Nine and Nine in Nine

First, a picture from my drive today… It was absolutely gorgeous in So Cal :)

Last night I was lamenting to Ben (yes, I lament – what, you don’t?) that I, after taking a few days off for my knee’s sake, want to get faster and fitter and thinner. I told him I found a half marathon in MD that is in nine weeks…

Me: “I want to lose nine pounds and nine minutes in nine weeks!”

Ben: “Okay babe.”

Me:”Why not? I can do it! I’m sick of being realistic; I’m going to do it! I’m going to cut my half time by nine minutes and lose nine pounds in nine weeks!!!”

Ben: (watching Seinfeld re-runs) “Yeah, do it.”

The morals of this story:

  1. I feel like DREAMING BIG right now and even if I don’t shave a full nine pounds off the scale or my PR – I’m going to make major improvements in the next nine weeks.
  2. I need a new challenge
  3. Ben doesn’t care

So, my next race is the Dorchester Crab Run Half Marathon on April 10! I am considering using the FIRST half marathon training program. It is very difficult – especially because I only started speed work this week for the first time. But, I do think speed work is a necessary evil if I want to get faster and I think a three day a week running schedule might be a good idea right now considering my knee.

For my eats I’m sticking with my Lose the Dough goals because I think they are balanced, healthy and do-able.

This afternoon I had a big salad filled with cole slaw, chickpeas, onions, cashews  and carrots. And a bagel with avocado!

Before leaving to pick up Ben I grabbed some grapes…

And a vitawater.

I had a lot of chocolate today…it started out inocently enought – with a single PB cup on the road.

But, after dinner I also tried this chocolate candy someone brought back from Cuba. Does eating this make me a communist, Adriel?

It shows a picture of a coconut on the package, but it doesn’t taste like coconut at all.

For dinner we went to a local Mexican place – shocker, I know. I ordered a pescado wet burrito with beans and veggies. It was dee-lish! I ate about half and I’m sure my leftovers will be missing from the fridge before I get to them.

And of course obligatory chips because they should kick you out of Mexican restaurants if you refuse to partake. Kidding! If you can resist chips at a Mexican place I commend you.

I love my mom, and not just because she has a freezer stocked with Skinny Cow Ice Cream sandwiches 😉Now, I need to go to sleep because I’m fading fast. I love restaurants that give you candy or a treat when you pay the bill. Classy, I know.I know you’d all like to chime in with questions, comments and complaints about my new crazy 9 and 9 in 9 plan. Just think of me as Lucy and this being another one of my crazy schemes!!! Anyone up for being my Ethel?

Maybe the warm CA air has gotten to my brain, but I am all over this new training and healthy eating program :)

I am happy. It’s been a while folks, be nice.

Ask Me Anything…

Today’s post brings me to a recent ask me anything question:

Question: How do you increase your speed when running? I’m currently running between 11-12 minute miles. I just started less than a year ago and finished my first half in October running 12:55 avg. Is speed work the only way?

Monica: First off, great job on your first half marathon!!! That is something to be very proud of :)

The best way to increase speed is through speed work, but you can also better your half marathon time through building a stronger training base. After my first marathon I asked many veteran runners how I could do better next time and of course speed work was suggested, but many people also asked about my base – how many miles a week I was running, what were my longs runs, etc.

I think making sure your body is fully able to tackle and conquer a certain distance also helps with your time. Working on both base and speed with almost surely guarantee a PR :)

I’m going to start incorporating speed work in my training next week and I’ll be posting more details as I go along, so that might help give you an idea of what speed work is like. Good luck!


  1. LBNS says

    Hello. I am a lurker…

    I am sorry if this is at all not the case – but could it be that Ben is not reacting too too well to the 9/9/9 because it brings up weight again?

    I know my bf (in the kindest way possible), at one point, told me that I am not as fit as I used to be. It was true (living on my own for the first time, and a job I felt I sucked at didn’t help the eating – and I’d never worked out). I wasn’t overweight at all, but most certainly not fit (got out of breath running 50m to the bus station). So, I swing the other way.

    I’d count calories, burned calories, and minute changes in weight. I think I kept bringing up weight over and over. Since he liked the way I looked [from all kinds of… ah… carnal proof], he just got sick of me talking about it. He asked me to please stop, or at least cut down drastically, about talking about the pounds I had yet to lose to be “perfect again”. He liked me just fine, just wanted me to live a looooong life – that didn’t mean that he wanted each conversation to contain weight and workouts. Basically, I was driving him insane with this.

    I am not sure that’s the case here – most likely not. Ben seems like a damn awesome guy! But I try to share my experience with those for who it might end up being relevant.

    Good luck! I know you can kick some bootay, and PR on the 1/2 Mary. Speedwork is the devil, but works magic. I improved by 3 minutes on my 5K after a number of speedwork-incorporating weeks.

    But oh, it burns!

  2. says

    LBNS, Ben is really great and I was mostly joking about him not caring. He was only half heartedly listening to me as he was watching TV. And he does kind of dismiss some of my ideas as “Lucy-like” schemes, hence the reference.

    Thanks for the input though, I know weight talk can get old for anyone – even the most supportive of family and friends.

  3. LBNS says

    I hypothesized it was likely a non-issue.

    Though I admit that with my profound lack of any pop culture education, I totally and utterly missed the reference.

    As the Russians say it, “the reference went over my head like a piece of cardboard floating over Paris”. I have no idea why Russians say this. Especially about Paris.

