Thursday, December 16, 2010

Perhaps I Should Live in a Bubble

I'm pretty accident prone.  I run into doors and walls on a pretty regular basis, trip over phantom bumps in the carpet, hit my head and a litany of other things that most people only associate with slapstick comedy movies.  I've  never thought much about it, because I've always been that way.  Bruises I can't account for, aches and pains that come from who knows where...well, I probably did something stupid like touch the curling iron to see if it was hot.  Or, my personal favorite, getting a black eye at the age of six from running into a clothing display with my face at the local Pic-N-Save.  I still remember the looks my mom got for that.

Now I'm "in training."  Over the past year, I've been "in training" several times, first for the Gate River Run 15k, at the time my biggest race to date, for my half-marathon and for last tri season.  So really, lots of events this year, which has been fantastic.  However, the thought of getting injured and not being able to compete never occurred to me.  

Now that I'm in marathon training....I've become uber-paranoid. Reading Bill Bryson's At Home, which is a great book, is now however on the topic of injuries that can occur in the home.  This is not helping.  Also, I am going skiing for the first time EVER the week after Christmas.

Mostly, I'm picturing myself like that episode of the Simpsons where they put Bart in the "special" class.  If you've never seen this episode, there is a discussion concerning "circles of paper" and phrases like "I fell off the jungle gym and when I woke up I was in here."

I know accidents and injuries happen - and stressing about them probably just ups the probability.  It's just something I have never really thought of, or cared about.  It's interesting for me to realize how my outlook has changed!  So now that I have shared my fears, I am going to go roll myself in bubble wrap.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Emerging from my Shame Cave

So I was a terrible, terrible marathoner-in-training last week. As a result, I didn't update my blog about training.  I went on a horrible run/walk recovery session on Monday - just heavy legs, hurting, mostly walked the whole thing.  And then I was busy after work on Tuesday, and by the time I got home it was after 830 and I just didn't want to do 6 miles, Wednesday I didn't get up to make it to the gym and Thursday it was just so nice to be home and relax.  Overall, just a wash of a training week.

Yesterday I did my long run, 10.5 miles in the rain and wind.  It was actually pretty awesome.  I felt like Charlotte in Wuthering Heights, stepping out to walk the moors.  The sky was cloudy, gusty winds, cool temps and rain (only heavy for a little while).  I realized that you get so sweaty running anyway, that unless its a torrential down pour, you don't really notice getting wet.  At least I didn't.  I sort of have to stop myself from waxing poetic here.  I spent a lot of my run having vision about running through the English countryside.

We did the Festival of Lights 5k on Saturday night.  We did this race last year as well.  It winds through historic San Marco, and the whole route is lit with luminaria, it goes along the river, and overall just really pretty.  This year's race however was really, really crowded.  Like the first mile was just bottleneck after bottleneck.  Overall it was fun though.  We found a Santa hat and reindeer antlers with bells at the Dollar Store, so we were appropriately attired.  I look forward to running it next year.  Also attached bells to the sneakers.  Several times I stopped walking to figure out where the ringing was coming from only to realize it was from the multiple bells affixed to my person.  I was a little out of it Saturday.

Things I've thought about in my last couple runs:

1.  I really appreciate when drivers make eye contact with you when you are crossing the street or in any other ways around their vehicle.
2.  I don't appreciate cars that come roaring in the intersection and barely manage to break in time to avoid flattening you into a pancake.
3.  It means so much to me when, in a race, people who stop to walk move to the side, rather than stopping directly in front of, causing a gruesome runner's pile up.
4.  I think it's great that kids like to run races with their parents.  However, for the little ones (little physically, like under 10) can we keep it to the fun runs or maybe not start in the front of the group.  I almost took out several little kids in this weekend's race when they suddenly appeared in front of me.
5.  You feel really accomplished when coming back in from a run in the rain.

Christmas is almost here....are you ready?  Watched Christmas Vacation last night to get ready!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brrrr....Cold Comes South

I have to say it's been a pretty dull few days in the world of training.

I had to work on Saturday, so I moved my long run to Sunday, which, since I was in a recovery week was only (only!) seven miles.  It was cold and windy, but turned out to be a nice run.  I met Elton and our friend Bryan out at the beach, where they had just finished a nice 25 mile bike ride and were commencing on a run.  I am loving the new Garmin for situations like this.  Map it before I go?  Nope, I know I can run up 1st Street until I hit 3.5 miles then turn around.  It's awesome, I'm really happy I went with that.  My pace was pretty decent, particularly given the gale-force winds.  Sort of felt like I was going to blow away.  Very over the gusty winds of the last few days.

I went for my recovery run last night which turned into more of a recovery walk.  My legs just felt awful.  Elton went with me, so he walked with me when I walked and made me feel a bit better about having a crappy run.  I'm hoping my legs will feel better for tonight's six miles.

It's also been coooold here, which has been kind of nice.  It makes running feel so different.  I also have turkey chili simmering in the crockpot for my post-run meal and Elton's post-brick meal.

What's your favorite cold weather comfort food?

Friday, December 3, 2010

This Is Why I Run

Last night was the first cold run of the season - well, cold by Florida standards, around 48 degrees at 8 p.m.  E and I went together, and bundled up in true Floridian fashion: beanie, gloves, longs-sleeved shirt and pants.  Of course, I was hot and sweaty by mile 1.  But none of that matters because this run was EPIC.

I got out there and felt like freaking Ryan Hall.  Well, perhaps Ryan Hall's slower, less fit younger sister.  But seriously, it was one of those runs where I felt like I was flying.  It was dark and cold and crisp, the stars were bright, and I felt like I would never stop moving, would never need to stop moving.  My heart rate got pretty high, but my breathing felt smooth.  And I was extra excited when I checked my times and realized that I set a new PR by 6 minutes!

Monday and Tuesday were tough runs; my legs felt tired and heavy.  Coming into a run like this...it just drove home why we run.  It's that feeling that you can't describe to people who have never felt it, but I think it's what every runner chases.  I have a friend who started running a couple of months ago and he's still pushing through mile runs that are pretty tough.  He hasn't had that joy of running moment yet, and this was that moment I've tried to describe to him.  All of my muscles were in sync and I felt so strong.

Also, I finally got race pictures!  My chip time was  2:27 so I was really happy to be under my goal of 2:30.  I remember there was when running or cycling for an hour seemed impossible, than two hours seemed nuts, and now time is no longer something that is daunting (unless we are talking about a 140.6).


And a funny race video.  My dad took this while we were finishing the last 10th of a mile.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recovery and Training

Over the weekend, post-half, I got a lovely case of food poisoning which laid me up for Saturday and Sunday, so I didn't get my recovery run in until Monday evening.  I did 4 miles and my legs just felt tired through most of it.  Achy.  Sore.  Blah.

Since this is recovery week, last night was a 6 mile run, and I can't say it was much better.  Well, really I felt pretty split.  It was a really nice night, and people are starting to put up Christmas lights, and it all felt peaceful (and a little creepy in the really quiet parts).  So mentally I was really digging it, but physically my legs still felt trashed.  I think today as a rest day should help. 

