris Carr's Super Simple Wok Veggies - 4 points
Marinated Tomato & Mozzarella Pasta - 7 points
Savory Salmon Brunch Skillet - 12 points
Spice-Rubbed Roast Chicken and Potatoes - 7 points
Chris Freytag's Shrimp with Cilantro-Lime Rice - 12 points
Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce - 3 points
White Chicken Chili - 9 points
Chris Freytag's Meatless Spicy Black Bean Burgers - 8 points


Artichoke Hummus - 2 points
Spinach Pesto Dip - 4 points
Chris Freytag's Southwestern Red Pepper Nachos - 4  points


Apricots with Yogurt & Honey - 2 points
Savory Grilled Peaches - 2 points
Whoopie Pies - 3 points
Chris Freytag's Hunger Busting Peanut Butter Cookies - 4 points

WW Points Values for the #28FitDays Fast and Easy Meal Plan (Breakfast, Lunches and Snacks Only)

For anyone doing the Prevention Magazine #28FitDays Challenge who is tracking Weight Watchers points, here are the values for the breakfasts, lunches and snacks prepared as described in this meal plan.  Note that I used the nutritional values given for each entire meal, including the fruits and veggies that WW now counts as zero points.  I use these calculations to choose meals based on their relative points value, but then I calculate the actual points (which are usually 1-3 lower) for "official" tracking purposes.  Note also that the breakfasts and lunches listed below aren't in the same order as shown in the plan documents because I listed them by points values instead of by day!



High-Protein Multigrain Pancake

Open-Faced Egg Sandwich
Power Smoothie
Eggs with Toast

Scrambled Eggs with Tortillas
Granola-Berry Bowl
Lox ‘n’ Bagel
Cold Cereal
Yogurt with Fruit

Hearty & Healthy Oatmeal


Garden Salad with Chicken

Turkey-Slaw Wrap
Turkey Breast on Whole Wheat Pita (Listed as a snack on Day 7 but sounds more like a lunch to me.  Will probably use a sandwich thin instead of a pita.)

Open-Faced Tuna Sandwich
Spinach Feta Salad
Taco “Burger”

Hearty Bean Soup
Curried Turkey Wrap
Tuna Salad Bowl (Day 9)
Chicken Soup ‘n’ Salad
Chicken Barbeque Wrap

Lentil Soup ‘n’ Salad
Ranch Chicken Sandwich

Asian Chicken Soup
Veggie Flatbread
Hummus Pita
Turkey-Salad Sandwich

Grilled Chicken Salad Bowl
Grilled Veggie ‘n’ Feta Wrap
Chicken Salad
Veggie Burger
Tuna Salad Bowl (Day 23)
Black Bean Tostada

Soup ‘n’ Sandwich

Turkey-Pecan Salad with Balsamic
Turkey Wrap
Turkey Burger


1 oz string cheese + small apple:  4 points
6-oz 0% plain greek yogut w/ 1/2 cup blueberries:  3 points
1/4 cup (30 pieces) unsalted pistachios in the shell:  5 points
10 whole unsalted almost + 10 yogurt-covered raisins:  5 points
2-low sodium stoned wheat crackers+5 baby carrots+2 tbsp low-fat ranch dressing:  5 points
1 med tomato, 1 oz low-fat mozzarella cheese, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp olive oil, 4 fresh basil leaves: 5 points (I’ll save this snack for later in the summer when we get good garden tomatoes)


#28FitDays - Day 3

Day 3

Day 3 of the Challenge and one week to go before my 15K race!  I got up early to try to do everything the same way I hope to do it on race day, so here is my morning in the order that I did it:

Breakfast:  A banana and two whole-wheat bagel thins with the tiniest amounts possible of Olivio spread and low-sugar orange marmalade.  This isn't like any of the breakfasts in the plan, but I always eat a bagel on race days!  (BTW, in terms of Weight Watchers points, two bagel thins equal two-thirds of one Bruegger's bagel.)

Pre-Cardio:  One-mile walk and 20-minutes of yoga, just to get the muscles warm and loose.

Cardio:  Ten-mile run, with walk breaks, ratio 3:45 running/0:45 walking.  Covered ten miles in almost exactly 2 hours.  Look at all the "activity points" I got for that!

Almost a whole day's worth of extra points!
Lunch:  Tuna salad made with light mayonnaise, on a whole-wheat sandwich thin.  Two large strawberries.

Snack:  Apple slices with 1/4-cup of fat-free ricotta cheese as a dip.

Dinner:  Half of a Newman's Own Thin & Crispy Margherita Pizza, salad with a light garlic-balsamic dressing and 8 oz. of red wine.  It's Saturday night and I earned it!

Dessert:  A banana.

I don't have a plan for tomorrow.  Breakfast at my sister-in-law's house will probably be some kind of pastry, Danish or muffin, and dinner will be whatever DHR decides to make.  Might not be a clean-eating day, so portion-control will be important.

No cardio scheduled tomorrow - I think I did enough today!

Is anyone else training for or doing a race during the challenge?

#28FitDays - Day 2

Day 2

Day 2 of the Challenge was a success!

Cardio:  The training plan for next week's 15K said "Easy Run, 40-50 minutes."  Running is hardly ever easy for me no matter how much I do, and my feet were sore because (as I finally figured out) the most recent shoes I've been wearing are all wrong for me.  I ran outside in the morning before work and completed 3.9 miles in 47:30ish, with no walk breaks.  Did the walking lunges from my 30-day runner's challenge and "running the tires" from the WOW as part of my cool-down walk because I didn't think of it on time do them with my warm-up.

Toning:  Did the remaining three WOW exercises (Skiers Squats, Bird-Dog Push-Ups and Pilates Roll-Up with Forward Fold).

Breakfast:  Planned an egg sandwich, but felt more like a smoothie.  The Power Smoothie on Day 3 looked good, but I made some substitutions based on what I had on hand and ended up with this:

Power Smoothie, Hobby-Runner Style
1 frozen banana
8 oz unsweetened almond-coconut milk
1 oz vanilla protein powder
1 Tbsp rolled oats
4 ice cubes

 It was delicious - thick and cold like a milk shake, just the way I like it - and it filled me right up (until 10:30, anyway)!
Lunch:  Tuna sandwich, same as Day 1.  Based on the Open-Faced Tuna Sandwich from Day 3, but on a whole-wheat sandwich thin to make it easier to wrap and take to work!  Once again, my sandwich called me before 11:00 and I didn't resist.  Strawberries instead of cherries.
Snacks:  1 Sargento reduced fat sharp cheddar string cheese, 1 apple, 15 unsalted pistachios in the shell - all of which I ate before noon.  Mid-afternoon, I had a mini-bag of 94% fat free microwave popcorn.  Around 4:00, I had my biggest success of the day as I walked another bag of popcorn to the microwave, and then turned around and walked it, unopened, back to my desk!  Yay, me!
Dinner:  My husband had made whole-wheat linguini with a clam sauce during the week, and we had the leftovers with salad.  I'm tracking Weight-Watchers points, and I was under the target minimum, so I ate extra.  I thought that worked out well since I was planning a long run the next morning.  Didn't have any wine, again because of my running plans for the next morning.
Dessert:  I'm actually trying to break the habit of eating after dinner, but I was hungry even after the extra pasta so I had a banana.
How is everyone else doing with the meal planning?  What substitutions have you made?