Friday, April 29, 2011

I Hate Being Sick

Wednesday my throat felt a little sore - I chalked it up to post-nasal drip.  Thursday, it was more of  a scratchy feeling, and I felt sort of fatigued.  I downed some Nyquil last night and went to bed, hoping to stave off what I was sure was an oncoming cold.  I was right about the cold, wrong about being able to stave it off.  I woke up this morning feeling pretty crappy.

So I've embarked on a regimen of feel-better stuff.  Generic Dayquil: Check. Immune System-boosting Green Tea: Check. Spicy Feel-Better Lemon Ginger beverage: Check.  Unpictured: Wellness pills, Nyquil, Multi-vitamin.

In other more interesting, less whiny news, training has been going really well.  I'm still loosely following E's full distance training plan.  Loosely as in I'm doing the workouts at the same day and time, but I"m not necessarily doing the distance, speed, etc. required.  But it's great!  I've been sticking to it, I am starting to be able to see my abs again, which is super exciting.  Weight wise, I lost two pounds the first week, and have held steady the last two weeks (I'm actually willing to believe some of this might be muscle gain).  I had a fabulous swim on Tuesday, and every run the Newton's feel better and better.

What great active stuff does everyone have planned for this weekend?  Any races?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Great Weekends...

It's amazing how quickly time flies when you're having fun!  Last week was a lot of training, a lot of day-job work and freelance work and life work.

This past Friday, I took my first "rest" day in two weeks.  Two weeks!  I'm so proud of myself.  That kind of fitness is a streak I need to keep up.  And I say "rest" day since it wasn't so much intentional as it was that a great friend of mine is getting married soon, and I am her maid of honor and it was her bachlorette weekend!  So, the dancing, drinking, eating, laughing, gossiping good times started Friday afternoon and ended Saturday afternoon after a relaxing morning spent chatting and enjoying the roof-top hot tub and pool deck.  I came home Saturday afternoon, showered, unpacked, and promptly collapsed onto the couch.  I felt so old; I don't go out like I used to, and don't drink like I used to.  But despite my surpassing my normal 10 - 11 p.m. bedtime by several hours, I think I managed to hold my own and it was great spending some time with the girls.  We all agreed we don't do that enough.  I did miss getting in gym time on Friday and I really missed my Saturday long run, but it was definitely well worth it.

So thoroughly rested, this morning we got up before the sun and went to the beach for one of E's favorite traditions, the sunrise Easter service.  I'll admit, given my early morning workouts, I thought this would be the year the pre-dawn wakeup call would not see me stumbling around, bleary eyed, clutching my redbull can like it's my only tie to consciousness, but I was wrong; it was exactly like that.  Maybe next year I'll manage to be chipper.

After the service, we came home and rounded up our bike gear.  E had a three hour ride on the agenda, while I was planning on doing around 25 miles, followed by a short run.  I know I need to start getting my legs used to moving after the bike again.  And let me just say, today's bike was awesome.  I pushed it over the bridge, keeping my speed and cadence up, and enjoyed the rest of the ride.  My goals for myself today were to work on things that I'm not too great about on the bike, namely taking in nutrition and water, and also getting really twitchy at busy traffic crossings because they make me so nervous.  I'm proud to say I was good at all three!  I was very proud of myself.  I got back to the car, got in a little-over-a-mile run/walk and then got to the best part of the morning (well, maybe not best, my ride was pretty awesome), throwing on my swimsuit and hitting the beach.  It was a great, relaxing way to end a wonderful weekend.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Love New Toys

So, this weekend was pretty exciting.  I've needed new shoes for a while, but couldn't decide what I wanted. I was split between going with something minimal or Newtons.  I almost went with Newton's when I got new shoes last year, but I was a little afraid; running was still something I was on the fence about and hadn't learn to love yet or trust myself with - like now!

Anways.  Saturday, we hit up Jax Running Company and my personal favorite, 1st Place Sports.  I started with Jax Running because while 1st Place carries Newtons, they only started to recently, and Jax is pretty knowledgeable about the line.  Between the two stores, I tried out several different shoes.  After all the reading on minimal footwear, it was really interesting to take them out for a spin.

Newton Neutral Racer: From Newton's website:  Newton Running's top-of-the-line neutral performance racer is the ultimate shoe for Natural Running. Engineered for speed, distance and performance, it is the ultimate "PR in a box." With a level platform construction and Action/Reaction Technology™, this lightweight, high mileage racer gets you to the finish line faster and with greater efficiency, quicker recovery and less overuse injuries (like achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis). Recommended for any distance just like its complimentary training partner, the Neutral Performance Trainer.

Light and fast, this was a cool shoe.  The Newton's are definitely a different breed of shoe, but my stride felt great.

Saucony Kinvara:  From the Saucony Website: RUN - Neutral.  Neutral running shoe that allows your foot to run uninhibited, lightweight, flexible.  Minimal midsole construction with protection from the pavement.

I've been really curious about these.  They were super light and flexible, however, while I favor a wide toe box (I run in Saucony ProGrid Ride's right now and love them) this toe box felt huge.  While the shoes were the right length (size), I felt like there was too much shoe flopping around from mid-arch to the toe.  From a minimal perspective, I can see why people love them, they were just a little too wide for me.

