Thursday, March 30, 2017

(Probably) March's running total

Still nothing to sneeze at.
It looks like I'll net out at 75 running miles for March.

I had wanted to do 100, but since a significant number of runs this month were slower and shorter runs with my husband, I lost mileage here and there. Eh, I'm really not even mad about it. I still got out and running, which was more important. And I'm not planning on doing 25 tomorrow, ha.

Plus, it's still significantly higher than last year, when I was still building back. And I am grateful that my body can handle this kind of mileage again.

I do want to kick it up for April, though. Can I hit 1,200 this year? Can I beat my record of 1,313? It'll depend on how healthy I am and how my body cooperates, of course.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Week in review March 20-26: Lots of blah with a couple good workouts

Not great, not terrible.
Last week fell somewhere between great and terrible. I didn’t do a whole lot of running, but I did lift weights twice and do my first “real” bike workout (one that wasn’t just an easy spin to warm up for something else) in a long time.

I had a lot of unexpected rest, though. I started off the week strong with barre Monday and a run Tuesday, but Wednesday was a crappy day and I wasn’t feeling great, so I curled up on the couch with the mutts instead. We had plans with friends Friday, but a sick kid forced them to bail and I curled up in bed with the mutts instead. (Sensing a theme here?)

After a decent night’s sleep I had a good bike workout followed by a good weight-lifting session Saturday, but Sunday was a big event in Detroit and we had friends over for that, so the day was pretty much shot. I was able to do food prep and some pre-hab Sunday evening, which was better than nothing, obviously. Plus having healthy food ready to go goes a long way to setting a healthy tone for me for the week, I’ve found.

It wasn’t much, but last week consisted of:

Run: Twice, once on the road and once on the treadmill, for 13 miles in a bit longer than 2 hours. Tuesday was a fun run, half with my husband and half with my crazy lab mix, on the road. Thursday was my first speed run in a while, and it felt great to be running “fast” (actually: less slow) for the first time in a while.

Bike: One trainer ride for about 1:30. This felt OK! I warmed up, did a few big ring/small ring intervals, and cooled down.

I’ve been doing a lot of thining about how to best approach getting back on the bike. I really can’t justify the cost of a power meter or a smart trainer (especially since they cost more than what I spent on my bike!), but I think I’m going to invest in a better bike computer and a cadence/speed sensor. It’ll give me a better baseline for trainer workouts and I’ll have an easier time measuring improvements… assuming they actually come.

Weights: Twice, one barre class and one heavy/bodyweight routine, for about 2:20 total. Yes, I lifted weights for longer than I ran.

Pre-hab: One rotation of glute/core moves from a recent runner’s clinic for 26 minutes. I could have done an extra 4 minutes of planks or whatever but it was already past my bedtime.

Total: 6 sessions in about 6 hours, 21 minutes.

So yeah, somewhere between great and terrible. No swimming, no yoga, and not a lot of running, but some decent weight-lifting and cross-training. I traded some training time for fun time and not-feeling-great time, but it was nothing out of the ordinary, and I got some decent workouts in anyway.

Another week, here we go.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Random thoughts about time limitations

There’s a meme floating around about how you need to “choose two” of the college experience: Good grades, social life, sleep. Meaning you’ll have time for two, but not all three. (I went with grades and social life, living off a steady diet of Mountain Dew and catnaps.)
Apparently, this is a thing: Randi Zuckerberg said pretty much the same thing a few years ago. Pick three: work, sleep, family, fitness, friends. My three are usually work, family and fitness, but sometimes work, family and friends.

Yesterday I felt like I was living a version of that. Choose five: Sleep, work, grocery shop, cook a healthy dinner, prep food for the next day, walk the dogs, run. I skipped the run and a full night’s sleep. I can’t skip work, obviously. The grocery shopping/cooking/prepping kind of go together to make sure I can, you know, eat. Husband was working late so I had evening dog-walking duty. And poof, it’s 10 p.m. and I’m crabby and need to go to bed.

There’s also a meme going around about how we have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce, but I’m pretty sure Beyonce doesn’t need to work a 9 to 5, do her own grocery shopping, walk her own dogs, cook and prep her own meals, make her own appointments, etc. etc. etc. either. Not being able to do it all can be a real downer sometimes.

