PR’s, birthdays, and what’s next

So last weekend was Pittsburgh marathon weekend. Can’t believe it’s already been almost a full week. I participated in the Steel Challenge again, 5k on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday. The half marathon here is easily one of my favorite races to participate in, there’s a lot of crowd support, the course is beautiful (hello West End Bridge) and there’s something special and gritty about calling yourself a Runner of Steel.

If you remember I mentioned that I was running for the American Cancer Society again, our team dinner was on Friday and that itself was an emotional night. I think that kind of set the tone for the weekend, there was a lot of love in that room and I cried for a good bit of it. There are some truly amazing and special people out there who are running for loved ones and raising awareness.

IMG_9879.jpg

Last weekend was also my 26th birthday, May 5 to be exact. I’ve gotten into a tradition over the last few years to run on or near my birthday and this year the 5k fell on it. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate another year on Earth than to do what I love most. I started out with the 13 minute pacer because this was supposed to be a shakeout run, not to be raced. I wore a sticker on my shirt that said “It’s my birthday!!” and so many people walked up to be to tell me happy birthday and I was loving every minute of that attention. I ended up getting a course PR or 39:42, my second sub 40 5k this year, only 3 weeks apart from the last one. I got emotional at the finish, like I always do, because I realized I’m improving. Yay! That night I had dinner (and margaritas because Cinco de Mayo) with my parents and little sister to celebrate/carb load. Overall it was probably my best birthday yet.

IMG_9798

I didn’t sleep much saturday night because no matter how many races I do, I still get those pre race jitters. I got up pretty early because I needed to get downtown to take a team picture with the ACS, plus I kept having this dream that I would over sleep and miss the race. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to PR, my training didn’t go as planning thanks to the never-ending winter we had here. I have a really hard time running in the cold, and some days it would get so cold you couldn’t feel your legs or hands, so most of my runs were done inside. Luckily I was still lifting 3-4 days a week because I really felt like that played a huge role in sunday’s race. I started out with the 2:45 pacer since that was my goal, but she started out too fast for me so I fell behind. I had a lot of fun out there, I live on the course so most of my runs are course preview runs but something about race day makes it even more spectacular. And since I live on the course my dad brought Henrik out so I could stop and see him, that made my whole day.

Anyway, I ended up getting a PR. I finished in 2:54:59, last years time was 2:56:33, so not too much of an improvement but like I mentioned my training wasn’t really what I wanted it to be. In typical me fashion, I cried at the finish line. I was okay with not getting another big PR because this wasn’t my big race for the year, I’m running in the Napa to Sonoma half in July so that will be my big half marathon for the year.

So what’s next? Well, I’m currently taking the week off to rest and recover. The plan is to maintain mileage for the rest of May, so running 3-4 days a week but not really getting over 5-6 miles for a long run. I don’t want to burn myself out before the July race so my weekly mileage will be around 13-15 miles and I’ll be lifting 2-3 days a week, lifting played a huge role in last weekends activities so I’ll be including that for all training cycles from now on. Full marathon training will begin in July and I’ll be working with a coach again, I’m pretty excited about that and excited to get that PR I should have gotten last year.

 

Till next time..

P.S. Donations can still be made to my fundraising for the American Cancer Society. Please donate if you’re able to, I would really appreciate it!

https://www.crowdrise.com/acspitt2018/fundraiser/christinapier1

Weeks 10 & 11, a runniversary and a new PR

Last weekend I participated in the Pittsburgh Pirates 5k. I almost didn’t sign up because I’m not happy with the Buccos but I realized it would be 5 years, almost to the day, since my very first race. Since April 13, 2013 I’ve been trying to break 40 minutes in the 5k. As a distance runner I find it much easier to cut time off of longer distance races than short ones. My training for this cycle has been sub par but I figured with losing some weight and focusing more on strength training that it would happen this year. Normally if a shorter race falls into a training cycle I won’t actually race it, I’ll run it at my easy pace, but for this I wanted to give it my all.

