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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sweat Your Thorns Off 5K Race Report

Early Saturday morning, I headed straight to the airport.  After my husband and son spent a week in California, I decided it was my turn.  Being as the Midwest is typically miserably hot and humid in late June, I figured I'd squeeze in my SYTO race while I was on the West Coast.

My intel had told me that Chris K had spent Friday night hitting up the $3 margaritas, so Saturday was the perfect opportunity to chick him while he was jogging off his hangover. (Cue evil laugh)

Know when to say when
Now maybe you think this is a little unfair, but let me remind you...this guy BQ'd, while I BF'd (Barely Finished).  A little sub-optimal nutrition isn't going to kill him on race day.

I did a little sightseeing while I waited around for my competition.

This guy is called the Kardiff Kook
A passing patrolman took my picture and then gently suggested I move on, so I returned to skulking outside of Chris K's abode until he finally dragged himself to the gym right around 10.  He took off with no fanfare.  I started behind him and then began to pull away around the half mile mark.      

My stride was hampered by the sudden disappearance of my right foot but I took it...well, in stride...and pushed on.

San Diego may indeed be beautiful, but at 62 degrees, it was about 30 degrees cooler than Illinois at this time of year.  There would be no sweating off of any thorns in this cool weather.  Despite the (thankfully temporary) disappearance of my foot, by mile ~1.5 I had pulled far enough ahead that I could make a quick wardrobe adjustment and comply with the spirit of the contest.

At this point, I'm running about a 7:15 pace and thinking that maybe ice cream is the way to go for fuel from now on.  The winter gear induces sufficient sweat, so I peel off the extra layers as I run.  Unfortunately, the shirt gets stuck on my head and I run a little extra distance before I can get free.  Even so, I manage to get back to the shady spot by the finish line restrooms in time to see Chris K meander in after me.  His finish line hoopla comes to a quick stop as I stand up and he realizes that he has, in fact, come in second in the San Diego division of SYTO'11.

I have won the Lie Sweat Your Thorns Off 5K. His face falls. It would almost be funny except he looks so sad.    "It's OK!!" I rush to reassure the Manly one as tears well up in his eyes, "You won the male division!" Even as the words leave my mouth, I know it's not the same.  His Garmin begins beeping as his heart rate spikes.


And then I woke up, set up a yard sale in our driveway, sold a bunch of junk we don't need anymore, cleaned up the yard sale, had dinner, went to a baby shower, came home, went to bed, and never once managed to run a measly 3.1 miles.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Me and my shadow

Riding bikes to the pool.
While his daddy was gone, it was pretty much just me and J, all day everyday. 

Ice cream bribe

Yes, I missed most of the training I'd have liked to do, but in return I got some pretty precious time with my little boy.

Dyeing a shark shirt

He may be only 7, but he's a very different 7 than my older boys were.  They adored me; he doesn't.

Rainy day basketball
 I think it comes from having teenage brothers...he kind of gets that teenage attitude. 

Rollerblading on the bike path (one of the very few moments I wasn't playing human tow truck)
 I was prepared for my teenagers to decide I didn't know anything for a few years...I was not prepared for a second grader who agreed with them.

Checking out the ducklings
 Add to that the fact that he spends a lot of time with his dad while I'm training,

Trying to kick the branch from the swing
and that his dad loves to pick up bargains for him on a regular basis,

Lounging at the park
and that his dad is overall a lot more fun than I am, and you get yourself a full-on daddy's boy.

My assistant at church childcare registration
This week, though, he was all mine.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Turns out I'm spoiled

I don't think that I take my husband, family, or general living situation for granted, but I've definitely developed a new appreciation this week for how easy I typically have it.  Jeff's out in California with N for a volleyball tournament (BTW, N's team tied for 3rd overall, beating the #1 seeded team and losing a close match against the #4 seed) while I stayed here at home with D. and J. Being as I don't work, you wouldn't think that my workout schedule would have been affected much...at least, I didn't think it would.  Boy, was I wrong.

