Long Run Sundays: Partial Breakups & Sausage Fingers

Hello from MIA-land! It’s been one hell of a weekend over here. Normally, I would be sad that it’s Sunday, but I get tomorrow off, so I’m pretending that it’s Saturday ;)

I had one of those busy-but-not-really kind of weekends filled with lots of yummy food and a ton of sleeping. I think I’m officially caught up on sleep, considering I slept about ten hours on Friday and Saturday night. I felt so lazy waking up so close to noon, but it was just one of those weekends, and I needed the shut-eye.

Friday Shenanigans

After work on Friday, I had a roomie date planned out. Nicole and I started off with dinner at Sushi Sasa, one of the pricier sushi joints in Denver. When I’m in the mood for expensive sushi, I usually head over to Sushi Den, but I heard that this place was really good, and I had a handy Google deal.

We took advantage of their complimentary valet, and made it to our 6pm reservation right on time. The restaurant itself was beautiful, with a mixture of modern whites, rustic woods, and just-right lighting. The food was rather incredible as well. We started off with some of their shiromiso soup and sunomono (seafood and vegetables with a light Japanese vinaigrette).

Both were incredibly light and fresh: the perfect way to start a meal.

Then we ordered their spicy tuna roll and Diablo roll (spicy tuna and avocado inside, seared tuna on top with ginger) as well as some yellowtail and fresh-water eel nigiri.

Their yellowtail was one of the tastiest I’ve had, and I consume quite a bit of it. I literally could have eaten an entire platter of just that. The other stuff was really yummy, too, but the yellowtail was the star of the night. We only ended up spending $6 more than the value of my deal, and we were pretty stuffed. Not too stuffed for ice cream though :P

I had another Google deal for Little Man Ice Cream, which was only a (not even) five minute drive away, so we stopped to get a couple of pints to take back for girl’s night in at Quynh’s house. It’s an order-out-only ice cream shop, but it’s so cute! The building is shaped like a giant milk jug!

They’re known to have some of the best ice cream in Denver, and they also donate a scoop of rice for every scoop of ice cream that they sell through their Scoop for Scoop program (kind of like TOMS). After drooling over their selection in line, we finally settled on a pint of pumpkin chip and a pint of 16th Street chocolate. Both were so good, but my favorite was the chocolate, hands down. I don’t even really like chocolate ice cream, but this was incredible. It tasted sort of like a creamier Wendy’s Frosty with brownie chunks and a fudge swirl. I know that sounds like an incredibly decadent, rich combo, but it was light and dreamy. I’m salivating as I type… Needless to say, we ate the entire pint between 4 of us lol.

Backtrack a little bit…after we picked up the ice cream, we headed over to Quynh’s place for some cocktails and chit chat. Quynh was able to track down a bottle of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur (my booze obsession right now), so I brought over a bottle of my favorite bubbly and some club soda for our cocktails.

The cocktail calls for 2 parts champagne, 1 part St. Germain, and 1 part club soda. It tastes kind of like lychee if you’ve ever tried it. While I don’t usually care for sweet drinks, this one is soooooo good. Actually, I think just about anything with St. Germain that I’ve tried so far is really good. They should make me their spokesperson.

action shot!

yummy

We also watched way too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and were total bums. Perfect night.

Saturday Lazies

After sleeping in forever, I picked up Quynh so that we could head to a park and get in an easy run. We did a nice and leisurely 3.1 miles in beautiful 55* weather. It felt great to be active after all of the eats and drinks from the night before. Unfortunately for Quynh, she’s never run on snow before, and some of the shaded parts of the park still had major snowy areas. She was a champ and rocked it though!

I was supposed to go out with her and her siblings to watch the Broncos get murdered by the Patriots, but I kind of took a nap instead. Apparently, I can’t seem to get enough sleep. I must have been a cat in a past life or something. I did wake up in time to head to the running store to get some new shoes (more on that below) and make it to my friend, Ivry’s birthday celebration at Kona though (Happy Birthday, Ivry!). I ordered their Roasted Asparagus salad, which included roasted asparagus, tomatoes + onions, field greens, and herbed goat cheese crustini. There’s a whole lot of things in that salad that I love, so you better believe I ate all of it.

Long Run Sunday

As I explained last week, my shoes that I got back in October were starting to really bother my feet, last Sunday in particular. It felt like my feet were being squished in from both sides, and I had an incredibly painful run (physically and mentally). I did a few shorter runs in them during the past week, but it was continuing to bother me (to a lesser extent), so I decided it was time to break up with my shoes. *sniff sniff*

It was good while it lasted.

I’ve only put about 200 miles on those shoes, so I won’t be ditching them completely. I’ll use them for my shorter runs and see how it goes from there…sad day. I didn’t want to have to spend the money to get another pair of shoes so soon, but it’s cheaper and more timely than dealing with a crappy injury. I headed to my local Runner’s Roost to get re-fitted, and it was incredibly difficult to make a decision.

I transitioned over to running with a fore-foot strike about two months ago, which helped to get rid of a lot of the pain I was experiencing in my knees and shins. The sales associate even complimented me on my foot strike (woot woot!). Then came the tough decisions. He said with the way I’m running, in the long run (literally), I might find it more comfortable and be better off with a more minimalist shoe. Not necessarily Vibrams, but something more so than a traditional running shoe. The thing is, with it being so close to my first half marathon (3 weeks!!! OMG!!) and two other races a couple of months after that, he didn’t think it would be ideal to make a big change.

