Wednesday Workout

Guess what made an appearance at our house again this week?!

Mini pizzas!

Mini pizzas take literally 15 minutes to complete and they are the perfect dinner for nights when Clayton has class. Plus, it meets the criteria for a vegetarian meal. I'm making a conscious effort to go meatless at least once a week, hopefully two, in an effort to minimize the amount of animal products we purchase and consume.

Meal planning has helped Clayton and I make our "go meatless every now and then" goal a reality and it also keeps down our grocery costs. When I have meals planned for each night of the week, it takes the guess work out of what to make for dinner, prevents me from tossing random, unnecessary items into my shopping cart, and it actually gives us something to look forward to. And we always look forward to nights when we have pizza.

This week's menu:

Yes, that's an orange owl on our chalkboard.

And lemme just say, Tuesday night's apricot glazed pork chops were amaaaaaaaazing. The apricot marinade was a perfect compliment to the taste of the pork. I simply mixed one 10 oz. jar of apricot preserves with 1/2 cup of Italian dressing (I used fat free dressing), and a couple spoonfuls of Dijon mustard. I marinated the chops over night, and then placed them in a slow cooker for about 3 and a half hours after work (we tend to eat late on softball nights). The meat was so tender, you didn't even need a knife to cut it.

Please note my festive autumn table runner. :)
But that's enough about food. Let's talk about tonight's 5-mile run! A severe thunderstorm late this afternoon had me almost convinced I would be running on a treadmill yet again, but thankfully the storm clouds cleared by the time I got home from work. In fact, the thunderstorm cooled things off significantly and I got to enjoy my run in a comfortable 73 degrees. I think I speak for all runners when I say, bring on the fall temperatures!

I like to keep my medium-ish training runs as close to my mini marathon pace as possible (and let my long runs simply be endurance runs. Not trying to crush my long distance runs has alleviated my stress levels considerably). I completed the Monumental Half Marathon last year with an 8:46 min/mile pace, so my goal this time around is ... anything faster than that. Actually, I figured a good goal would be to try and run this year's race at an 8:36-40 min/mile pace. I know that's only a couple of seconds improvement, but those few seconds really add up over the course of 13.1 miles. 

The face of a serious runner.
So I went out for tonight's run hoping to keep as close to an 8:40 min/mile pace as possible. Sadly, the summer's disgustingly hot temperatures has made this task harder than one might think. However, today's cooler post-storm weather and the fact that this was the first flat route I've run in over two weeks made this a fantastic run. I exceeded my own expectations and finished my run at an 8:24 min/mile paceway faster than I had hoped! And I felt strong. I even managed to take a picture of myself mid-run (Why, I don't know. Maybe because I was excited that running felt easy again?). I suppose if you can take a picture of yourself running without slowing down, you're probably not working hard enough. But hey, the time on my Garmin speaks for itself.

My mile splits were all over the place and didn't follow their usual pattern (getting increasingly slower with each mile). I do know that my Mile 1 split was significantly slower than the rest because I actually had to side-step a deer. Seriously! As I came around a bend in the trail, I spotted a fawn who looked hopelessly lost and was trotting alongside a runner coming in the opposite direction. I moved to the other side of the trail so as not to startle the poor deer even more, but it darted over to me and started walking alongside of me next. I had to stop and let her move on before I started running again (and I forgot to stop my Garmin).:

Mile 1: 8:39 min/mile
Mile 2: 8:15 min/mile
Mile 3: 8:26 min/mile
Mile 4: 8:17 min/mile
Mile 5: 8:21 min/mile

I hate admitting my marathon goals out loud, mostly because I'll feel like a complete loser if I don't meet them. On the other hand, I think stating my aspirations and hopes for the race publicly ignites a fire under my butt to stay motivated and work hard. If I don't reach my goal finishing time in the Monumental Half Marathon, I know it won't be the end of the world (although I'm sure it will feel like it at the time), but having something to work towards gives me the satisfaction and sense of purpose that I've grown so accustomed to since I started running two years ago. Aside from getting in shape and improving your overall health, running can do wonders for your work ethic and discipline. How else could I have finished the One American 500 Festival Mini Marathon when I got sick? ;)

How was your run or workout today?