I am still stoked though about officially being in marathon training.  I'm using the Chicago marathon plan (I'm cheap, I didn't want to buy one and didn't like Hal Higdon's).  I started it several weeks ago, and was about on target for my half, putting me into a recovery week this week, which I'm pretty excited about. 

On another note, I mentioned a little while ago that I've started using whey protein, and being the research-loving person that I am, am always reading articles about supplements and nutrition, and came across this yesterday on Competitor,  Racing Weight:  Should you Supplement for Weight Loss? which I found to be interesting.  I think (probably more than I should) about what I'm eating, if I'm deficient in any areas, if I'm getting the right amount of vitamins, if I can cut down anymore on processed foods.  I drink green tea and the aforementioned whey protein, but worry about getting enough iron and calcium, and now I'm curious about creatine.  I think all of this mostly feeds back to a fantasy I have in which I have an amazing amount of time to train and create wholesome foods from scratch that are completely unprocessed.  The next scene in the fantasy involves me and a biggie sized double cheeseburger and fries from Wendy's, but that's why this is a fantasy, right?

At any rate, nothing really new to report.  This week is about recovery, and officially being on the road to the 26.2 with Donna on February 13, 2011!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Outback Distance Classic Race Report....Sort Of

I loved my first half-marathon!  It was a lot of fun, and we wound up having several other friends running it (Go Team Ricky!), which was great for the post-run party.  My dad and his girlfriend came out as well, and were waiting for us with iphone video camera qued up and regular digital in hand for the last mile.  Will post pics from that when I get them :)

First of all, it was a HUGE race.  I thought, for some reason, that the race for a little smaller, so it was really cool to discover that the start line was in a main road they had shut down.  It was big enough for incredible energy, but not so big that everyone was bunching up at the start line.  I wore the new Garmin and really had a ball with it.  I really enjoyed tracking my distance and keeping track of my heart rate.

The course takes you through an older part of town that wraps along the St. Johns River, so you get glimpses of the river while enjoying some beautiful older residential homes and the massive Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss.  The morning started out kind of foggy well, so it was really beautiful.  It was also warm!  E ran with me so we chatted the whole way, and he helped me pace myself since I kept wanting to go fast, faster, fastest!  I was so glad he helped me pace, I would have been dead at the end if not.

I took a gel before the race started, which I don't normally do but I think it helped a tremendous amount.  Over the course of the race itself, I took 3.  I'm still trying to get my stomach to be comfortable with more than one.  I felt great for the first 8 miles, which seems to be my new comfort distance.  After that was when it started to get a little tougher; I could start to feel it in my hips.  By about mile 11, I was definitely tired but not dead.  It did give me a new perspective on the marathon distance.

I wore my spibelt as well, and that continues to impress.  I fit all of my gels for the race in it and completely forgot it was there until I needed a gel.  I think next time I'll let it double as my race belt as well - way better for a run than pinning it to my t-shirt.

Overall, I really loved the race. I spent most of yesterday hobbling because more than anything, my hips really hurt.   Despite my routine body glide application, I also got chub rub in new and exciting places.  By today I feel pretty good though.  Planning on going out tomorrow for a nice recovery run.

Team Ricky

E and I enjoying post-run donuts and beer

We don't know who the pilgrim is, we just thought he was awesome

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Heart Rate Monitor - Christmas Came Early!

So after lots of research and the resounding feedback from my fellow bloggers I decided to take the plunge and get the Forerunner 305.  It was on Black Friday special from Amazon, so my dad was kind enough to let me order Christmas early, in time for tomorrow's half!  It was waiting for me when I got home from work and packet pick up - all shiny and pretty in its box.

I'm so excited about everything it can do!  And it wasn't nearly as big or heavy as I was afraid of; it fits pretty comfortably.  It's getting its charge on right now, but I set up my user profile and am about to load the software onto my pc.  I'm so excited to try it out tomorrow and actually use it enough to figure out all the features.

On a side note, minor irritation during packet pickup.  Ok, more like I got really annoyed.  I preregistered for my race, indicated which location I was picking up at and what size I needed.  They ran out of smalls, only had mediums left, which I'm kind of swimming in.  I have to try and swap it out tomorrow morning, or order one with the late registrants.  It's a nice shirt, just not thrilled about the hassle.  Oh well, it's about the race not the shirt.  :) Less than 24 hours!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Let the Countdown Begin...

To my first half-marathon.  This Thursday I am running the Outback Distance Classic and I am stoked.  I did an 11-miler this weekend, and while I was hurting by the last couple miles, it was nothing like my 10-miler the week before.  On the 10 miler, I managed sad time of 1:58, on this 11 mile I pulled 2:04, so I am super happy with that improvement.  All of this is making me feel ready for Thursday.  It was also the first time I ran with a water bottle, which worked out pretty well.  I tend to put a lot of pressure on my right side, and this actually helped balance me out a little.  

I stopped on my way home Friday to pick up nutrition for this past Saturday's run and for Thursday, and was seduced by an adorable kelly green "Runner Girl" shirt (pictures to come soon).  I normally run in baggy tech t's or tank tops and in general in no way resemble those girls that have cute running attire.  It fits cute, so I'm excited to actually look like a girl while I run!  Plus, since race photographers seem to always miss me, my dad will be there, camera in hand, to hopefully get at least one shot of me running.  It won't be a myth that I am athletic!  Photographic evidence will exist!

I also wore my new SPIBelt for my run on Saturday.  I'll just say this - it was AWESOME.  Full review coming soon!

Friday, November 19, 2010

New PRs, TGIF and what I want from Santa

It's felt like a "light" week workout wise, which has been ok.  I did 3 miles on Monday, and 3 on Tuesday, plus some light strength training.  I've been slammed at work, and E has been as well, so everyday has felt like a heavy training day any way. Last night we went for the 4 mile easy run - and I killed it!  For me at least.  I did sub-10 minutes for 4.29 miles, finishing with a time of 41:09.  Hell yes.  It's a great confidence booster going into my first half-marathon next week, and it also makes me feel like the intervals, the consistency, the strength training, just everything, is paying off.  It's a great feeling, and awesome to feel improvement on a night I was just going out to get an easy 4 in.

I also got my SpiBelt in, so I'll be reviewing that soon!

With Christmas coming up, I'm also trying to decide what heart rate monitor I want.  I've been debating this for about 6 months, and I am between these two:

Suunto t3c

Garmin Forerunner 305

E has a Suunto t3c, which I've used and really like.  However, I love the GPS, rechargeable battery (on the 305) and wireless transmission of the Garmin 305.  I  also like the Garmin 310 but it's rather pricey at this point.  My concern with the 305, which is what I'm leaning towards, is that I'm pretty petite and have really little wrists.  I'm worried it will be uncomfortable.  Does anyone have any recommendations or thoughts?   I've looked at Polars, Timexs, etc, and these are the only two that seem to have everything I'm looking for.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Understanding why the long run is also an "endurance run"

A typical Friday night means that we make dinner and relax on the couch catching up with The Office, 30 Rock and The Apprentice.  It's about the most t.v. we watch at any given time, but usually Friday rolls around and I am a bit brain dead and in need of some r n' r before Saturday's long run.  We switched it up a little this weekend though, and went to a friend's oyster roast, which was a lot of fun.  We've been a bit antisocial lately, between working and training, so it was great to see everyone and spend some time with them.  However, all that meant that Saturday I was feeling  a little beat and pretty tired.  A little more tired than I wanted to feel knowing I had to run 10 miles.