But, when I was feeling down yesterday about not being able to do it all, something else happened that made me feel like a badass. Making small talk before a meeting officially started, I discovered no other person in my meeting (all women) knew how to swim. Yeah, I’m not a very good swimmer, but I do know how to swim, I swim in a pool occasionally, I swim in a lake very occasionally, and I race in a lake very very occasionally.

When you think about it, how many people have the guts to actually to swim in a lake as part of a competition? I left feeling a little better about myself.

It's been another long day of work, errands, running, and cooking, and it's past my bedtime, but at least I got to run today. =)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What will be my next adventure?

What's next?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what’s next for me, my training, my running, my multisport, my whatever I choose as my next adventure.

I’m discouraged that my running has been anything but fast lately. A lot of that is for a good reason: I have been doing a lot of runs in the past year with my husband, who is slower than me. If I have to choose between a speed session and a run with him, I choose him, every time. I’m trying to get him fully over to the dark side and become A Runner.

I track my workouts on DailyMile, and it keeps a top-five list of fastest runs and longest runs. Depressingly, I noticed that I have only run three times since March 2016 at a pace faster than 9 minutes per mile. (And one of those times was being dragged around the neighborhood for 2 miles by my lab mix, so that barely counts.) When I was considering building off my Gasparilla Ultra Challenge weekend for a spring marathon, my ultimate reason against it was that if I commit to a marathon I want to try for a PR, and I am nowhere near PR shape.

So, yeah. Speed isn’t my strong suit right now.

But here’s the thing… the run has always been the part of triathlon I have sucked the least at. I’m a mid-pack swimmer at best, and an overall bad cyclist. And when I eventually do start building back, I’ve got a long way to go. I’ve gotten on my bike twice this year; the last time I did a real bike workout and not just a warmup for lifting weights was July. JULY! Swimming is a similar story: I swam once in December after most of the summer off, after a DNF and a DNS at swimming events.

Yeah, I was having some health problems over the summer that manifested as anxiety, and had to get out of the pool multiple times because of panic attacks. I’m in a much better place now, seeing a new doctor, taking new medications, and on a completely different diet. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve built from nothing, either. I started swimming again six years ago, having not swum a single lap since freshman year of high school. I finished my first triathlon with the 10th slowest swim time of the entire field, spending part of the race legitimately afraid I was going to die, and worked my way up to MOP and consistently improving pool times. Although I’m a terrible cyclist, I know that consistently getting out there on the roads makes me a bit less terrible, and have seen incremental improvements in speed and bike-handling skills from season to season.

I think I need to decide if I want to spend my precious free time trying to improve at things I’m not really good at, or try something else (knowing I probably won’t be good at that, either). I’d like to start playing tennis again, take a ballet class again, finally try indoor rock climbing, maybe do something insane like Krav Maga or at least the occasional self-defense class. I’ve got pesky time-suckers in my life like a full-time job, a commute, a husband, a need to eat healthy meals three times a day, and a need to sleep occasionally. I don’t have money to blow on a new smart bike trainer. And although I refuse to live in fear, I still have to be careful of things like running alone on dark trails.

I guess that was a really long way of saying "I don't know what's next." Most definitely running. Probably other stuff. I don't know yet. But I'll figure it out eventually.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week in review March 13-19: Ugh, blah, yuck, etc.

Not a lot going on last week.
Last week: Ugh.

It didn’t start off great. I was sniffly for much of the day Monday, enough so that I curled up on the couch with a blanket after work and didn’t do much more than eat leftover (homemade, dairy-free!) lasagna.

I felt better by Tuesday and got in a decent treadmill run, and a weight-lifting video Wednesday. Hooray! My husband wanted to go for a run Thursday so I traded my speed run for an easy run with him, because I’m trying to encourage good habits, after all. =)

But I ran errands after work Friday and the last one was so frustrating I didn’t want to do anything else until friends wanted to meet for a drink later. Saturday morning, a friend wanted to go out to breakfast and to the market, and going with three people always takes a lot longer than with two people, so by the time we got home, I had pretty much resigned myself to being a couch potato.

Excuses, excuses. I know, I could have held firm and stayed in, but what would the point have been? I like training, but I also like going out with my friends from time to time.

I was able to rally a bit yesterday (Sunday) for a few easy miles and then a few additional miles being dragged around the neighborhood by my hyperactive lab mix, but between college basketball (go Blue!) and food prepping, I didn’t have time for anything else. I go to bed late enough as it is.