Jeff left Tuesday of the red week.  I will grant that the blue week was maybe a little overboard; opportunities just kept presenting themselves.  Still, quite a difference.  Having Jeff and N both gone deprived me of two potential "babysitters", leaving only D who's gone quite a lot between two jobs and an active social life.  My only run after Jeff left was on Wednesday, when I ran along with J to the Y, and Saturday's bike ride was courtesy of J's attendance at a birthday party.

Yes, I could have probably arranged things a little differently during the red week, but J isn't a big fan of the day care room at the Y (kids are all little) or hanging by the gym while I work out. I wouldn't be comfortable leaving him alone either asleep or awake while I ran in the neighborhood.  It was OK for an isolated week, but if this was my permanent situation, I'd definitely have to do some serious arranging in order to maintain regular training.  Like I said, I have a new appreciation for how easy it typically is for me to do what I want to do...and I'll sure be glad to see my husband tomorrow night!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Days

Bright and early Tuesday morning, I took Jeff and N. to the airport.  They're spending a week in California for one of N's volleyball tournaments, leaving D, J, and I here to resentfully stick pins into their voodoo dolls make the best of staying in Illinios (last year I missed the California trip because I had a week-long bike trip that conflicted with it; this year, we just didn't have the money for all of us to go.  It's a little harder to have a good attitude about it this year...).  Because I feel bad that Jeff has to get up early and work while I'm off all summer, I usually go to bed when he does, but with him out of town I've been staying up late trying to finish an online class and getting (finally) into watching "Lost".  Since J's internal clock is set at about 7:30, it's made for some sleepy mornings.

Losing two of my babysitters (and those late nights) have really cut into my training time this week.  I've made it to the gym for my strength workouts, and I've gotten in a little running and swimming since they left.  Since I had such a full training week last week, I'm not going to stress over it.  D's been working most of the week, but J and I have had some good times.  We met friends at the park and have spent a lot of time at the YMCA pools.

One thing I've been trying to do is walk or ride my bike for more errands.  We live pretty much in the center of town, so it's not too hard...as long as I overcome my propensity to wait until the last minute before going somewhere.  I managed to bribe convince J to ride his bike to the Y to go swimming with the offer of ice cream afterwards but only if he rode his bike.  Since he had a Dippin' Dots gift card, it didn't even cost me anything except the ice cream I ate too.

En route
I lowered J's bike seat so that his feet could touch the ground in the hopes that I'd be able to ride with him, but since this was only his second ride after a winter off the bike, he was still a little unsteady.  Not comfortable with him riding the city streets like that, I ran next to him carrying our towels and stuff in a backpack.  The way there was pretty good, especially once we got to the bike path and I could stop worrying about cars.  It was funny, because as he rode I found myself channeling my bike friends: "Don't look right in front of you...just kind of look ahead on the path to where you want to go"..."you know, this would be easier if you were going a little faster"..."you can do it, I know you can!"  Do as I say, not as I do.

The way back, after swimming...not so fun.  I never had lunch, so by 3:30 and after swimming I was pretty drained.  This time, J was cruising ahead and I was struggling to run anywhere near him.  Finally, I had to call ahead and ask him to stop and wait for me.  The stopping...that's always been his problem.  He slowed down, kind of swerved across the path, and stopped, upright.  He had the biggest grin on his face. :)  Definitely worth the ice cream stop!

Satisfied customer
Incidentally, his shirt was one that my older boys wore when they were his age.  I love that.
He did make sure to tell me, "You know I only did this for the ice cream," but when I said "Isn't it pretty cool to be able to ride your bike places?" he agreed.  I may end up with a cyclist on my hands yet.

Because I've been busy with that class, he's spent a little more time playing on his own or watching TV in spite of my general no TV during school hours rule that I felt guilty enough to be seduced by Family Fun magazine into doing a craft project.  I'm not a crafty person, and as usual, this ended up being more expensive and labor intensive than I had pictured it being.   But still, it turned out pretty cool.