New Balance 10:  From the New Balance Website - Minimus is a whole new approach to footwear, inspired by Good Form Running and designed to be worn with or without socks. The Minimus Road running shoe is engineered for use on pavement and other varied running surfaces. Supremely comfortable and extremely lightweight, the WR10 is taking the running world by storm. 

These shoes looked really cool, and they were definitely thin soled - it did feel rather like running barefoot.  However, it didn't feel like it fit my foot right.  There's arch support, but it felt like it met my arches in the wrong spot, and like my foot wasn't exactly the shape it should be to fit in their toe box.  Those with narrower feet might do better in these.

Nike Free:  From the Nike website:  The lightweight Nike Free 3.0 v2 Women's Running Shoe offers the extraordinary feel and natural movement of barefoot training—without sacrificing support, cushioning, underfoot protection or traction. 

Had I not gotten the Newton's, these would have been the pick.  They were light, flexible, and felt like they moved with my foot in all the right ways.  I took them around a couple of times, and just liked the overall fit and feel.

Ultimately, I got the Newton Neutral Performance Trainers.  And I love them.  They just felt right when I put them on.  From Newton's website:  Newton Running's top-of-the-line neutral performance trainer is the ultimate shoe for Natural Running. Get a fast, flexible ride with greater energy return and less impact. The 2010 model has enhanced durability in the heel, a new high-rebound midsole material and improved upper fit. This shoe allows you to run naturally — faster with greater efficiency and less overuse injuries (like achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis). Recommended for any distance just like its complimentary race-day partner, the Neutral Performance Racer.

I took them for a quick spin yesterday, post-bike.  My knee was a little funky and it was my first time running off the bike this year.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow night, which is my next run.  Can't wait.

In other cool news, I just got these in the mail:

Sweet, sweet Daily Mile stickers.  I don't know where to put them!

On a final note, congrats to everyone who raced this last weekend and at Boston today!  Awesome job, everyone!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gear and the Big Day

As a continuation of my last post on what to wear in triathlon, it also got me thinking about things I did or didn't need for my first tri, and also all the little things I had to learn!

E had actually done a sprint triathlon a couple months before I did my first one, so that taught me a lot about what gear you need to take, setting up the transition area and how the whole day works.  I discovered that at least for the first couple of times, checklists are uber-helpful.  Or just running through each portion of the race in your head.

My checklist looked something like this (keeping in mind this is really for sprint, maybe olympic, distance...the higher distances come with much bigger lists!):

  • Swim cap (usually provided with your packet)
  • Goggles
  • Helmet
  • Gloves (though for shorter distances, some people do without)
  • Sunglasses
  • Body Glide (as needed)
  • Shoes (you never know)
  • Water bottles
  • Gel(s), chews, etc.
  • Socks (if you wear them with your bike shoes.  If not, move this to the run).
  • Hat/cap/visor/headband.  Whatever you wear to keep your noggin protected from the sun.
  • A small towel to put all your gear on in the transition area.
  • An extra water bottle to rinse your feet or towel to wipe your feet off if you need to.  Sometimes the trek from the swim exit to the transition area can contain a lot of sand/grass/grime or overall dampness that is not pleasant when you're trying to put socks on.
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • A t-shirt and shorts to throw on post-race.
  • An extra bath-sized towel in case there is a place to rinse off or if you want to dry off, post-race.
  • Race number and race belt

Tips for the night before:

  • Do your goggles need an extra dose of anti-fog?  Do that early evening so they have time to dry.  
  • Will you get up at the last possible second since these things start so darn early?  Lay out your breakfast the night before, or figure out what you'll take with you on the go. 
  • Try to get a good night's sleep, even if it is tough because you're excited about the race.  :)
  • Put your bike number on your bike.  If you're anal retentive like our household is, it needs to be lined up just right.  It can be a bit of a pain.
  • It's also a quick time-saver to attach your race number to your race belt and pack them together.
  • Relax!  Tomorrow's the big day! 
  • Maybe this tip will be too girly, but I've run into this once or twice.  When you get there, they body mark you, which means writing in giant sharpy on your arms and legs.  If you're the type that gets embarrassed by a stranger feeling your legs if you haven't shaved in a couple days...well, take care of that.  Hey, it will help you on the swim and the bike!
  • Numbers:  You get three.  One for the front of your helmet, one for your bike and one for our race belt.  I've also occasionally gotten a fourth one that you can stick on your race bag. 
I don't think I forgot anything.  Comment and let me know what tips you have for someone doing their first race!

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    What to Wear in Triathlon

    Meg over at Triathlete in Training has her very first sprint tri coming up and asked me to do a blog post about what to wear in a tri.

    I did my first triathlons last year, and between my introduction to the sport and my boyfriend's training for a 70.3, we spent a lot of time on tri websites, in tri stores, etc., researching, examing, trying on and talking to seasoned triathletes.