By the numbers, it was:

Run: Three times, once on the treadmill and twice on the road, for 16.75 miles in a bit less than 3 hours.

Weights: One video for 55 minutes.

Total: Four sessions in a bit less than 4 hours.

Of course I know logically that I can't kill it every week. I'm going to be sniffly some days, I'm going to want to lay on the couch and watch basketball some days... that's just a fact of life. Still, not even 4 hours is a bit depressing.

Oh well. Not much to do except buck up and do better this week.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A whole lot of nothing so far this weekend

I have been a big, lazy blob so far this weekend.

Last night there was a lot of this:
Cuddling with the mutts.
And this morning there was this:
Yummy breakfast out.
Later there was more of this:

Scratch my belly, Mommeh.
I did try a new recipe today, so I guess that's something?
Cashew, onion, garlic, sweet potato, nutritional yeast "cheese" dip. It's good!
And I did make this amazing dinner:
Roasted chicken, broccoli, butternut squash, and wine. Delicious!
But other than a nice, long walk with the mutts and walking around the farmer's market, I haven't done squat for activity today.

Oh, well. I did get lots of relaxation and dog-bonding time in. And some time with my husband, too, I guess. =)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

My first run outside since Florida

The weather finally warmed up from 4 degrees, yes 4 (-15 for my Canadian friends), to a balmy high 30s today. To celebrate, the husband and I laced up our shoes after work and headed out for an easy 3.
But I miss Florida weather.
I had wanted to do a speed run, but I'll take some easy miles with my partner in crime any day.

Hurry up, spring!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Week in review March 6-12: Some running, lots of other

A bit of everything.
Nothing really exciting happened this week, so I didn’t have anything to write about. Sorry, I’m just that boring.

I did have a decent week of training, however. I’m back running more regularly and did a 10-miler yesterday, and I got a decent amount of pre-hab in, as well. I have yet to make it the pool, though. I am trying, really trying, to get myself excited to go this week. I had good intentions to go today, but as the day went on I got more and more sniffly, and the roads got worse and worse with a snowstorm, so I'm staying inside on my butt.

One thing I did do last week was go to another runner’s workshop. This one was much more active – we did a bunch of core and glute exercises good for runners. I was hilariously bad at kneeling on one knee with the other foot directly in front, making a straight line. I absolutely could not stay upright! I definitely have to work on building up those balancing muscles.

By the numbers, this past week was:

Run: Three times, all on the treadmill, for 20 miles in about 3 hours, 14 minutes. This worked out to be two steady-state 5-milers and a building 10-miler, and I watched a lot of Orange is the New Black.

I got to leave after a half day at work Friday and I really had good intentions to squeeze in another run in the afternoon, but the wind was bitingly cold, and I took some time to relax with the mutts and do some reading, and by then I didn’t want to. Oh well. Rest day it was.

Now that I’m two weeks out of my ultra challenge weekend, I'm looking forward to rotating in a few more speed workouts. Hopefully the weather will cooperate; it is supposed to warm up to the 40s this weekend and the 50s after that. Hurray!

Weights: Two sessions, one barre class and one of my own heavy/body weight routine, for a total of about 2 hours, 20 minutes. I was less sore this week after pullups and squats, so I’ll take that as a good sign.

Pre-hab: One runners’ clinic and two more solo sessions for about 1 hour, 10 minutes. This was mostly static clams with a resistance band, sideways walks with a resistance band, planks, some static squats, and the aforementioned terribly executed one-knee balancing things.

Yoga: Two solo sessions for about 45 minutes total.

Bike: One 30-minute session to warm up for Saturday’s weight workout. I think I am ready to start working back into the routine real cycling workouts.

Total: 11 sessions in a hair less than 8 hours. Not bad.

But more importantly than the number of sessions or hours, this week checked off a lot of the loose goals I set for myself for March:

Run 100 miles – 28 down, 72 to go, so I may or may not make it. Surprisingly, NOT running 20-30 miles every weekend doesn’t help with this goal!

Plan and start building for a spring half-marathon – my husband and I have a race in mind, but haven’t signed up yet.

Practice yoga twice per week – SUCCESS THIS WEEK!

Lift weights twice per week – SUCCESS THIS WEEK!

Do glute exercises three times per week – SUCCESS THIS WEEK!