Contact paper stencil on shirt

Spray-on dye--score!
Note that the stencil is pretty saturated.  That turned out to be a bad thing because it soaked underneath and messed up our picture.  On the second try (back of shirt), we used newspaper to blot the excess from the stencil after each go round with the colors.
Serious focus to get his camo pattern just right

The finished project!
I think it turned out pretty cool.  We didn't tie dye it because I wasn't sure how the stencil would do with the shirt all twisted up, but I tugged up parts of the shirt so it was wrinkled.  Then, when the spray hit it, parts wouldn't get dye on them.  Each time we switched colors, I re-wrinkled the shirt.  I think it more or less gives the right effect.  Anyway, J liked it enough that today we're working on a new one.  Um...yea...

...and today, our park/pool plans thwarted by rain (which is also screwing up tonight's Shakespeare in the Park and tomorrow morning's mountain bike ride), we hit the gym at the Y to shoot some hoops with my unwilling nephew.


J and A playing ball.  J has been all about shooting baskets in the driveway, and it's starting to pay off.  He did pretty well on the regulation height rims, and A hung in there longer than I expected him to.

Now, I'm back to my online class, and you're pretty much caught up to life around here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: The New Rules of Lifting for Women

Back in January, I blogged about my goals for the year. Number 6 was "Go to the gym/strength workout 1x week."  That's not very often, but usually I do much better by setting low goals that are easily surpassed than by setting more ambitious goals and promptly failing them.  Even with setting the bar very low, though, I think I made it to the gym about 8 times between January and May, and all of those were to use the treadmill. I was on track to completely failing my strength training goal.

Before, any strength training I did was just aimlessly using the Nautilus machines at the gym.  I didn't really know what to do or have money for a personal trainer, and those seemed pretty idiot-proof. Then, I was reading a friend's blog following his family's progress in training for a marathon and in response to one of my comments, he suggested I check out The New Rules of Lifting for Women.  I trust his advice, so I ordered the book, and I'm so glad I did.  I'm one of those people who does better with a plan--somebody else's plan that I can just follow.  For me, this book is that plan.

The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess
The full title is The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess.  That sounds pretty good to me.  It basically has three parts:
  • Dispelling the myth that if you lift heavy weights you'll end up looking like a musclebound man and building a case for lifting heavier free weights.
  • Rationale behind fueling for muscle building (hint: you'll probably eat more)
  • Detailed strength training plan
  • "Diet" plan (I put "diet" in quotation marks because it isn't a diet as we typically think of the word)
I've read the book all of the way through once, most of the way through again, and I continually refer back to it.  I've bought into the program, for sure.  I like the way that he built evidence for the type of exercise and for the way that you should be eating.  I love the strength training.  I need something very detailed.  Do this, this is how.  Next, do this and this.  That's just how the book is set up.  It focuses strongly on free weights and calls for strength workouts 2-3 times a week. Other than one week where I only got in two workouts because my shoulder was sore from volleyball, I've been consistently at the gym 3x week for the past month or so. 

The one part I don't love is the chapter on the diet plan.  It has charts to help you figure out how many calories you should be eating (for a lot of women, probably more than you think), information on the amount of protein you should be eating (for me, WAY more than I typically eat...this has been a real challenge), and some sample recipes.  Remember how I said I need specifics?  This isn't specific enough for me.  Now, that's mostly my failing rather than the book's.  For someone who doesn't need their information spoon-fed to them, it would probably be sufficient.

Like I said, I've been consistently following the strength plan for a few weeks.  I haven't yet seen much difference on my body, but I'm definitely seeing an improvement in the amount of weight that I can lift.  For example, I started out doing squats with just the 45 pound bar, and now I'm up to 105 pounds (on purpose...I did do two sets of 115 pounds because of a math error, but that was pretty uncomfortable.  By the end of the week, though, I should be back to 115 for real).   It's quite a process...there are a total of 7 stages--18 total workouts in the first stage, and then between 8-10 workouts in the subsequent stages. (If you buy the book, do a google search of the title and you'll find several websites where people have made up training logs.  You'll have to have some info from the book in order to access the logs, but they're pretty handy.)

