New Blog

Written by abbynormally
January 28th, 2015

You can now find me at A Beautiful Monotony.

Spring Thaw recap

Written by abbynormally
February 24th, 2014

Hey! Hey! Hey! How’s it going?

It’s good here. I had that 15 mile race on Saturday and I feel pretty blah about it.

It was sunny and “warm” (around 45 at the start), but brutally windy; I think somewhere around 22mph winds. I had the goal to run it under a 9:00 min/mile pace. According to my Garmin, I met that goal (8:54)…but according to my chip time, I ran it at 9:01. The discrepancy has to do with the GPS, because my Garmin read it around 15.3 miles, while the course is officially 15 miles. The race is 3 laps of a 5 mile lake loop north of Pittsburgh. I’ve run it a number of times and both my Garmins consistently have the same readings, sooo I think the course needs to be officially checked.

My chip time and my Garmin are about the same: 2:15:06. Which is a big PR, because in 2011 I ran this race in 2:24:20.

It’s not really a big deal. In fact I don’t really know why I feel so unsettled about it because I did fine. This was a training run and I ran it comfortably. My goal was conservative because I wanted to run conservatively. I was hoping to have some energy on the last lap to push, but the wind was exhausting. That is probably where my disappointment stems from. But I felt completely fine and recovered within minutes of finishing. I went for a run today (in new shoes! hallelujah!) and felt amazing. I ran 7 miles in 57:55. I intended an easy run, but I felt so good that I just let my legs take over. I’ll try hard to take it easy the rest of the week because it’s technically a setback week. I might squeeze a hill workout in, but other than that I’ll be sloooowwwwww.

I did learn one HUGE thing that should save my butt in the marathon: watch the *time* not the average pace. I had my Garmin set to show me distance and average pace, but I really should have been more concerned with time. So now I know that I’ll get a pace tat for a 4 hr marathon and watch my Garmin closely to make sure my splits match.

That night, Lucy didn’t sleep well, which means I didn’t sleep well, so I still feel like I’m catching up on rest….so I think I’m going to go to bed. Probably not, but it’s a nice thought. Dave is encouraging me to do core exercises with him, and I can’t just let him think he’s more hardcore than me, so I guess I’ll go embarrass him now.

Abby out!

What’s your bedtime? We usually go to bed between 9:30 and 10:00. Dave gets up around 6 and I get up around 7 (although I may lay in bed for awhile). Dave always brings me coffee in bed before he leaves for work. He is so cool.

How do you set your race goals? I just try to think of my long term goals and take into consideration how I’m feeling close to the race.

Wherein I complain about the weather…

Written by abbynormally
February 18th, 2014

I’m blogging now before Dave reminds me that it’s been over a week since I last blogged.

I really hate to do this, but I need to take a minute to complain about the weather. This is a horrible winter, even by Pittsburgh standards! Snow and ice and bitter temps…there is no break! The forecast for this week looked so promising, but we’ve had snow everyday since at least Saturday. Maybe before then. I can’t remember. And I haven’t run outside since last Saturday! Blerg.

But the treadmill runs aren’t entirely the fault of the weather. A big part of it is because of my (wonderful) responsibilities of motherhood. It’s been too cold to run outside with Lucy and too dark/icy to run outside when Dave’s home to watch her. So my options are limited to the treadmill at nap time or treadmill after Lu’s bedtime.

So the treadmill, while hated, is a very valuable possession this year. I managed 16 miles on it on Saturday. But I need to run outside at least a couple times this week. I have a 15 mile “race” on Saturday. Initially it was forecasted to be 60 and sunny and now it’s looking like 45 and rainy. Seriously? I’m losing patience…and I’m usually very patient with winter.

At least Lucy looks cute in the snow!





































Ok, well. Thanks for the photo op, winter. Now GO AWAY.

Ode to Strava

Written by abbynormally
February 10th, 2014

DISCLAIMER: I’m having a really hard time formatting this post, so I apologize in advance for the huge gaps around the screen shots and other annoying paragraph formatting. Sorry.

I’ve tried the DailyMile thing. I’ve tried Garmin Connect… neither of them were all that interesting and great. I’ve tried RunKeeper and MapMyRun. Blah. In fact, when I first got into married, I kept track of my mileage on some website that tracked your progress across the United States. That was more interesting than anything else, until David introduced me to Strava.

I love it! It’s both a training log and a social media platform. You can join challenges, race your friends on course segments and get a detailed analysis of each run and bike ride.

I’ve taken some screen shots to walk you through a few of the basics (there’s so much more to Strava than I am able to explain).

When you log in, this is what you see:

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 2.13.41 PM










On the left, you see the activities of those you follow, and on the right you will see your weekly progress, any goals or challenges you have entered, and a few other odds and ends.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 2.06.22 PM



















So each week I set my weekly running goal based on my running schedule (I believe that a weekly goal is only possible with a Premium account but it will show your weekly mileage with free accounts too). You can see that I set a goal for the Pittsburgh marathon and I have joined a Half Marathon challenge (which I haven’t completed yet).

