C’mon gang… it’s abdominal time.

I struggle with finding my six-pack. I thought with all of the cardio and strength training I do I would just lift my shirt up one day and BAM… abs. Apparently it doesn’t work that way. I have tried many things to strengthen my abs like doing 100 crunches every day or seeing how long I can plank and trying to increase it every day. One of the most surprising things I have found on my quest to flat and toned abs is the move that strengthens my core more than I ever thought it would is a push-up. If I stop doing pushups for a while and then go and try to do a bunch of them, the muscles that become sore are my core muscles. Hence the reason I have challenged myself to do 50 push-ups every day this month… not only to make my arms look less like spaghetti noodles, but my core gets a bit of a daily challenge as well.

In keeping on my quest to a six pack, I have tried to find new and inventive ways to work my abs and usually end up reverting back to old school crunches. Crunches work for the most part… but I get a little bored doing 52849 of them so it’s nice to have a routine of various forms of crunches to do. Every day in August I have done an 8-minute ab routine from a video on Youtube. It has really helped my core muscles. No, unfortunately I don’t have a well defined six pack but I have really noticed a difference in the muscle density in my abdomen. 

C’mon gang.

The video is from the 80s or 90s and is instructed by a man in a lot of neon spandex. I started to make fun of his outfit but then realized I was wearing neon pink spandex shorts and an orange shirt… I think I am exercising in the wrong decade. The instructor says a lot of things like “C’mon gang” and “alright gang five more seconds” as well as offering many words of encouragement. He makes sure to specify that you should not be pulling your neck and never to let your lower back leave the floor – very important rules of form for ab work!

The ab routine consists of 8-minutes of a bunch of different moves:

  1. Basic crunch – 45 seconds.
  2. Right oblique crunch – 45 seconds.
  3. Left oblique crunch – 45 seconds.
  4. Toe touches – 45 seconds.
  5. Reverse crunch – 45 seconds.
  6. Right side crunch – 45 seconds.
  7. Left side crunch – 45 seconds.
  8. Push throughs – 45 seconds.
  9. Leg pushes – 45 seconds.
  10. Alternating curls – 45 seconds.
  11. Curls – 30 seconds.
  12. Isometric hold – 5 seconds.

I will spare you the pictures of me performing these moves. I have a feeling I don’t look as graceful as I feel when doing this workout. There are a couple more videos by the same people… 8-minute arms and 8-minute buns. I haven’t tried either of them but I’m sure if they are as effective as the ab video then I will have fantastic abs, arms, and buns in no time. 

I had a day off… yet where did I end up? Starbucks. Don’t ask what is going on with my hair, I said it was my day off, clearly that means you must not put any time and effort into your hair, makeup, or choice of clothing.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

I hope you started singing the title when you read it. The countdown is on until the first day of school. I am not really ready to go back and start the constant homework, studying, exams, and midterms but I do like routine and having a set schedule. Again, I’m a little OCD about this stuff. 

Today I took Stuart to the university to tour where all of his classes are so he knows where he is going during the first couple days of classes. He has quite big gaps between his classes so it’s not like he’ll be sprinting from class to class… unlike me who will have to literally run across campus to make my classes on time. There are no gaps in between my classes. The plus side? That means I only go to the university two days a week!

Yes, my schedule is in fact colour coordinated. We went to the bookstore to buy the books on our book lists. The bookstore had one of my books. One. At least I only had to spend $18. Stuart on the other hand left with a hefty bill of $800 for his books. Ha. At the bookstore I bought my favourite school supply. I cherish it every year… my planner. Nerd alert.

We stopped to pick up our Fall Term bus passes. I can’t say I have missed public transportation this summer. 

We stopped on the way home from the university to get some notebooks and various school supplies. In the age of technology many people take notes on their laptops… I am not one of those people. I remember things a lot better if I write them down. If I were to bring my laptop to class I would spend far too much time reading blogs and checking Facebook. Subject dependent notebooks and multicolour packs of pens… did I say nerd alert already?

Today my legs made sure to remind me that I ran 13.1 miles yesterday. My hips and quads are a little sore but I would be in far worse shape had I not trained for the race. It is such a weird feeling after a race. I have no training schedule, I have no nerves regarding exercise, I have no anticipation building day by day. After a couple months of training and planning for one day, one race, it is hard to believe it is over. I guess I will just have to revel in my pride for a little bit… then it will be time to plan my next race of course. I think texting and blogging is about the most muscle movement and exercise I will be doing today.

Oh, and lifting utensils to eat my weight in homemade pizza, salad, and crackers. I have been hungry ALL day. My metabolism must still be revving from yesterday’s half marathon right? I should take advantage of that.

Edmonton Half Marathon.