And boy did that run feel long.  By about mile 7, I was done.  Tired, felt like I couldn't pick up my feet anymore, tired.  I have this bad tendency to not want to take gels, and I fought the first one but counted down the minutes to the second one in the hope that it would perk me up (it was a Hammer Gel espresso flavor - 50mgs of caffeine!) and I was still dragging tail.  Needless to say, by the time we made it back to the car, I was done.  I don't remember the last time I felt that tired.  I've had a string of really good runs lately though, so I figure I was about due for one that was a little crappy.  E was great through the whole thing - encouraging me when I was having trouble encouraging myself.

In other news, I decided on a training plan for the marathon.  Maybe I'm cheap, but I didn't want to pay for one, and thought I would try the Chicago Marathon training plan which looks pretty do-able, and is pretty on base with what I've been doing, with the addition of one extra run a week.  I also broke down and bought protein powder, trying my first serving last night.  I mixed it with a glass of almond milk and it was so filling!  I had it with a small meal after my run, and I really could have done with just the beverage.  Having never used it, I didn't know what to get, and just chose this one at the grocery store.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Weights and ellipticals and running, oh my!

I'm feeling pretty good about myself this week.  I've managed to pull my warm, cozy butt out of bed on two mornings to make it to the little gym in our condo complex for some early morning weight-training, and I also did 5 miles with E the other night (with 5 more slated for tonight) where he helped me pick up my pace.

So training is going really well.  I feel like I've found my stride again - literally and figuratively.  I also made the big announcement to family and friends that I will be running my first marathon in February.  They are all very proud.  I have encouraged them to start making creative signs now; they only have a few months to come up with really impressive and witty phrases to put on poster board, along with event-appropriate sequins, glitter and badly drawn pictures.  I've tried to imbue in them the competitive spirit, referencing such recent notable sign events as the widely-circulated "100 Best Signs at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear".  I also read an article yesterday on celebrity finish times from the NYC marathon, and have determined that I need to beat Al Roker, Meredith Vierra and Jared from Subway.  So all of us, not just the ones training for the event, really need to step up our game.  I also recommended this Spectator Training Guide from Runner's World.


 I ordered a SPIBelt the other day; I'm waiting with bated breath for it to come in, though I don't think it's even shipped yet.  The website said something about 7 days processing time, plus another 7 days to ship.  Oy.  But I got a cute one - pink plaid.  And I don't care what anyone says, it's not a frickin' fanny pack.

In other news, I'm really loving Rev3 Triathlon.  I know, I keep talking about them; I'm just so impressed by them.  They are one of the few tri companies that really seem to "get" what a lifestyle triathlon is - and how that lifestyle is not just about you, it's about your family and friends and everyone in your life.  They only have a few races, but there is a super cool online petition going asking them to do more, Rev3 Supporters.

And happy Veteran's Day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Marathon Decisions and How I Discovered a Love for Disco

Ok, it's decided.  I am signing up to run the full Donna 26.2 marathon on February 13, 2011.  In May of 2009, my boyfriend ran his first marathon, the San Diego Rock n' Roll marathon and I remember talking to him about it afterwards and saying that I couldn't fathom ever running a marathon; the distance, the discipline, the desire for something like that completely escaped me.  In March of this year, I finish the Gate River Run, a 15k and my first "big" (read: more than a 5k) race, and saying "I want to run a half-marathon," a distance that even then was a little scary.  And here I am....deciding on a marathon.  I didn't think I would be here this quickly, but I'm excited.  E will be running it with me, which should also be exciting.

My father is also a marathon runner, and decided he wants to do one more.  So, he, E and I are all entering the lottery for the NYC marathon today.  Fingers crossed, kids!

On another slightly unrelated note, I've realized that (and I'm a little embarrassed to say this) I really enjoy working out to disco.  And I'm talking classic, KC and the Sunshine Band disco.  This is music I was raised to hate.  My mom was a firm product of the rock n' roll generation, and still owned a "Disco Sucks" t-shirt.  So being really into this idea of disco as workout music feels a little rebellious.  Over the weekend, I downloaded a couple new tracks.  Not many, yet, but it's coming.  The tunes are just so darn catchy.  They rank right up there with ska, which is typically what I listen to when I train.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Staring Down the Marathon

I went for a nice 4-mile on Tuesday.  It was not one of my exceptional runs (one of those where you think you're going really fast and then you look at your watch) but I was happy with it as my recovery run from Sunday's 10-miler.  I was scheduled to run last night, but bumped it to today as my right knee feels a little tweaky.  Looking forward to a brisk (record low temps!  It's November and it's finally chilly!) run tonight, and an 8 mile this weekend. 

But hey, this week has been crazy.  First Wednesday Art Walk on Wednesday, plus our organizations's Annual Meeting, lots of other meetings, working on some fun side projects and waiting for Friday...yay Friday!  I'm ready for some R n' R.

In other news, my internet spare time finds me creeping over to the 26.2 with Donna website and various other marathon training articles and sites, including new favorite, The Marathon Virgin column from Runner's World.  I haven't officially made up my mind, but I'm not sure I can keep up with this wishy-washy stuff much longer.  I think I'm there.  I think I'm ready to commit.  It probably shouldn't be such a huge decision, except I never in my life thought I would be able to do something like a  marathon.  And to think and I know that I can do it, that I have the chops and the toughness to get through it is key for me.

Molly from I'm a Sleeper Baker posted a great quote about marathon training that I loved:
"Have faith in yourself and your ability. You might have some rough moments, and that's when you have to dig deep down and believe in yourself. Be confident because you can do it."

Big Daddy Diesel shared this one:  “You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” Rosalynn Carter

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Runs and Halloween Fun

I should have written this post yesterday when I was riding the high of my longest race to date, the Evergreen Pumpkin Run 10-Mile.  Today I'm a little cranky because it's Monday, but I'm still really stoked about my run.  I did it and I didn't die!  It was really, really nice.  Evergreen Cemetery is one of the oldest in Jacksonville, and exactly what you think of when you picture an old cemetery (or at least one in the South):  lots of hanging moss, towering oak trees, marble mausoleums and graves dating from the 1800s.  The run was a 10 mile or a 5k, starting at the same time and peeling off after the 5k.  The 10 mile route took you twice around the cemetery. 

1st Place Sports did a good job as usual with race setup.  They are one of the oldest (if not the oldest) running stores in town, and put on the majority of the big races.  They've got the formula down pretty well, so there is almost always plenty of water, post-run grub, mile markers and digital clocks, and this race was no exception.  This particular run has been going for a number of years, with this being the largest year yet, with around 1600 runners between the two distances.