To upload your activity you just click the “Upload Activity” link on the upper right hand corner, and you have a lot of options. You can upload activity from your Garmin or other GPS watches, files, and mobile apps.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 2.53.56 PM










There are Cycling and Running Apps for iPhone and Android phones, so if you don’t have a Garmin, you can use the mobile app to track your run. Here’s a screen shot of a run viewed from my phone:

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 9.30.29 AM























First though, I’ll show you what my profile looks like. I get to my profile by clicking the arrow to the right of my name at the top right of the home screen and clicking on “My Profile”.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 2.07.14 PM

The top of the profile shows a bar chart of my weekly mileage. You can change it to show time or elevation gain and weekly or monthly. Also, you’ll see that you can connect your Strava and Instagram accounts. On the right side, it shows you a lot of numbers. First it shows you running stats from the past four weeks. And then it shows you your best efforts, and finally it keeps a year-to-date tally of your running or cycling totals.

You can also compare your stats to that of other runners and cyclists. For example, when I go into David’s profile, the right hand side of the screen shows me this:

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.25.36 PM






















I took these screen shots on different days, which is why my stats look different from each other… in case you were wondering.

And you can view each run in detail.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 9.42.51 AM










This page gives you the run basics (distance, time, pace), plus things like elevation. It shows if you have any achievements on any segments–which I’ll explain in a bit. Then it breaks down all of your mile splits. And you can hover over any split and it shows your where that mile falls on the map. The “GAP” column shows “grade adjusted pace,” which basically means if you run mostly downhill, you run faster than usual, and uphill makes you run slower.

Scroll down and you’ll see this an elevation/pace chart. Like so:

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 9.43.18 AM












And it shows that the GAP of the run is 9:20 vs 9:23. The GAP is nothing significant. It’s just fun.

Ok. A couple more basics. First of all, if you run with someone else who also uses Strava, your runs will automatically sync when you upload them.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.32.39 PM












Couple things quickly, because I’m getting bored.

1) You give “Kudos” to people (it’s like “liking” a Facebook status)
2) Strava members can create segments that they run and ride and compete for course records on those segments. When you run on a segment, Strava will automatically put you somewhere on the Leader Board and keep track of your personal bests and efforts on those segments. So on this run, there were two segments. I ran the fastest time of all women (thus the course record) and Dave ran 6th and 3rd fastest time of all men who have run those segments. If you click the little trophy to the right of the run, it shows all of your achievements from the run.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.33.19 PM












The crowns indicate a time that lands you near the top of the leader board, and a medal indicates your own personal achievements.

In your profile, you can see a tab that keeps track of your Course Records and “King/Queen of the Mountains” (it’s a cycling thing, I’m told). You’ll see it shows if you are running or cycling, which segment you’re on, the distance, elevation, time and date. I only have four… I’m not that fast.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.31.01 PM









On last thing that I’ll mention is about challenges. Like I joined a Half Marathon challenge, each month Strava offers challenges for running or riding as far as you can. Obviously I’ll  never be one of the top contenders in a challenge, but it’s a great way to keep myself motivated. This is February’s challenge:

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 7.28.34 PM









So there are some Strava basics for you. I love that it challenges me to be a better runner…but at the same time it makes it really hard to take it easy. I have to be so intentional about taking my slow runs slow, because I know that people can both view my runs AND dissect them. It’s a pride thing, but I’m working on it.










Sore Legs and Selfies

Written by abbynormally
February 4th, 2014

On Saturday I ran 14 miles, which is the farthest I have run since May 2011. And I think I need to work out my travel schedule better because an hour after I finished, I got in the car for the 2 hour trip back to Hollidaysburg for my father-in-law’s birthday. Sooooo between being sedentary after the run and neglecting foam rolling, my sore leg ended up being more sore than usual.

I ran an easy 3 miler on the treadmill yesterday. It should have been 6, but my will deferred to prudence and I cut it short. Which is good, because today I feel much better. This week is a setback week and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. I really am going to try harder to do more cross training but cross training makes my least favorite activities list with “cooking” and “waking up early.”

Another point of interest for you runners: my Garmin crapped out on me during my run. It completely lost reception and, coincidentally, it was right when it started to rain. Has anyone else had that kind of trouble with a Garmin? I have a FR10…My FR305 never did that to my knowledge, but I had it long enough that I may have forgotten if it has happened before.

My posts really lack photos. Since my last blogging stint, I’ve become relatively anti-selfie. I actually will unfollow people on Instagram if they post too many selfies. Yep, “too many” is completely relative. I’m actually struggling with the thought that this blog re-birth is too self indulgent to begin with. I know my life isn’t that exciting, but I like to write and I like to run. I also like taking photos, but I don’t make it a habit to carry my dSLR on my runs. Occasionally I snap a photo on my run with my iPhone, but I don’t like taking photo breaks. I also don’t like risking injury because I am trying to take photos while running. However, here’s a picture of the Ohio River that I took last week. Pretty cool, huh?












And here’s a picture (is it technically a selfie?) from the weekend. This is how they celebrate birthdays in the sticks:












And here’s picture of Lucy that I took last week:










Yay! Photos!

What’s your stance on selfies?
What’s your least favorite activity? 

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