I've started following the eating part a little bit, and I'm planning to really look at what I'm eating a little better so that I'm full-on "on the plan".  Then, when I'm finished with all of the stages, I'll show you my progress. I have some atrocious pictures of me in my shorts and sports bra to serve as "before" pictures.  Hopefully I have some thin good after pictures so that I can show them side by side when I'm finished with the program.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A kinder, gentler training report

I've been called out a few times lately, both in person and online, for being too hard on myself as far as my training goes.  Hearing this from different sources, it made me think.  I am, I guess, but there are a few things behind that.
  • A lot of my self-criticism on the blog is pretty tongue-in-cheek.  I mean, it's accurate, but I'm not at home crying over being the worst swimmer or the slowest runner.  I'm pretty comfortable with laughing at myself.  It comes from having three brothers, I think. :)
  • I think maybe it's a girl thing to not really toot your own horn (you know, other than referring to myself as SuperKate. lol)
  • I want to give an accurate description of myself.  I'd rather play down my abilities and pleasantly surprise people than talk myself up and then be unable to live up to that.
  • When I am at the level I want to be (does that ever happen?), I want to be able to look back and see how far I've come.
  • I'm lucky enough to have some pretty amazing athletes and kickass people who let me tag along with them.  I'm comparing myself to them, not me.
I'm comparing myself to them, not me.  I'd been thinking over what I'd been told about being too critical when I read this today.  It's by Stacey at RBR, and if you don't read her blog you probably should.  She's hilarious and is a kind of unlikely athlete who has accomplished some major things.  She's also currently raising money with Team in Training.

On Saturday, I ran 5 miles, outside without stopping. I was really proud I could do it. It has been a long time since I have gone that far without walking. I did not want to write that because I was getting caught up in where I have been previously with running. Didn't I run a 50K last October? Who gives a shit about 5 miles?

I do.

I have always believed you have to take your wins where you can get them. You start from where you are, not where you were, or where you want to be. I have done some pretty cool (and frankly shocking) long distance running. Does that mean I do not get to be proud of myself again until I run 35 miles? Fuck that. I am more of an instant gratification girl. I would rather be proud now.

Isn't that something?

And you know what? I would rather be proud now. Instead of being almost at the point of tears once today because I could not keep up and everyone had to keep waiting on me, I'm going to stop comparing myself with all of the experienced riders (and with the braver newer ones) and just remember where I started and be proud of where I am now.  Am I where I want to be? No, but I'm moving in the right direction. And luckily, I have friends who are helping me get there.
My friend Robin is sponsored by Trek and part of that involves leading some rides.  She and Patrick both made sure I knew about it, and she even picked me up for the drive this morning.  I had a long day and a late night last night, so I was really glad to just be able to ride along.  After the obligatory Quik Trip stop to feed our soda addictions, we headed to meet the others at Lost Valley.
I've run a couple of times at Lost Valley, and today was the third time I've ridden there.  It was actually the site of my first mountain bike ride (well, my first one on a mountain bike, anyway) back in January, as well as a ride with my friend Wendy in April, so I guess it provides a good opportunity to measure progress. (I'm dying to add "or lack thereof", but that wouldn't be kind or gentle.)

Patrick, Bill, Chuck, Robin, Mark
*One funny thing about going riding with other bloggers is that there are always photo ops and no one rolls their eyes when you say you need to get a picture for the blog.  I'll be stealing pictures from Patrick and Robin and adding them here once I see theirs.*

The day started off a little cool. Temperatures in the 60's? What's that?  Once we were riding, though, it was perfect.  The trails are in FANTASTIC shape.  The dirt was packed so well that it was almost like riding on the road.  There's a mile or so of crushed limestone doubletrack from the parking lot to the beginning of the Lost Valley trails.  I can cruise on the flats.  One thing that riding my hybrid for two years did for me was give me strong legs (that, and a level of comfort being in the back of any cycling group).  I imagine the lifting I've been doing helps, too.

The first big hill down, though, still scares the heck out of me.  It's gravel, bigger gravel, and rutted.  I was holding onto my brakes all of the way down.  Just like last time, I got to the bottom of the hill, didn't see anyone, and turned.  Pretty quickly, though, I realized that they'd all probably headed up the next hill, so I turned around and had to start up it with almost no momentum.  In the future, if we're starting at the top of a hill, I just need to make sure and establish which way the group will go at the bottom, because otherwise I'm doomed to wander the trails alone. 