Elton ran with me, which was really nice.  It was a beautiful morning, in the high sixties, which was the coolest we've had in a while.  Overall, it was just a great morning.  There are pumpkins everywhere, and post-race you can pick one to take home.  We got the bright idea of picking one up within the last two miles, since it wasn't that far.  Two miles seems a lot farther when you have a 13 pound pumpkin in your arms (we weighed it when we got home).  Elton was a trooper and carried it all the way across the finish line, so we had the prettiest pumpkin we saw out there.  It was a lot of fun to carve it and roast the seeds after we got it home, too! 

Overall, the distance and how I felt after made me feel totally ready for the half on Thanksgiving.  It also made me feel like I can do a marathon.  So that whole "seriously thinking about signing up for a marathon" just got a little more serious.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Cookbook Club - Leek and Potato Soup

Let me start this with two things:  1) Leek and potato is one of my all time favorite soups and 2) it's still 90 degrees in Florida. 

This month's Cookbook Club was for a Paula Deen recipe and the alternate was Leek and Potato soup, taken from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a recipe for this soup that was moderately healthy.  I almost never make it since it tends to involve lots of cream and butter which, while delicious, is not something I try to get used to.  The recipe was pretty straight forward:

4 medium-size leeks (white part only), washed well and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
4 medium-size to large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 to 6 cups of water or vegetable or chicken broth
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
French bread for serving

1.    Put leeks and potatoes in the slow cooker. Add enough water or broth to just cover them. Cover and cook on low until the potatoes are tender, 5 to 7 hours.

2.    Puree the soup with a handheld immersion blender or transfer to a food processor or blender and puree in batches. Add the salt and the butter, swirling until it is melted. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and serve immediately with French bread.

I did add a couple cloves of garlic  (because nothing is ever complete without garlic), a tablespoon more of butter, and I diced up scallions to sprinkle on top for serving. 

I cut up the potatoes and leeks the night before, so yesterday before work I just had to throw everything in the slow cooker.  I figured it was a good sign when I heard from E in the afternoon and he said he had been hungry all day because the house smelled so good.

I got home from work and began transferring the soup to the food processor in batches.  My food processor is pretty tiny (circa 1980), so it took many batches.  I processed it, put it in a large tupperware container, and then when it was all done, back in the slow cooker set to "warm" until we were ready to eat.  At this point I will 'fess up that once I did the after-work portion, I completely spaced on taking pictures.

The end result of the soup was pretty good.  I'm not inclined to soups when it's so warm out, but it went well with my week of pretending that it's fall.   It was a little bland, but I think that could be counteracted with some creative seasoning at the beginning of the day - "creative"  does not really describe me at 6 a.m.   I look forward to trying this one again!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ironman Access? Really?

I haven't gotten to the point where I am thinking about doing a long distance triathlon yet.  Maybe (probably) one day I will be struck by the urge, but I haven't yet felt the need.  My boyfriend has done a 70.3 distance, the Orlando Ironman 70.3, and plans to go on to do a full next year.  His registration for Orlando 70.3 was my introduction to the cost of Ironman - I had no idea, I was appalled.  I know that triathlon often seems like a sport for the affluent, but this just blew me away.  As did Ironman's publication, Lava, which we got a subscription to from aforementioned Ironman competition.  The cover boasts that it is for the serious triathlete - the cream of the crop I guess, because the rest of us who don't feel ready - or hell, can't afford the Ironman sanctioned events - are not serious about their sport.  It kind of irks me. 

Then today we see the news about Ironman Access.  In the words of Chris McCormack:  "$1000 and you get...f**k all."

Before this, I did have respect for the institution.  I was a little envious of those who wore the mdot, and hoped I would one day join their ranks.  But now....not so much.

On the plus side of all this backlash against Ironman, I did discover Revolution3, whose aim is to make triathlon available for everyone, and who understands that it's not just the athlete - it's the spouse, the family, the spectator, the volunteer....it takes everyone to make up the whole of this wonderful triathlon lifestyle.  I also signed a petition at Supporters of Rev3 urging them to expand and maybe even start doing some full 140.6's.  Who knows, maybe there will be another company that can stand up to the WTC. 

**Update:  Mad props to Ironman for listening to their customers.  Here's a statement from Ironman CEO Ben Fertic.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You gotta run, Ricky! I don't care how bad it hurts!

When I was younger, I was an insomniac.  It was not uncommon for me to be wandering the halls at 1 a.m., catching up on my reading in the wee hours of the morning, or wrapping Christmas presents while the sun came up.  In the  last few years, I've managed to tame my insomnia and night owl tendencies, though I'm still sometimes visited by sleepless nights.  Last night was one of those nights.  I say all this as a really long introduction to the fact that I am running on four hours of sleep today, so that by the time I hit 6:30 p.m. running time, I was pretty beat.  I had 4.5 miles on the agenda, but it was all I could do to lace up my sneakers and get outside.  I ended up only doing three miles, and not a stellar three miles at that.

However, those three miles got me thinking.   I was glad I got out there.  I was proud of myself for actually getting outside and doing some mileage, rather than giving into fatigue and the siren call of the couch.  I wasn't so tired that I didn't want to get my heart pumping and my blood flowing, and I think I am better for having gotten the workout in.  This past weekend, I was reading through the latest issue of USAT, which is focusing this issue on speed - in the swim, the bike and the run.  One thing that it warns about in the run is the tendency for those mid-week miles to become "junk miles."  We get out there, we bang out our 3, 5, 8 mile runs, whatever mileage, just to do it.  And maybe we're tired, our form isn't so great, but we just want to be able to fill in our Daily Mile report.  The article, which had some wonderful points,  was written by Matt Russ, and argues that it's useless to do those miles, that grinding out those distances is really hurting us because we are letting our hard work with our form and our stride go to seed, plus out of all the triathlon disciplines, running breaks down your muscles the most; better to take rest where you need it.  That's not to say that mid-week mileage is a waste, but it was interesting to think about.

Mostly I found it interesting because I am still contemplating a marathon and realized that it makes me think of my current training from two different perspectives.  If I am training for one half, with a fair gap in between, then I think about the fact that I maybe have a break to decrease my mileage and perhaps get in some speed work, some more strength training, etc.  If I do go on to do a marathon, than I am now a quarter of the way through my marathon training, which is kind of crazy.  Mentally, it's one thing to think "I can get through 13.1 miles, and if this first one is terrible, I can make up for it with the second."  The other train of thought is more along the lines of a great running (no pun intended) joke amongst our athlete friends, from an exchange we witnessed at a race between two brothers, one older, one younger.  It was just a 5k, but the older one looked at the younger one and said "C'mon, Ricky!  You gotta run, Ricky!  I don't care how bad it hurts, you gotta run, Ricky!"

Friday, October 22, 2010

To Marathon or Not to Marathon

Having only been consistently active for about 2 years, I'm really big on setting event goals (keep in mind, prior to "consistently active" was "pack-a-day smoker with a bad caffeine habit").  This year I discovered triathlon, and did a few sprint distances, culminating in my Very Proud Achievement, my first Olympic distance.  I muddled through the swimming, was decent on the bike, but my run remains a weakness for me.  And I'm SLOW.    Like I read articles and when they talk about "beginner runners" they reference their pace being around 10-11 minutes a mile, and I go "hey, I should be way faster by now."  So I decided I wanted to strengthen my run. 