    Goooooooo speedwork!

  4. says

    Hi! I just have a thought for you. My family works out like nuts. We were all very thin except for my mom. She worked out every day and at 5’3″ was 193 lbs. She got bursitis in her hip from too much excercise and I still remember her calling me and said I have to do Weight Watchers. If I’m this fat exercising every day what will happen. Long story short she lost 50 lbs and has kept it off with adding exercise for 3 years. As a skinny bitch this does not pertain to me, but I have to say that I do believe what we way is 80% of what we eat. I am getting my MS in Nutrition and my PhD in diabetes and metabolism so this is not without warrent. From reading your blog 1.5 years+, I notice you just eat to MUCH and too caloric/nutrient dense. I think that if you REALLY focused on your diet (I think the Weight Watchers mentality is great, but not that if it doesn’t work for you) that you could lose the weight AND the running time. I have had eating issues (in your OPPOSITE direction) and I’d say it took my mind about 2 years to heal. And I can say I am TOTALLY mentally healed. And naturally I am thinner than ever, but MORE IMPORTANTLY my mind is healed! Best of luck Monica, I’m pulling for you!!!

    • says

      I totally agree that how your body looks is 20% what you eat, 20% how you move. It’s not rocket science for me to know eating too much is why I need to lose weight NOT exercise. I realize I exercise enough and food is my problem.

      That being said, WW does not work for me. In my opinion the WW mentality often leads people to the lowest calorie/highest fiber foods – without considering how much it’s processed or healthy.

      After years of going back and forth on diets and binging I am finally in a place where I can monitor my food intake with a healthy mindset that will not trigger me. I’m completely aware of my caloric needs vs. how much I was eating.

      That story about your mom is very inspiring, thanks for sharing! Also, it’s really great your mind is healed too. I know healthy bodies come from healthy relationships with food and it’s hard either way.
      Thanks :)

  5. Tami says

    i enjoyed the FIRST training, but it’s very taxing, or it was for me and I ended up getting injured. but before the injury i was getting very fast or i shoudl say faster

    • says

      You know what’s weird, thinking back to this week – my knee didn’t hurt the one day I did speed work, but did hurt on my other runs. I may hit you up with questions about the program :)

  6. says

    Can’t wait to hear about your speedwork!! I think it’s also important to mention that you should definitely have a good base before you start adding in speedwork/drills so you don’t injure yourself–speedwork is a lot harder on your body!

  7. Lauren says

    I’m training for the Pittsburgh half-marathon in May and I’m using marathonrookie’s training program. For me, hills and speed intervals seem to improve my time and endurance even though THEY SUCK when you are doing them. I almost passed out last night, or at least it felt that way. I’m such a drama queen about stuff. Anyway, B’more is supposed to get PUMMELED with the white stuff this weekend (16-24″) …aren’t you glad you’re in Cali?! :)

  8. says

    Hey Monica~

    I love your blog and have been reading for awhile. As I read your post, I’m not sure I understand what is so “crazy” about your plan? First off, losing 9 lbs in 9 weeks is perfectly reasonable at 1lb/week so it is not like you are proposing a crash diet or anything. And, with encorporating speedwork and feeling alittle lighter on your feet, you will certainly drop minutes off of your half mary. I guess I just wanted to encourage you and say that your goal doesn’t seem unobtainable or crazy to me at all. Go for it! :) When you succeed you will feel accomplished on lots of levels! :)

  9. Emily says

    I’m an occasional reader commenting for the first time – delurking, you could say. I used the FIRST 10k program this fall and LOVED it – I also dropped 3 minutes off my (already respectable) 10k time, and then 9 minutes off my half marathon time four weeks later. I think it’s a great program that’s really workable with limited time – stick to the 3 day a week running. The first day after doing speedwork I was super sore, but by week 2 it was already more doable and the soreness was gone. I think big dreams are the way to go – you can hit that PR and I think FIRST will help you get there. Good luck – I’ll be checking in for a race report in the Spring.

  10. says

    Do you have any track clubs you can join in MD? I found one in LA a couple months ago and it has def helped improve my speed. Even finding people who are fast to do your runs with helps a lot. It might be challenging at first trying to keep up, but it forces you to run faster. The more you do it, the faster paces will become more comfortable to you. Hope your knee feels better soon!

  11. The Brunette says

    I think it’s a great goal! It’s healthy and, like you said, even if you don’t get there completely, it’s an awesome kick start. And I think it’s sort of ideal that Ben “doesn’t care,” because this way there’s not pressure or judgment, and you know it’s all about what you want. Sometimes the best support is just keeping mum and being there, don’t you think? Good luck with the 999 plan!

  12. says

    A crabrun huh? Does that mean they’re serving buckets afterwards? If so I’ll be there! Really – I’ve done a little travelling in the PA/DE/MD area and love love love the crab! Especially the little soft shelled guys.

  13. says

    I love this challenge! Maybe I should think about that, though my half marathon I’m training for is in December. How about 10 pounds in 10 months? Sounds a little lazy, huh?

    Good luck with your plan! And don’t worry – my husband has the same attitude! I know deep down he cares. :-)


  14. Jessica says

    Thanks for answering my question Monica! My 2nd half is 02/21 for the Pasadena half. I’ll be trying to beat my 12:55 from my first half. I’m hoping that the less hilly course, not stopping to use the restroom as many times and running with a partner will keep me at a faster pace. Hope the IT band issues go away soon!

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