Well, at least until the group finds me.  I had just finished slogging up the next hill when Robin and Patrick found me and we rode to catch up with the rest of the group.  I could keep up just fine on the doubletrack, but it was a different story on the singletrack.  Until I build more confidence, I'm just going to be slower.

This dip is bigger than it looks. 
The bottom of the picture is the beginning of the downhill, and the other side rises fairly steeply.
The above dip is almost the first thing you tackle once you get onto the singletrack.  The first time I rode it, I didn't go into it with enough speed and almost ended up rolling back down it.  Today was the first time I've ridden it where I made it the whole way though without having to put a foot down.

Patrick kind of hung back with me for quite a while.  It was nice of him to keep me company and push me to be a little braver.  Of course, I heard the same refrain from him that all of my bike friends tell me: That would be easier if you kept more speed going into it.  I know they're right.  I guess it's just a matter of building confidence in myself and my bike.  I definitely spent a lot of time on the brakes that first lap, and they were squealing again today so a) the lousy traitors informed on me every time I used them and b) everyone within earshot of me today probably is still hearing that terrible sound.

I rode part of this section with Wendy and made it about halfway up the other side.  I didn't ride it any of the three times we passed it today.  I'm trying to be okay with that and know that I'll work up to it, but I'm also frustrated with myself for giving in to being scared.  Especially when I get up to it and it doesn't even look like that big of a climb.

I noticed today that I definitely do better on gentle uphills because I can just ride without feeling the need to brake so much.  Going downhill still makes me really nervous, as does building up much speed at all.  Since I'm fairly strong on flat sections, I just need to work on climbing hills, too, and then maybe I can at least make up a little of the time that I lose on twisty or downhill sections.

Our second loop today started with another climb.  The climb that seemed like it would never end.  For close to the first half, I was able to stay up with some of the guys, but eventually I dropped behind them, I think when I downshifted.  I definitely spent a lot of that time in my granny gears.  Towards the top of the hill, Patrick rode up next to me and I tried to beat him to catching up with the forward group but I couldn't drp him. :)

I spent more of the second loop by myself, but that was fine.  I was pretty comfortable with the trail and felt better not dragging everybody else back.  You don't know how hard it was to not keep apologizing nonstop to them about making them wait so much.  I just kept thinking about a line that Robin wrote in her report last year about Conquer Castlewood, something like "She should never apologize, she's out there trying" or something like that.  Of course, that lady wasn't holding a whole group of people back.

Foggy lens from being in the back pocket of my jersey. Hopefully you can still see how pretty the trails are.
The second loop went better.  I spent much less time holding onto my brakes and more time pedaling.  I made it up most of the hills, though there were a couple I ended up walking short portions of because I couldn't get over a root or a rock and lost my momentum.  In one of my how to mountain bike books (Patrick and I were talking about the differences in how we learn...he's more of a go out and do it person while I'm one to read all about something...because you know there's no better way to learn to ride a bike besides reading a book about it, right? :P), I had read something about keeping traction going up steeper hills.  Something like pushing and pulling against the handlebars.  Anyway, today is the first time that clicked for me, and I felt like it really helped me tackle a few of the hills.

And the last hill is a doozy.  It's not quite as long as the other hill, but it's still long, and the very top is steep.  Riding up to it, I was already in my smallest chainring in front and wondering if how I was going to make it all the way up.  I was trying to stay mentally strong and not concede to the hill before I even got there, but I knew it was going to be tough.  And it was, but probably my one saving grace is that I've walked up that hill and know it's almost as bad to walk up as to ride up.  I made it to the top, and then we cruised back to the parking lot for lunch courtesy of Trek.  24 miles on the mountain bike and a pretty good day, overall.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Remedial Swimming

At our Tuesday meeting, my tri club voted funds to pay for coached swim sessions at our local Y.  The rationale is that we are, after all, a tri club, and of the three disciplines, swimming is the one most affected by form.  I, for one, was very happy about this development, because I'd like to do a triathlon at some point, and I'm well aware that swimming is my weakest area.  I'd had in my head that I was going to need to get some coaching/swim lessons, so the fact that my club was willing to provide them for me was a huge plus.