I embarked on this endeavor by deciding to undertake two half-marathons:  the Outback Distance Classic on Thanksgiving Day and the Donna Half-Marathon on February 12, 2011.  Next year, I decided, would be the year I ran a marathon, but I would do these two half distances first.  However, now I'm thinking, maybe I'll do the Donna FULL Marathon rather than the half.  It's supposed to be a great race, fan support is huge, it's volunteered at and undertaken by an enormous about of people in my city and beyond, family and friends could come cheer me on. 

So I guess I'm just debating if I'm ready.  I think about it and the idea of the challenge is wonderful and I read all these blogs from a lot of you and your experiences with running your first (or 15th) marathon, and love the idea of it, the challenge of it.  Then I think about the distance and sort of feel a little pale.  So I guess I'm just on the fence.  If I'm going to run a marathon locally (and after the amount of money I realized an out-of-town event takes after my last one) this is without a doubt the one to do.  And if I hit half-marathon distance by late November, that should more than put me on track for a February 12 marathon.  I may have spent some of my lunch break yesterday looking at Runnersworld and Active.com for articles on training for a marathon and how to know if you're ready.

To run or not to run.  I'm just not sure.        

Monday, October 18, 2010

Running Again After Injury

I grumbled, bitched and moaned my way through my week and half off running due to injury, and finally went out for a spin this past Thursday.  I did a short (but fast!) three miles on Thursday that left me feeling spent, but happy to be back.  Saturday I decided to do a longer run and did a slow five miles.  Slow because my body felt really out of whack.  Mentally, I was totally in the game.  In fact, I even sprung, pop-tart like, from bed that morning in anticipation of enjoying the beautiful weather.  But my legs just weren't having it.  I felt like I had the wrong legs and mine were running swiftly somewhere on someone else's body.  It was bizarre.  E ran with me and felt out of alignment as well, so it was quite a run.

I went on another run yesterday, just three miles (instead of my planned 4), and felt the same.  Running home, and paying attention, really focusing on how I was feeling made me realize that my issues were most likely my hip flexors.  They were so tight!  I got home and hit the floor for some pigeon and bound angle, and it seemed to help.  I will find out tonight when I try for four miles!  My 10-mile Halloween Pumpkin Run is coming up in two weeks, so being able to get some good mileage in before that is really important to me.  Regardless though, it felt so good to get back out and moving this weekend.  I've really started to crave cardio!


On another note, I made Spaghetti Squash for the first time!  I also made applesauce, which was also a fun experience.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Itching to Run or How I'm Kind of a Pain When I Can't Work Out

Yesterday, I was feeling aggressive.  Irritable.  Moody.  Sort of down.  In trying to ponder what was wrong with me, I forgot that running and cardio in general is my personal brand of therapy.  Getting my heart pounding, becoming drenched in sweat, running, cycling, power yoga, whatever; anything that makes my muscles warm and requires me to focus and sweat and live in my head is helpful.  Running and riding mean I have time to mull over whatever is in my head, if anything is bothering me, if I have any thing on my mind I need to work through.  Power yoga is great because I can't think of anything else; all of me is focused on my body and how it feels and how it is aligned and maintaining my form and my balance.  In short, exercise really helps to balance me out. 
My leg injury is much better.  I can walk again as of this past Saturday, though it still feels fatigued.  E, in his role as my faux personal trainer (and he's usually dead on about my training) thinks I should wait until Thursday before trying an easy run, which is probably the best call.  Last night we did some basic strength training at home.  Push-ups, tricep dips, pull ups and leg lifts.  It was tough, and a great reminder that building up my upper body and overall muscle strength will really do wonders for my training.  I woke up very aware of my shoulders, but am enjoying that fatigued-muscle feeling of a job well done.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Just Wanted to Learn How to Work the Machines

So as I mentioned last week, I recently joined a gym.  One of the perks that came with membership was a free one hour session with a personal trainer.  Great!  I thought.  I haven't done any kind of resistance or strength training since I started the running/cycling/tri lifestyle...this will be an awesome way to re-learn how all the machines work and get an idea of how my weight training should work with my other training.  Silly, silly me.
I scheduled my free session for lunchtime yesterday, figuring it would help get me into the habit of lunchtime gym work before my evening runs.  When I arrived at the gym, the trainer, let's call him "Jim," took me over to the scale and then sat down with me at his cafĂ© table/office space.  He took me through what sounded like his standard speech on weight loss, diet, nutrition, cardio, etc.  I tried to interject that really I was doing ok on nutrition, and great on cardio - I needed to learn how to work all those machines; I needed to figure out how to better work my core and upper body.  I think at about this point is where it all went wrong.  I mentioned that it would be nice to have some lower body work, just to sort of up my game in the hamstring and calf department.
Now Trainer Jim didn't seem like the sharpest tool in the shed, but I figured he took the requisite training classes to be a personal trainer (I have a cousin who did the same thing, and in hindsight also would not trust my fitness to my cousin, so I probably should have thought this through more).
Trainer Jim said we would start out with some leg work.  Ok, I thought.  I did my long run the previous evening, so I was kind of hurting, but surely a little leg work will be good for it.  It's at about this point that I realized I forgot my watch and pretty much had no concept of time.  "Starting with leg work" turned out to mean using a machine like this (the lady in this picture kind of looks like the gym's owner) or in the alternative, "we're going to work the sh*t out of your legs."  40 pounds, 4 sets of 15 reps.  After the first set, I could feel it.  That's when we did lunges from one end of the gym to the other.  Then another set, then more lunges...you get the picture.  All of this was followed by 8 different kinds of squats, then toe lifts, 75 of them.  By this point I was sweating more than  All the while I kept waiting.  Where is the upper body I asked for?  Why are we doing the same exercises that I cut out of my Women's Health and Fitness magazines?  I could do all these things at home.  Surely, this torture on my already tired legs will end any second, and we'll get to that core work and those mysterious machines in the main area of the gym.  But then...it was over, and Trainer Jim was showing me my "Trainer Plan Options," starting at the low, low price of $160 a month to the reasonable $460 a month.  On one hand, I got a really hard lower body workout, which I guess is good. 
Total outcome of 1 hour session with personal trainer: I missed last night's run and probably today's.  But my coworkers' joy in seeing me hobble around the office and move like a geriatric?  Priceless.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Recipes!

By request:

Pumpkin-Honey Beer Quick Bread

Guinness Beer Cheese Spread

Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies (that don't taste low fat)

5ks, Cooking and Other Random Things

Saturday morning I ran my first 5k since December.  This was the inaugural DSAJ All Star Beach Run, to benefit the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville.  I really wanted to come in below 30 minutes, as my times and overall fitness have really been better lately.  It was an out-and-back course on the beach.  The way out was pretty good- I was running about 9:30, which I was happy with.  I forgot, however, that the way back would mean running into a really, really strong wind.  Needless to say, the second half of the race was a lot slower than the first half.  I finished at 31:15, which was a little frustrating.  I'm getting to the point where I want to try increasing my time while I work on increasing my distance.  When I look at that 5k time, I was at the same pace last year, and I feel like I should have progressed more.  In addition to imminent strength training, I am going to perhaps do some tempo work or some other kind of speed training.