I was extremely nervous for this race. I don’t know why we, as runners, get so nervous, as my mom says, it’s just putting one foot in front of the other. I had a goal… well actually about three of them. A given goal was to finish. The goal I told everyone was to finish under 1:45. The goal in my head was a PR. I ran the Hypothermic Half Marathon in February in 1:37:36. I wanted to beat that time. There should be an asterisk beside that time because that course was only 12.81 miles long according to my Garmin. False advertising. So I had another 0.4 miles to go… in less time. Talk about nervous. 

To save suspense I ran it in 1:37:44. I was really happy with my time. I would never in a million years believed I could run 13.1 miles (13.21 according to my Garmin) at an average pace of 7:24 min/mile. 

I felt good, full of nerves, but ready to run in the morning. I had a bagel with peanut butter and banana about an hour and a half before the race began. I think the first thing everyone does when they arrive at the race grounds is line up for the porta-potties. 

Fired up and ready to go. A little cold but that feeling disappeared about 1.3 minutes into the race.

I headed closer to the front of the pack while the others went closer to the back. I made sure my iPod was set to songs that would get me running hard right out of the gate, and that my Garmin was ready to go when I crossed the starting line. In the end, my Garmin and my chip time were almost exactly the same. 

I felt good for most of the race body-wise. I had major stabbing cramps for about three miles in various places in my stomach. That didn’t really slow me down but made it painful to run at my target pace. I had positive splits and probably started too fast but the first fast miles helped me get close to my goal with my later slower miles. 

Mile 1 @ 7:12 min. “Ah, here we go! Just keep going at this pace!”
Mile 2 @ 7:16 min. “Ok, I can do this, only 12 more!”
Mile 3 @ 7:16 min. “I think my pace quickens around the good looking police officers!”
Mile 4 @ 7:18 min. “Ouch, cramp, ouch, cramp…”
Mile 5 @ 7:14 min. “This isn’t bad… almost halfway!”
Mile 6 @ 7:25 min. “Where is the stupid turn-around point?”
Mile 7 @ 7:30 min. “Half way done… you’re slowing down!”
Mile 8 @ 7:32 min. “Hey look it’s mom and dad.”
Mile 9 @ 7:24 min. “This guy keeps speeding up whenever I get close to him, how will I pass him?”
Mile 10 @ 7:32 min. “My lungs hurt. My legs hurt.”
Mile 11 @ 7:29 min. “Ok only about two more miles… home stretch.”
Mile 12 @ 7:42 min. “I should have drank some water.”
Mile 13 @ 7:26 min. “You GOT this. Run. Fast.”
Last 0.21 mile @ 7:08 min/mile. “Where is the finish?”

In the zone and watching to make sure I don’t trip over myself at the finish line. I had to focus on making sure I kept going… one foot in front of the other. My gun time was 1:38:03 and my chip time was 1:37:44. 

I am glad I did it, and I am glad it’s over! I forced the volunteers at the end to put the medal around my neck… bending down AND grabbing the medal was just too much effort at that point.

I kept my Garmin on the “pace” screen so I could monitor my pace the entire race. I changed it to the “distance” screen once and saw I had 1.5 miles left and about 11 minutes to make my goal. I quickly changed it back to the pace screen because that scared me.

I think I would have run a bit slower without my Garmin. When I looked down a couple times and saw 7:50 min/mile I bumped it up and chased the good-looking guys ahead of me. My aunt was waiting for me at the end and then we grabbed my jacket, flip-flops, and sunglasses from the car so I could change out of my sweaty runners. About an hour later my parents came through – holding hands which made me smile wider than my face. They walked the half marathon and finished in 2:41:43. 

My cousin, Kyla, came through and finished her FIRST half marathon in 3:17:09! Way to go!

I think we win the award for “Most Runner’s Food Taken at the End of the Race.” We certainly wanted to get our money’s worth in free food… and we were hungry.

The results were posted as soon as they came in. According to the online results, my chip time was 1:37:44, which put me 8th in my category (Female 20-29) and 21st woman (of 1070!) in the half marathon. I placed 103rd overall out of 1814 participants.

Hydrating, refuelling, popping some ibuprofen, and taking plenty of photos post-race. 

I love showering after a long run. I could literally feel the salt on my body before I showered. Gross. I actually managed to put jeans on after my shower, not spandex, where did that come from? We proudly wore our race T-shirts after we showered. I plan on wearing my medal to work tomorrow.

A lot of sitting happened in the afternoon. I don’t think the sitting was a choice… more like mandatory. I didn’t actually feel too bad after, my legs aren’t very sore and only a little chaffing occurred. My training schedule prepared me well. 

I thought my day couldn’t get any better once I was done my race. Then I checked my email on my phone while waiting for my parents and cousin to finish. I almost died. Guess who emailed me? My blogging/running/life idol. Janae from Hungry Runner Girl blog. I have been following her blog for a while and she is one of the reasons I started my own blog. 

All in all, between racing the half marathon, my results, watching and cheering as my family finished the race, getting an email from Janae, and eating all the calories I burned today back in dark chocolate covered almonds, it was a fantastic day!