Until today, when I actually had to go.  I was decidedly unenthusiastic about the whole thing.  As I was groaning and stomping upstairs to put on my 10 year old one-piece suit, Jeff asked what was wrong.  "I really don't want to go to this," I answered.  I'm sure he was wondering what my problem was, since no one was twisting my arm to go.

So, the wardrobe thing.  I wear a two piece tankini.  It has a little skirty bottom, so my ass doesn't hang out.  It has a low-cut top, to distract from my flabby middle.  Ugh, my stomach.  Three children and years of being sedentary and eating crap have not been kind to it.  I used to think I'd get a boob job when we had the money and have everything put back where it started (gravity = enemy), but now I'd settle for a tummy tuck and just invest in plenty of underwire.  But I digress.

The point is that I'm not so comfortable putting on a tank suit that shows me in all my Buddha-like glory.  Oh, and I can swim well enough to not drown.  I can swim well enough to keep my youngest safe.  But I'm not a good swimmer at all, and going to swim with people who are reasonably good swimmers is intimidating (even if they're really nice people).  I don't like doing things I'm not good at...but Facebook wasn't having any of that.

My friends don't let me get away with whiny, wimpy stuff like that.  Not that I had any illusions that I'd get a different response...which is probably half the reason I posted it.

So, there I was, at the pool with three guys from the club and coach Denny, and I was definitely the slow learner of the group.  Two of the guys swim regularly, are triathletes, and participate in swim competitions.  One has been a club member since 1985.  And then there's me.  I think I might have been taking my last swimming lessons in 1985.  It did not start off pretty.
  • We started off with a drill.  I made it about halfway down the length of the pool ok and then my breathing was all messed up.  For the rest of that lap I had trouble keeping my face in the water.
  • Another drill.  Even less pretty.
  • Coach Denny decides to back up and just work with us on body positioning.  Thanks to Doug and Jim for their patience in reviewing all the stuff they already know and very gracious help.
  • Front float drill to work on finding center of gravity, keeping body straight in water instead of trying to swim "out of the water".  I hold my breath for about 8.2 seconds before having to take my face out of the water.
  • This sucks.  This sucks.  I can't do this.  But that's why I'm here.  So I can do this.  But it sucks.
Then it got a little better.
  • Side kicks--one arm stretched out in front of you, the other arm and shoulder out of water, head in water but face out, kick the length of the pool.  Switch arms for return length. This, this I can do! Seriously, that one ounce of success made a huge difference for me.
  • Side kicks again--I can still do it.  Yea...I'm good at something!
  • Oh,crud...I can't remember what this was called--Start off with side kicks, after 10-count (or whenever you're comfortable), switch over to the other side.  This, of course, necessitates putting your face in the water.  When you're ready to switch, first look down your outstretched arm, then pull up your trailing arm, touch hands, switch over to other side (sorry if that sounds too complicated...this part is really more for me to remember, anyway). 
  • First switch goes great; second I'm overconfident and end up totally screwing up the switch and breathing in water; third goes badly, too, but then I'm at the wall.  On the return trip, again, the first switch goes well and the next doesn't.  Coach Denny tells me I'm still trying to keep my face too much out of the water.
  • Work on stroke length (TWSS)--count strokes as you swim length of the pool (25 yards).  I feel pretty good as I swim, but halfway down I realize Oh, crap! I'm supposed to be counting! I count when I remember to for the rest of the time and get 17, but it's probably more like 34.  The most anyone else has is 16.  On the plus side, when I'm busy counting strokes I forget to freak out about my breathing.
  • We talk some more about really stretching out the stroke, then go for the return trip trying to do it in fewer.  This time I get 20.  I also notice that I'm not nearly as winded as I was the other times down the pool.
Some things I took away from tonight:
  • "Body position is more important than breathing"--says the man with his face out of the water.
  • "Slow is smooth, smooth is quick"--focus on doing it right, the speed comes with that.
  • The longer you make your body, the faster you can move through the water. 
  • Get the most out of your stroke length, pull all the way through to your thigh.
  • Get your face in the water.  Be flatter, not inclined. 
  • Breathe out while you're in the water so you can grab a "bite" of air when you surface and aren't wasting your time trying to breathe out and in (big problem for me).
  • Your stroke should pull you further in the water, not push the water away from you.
  • Be a speedboat, not a barge.
Overall, it was both just as bad as and a little better than I expected. I know the coaching will help me; there's just a long way to go.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trial and error