Additionally, last year and the year before, when I was running more 5ks, but hadn't upped my distance yet, I didn't care about my times.  Every 5k was a small victory, and I think I need to get back to that place.  I think when I quit smoking, I started to care about it more, because that excuse wasn't there.  Then again, if I look at my cessation as the real beginning of my training, then I've only truly been athletic and been training for a year and half, so I have to remember to cut myself some slack.      

On another note, lots of cooking and baking this weekend.  We had people over Saturday evening for some company and seasonal beer tasting, so we decided to make some great food to go with it.
Homemade Pesto

Some of the spread - Carb Feast

Pumpkin Beer Bread...mmmm...

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Virtual Yoga or Finding Down Dog in My Living Room

I decided that to save a little money and to incorporate (hopefully) more yoga into my life, I would try virtual yoga, based on this New York Times article I read a few months back.  I spent a fair amount of time over the last few days googling, researching and trying to find what my best options were and the best bang for my buck.  Tonight I decided I would try Yogaglo, which is a pay-per-month service of streaming yoga classes.  For $18 bucks a month you get access to unlimited streaming classes divided up into style (Vinyasa, Hatha, etc.), length of practice, type of practice ("energize," "hip opener," "insomnia," etc.) and by instructor.
I was a little overwhelmed with trying to pick my first practice, and I actually went through a couple before settling on one, a 30-minute Energizer Vinyasa Flow.  I rolled my mat out onto the living room carpet and settled down, closing my eyes and trying to ignore the hum of the A.C. and the click of the keys from my boyfriend's keyboard in the other room.  I was more or less able to tune out external noises once I settled in, but I did have trouble gaining the amount of focus I have in a studio setting.
My achievement of the night though?  For the first time, I understood - and was kind of able to do - Crow.  Several months ago I went to a class at a new studio and saw that pose for the first time, and could not figure out how the hell it worked.  Then I had my friend the yoga instructor demonstrate for  me, and I still didn't get it.  My 30-minute Energize flow with Dice?  Totally made something click so I was able to do it.  Yay!  My arms are killing me from the effort but I totally want to keep trying.
So I deem tonight a success.  Next time I might have to try to light some incense, though I don't know how crazy the boyfriend would be about an entire house that smells of patchouli.     

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Joining the Gym

I've known for a while that a hole in all of my training has been the lack of strength work.  I have about zero muscle tone that doesn't come strictly from running and cycling and a bit of yoga.  In high school, to get out of gym that required lots of running or being outside, I was one of three girls that elected to take Weight Training.  Honestly, I really liked it.  I liked that by semester's end I could see a change in my posture, in my arms, in my overall fitness.  But I didn't stick with it.
Then, a few years ago, I started again.  I decided I wanted to get in shape again, so I started going to the gym in the apartment complex I lived in at the time.  No one was ever there, so I went 3-5 days a week, and it worked. I found my muscle tone again, and along with adjusting my diet, I lost weight and got in shape.  I loved it.  I'll admit, I even started wearing tank tops when I worked out for the sole reason of being able to see my newly toned arms in the mirror while I worked out.  Michelle Obama, eat your heart out.  Then I moved, and the strength training stopped, and I've been talking about starting again for a while now, but haven't quite made it (this includes a brief stint where I belonged to my local Y for a year but only managed to go a grand total of three times).
So today I went and joined a gym about three blocks from my job.  I really have no reason not to go, and if I run near work in the mornings, I can shower and get cleaned up there.  So, I'm telling myself, that if I have a great view of the river while I work out, and I have a place that's so close I can go on my lunch break that it will work.  I also get a complimentary personal training session as part of joining.  I go next Tuesday.  I'm curious to see what all my measurements, body fat, etc. are, but I'm also a little terrified of what I'll find out.  Fingers crossed!

Falling in Love with Training (Again)

These past couple weeks have brought me phenomenal training runs.  Like, they're all I can think about, I can't wait for the next one great runs.  When I was in tri training, the heat of the summer overwhelmed anything and everything I loved about running.  But now....oh, it's amazing.  I'm having to restrain myself from doing too much too soon.  I've made that mistake before, and burn myself out before I get far enough along.  As it is, I'm looking forward to my run tonight.  I am finally able to feel  the difference in fitness that I've been building for the past year.  It makes me believe that I will be able to do a marathon next year, and maybe even a half Ironman one day.

So instead of overtraining, I'm working on finding a gym membership, and I'm finding ways to do yoga at home, so I don't have the excuse that I haven't found a new studio and instructor that I like yet.  Oh yeah, and I'm baking.  A lot. 
Apple Muffins with Strudel

Apple Pie (not the prettiest I've made, but delish!)

Light Strawberry Cheesecake

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Week of Almost Following My Training Plan

I am famously enthusiastic when I start training for an event, like most of us are.  And like most of us, I also vow that I will follow that plan, that I will stick  to it, that I will reach the end looking like a slightly less cut Chrissie Wellington.  I always wind up falling over the horse after about the first 6 weeks.  This time, I (inadvertently) have taken a different approach.  I started out really half-assed. 
Like I went on vacation the first week half-assed, ate and drank a lot, didn't get a lot of sleep and only ran twice.  And I use the term "ran" loosely, it was more like walking slightly more swiftly than I normally would. 
Week was comprised of me more or less following the plan, at least running but not really doing any of the cross training, and I think I may have missed a run or two, and week three was pretty much the same. 
In this past week, I have done every run as I was supposed to, but have still failed to incorporate strength training.  So, my goal for training next week is to start lifting some iron.  I have vague memories of a time when I had really toned arms and whatnot.  Those were the days. 
I did however discover this week a gym walkable from my work with a nice low monthly membership.  I am checking that out on Monday - I have the feeling it might be the way to go! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Best. Run. Ever.

If every evening run is as great after a morning of yoga as my run yesterday, it will be even more encouragement to do yoga daily.  Typically, I practice Vinyasa yoga, however, as my previously mentioned friend and instructor was subbing an Anusara practice, I decided I would try it out.  Anusara focuses a lot on alignment techniques, and this class was no exception. It was less cardio than I was used to, but the slower pace forced me to focus more on my body and how I was actually feeling.  The discipline's focus on alignment also made sure that I was paying attention to my hips and hamstrings, which tend to always be tight and a little sore.  75 minutes later, I knew I would feeling the day's session the following day.  It was also a great workout for my upper body.

Following a day of household chores, I went out for my weekend long run, which this week was only 4 miles.  In addition to a hint of fall in the albeit windy air, I felt AWESOME.  I mean, I never feel like this when I run.  The kinks, the hurts, anything sore was gone within a few minutes and I cruised along at a great clip.  I totally want every run to be like this.  It was one of those runs where you finish and think "This is why I run."  It may have been a fluke, but I suspect that just being loose and having worked out the kinks in my hip flexors and ham strings made for an overall fantastic run.   