Work swim and bike back into the schedule – Half successful: I did for the bike but not the swim.

So, not bad. I expect this coming week to be weird with cold weather and St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, although I plan on enjoying the extended evening daylight – even if my brain is still an hour behind for a while.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Week in review Feb. 2-March 5: Stepping back significantly

A nice and easy week.
Last week was all about recovering from my big race weekend, traveling home, and getting back to real life. Doing any kind of exercise was an afterthought and mostly very easy stuff.

Monday was a recovery (and spring training) day, Tuesday was a travel day, and Wednesday was about getting back to work and buying and prepping groceries. I finally got on the treadmill Thursday for a few miles to shake the cobwebs out, and did a decent amount of weight lifting and running over the weekend.

Run: Twice, both on the treadmill, for 8 miles in 1 hour, 20 minutes. I kept both runs at a 10:00 minute-per-mile pace just to get back into the swing of things. I really wanted to get outside Sunday but my schedule ended up getting weird, so I finished season 3 of Orange is the New Black instead.

Weights: Once, my heavy-body weight routine, for about 1 hour, 20 minutes. Yes, I lifted weights as much as I ran this week.

I am still feeling this now two days later. Although I kept up with barre and weights videos until the week before my race, I haven’t lifted heavy since I got into the race almost two months ago now. Every single pull-up and squat muscle is extremely mad at me. I didn’t realize I had been neglecting them so much.

Bike: Once, on the trainer, for 30 minutes to warm up for my weights workout. I’m pretty sure that was the first time I’ve been on the bike this year.

Total: Four sessions in 3 hours, 10 minutes. Not great, obviously, but considering I was out of pocket for three days, I’ll take it.

I’m pretty tired today so it's been a quiet evening of yoga and some glute exercises, but I hope to really get back into it tomorrow, if I'm recovered from my weights workout by then!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Some good news on the scale

I was pleasantly surprised to see I had lost a little weight after my Florida vacation and race. I, um, definitely wasn't on a diet, and sometimes I gain weight when I bump up to longer distances.
Downward. Hooray!
I'm still a few (OK, more than a few) pounds from race weight, but I feel like I'm getting there.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A quick February wrap-up and looking toward March

A steady running build over the last 13 months.
February was a great month, running-wise. I successfully built for my big race(s) at the end of the month, and I did a bit of yoga and weights, too. I did a tiny bit of pre-hab and didn't get any other sports in, but the running races were my big goal so that's OK.

Here are my goals vs. what I actually did:

Run 100 miles: I actually did 127. Wow!

This worked out to 16 times, 5 on the treadmill and 11 on the road (4 of those races), in about 22 hours.

Finish final build/taper/race for Gasparilla: Done!

Practice yoga twice per week: I actually managed 5 sessions for about 2 hours total, so let's say once per week.

Lift weights once per week: I managed 3 sessions, so almost once per week.

I also did two quick pre-hab sessions to try to strengthen my glute muscles a bit.

I want to get back into the routine of doing things other than running for March: I want to increase my weight lifting again, do quick sessions of yoga and glute pre-hab throughout the week, and start rotating swim and bike back in. I also want to start thinking about a spring race. I'm looking at a couple of half-marathons and/or a shorter trail race in April. And, of course, I'd like to hit 100 miles again.

It's a lot, yeah, but without a big race to focus on, I think I'll have a bit more free time to do other stuff. And, it'll keep things interesting.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Week in review February 20-26: Final taper and lots of racing!

93% of the time, I run every time.
I realize it’s Thursday of the following week, but I’m doing a quick week in review anyway for posterity’s sake. #dontjudge

The week was obviously running-heavy with two final shakeout runs, losing a day to travel, and the four races that made up the Gasparilla Ultra Challenge weekend. I did manage a few minutes of yoga and glute exercises on Monday evening while starting Chef’s Table on Netflix.

By the numbers, it worked out to be:

Run: Six times, once on the treadmill and five times on the road (four of those races), for a total of 38.73 miles in a bit longer than 7 hours.
  1. WOW, that’s a lot of running! It has to be my highest mileage week in at least a year and a half, the last time I was doing marathon training. I know the 30+ miles is the most I’ve ever run in a weekend, since I don’t run the day before or after my marathons.
  2. Yes, that’s a slow average – it works out to about 10:55 minute miles. BUT, I’m OK with that. My solo races were in the 10:40 range, which was about what I was expecting with very slow starts and easy paces through the end. My last shakeout run and the other two races were with my husband, and we averaged about a 12:00 pace. I was in this for fun, not speed!
Yoga: One quick solo session (20 minutes). I know I should have done more after my races, but I was busy hanging out with my sister and doing Florida things.