Note: if you skim all this, do me a favor and don't miss the question at the bottom. :)

My training had a couple of self-inflicted hiccups Saturday.  First, I got to go riding with my awesome sister-in-law on Saturday. She just got a road bike for her birthday in April and is planning to do the Tour de Donut this year, so she wanted to get in some miles.  We planned to meet at my house at 7 am, and since she was running a little behind I had time to check my tires and make sure they were properly aired up.  I felt all proud and responsible.

The road bike has presta valves (I included the link because I have to look it up every time to remember which is which), which are new for me.  I knew there was a little piece that had to be loosened to put in the air, and I took it off.  Ummm...bad move.  I got the tire aired out, and then as soon as I took the pump off the tube deflated.  So, instead of me being ready to go when Kristy got there, she had to wait while I changed my tire.  Grrr.  On the other hand, I managed successfully, so I guess it was good practice.

Kristy bike
Kristy on the trail
We rode on the local bike trails.  They're beautiful, lack car traffic and stoplights, and have a variety of different loops you can take.  The good/bad thing about them is that they are very flat.  It makes for an easier ride, but not the best training if you stick to them alone.  Even with the flat trails, though, both of our rears were ready for a little break and water refill a little more than halfway through.

All smiles
Truly unflattering picture of me.
We rode 27.5 miles and were very glad to have gotten an early start because the heat was climbing by the time we rolled back into my driveway.  Great ride!

After lunch and some picking up around the house, Jeff, D, and I went to the gym.  J wasn't excited to have to wait in one of the open areas outside of the gym while we worked out, but I bribed him with swimming afterwards.  I'm still sticking to my New Rules of Lifting for Women workout plan, and the first exercise on my list was squats.  Last time I'd done 65 pounds without trouble, so I bumped it up to 70.  As soon as I lifted the bar I was shocked by how much heavier that extra 5 pounds made it...I didn't remember 65 being bad at all.  Still, I got through both sets and wondered on and off for the rest of the day what the deal was.

I knew I had put on 70 pounds because I'd checked the weights a couple of times.  I just assumed that my math had been off in the past.  Eventually that afternoon I realized what the problem had been.  I forgot that the bar weighs 45 pounds and had loaded on an additional 70 pounds...so instead of squatting 70 I was doing 115.  Oops.  Turns out I'm stronger than I had thought. :)

In addition to my dumber moments, I've managed to pack a lot into the last couple days. 

Saturday: bike ride, gym session, pool tag with J.

Sunday: We had a big group to play sand volleyball at Jeff's dad's. What a blast! For a while we even had three teams of 5, the rest of the time we just subbed in a player or two.  It's a lot of fun since my older boys are big enough to scare the crap out of me when they hit play with us, and both of them had friends who came along and added to the fun.

Monday: Got a tweet from Patrick while I was still in bed.

Of course I wanted to ride! I sent back that I could around 9:30, but I missed the reply and was in my pajamas when I opened the door at 9:45.  Sorry! 15 minutes later, though, we were out the door.  (Thank you, N, for babysitting.)  We rode almost the same route as I did with Kristy, and while for the most part I felt good, there were definitely times when I had to push to keep up...like any time following a corner.  We rode 28 miles and I, at least, had a great time.  Hopefully I didn't slow down Patrick too much.

I hit the pool again with the boys, and the cool water felt great on a day where the temperature registered around 100.  Of course, everyone else in town had the same idea, but at least we got there before the pool reached capacity.  We had to leave in time for me to start supper and then get N. to club volleyball practice in St. Louis. 

These 2-3 times a week practices in St. Louis are a pain during the school year, but it's kind of nice during the summer because they practice early enough for me to run instead of sitting in a gym for 2 hours.  Of course, running in the afternoon in this area means you're looking at high temps, and Monday was no exception.  The heat was "down to" 94 by the time I put on my running shoes.  I used my 2Toms Blister Shield that Amanda won for me from Laima--I haven't had any blisters since I started using it (yea!) and discovered a new use for it yesterday.