I started with the 12 minute pace group, which is so new for me, I originally started in the walking group so to finally move up a bit is incredible. I knew I was doing well when I wasn’t getting so out of breath for the 90 seconds I would run (I do the run/walk/run method of 90 sec r/30 sec w). Everything felt really good, my breathing, my legs, core, back, glutes. For once during a race my body wanted to cooperate. As I crossed the finish line, which in this case was home plate at PNC park, the clock said 40:55 so I knew I finally did it. After checking the time online and seeing the 40:55 I was kind of worried I didn’t make it but I’m happy to share that I completed it in 38:57 which is a 12:34 average pace, the fasted average pace I’ve ever had during any race.

I did my first 10 miler the next day which was pretty rough since going all in wore out my legs, I did the first half outside and the second half in the gym. I got 3 runs in this past week along with 3 lifting sessions and ended this weekend with another 10 miler on Sunday, I did the entire run outside and got a pretty nice sunburn. I wasn’t too happy with the pace but we went from 35 degrees and snow flurries to 65-70 and sunshine and I tend to overheat pretty easily.

I’ll be starting my taper this week, with 3 weekday runs on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and 6 on Sunday. I’ll be keeping the lifting to only 3 days this week as well since the entire point of tapering is to cut back.

Lots of sleep, stretching, and hydrating will be happening over the next 13 days.

 

Till next time..

Weeks 8 & 9

Coming to you live from the elliptical in my gym because well, I’m a busy gal and if I don’t write this during my work out it probably won’t get done.

So again, nothing spectacular happened in the last couple weeks, specifically with running. Winter hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s actually spring time so I’ve been doing almost all of my runs inside on a treadmill which has not been ideal. As far as lifting, I signed up for another 4 weeks of online coaching and I’ve finally started to see changes in my body. Thank goodness because I was starting to get frustrated, but obviously changes don’t happen immediately.

Most of my clothes are now a little bit loose and I feel so much more comfortable in my skin, I’ve been waiting a really long time for that. My legs feel more defined and my core and back feel strong, which as a runner those are super important. I got weighed last week and my hard work is starting to pay off because I lost 2.5lbs of fat in 4 weeks.

If I can keep this up, which I intend to, I’ll be at my goal weight by my marathon in October. Losing weight will significantly help my average pace and my efforts to cut an hour off my marathon finishing time.

The Pittsburgh half marathon is only a few weeks away now, so I’ll be posting weekly until then!

Till next time!

Week 5

This past week seemed to go pretty quickly, by the time Friday came around I was completely exhausted. I did week 2 of my lifting program and completed a total of 8 workouts throughout the week, 4 lifting and 4 runs, which I’m sure is the most I’ve done in a long time. My body hurts but I feel really good and I can already tell my clothes are starting to fit better.

I’m up to 7 miles for my long run and starting this week I’ll start incorporating more speed work such as tempo runs and fartlek. I also signed up to work with Relentless Runners again for my fall marathon so I’m pretty excited about that. I find that having a long-term goal, in this case for the year, keeps me on track and out of that “I’m on a break, lets party” mindset. Everything feels like it’s falling into place and I’m just in a really good head space right now.

Last Tuesday I saw my nutritionist, I get weighed every 4 weeks or so and I never see the number so I can’t get obsessive about it. The number on the scale did not go down but my BF % changed a little bit, which if I’m being honest is really the most important thing to me. I figure if I can keep up with running and lifting then I’ll get to where I want to be and feel good while getting there. I also made the decision to give up meat for a little while.

Last year I did a genetic test, geneticdirection.com if you’re interested, and unsurprisingly it came back and said that my ability to lose weight through diet and exercise is low (thanks mom and dad for the bad genes). It also told me how I break down carbs, protein, and fat. Also unsurprisingly, my ability to break down fat is low, whereas carbs was normal and protein is elevated. So I figured that by giving up meat, which is mostly fatty, it would just help with my over all digestion/weight loss goals. I’m only a week into that decision but I am feeling so good. I’ve felt lean everyday, my stomach isn’t constantly bothering me, I’m eating so many more veggies, and my groceries were much cheaper this time around. I’m sure this won’t be a permanent thing but I’m loving being creative in the kitchen and trying out new foods and recipes. Between the tweaks in my diet, adding in the strength training and taking the proper supplements that I’m deficient in (another thing I found out through the genetic test), I feel like a new person. I’m excited to see what this week brings.