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Cookbook Club - First Recipe: Mega Meat Stuffed Shells

I was recently invited to take part in The Cookbook Club,  and our recipe for this month was Mega Meat Stuffed Shells from Rachel Ray's 2, 4, 6, 8 Great Meals for Couples or Crowds.  I will start by saying I tend to tweak recipes a lot - for the most part I try to follow them, but from years of baking and experimenting in that realm, it's bled over into my cooking (baking experiments = tasty results, cooking experiments= bland or not-so-delicious results).   
Pre-oven shells
For this, I started by substituting the ground beef with lean ground turkey, which does naturally have a little less flavor than ground beef, but is still pretty tasty.  I also skipped the diced onions, due to Elton's dislike of them.  And my last sub was entirely inadvertent because I don't always follow directions well.  I neglected to add "Parmesan" to my list, so instead it was done with fat-free shredded mozzarella.  In hindsight, I should have balanced the blander cheese and meat with a heartier flavor in the sauce or blended into the meat.

The red sauce turned out quite tasty, though I didn't extract all the red pepper flakes and garlic like the recipe called for (this was more due to my inability to get it all out than a premeditated desire), I think.

The ease of the recipe was great, and it was really fun to try something a littler different - I haven't made stuffed shells in years!  Overall, I really enjoyed this recipe.  I have done a few Rachel Ray recipes before and they have never disappointed and this was definitely no exception! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spending Time on the Mat

Triathlon training is great for keeping you balanced, right?  Three different disciplines that work almost every part of your body, at least 6 days a week.  The one thing I really missed through triathlon training and the tri season, because I just didn't have time, was yoga.  I've been doing yoga off and on for a couple of years, having come to it first when I needed some nourishment, body and soul.  After sporadic practice, I had the luck of beginning the new year as the "guinea pig" student for a dear friend finishing her yoga teacher training (check out her website here:  www.yogashae.com).  She helped me find a deeper connection in my practice than I had experienced since the first couple classes I ever took.  After my "guinea pig" months, I went to a few classes at different local studios before plunging into tri training, effectively curtailing my yoga practice until my tri was over.

Sunday morning found me at my local LuluLemon store for Sunday karma yoga, taught by my same yoga teacher friend.  Putting on my yoga clothes, rolling out my mat and towel, preparing for class...it all felt great.  I was reminded quickly why I love yoga, and found myself longing for the scent of incense, the stacks of blocks, the warm, dense air of the studio.  All of those things have come to mean peace to me.  As an extension, my mat, my place on the mat and everything it entails also means a great deal to me.  It was a great reminder to find that place again, that  place of peace and grace.  It encourages me to keep up with my practice, and to find my happy yoga place again.  The sore muscles I have this morning in my shoulders, back and arms were also a great reminder of the places I have neglected to train!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vacation Diets

One of the wonderful things about visiting a new city is the food.  Elton and I both love to eat (see also:  part of the reason for an active triathlon lifestyle) so vacation often involves finding and trying new and interesting food establishments, from the littlest hot dog vendor to the more upper crust fine dining establishments.  Since my tri, and my subsequent week off from diet and exercise, it's been hard to get back on the wagon.  My half marathon training started this past week,  so I figured this trip to San Diego would be a great last hurrah before I really clamped down on diet and exercise.  We went on two runs while we were there, short runs mind you, and I haven't had runs that dreadful in a long time.  Oh yeah, this is why I don't eat like this or drink all the time. 

Mmmm...my first In-N-Out burger
This past week encompassed for rich food and alcohol than I normally eat in a month.  Today is my first day back at home, which means it is going to be organizational day.   We have fallen into a healthy eating rut - we pretty much cycle between fat-free ground turkey and lean chicken breasts, and do the same 3 or 4 recipes.  I've determined to up my nutritional cooking IQ and learn some new healthy recipes and healthy snacks.  I also eat the exact same thing for breakfast and lunch every day:  A 100-calorie english muffin with fat-free cream cheese and Kashi Go Lean Crunch hot cereal, while lunch is a spinach salad with a Morningstar Chicken Patty, almond slivers and a diced tomato and onion mix.

So what to do to shake up my diet and my routine?  I used Hal Higdon's 15k training plan when I ran the Gate River Run earlier this year, but really only followed the run portions and did a weekly yoga class.  I'm using his half marathon plan for half marathon training, so I'm thinking in addition to revamping our diets, I will also work on introducing strength training and cross training to my routine.  I'm ready to get back on the horse.  This last month of excess has not left me feeling terribly proud.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For the Love of Running

Florida is hot.  This is something that we all know, and I was reminded this summer that there is typically a reason I take summers off from running.  It's too freaking hot.  With the exception of my run in North Carolina for my tri, there are no runs in recent memory that don't involve the feeling of miserable heat.  Sticky and humid, it's just a miserable experience.  But wait...what is this?  The heat finally broke?  That's right!  After a record-breaking 50+ day streak of 90+ temperatures, it's finally cooling down. 

I went for a 4 mile with E and it felt awesome!  It was definitely a run that helped me remember how good running can feel.  Being able to focus on how my body felt rather than the sweltering heat was invigorating! 

I'm getting pumped for half marathon training.  Only a couple weeks to go before it starts!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Shoes!

I won't lie.  I LOVE getting new shoes.  Ever since I discovered the idea of going to a running store and having my arches analyzed, my stride studied and my old shoes examined, I look forward to needing a new pair.  All of this followed by the Goldilocks feeling of finding that perfect fit.  Eminent satisfaction. 

So last night, I went to 1st Place Sports, my local running store of choice.  Over the past year, since I began to pick up mileage and become more fit, my stride has changed a little, and my overall fitness has changed a lot.  I've become less of a heel striker, and find myself landing more on my midfoot and forefoot.  They brought out the 2010 model of my old sneakers, the Adidas Supernova, a pair of Asics, Brooks and Sauconys

Getting fitted last night was one of the instances where you are aware how far you have progressed.  I remember going to get shoes last year in jeans and a t-shirt, having no clue what I was doing or what I needed.  It didn't occur to me that I might want to actually run in the shoes I was buying before purchasing or that one pair might feel markedly different from the other one.  This year I was prepared.  I wore running clothes, took in my old sneakers and brought socks.  I was ready. 

Having a better idea of what I do and don't like and a well-worn pair of shoes to show off my stride made a big difference.  The Asics were far too soft for me; the gel cushioning, while comfortable, did not appeal as I like my shoes strapped quite firmly on my foot.  The Brooks felt like they didn't have enough give for my stride, and felt like the sole on the inner part of the shoe were too tough.  I liked the Adidas, as they felt as good as my old pair did, but not perfect.  The Sauconys....now those felt like a little bit of heaven.  I tried out all four pairs on the treadmill, and took the Sauconys outside for a run around the building.  I was in love.  I took home the Saucony ProGrid Ride 3.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Laziest Weeks

My tri was officially done a little over two weeks ago.  The first week I decided to allow myself a break:  eat whatever I wanted, not worry about exercise, just enjoy life and relax.  As these things are wont to do, they have somehow tumbled into another week, and another.  My next event will be the Outback Distance Classic on Thanksgiving, a half marathon that will hopefully make me feel like I've earned my turkey.  The plan after that is to run the Donna Half Marathon on February 13, 2011, both of which events will theoretically pump me up for another tri season.  I will probably also follow the Donna with the Gate River Run in March.  I ran the Gate last year, and that was my first longer distance run.  I suppose the race that really helped get this whole tri/half marathon thing going.  This trifecta of runs that should hopefully up my running stamina and help me shed a couple pounds.  I am determined now to complete 1-2 olympic distances next year, and I plan on being up for the challenge!