Therefore, I had the choice to purchase minimal shoes and hope that I got used to them in 3 weeks, which would have been possible but potentially risky, or buy a standard running shoe with more width and try to transition after my half marathon in May. I think I literally sat there for ten minutes trying to decide. I already run with my Nike Free shoes for short treadmill runs, but wasn’t sure how I’d adjust to using them for long, outdoor runs. Do I really want to spend another $100+ in a few months to buy the shoe they felt would be best for me now? Ahhhh…

Well, without further adieu, here is what I walked out with:

the new ASICS GT-2170. I decided to take the associate’s advice and transition after my Portland half because I really didn’t want to risk injury from transitioning to minimal shoes too fast. Did I make the right choice? Who knows, but these already feel better than my other shoes.

I didn’t really give them a break-in period because I absolutely refused to do my 11 miler today in the shoes that made my 11 miler last week so incredibly awful. Well, after running over pavement, mud, snow, ice, and trails, I didn’t experience any significant discomfort. The balls of my feet were getting achy from the long distance in completely new shoes, but it wasn’t bad enough to slow me down.

Actually, I kicked butt! I finished my 11 miles twelve minutes faster than last week (2:06). The run itself was whatever. It didn’t suck, but it wasn’t particularly awesome. When I finished and looked at my time, though, I was absolutely ecstatic (which I did not experience after my run last week)! I think the thing that made me so happy was knowing that if I had run a half marathon today, I would have finished in under 2:30, which is something I’ve been doubting since I’m so slow. So, yay! Go me!

One last thought from my run: while I was showering, I happened to notice that my fingers were really swollen and looked like chubby sausages. I’ve never had this happen before. I really wanted to take a picture, but I was in the shower, and that’d be a bit awkward. Any explanation? They’re back to normal size now, but the last time I had that happen was during my descent from hiking my very first 14′er two years ago.

Anywho, time to get some cleaning done and get my bookworm on! See you tomorrow!

Question of the Day: What was the highlight of your weekend? Have you ever gotten swollen fingers while working out?

Must. Get. Sleep.

Happy almost-Friday! One more day until it’s another 3-day weekend for me, and this week can’t be dragging long enough.

I had a good time reading through your favorite childhood books in response to my last post. I had completely forgotten about some of those, so it was a nice trip down Nostalgia Lane :)

Yesterday was freezing cold. During fall, winter, and spring in Colorado, it’s hard to get used to a temperature because it’s ALWAYS changing. It had been in the high 50′s-60′s for about a week, and then a snow storm came pouring in. I bundled up as best I could and willed myself to get accustomed to the coldness.

Thankfully, it stopped snowing in the afternoon, and temps should be returning to the 50′s for the weekend (yayyy). Due to the cold though, I didn’t feel like going outside at all yesterday once I got home. So, I stayed at home and did an hour of Zumba on my Wii, followed by a solid 15 minutes of stretching.

After eating dinner, helping my roommate clean up the kitchen, and taking a long (very hot) shower, I curled into bed with a book to call it an early night. For good reason, too: I’ve been extremely sleep-deprived since Saturday night.

Maybe I’m subconsciously really stressed about work, but I’ve been having a hard time sleeping since the weekend. I either can’t stay asleep for more than an hour or two at a time, or I just lay in bed until well past midnight even if I get to bed on time. This wouldn’t be as big of a deal if  I didn’t have to wake up at 5:30am to get to work on time. I think I’ve been averaging 5 hours of sleep a night. I have no trouble falling asleep in my car during my lunch breaks to keep myself from passing out on my desk though.

click for source

I think the issue is that I have a more difficult time falling asleep when I’m very tired. Even though I’m so exhausted, I just lay in bed and can’t sleep. The next night is usually more difficult because my sleepiness is compounded by my continued lack of sleep from the nights before, and I start getting anxious at bedtime wondering if I’ll be able to sleep that night.

So, where am I going with this? In addition to being necessary for everyday functionality, sleep is extremely vital for obtaining and maintaining your fitness and health goals.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article from the Huffington Post (I know it’s not a health site, but there are tons of studies out there. I was just too lazy to search for a different one.) According to the article, sleep affects hormones tied to appetite. People who slept less than seven to eight hours a night often experienced weight gain, and those who slept less than that amount weighed more than those who slept a greater amount.

This is the side effect I’ve been experiencing the most. I’m not in maintenance mode yet, so I still weigh myself about three times a week. Since Saturday, I’ve gained a whopping six lbs. I’m only 5’3″, so that’s a decent chunk of change for weight gain. I’ve been eating mindlessly and in much larger portions than I usually do. I also have been drinking less water, inhaling way more coffee, and consuming more sweet treats (I normally don’t have a big sweet tooth).

In addition to the weight gain, my lack of sleep has left me feeling sluggish during workouts and has greatly increased my recovery time between them.  I attribute this to the fact that your body rebuilds from tough workouts while you rest, sleep in particular. The same article states that our growth hormones responsible for tissue repair, body fat reduction, and healthy immune function are released during sleep. With less and less sleep, my body isn’t being given the time to restore worked muscles, replenish energy stores, and all of that other good stuff that I need to hit an intense workout. (Also probably why I got that head cold.)

Being that this blog documents my trials and errors during my time of weight loss, hopefully this information can be helpful to some of you out there on the same journey as me. It doesn’t matter where in your journey you are, make sure you get a good night’s rest. Healthy eating and exercise will be easier to do, and you’ll feel more alert as well. I finally got 8 full hours of sleep last night, and what a difference! I still have some sleep catch-up to do, but I’m already feeling better, and the lingering aches from my past workouts are already dulled down.

Anyway, my lunch time is up, and I’ve gotta tackle a lot of issues before heading home for a 6 mile speed workout and (maybe) a BodyPump class if I’m up for it. I hope that the short remainder of your week is a good one!

Question of the Day: How many hours of sleep do you need to feel energized and prepared for the day? Has the lack thereof ever interfered with your weight loss or fitness goals and how so? I need between 7.5-9 hours to feel good. Yeah, I’m a bear.