 

Till next time…

 

Week 4 & NEDA

Can’t believe I’m already a month into training for my 5th half marathon. So crazy. Last week I mentioned that I started a new strength training program and after only doing it for a week I can definitely tell it’s going to be a game changer. I feel like it’s already helped my running form and stamina, and it’s definitely helping my sleep because I am so exhausted after every workout. I’m not mad about it.

As of yesterday my 26th birthday is 2 months away and I’d like to lose 10-12 lbs before then. My eating habits have been getting significantly better over the last few weeks so I feel like everything is finally coming together. With my past though, the desire to lose weight can be a slippery slope….

I shared some of my story on Instagram (cpier10 if you want to follow) but last week was Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I felt like it was important to talk about this because ED’s are very common in athletes. While I have never been diagnosed with one, I have had anorexic/orthorexic tendencies from my teens through 22-23. I’ve never fully disclosed everything I put myself through during that time to anyone but my nutritionist and the guys I dated during that time. I think I’ll still keep some things to myself but I’m hoping that by opening up some, it helps others to feel like they’re not alone.

I’ve always struggled with my weight, I gained a lot of weight the summer before 4th grade because I wasn’t very active and I was constantly overeating. My body image issues started shortly after that. It wasn’t until I was in my sophomore year of high school that I really started “dieting”, and by dieting I mean eating maybe 500-800 calories a day. I started to lose some weight and I had allowed it to get to the point where I felt better when I didn’t eat. Of course this isn’t sustainable so I’d go through a couple of months of that followed by a couple of months of binge eating. This peaked when I was 19, I had gotten a gym membership and I quickly became obsessed with Spin, the elliptical, and  burning as many calories as possible. I would go to the gym, get on the elliptical for  an hour, go to an hour-long spin class, then go back home to get on the treadmill because I NEEDED to lose weight. It consumed me. During that time I was dating a guy who went to Pitt and I would visit him on the weekends, every weekend I would get so drunk because I was never eating enough and exercising too much. I used the alcohol to briefly forget that I didn’t like myself and to finally let loose. I was a hot mess.

I did this for a year until I decided to do my first half marathon for my 21st birthday, I ended up gaining back all of the weight but I did cut out alcohol for 5 months in order to take training more seriously. Once the race was over I started celebrating 21 and put on even more weight and drinking even more. I was so depressed that I would come home from work, close all the curtains and go right to sleep. By the time I was 22 I had put on so much weight I had reached a number on the scale I’d never seen before and was being told by my doctor that I had fatty liver. (Fatty liver can be caused by alcohol as well as gaining a lot of weight because the fat has to go somewhere) I immediately went back to my old habits of restricting calories, counting every single thing I ate, cutting out alcohol, and I started to see the number on the scale go down.

When I met my nutritionist a few months after the fatty liver diagnosis, I was still only eating 800-1000 calories a day. He made a meal plan for me and I started eating around 1300-1500 and the weight started to come off because for once I was finally eating the right amount of food. In all honesty, the fatty liver diagnosis was the wake up call I needed and looking back I’m glad that happened. I’ve been working with Andrew from Case Specific Nutrition for a little over 3 years now and we’ve been through a lot; several meal plans, a few whole 30s, setbacks, screw ups, but I’ve also learned a lot from him. My number one goal isn’t to be skinny anymore. It’s to live a balance life and to be strong, confident, comfortable, faster and HEALTHY.

Everyone has their own journey, and some don’t come out on top. I finally feel like I’ve got my head above water. I still struggle with these habits, but I see the goal and I’m getting there in a safe and healthy way. It’s a good feeling to have…

 

Till next time…

10 miler recap

First of all, I just have to say that I’m so happy this race was on Daylight Savings, that extra hour of sleep was a God send.

Alright back to what I came here to write about. Since I live in the city now getting to the start line entails walking to the T station to meet up with my parents near the start line. This was a nice warm up in addition to some dynamic warm ups. I found the group I wanted to start out with shortly before we started, the 13:00 Galloway pacer (run, walk, run). We started a few minutes late and it was pretty humid at the start. I stuck with the pacer until about mile 3-4, the group was just going to fast for me so I got into my own groove doing 90:30 run walk (90 secs run, 30 secs walk). That seemed to work really well for me.