Tonight I am going to get a new pair of run shoes.  My shoes are on their last leg, and breaking in a fresh pair should be a great way to start off my season of running.  My half training officially begins on September 12.  Here goes nothing!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Big Day

The alarm went off at 4:15 a.m.  I think I was already a little bit awake, having tossed and turned all night in anticipation.  Into the shower and then it was time for breakfast, a plain blueberry bagel and a Luna Brownie Chocolate protein bar, with a Red Bull of course.  Everything was laid out and ready to go by E when I got out the shower, so the morning moved like a well oiled machine.  Breakfast of Champions.  E, my wonderful support crew, and I had packed everything up the night before, so the morning just meant getting dressed and putting bike and tri bag in the car.
We were on the road by 5:15, and joined a small caravan on headlights in the darkness headed for Lake Logan. This was it, it was finally here.  It was tough to realize that this was it.  11 weeks of training, blogging, pain, frustration, joy and satisfaction rolled up into one morning of my life.
We parked at the appointed location, and old airstrip beginning to be reclaimed by the grassy field around it.  It was a cool 63 degrees, so I had yoga pants and a pullover on top of my tri outfit; 90 degree Florida mornings do not prepare one for the cool temps that other places experience in the midst of August.  It was lovely though, to breathe the cool air and see the mist rising above the water as we walked towards the lighted tennis courts, where I was to be body marked and pick up my chip.  Depositing Bella outside the fences of the court, I went in and had "109" written on my arms and legs, and my age on the back of my calf.  The next station was for my timing chip, which I fastened around my left ankle.  Nothing left then but to find my spot in transition, the area that would hold all my gear for the next several hours.  New racks spaced wide apart meant roomy aisles and plenty of room for everyone to lay out their gear.  I set up my little transition area under the spotlights, surrounded by all the others and their loved ones who had gotten up this early to support them.  The transition area was not locked down like most that we've seen, so E was able to come in with me, which was kind of nice.    E also played photographer for the day and for the trip, so he was able to absorb what I couldn't, and actually see what was going on around us, and the carefully controlled chaos that is race morning and transition area set up.
After ensuring that everything was as I wanted it, E and I walked down to the water so I could get my first look at the buoys.  Wow.  And I mean WOW.  They looked tremendously, impossibly far away.  Was it possible I had ever swam that distance?  But all I could do at that point was take a deep breath and get ready to dive in.  I put on my wetsuit and went down to the starting area, where I took E's advice and got in the water to swim around a bit, testing out the new goggles, wetsuit and swimming in freshwater - lot's of newness for race morning!  Everything felt good though.  Before I knew it, my wave start was coming up and I got in the water with all of my other purple caps.  The first 10 minutes or so went really well.  I kept up with people, maintained  my stroke, put my face in water - it was great.  But I wasn't maintaining my breathing like I should, and soon I was out of breath and puffing.  Thus commenced the rest of the swim, which was mostly a combination of side-stroking, breast-stroking, head-out-of-water stroking and my actual swim stroke.  It felt like it took forever, and the waves that went behind me started to catch up.  Overall, the swim took me about 42 minutes, and I actually was looking pretty good in my space in the pack.

Next Up:  The bike and the run!

Monday, August 9, 2010

My First Olympic Tri: The Journey North

The tri fell on a Saturday, at Lake Logan in North Carolina, a little outside of Waynesville.  As this is about a seven hour drive for us, we started our journey on Thursday evening, driving about halfway, stopping in Orangeburg, South Carolina for the night.  I had butterflies in my stomach the whole drive, and I tried not to think about what Saturday would bring.  I vacillated between feeling almost sick (why on earth did I sign up for this) and being really, really excited.  It is one thing to know logically that you have done the training, but in the blood, sweat and tears, and another to really think - know - you can do it.

Friday morning found us back on the road, this time not stopping until we found our hotel, the Waynesville Inn.  We were given an adorable room on the second floor, at the very end of a long and somewhat winding hallway. The whole Inn, at least the part our room was located in, had the feel of an old world hotel, that place families came to for weeks on end or where empty-nesters would come for golf and antiquing (if you can't tell, I'm channeling a little Dirty Dancing here).  We loved our room, with its lovely porch that had a view of the golf course (could care less) and the ridges of the mountains (the very exciting part).  In addition to hosting a bunch of triathletes for the weekend, the hotel was also playing host to the Western Carolina Porsche Club's annual meeting, or some such event.  Either way, this meant a portion of the parking lot was reserved for a fleet of shiny porsches of every model, several cocktail hours and a "Porsches on the Green" contest.  It was a bit interesting, to see groups of triathletes, in their compression socks with giant bags of gear, sharing elevators with the upper-crust Porsche owning set in their polos and loafers.  
The hotel was about 25 minutes from the race site, so after checking in we drove to the site to see what I was getting myself in to.  My stomach churned the closer we got to it, and I had to remember that it was fun.  My  mantra became "I'm doing this for fun."  Remembering that was extremely helpful.  When we arrived, they already had the transition area in place, and were setting up different cones and markers.  There were a couple other early arrivals like us, roaming the area, scoping out the lake and the docks, as well as the grassy lanes that marked the entrances and exits for T1 and T2.  
There were no bouys in the lake yet, but the serene body of water, nestled in the midst of Pisgah National Forest was very soothing.  It was the type of idyllic setting that seemed nothing bad could happen there.  From some of the race reports, I was also picturing a long jog from the lake to T1, and was relieved to see that it was not much longer, if at all than what I was used to.  We left the site, and I felt a lot better having seen where I would be swimming and running, though having now seen part of the bike course, I was nervous about the one part I had been super confident about.
The roads leading up to Lake Logan were steep and winding, and would be a part of the bike course.  Suddenly, I didn't think I had done enough bridge repeats or hill training.  Gulp.
After an hour of relaxation at the hotel, we left to go for packet pick up.  This turned out to be a cluster.  When you have a three hour window for people to pick up packets, and you know you can expect 400-500 people in this window, generally you want to go heavy on the volunteer front.  Packet pick up was not a pleasant experience, and I won't lie I pouted a bit when I was through with the whole thing.  They started out by giving me the wrong person's packet, arguing with me when I said it wasn't mine, and then I discover that the oh so coveted race shirt, that memorial to my pain, was not what I was expecting.  Did it say "Lake Logan International Distance Triathlon"?  It sure did.  It also said "Multisport Festival" and listed the Lake Logan Sprint Tri and Aquathon going on that same weekend.  E's suggestion, given the list quality of events on the shirt was to take a black Sharpie and circle my event.  
Dinner was a lovely meal at Bocelli's, a neat little Italian restaurant in town, and then it was back to the room and to bed.  Number 109 was ready to rock and roll!