    Sample Tri Suit
    The first thing I discovered is that true tri clothing is ridiculously expensive.  Like a pair of shorts is my total clothing budget for the month.  I work for a nonprofit, so I'm not exactly rolling in dough, and even though I know this stuff lasts for a long time, that's a lot to shell out at once, especially when you are also starting to get things like shoes and pedals and all the random gear that goes along with being a triathlete.  We athletes do love our gear, don't we?

    Anywho, what I learned was that there are a few different options for those of us of the female persuasion.  You can go with a tri top (usually a tank top, sleeveless or raceback) or a bikini-type tri top.  For bottoms, there are tri shorts of different lengths (I've found I prefer the shorter ones) that have a thinner chamois than a standard cycling chamois, plus you can swim and run in them, and they dry quickly.  They also make bikini-style tri bottoms.  Or, if you're more of a one piece person, you can get a tri suit, which are definitely pricier, but rival the comfort of a cycling bib and you're not fussing with anything riding up or down.

    I also learned this stuff runs small.  I usually wear a small, and I'm more of a medium in tri clothing.  All the manufacturers are a little different.  If there is a tri store near you where you can try on a couple different brands, it's worth the time to figure fits best, and what feels best.

    This is clearly not me.  Just the shorts I got.

    So, after researching, I decided my best option would be to find something on clearance.  Since most tri companies put out a new line every year, with slightly different styling, they clearance the previous year's merchandise.  It takes a little more work than buying straight off the shelf (thank god for the internet) but you can usually, eventually, find a matching kit for half to 2/3s the price of it new.  I really like All3SportsTriathlon LabTriSports and really if you just google, there are a lot out there.  

    As a side note - don't wear anything underneath this stuff and use bodyglide where applicable.

    Ultimately, I'm glad I made the investment in tri clothes.  I knew I would be doing a few - I wanted to make sure I was comfortable, wearing something that would dry quickly and help keep me cool, and while it might sound silly, I wanted to look the part.  I knew I would feel uncomfortable the whole time if I looked like it was my first time (or second, or third...).  Plus, spending the money on the clothes was somewhat of a commitment to the sport for me.

    What is your favorite thing to wear when you're racing?

    Next up - accessories.  

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    By Special Request

    For those other quote collectors out there, here are a few of my favorites (though my favorites do change according to my mood).  What are some of yours?  

    Note:  I may have had trouble choosing just a few.

    "There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of bodies, of body on body, wind on snow, rain on trees, wave on stone. It is the language of dream, gesture, symbol, memory. We have forgotten this language. We do not even remember that it exists."
    --A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen 

    “Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes”
    --Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."
    -- Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 1962, Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)

    “The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep”
    -- Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

    “Some people are just born with tragedy in their blood”
    --Donnie Darko

    “We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes”
    --Madeline L'Engle, The Rock That is Higher: Story as Truth (1993)

    “When women let their hair down, it means either sexiness or craziness or death, the three by Victorian times having become virtually synonymous”
    --Margaret Atwood

    “What surprises me about humanity is that in the end such a narrow range of plights defines our moral lives.”
    --Douglas Coupland

    “If the whole human race lay in one grave, the epitaph on the headstone might well be: ‘It seemed a good idea at the time.’”
       -- Rebecca West

    “If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood
    and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for
    the endless immensity of the sea.”
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    I love that place where you get in running where you're just never out of breath and you just feel like you could go forever. I love that. I love feeling strong. 
    Ann Bancroft, polar explorer 


    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Busy Busy Busy

    I've spent a lot of time over the last couple weeks doing many things that doesn't have anything to do with training.  Which I guess is good - this is sort of a break between seasons, and a chance to get myself situated before I start training more and before I can run again ( I'm going to try tomorrow evening or Saturday morning after yoga.  T minus 36 hours...but who's counting?).  

    We've spent some time cleaning up the house, including getting new bedding, as we decided the bedroom is the first room we want to re-do.  When we were in San Francisco a couple years ago we bought a lot of local photography pieces, and decided to do our bedroom in a sort of  San Francisco theme, using these pictures and lots of soft grays and blues and whites.  Essentially we spent a weekend learning that there is a large amount of hideous bedding out there.  I mean really, people, who buys some of this stuff?  We finally gave in and went to West Elm.  

    I also got a bunch of basil seedlings from someone at work, so I planted those last night.  If they take, I won't have to replant to replace the one's I killed through neglect over the winter.
    I also have also been lucky to land a couple freelance jobs for some great companies, so I'm excited to work on these, but getting moving on them has taken a lot of prep work.  But I was super organized last, corralling my myriad email addresses (including the one linked to my freelance website that I never check and apparently lost some potential jobs since I never check it...ooops) into one hub so I don't miss anything I stay more on top of things.  Do you see a theme here?

    We also got to go see Citizen Cope on Sunday night, which was a lot of fun.  He is doing a special acoustic tour, so it was a lot different than what you normally hear from him.  It was at the Florida Theatre, which is now a concert (and still sometimes movie theatre) venue.  It's beautiful inside; it's one of the oldest "moving picture" and "talkie" theatres in the country, and I believe one of the first to get air conditioning.  

    So this coming week should be re-dedication to training.  I've felt so off not being able to run it's colored everything else. I'm ready to get back in the game!