Pre-hab: One 15-minute session. Sadly, this is the most I’ve spent on pre-hab in months, but I need to fit in these quick sessions more often if I want to keep running. I’m not a spring chicken anymore.

Total: 8 sessions in about 7:38.

It’s about what I expected for a race week. This week will be easy activity as I get back into the swing of things. I’m sure I’ll be bitten by another race bug before too long.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Gasparilla, part 2

All my medals, in case you missed them the first time. =)
I'm way behind in everything, so we'll see how far into this I get before I fall asleep typing.

Sunday was Race Day, The Sequel. We had a 4 a.m. wakeup call and me, my sister and my husband all headed out before 4:30. The half-marathon started at 6 and although I knew where I was going by then, I was still a bit nervous about being rushed. We couldn't park at the expo again but we found a parking garage nearby and made that our home base. My sister volunteered for the role of sherpa and I lathered on Body Glide and sunscreen. I was starting to get a bit nervous — today was the BIG day.

We popped into the Tampa Convention Center to use the real bathrooms again (I really can't say enough how much this was appreciated!) and headed off to the start line. Confusingly, it was at a different location than yesterday's races, but maps and volunteers were everywhere, so we eventually found our spot. It was still very dark out. We chit-chatted and I bounced around, made sure my Garmin was synced, cued up my iPod, etc. At 6 a.m. we surged toward the start line, I said my good-byes, and we were off!

The first few miles were very slow but I was fine with that. There were a few spots on the course that were VERY dark — I saw one lady laying on the ground and bleeding (she was being helped). I lost my throwaway shirt at about mile 2. I took a drink of half coconut water, half cherry juice every 2-2.5 miles, and had a Huma gel every other drink stop. It worked fine.

It started to lighten up a bit and I tried to enjoy the scenery. At about mile 5-6 I thought, I am not even halfway done! What am I doing! But I tried to focus on enjoying the run and the day. I was a bit stiff and sore from the 12 miles the day before, but everything was functional. The miles ticked by and I tried to zone out to my music, the view, and the people around me, many dressed like pirates. My hips and knee got a bit grumpy but it was never actual pain. I ran and ran. I also realized that since this was my only second open half-marathon, it would be a PR. Hey! Finally, I was in the last stretch. I heard my sister and husband cheer. I was done!

... for now.  I got my third medal of the weekend and some water, and caught up with my cheering squad. It was starting to warm up and the sun was out, so I resprayed sunscreen and swapped out my glasses for sunglasses. My husband was doing the 8K with me and we had about 45 minutes until the start, so we went back to the expo center, took a few pictures and goofed around for a bit before meandering over. Everything from my hips down was starting to get angry but I knew I could do 5 more easy miles. Another start line, another countdown, and we were off — again!

The last race was all about being slow and steady. There were a zillion people so the first few miles were very slow, but that was perfectly fine. We saw more pirates. The funniest part of the race was the guy playing a keyboard at the turnaround, but all he knew was "God Bless America" set to a calypso beat. We had to listen that for about a half mile toward the turnaround and about a half mile back. It was SO bad, but we laughed and laughed after he was behind us.

The last couple miles were tough. I just put my head down and got it done. I sped up a bit as the crowd thinned out and I got into a groove but the miles of the weekend were definitely making themselves known. Before long, the finish line was up ahead and we went for it. We saw my sister and cheered. And then, we were DONE, for real DONE!

I got my 8K medal and a special Ultra Challenge medal. I was so proud of myself! I had gotten into the race late, managed a decent build, and finished in respectable time. Not bad at all! We headed home shortly afterward where I took a nice, long shower and ate about 500 cookies and candies, Mexican food, and more cookies and candies. No regrets!

All in all, it was a great weekend. The logistics of getting to Florida from Michigan were tricky, and the race weekend itself was a bit complicated, but I think it was organized and managed as well as possible. I don't know that I'd do this one again, but it was definitely fun to do once. And the medals are awesome! And seriously, Tampa Convention Center, you and your real bathrooms were the MVP of the weekend.