Around mile 4.4, the exchange point for the relay, I got a text that said I was going at a 13:06 pace which is just amazing for me. As I got closer to mile 5 a woman in front of me tripped and fell so I stopped to give her a hand and make sure she was okay and then saw my parents cheering for me shortly after that. By the time I got to mile 7 it started raining, at first it was just a drizzle, then it started to get heavier. I hate running in the rain but it felt good at that point to cool down a little. I had done so many runs in the rain over the summer and I knew I only had a couple of miles left so I didn’t let it bother me.

I got to the 15k mark and I could hear the thunder as the rain started to get heavier which made me pick up the pace. I got to the final stretch and could see the finish line and one of my running group friends was cheering people on and it was so awesome to have people who already finished come back to keep the rest of the group motivated. I finished in 2:19:18 with a 13:56 average pace, my time last year was 2:27:40 so I got about an 8:22 minute PR. I’m always excited about a PR because it means I’m improving but this was especially important since I didn’t PR in Chicago after putting so much time and effort into that race. Today was a huge victory for my ego and I’m glad I could end the year on a high note.

One of the officers on the course said to me as I ran by her, “Keep going, you’re what makes Pittsburgh great!”

Congratulations to all the runners out there today, whether you ran in Pittsburgh with me, in NYC, Disney, etc. You’re all amazing. Keep going.

Till next time.

Race weekend recap

Coming to you live from Chicago for this weeks post. I’m currently enjoying a matcha latte and kombucha at The Goddess and the Baker, this place is so cute, check it out if you’re ever here.

Alright, so back to what you’re all here for…a recap of my marathon weekend. I landed Thursday night and enjoyed dinner with my parents so not too much excitement. We went to the expo on Friday and ended up spending like 4 hours there, seeing all of my favorite companies: Vital Proteins, nuun, Brooks, Honey Stinger, and of course Nike to get some official marathon gear. Friday night my little sister flew in and we went to the team dinner for DetermiNation (American Cancer Society). It was beyond inspiring and emotional to hear and see why people chose that charity and who keeps them going.

Saturday morning was the Chicago International 5k, and if you ever want to bring people together from all walks of life, this is how you do it. There were so many people from different countries and it was amazing to see people come together for a common goal. I didn’t race this 5k, it was simply a shake out run and it was very enjoyable. Chicago has some seriously stunning views. After attempting to nap for a little bit, my dad and I took a bus tour around the city. We went up to the John Hancock Tower for the 360 view, I still can’t get over how beautiful that was, afterwards it started pouring so we headed back to the hotel. I enjoyed my last carb load at Pizano’s which wasn’t that great but it got the job done.

Now, onto the big day. Sunday morning I didn’t need to get up until 6 since my corral didn’t close till 8:10. I was a ball of nerves as usual but you kind of learn to use that as fuel. I enjoyed my usual pre race PB&J with my parents before heading out to the corral. After some dynamic stretching and making friends with some ladies in corral L, we finally crossed the start line at almost 9 am. We were suppose to go out at 8:35, so that was a little annoying but what are you going to do? I started off pretty strong, holding onto a 14:30-14:45 pace. The wheels fell off for me around miles 12-14, the heat became too much to push through. No matter how much Gatorade and water I drank I never felt like I was properly hydrated. At that point I abandoned the time goal I had and the only goal was to finish. I met a lot of first timers along the way and gave them some advice for recovering, helped them to push through, and really enjoyed the remainder of the race. I cried going over the last bridge, partly because the view was so beautiful but also because this wasn’t the time I had trained for. I ended up finishing 10 minutes slower than last year and I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed but I finished and really that’s all that matters at this point. I’ll get that time I was training for eventually but in the meantime I had such a memorable weekend in my favorite city.

I’m really looking forward to a month off from running to spend with my puppy, family, and friends. I have some things planned for the future but I need to process everything that happened on Sunday before I make any crazy decisions.

Until next time Chicago…