I'm still getting used to the new bike seat, and with doing my two longest rides since March, I'm a little chafed and was already uncomfortable before starting out.  I wasn't looking forward to the sweat stinging my raw inner thighs and rear end, so it occurred to me that maybe the Blister Shield could help me out there, too.  To the casual passer-by, I probably looked a little like Pee Wee Herman in the back row of the movie theater, but I had no problems with stinging or chafing on my very hot, sweaty run, so it was worth it!

The trailhead for Grant's Trail is only about 8 minutes from N's gym, so it's super convenient.

Despite the heat and humidity, the trail was very busy with cyclists, walkers, rollerbladers, and a couple other runners.  The runners definitely looked the most miserable.  I haven't run much at all since the marathon, and I haven't run anything longer than 5 miles since then, so my only goal was to run 6 miles.  Well, to go 6 miles.  With the heat, I was fine with walking if I needed to.  I took it very easy and was very thankful for all of the shady spots.

The worst part was the third mile, not because it was so hard but because I thought it would never end.  The trail is marked in half mile increments and I kept waiting and waiting for that 2.5 mile mark.  It was the longest half mile I've ever run...and of course it was the wide open part of the trail with sun beating down on me.  Finally I saw the trail marker up ahead of me and was praying that I had somehow missed the 2.5 marker.  Yes! 3 miles...I could turn around.

I actually finished a lot stronger than I started...of course, I knew I had an extra water bottle in the car.  Splits were 11:00, 11:05, 11:06, 11:07, 10:53, 10:31.  6 miles, done. :) I was very, very glad to have that one finished, and I made it back just as N's practice had finished.  Good thing I didn't have to walk much!

When I got home, Jeff and I made a quick trip to the gym so that I could do my New Rules workout...perhaps not the best idea to cram all that into one day, but it worked out. 

The Question: Along with the strength training, The New Rules is big on getting plenty of protein.  I'm used to eating for low-fat or just eating a fairly balanced diet, but trying to add protein is proving to be harder for me.  One of their recommendations is whey protein powder, which isn't cheap, so I've been trying (not so successfully) to come up with other ways.  Suggestions?  How do you increase the amount of protein in your diet?

Friday, June 3, 2011

The agony of defeat

Well, midnight came early for our Cinderella team. The drive up to Chicago was much longer than the two ugly games it took to send us back home empty handed. And the shame of it is that we pretty much beat ourselves. It was a great season, despite the disappointing end. 26-2 and finishing in the top 8 of the state is nothing to sneeze at. Still, it's a quiet car driving home, and we're the proud parents of a disappointed 18 yr old (who probably thought he'd have the house to himself), a disappointed 16 yr old (who really wanted to win), and a devastated 7 yr old (who really wanted to stay in a hotel tonight).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Training update

My training has been a little aimless lately since I'm not actively training for something.  I had planned to train towards a 5K PR in a local race this past Saturday, but then the end of school came, and my son's graduation, and life got busy, and I stayed up too late to get up early...and in the end I didn't do the 5K anyway because money is tight right now and it seemed a little irresponsible to do two races in one weekend. 

So.  We've established that I lack proper self-motivation without the specter of abysmal failure in a race staring me in the face.  Solution: register for a race, quickly.  We've also established that my super powers don't extend to money handling.  Solution: get a second job, quickly.  Does anyone know of a good part time job that won't take much time, is pretty easy, won't require me to get a babysitter, pays decently, and will drop right into my lap without me actively looking for it?  No?  Well, there's always Ramen noodles.

Anyway, training...

One of my goals for this year was to incorporate strength training into my routine.  That goal languished until my friend Luke suggested I check out The New Rules of Lifting for Women.  I'll write an actual review of the book soon, but I've read through it twice and am on my fourth week of its strength training program.  I'm liking it.  I do best when someone tells me what I need to do (don't tell my husband), and the plans are pretty easy to follow.

One thing that isn't as easy for me is the emphasis on free weights/cable machines over the Nautilus-type machines which I've always used because they're pretty idiot-proof.  The free-weight section of the gym has always been intimidating to me, so I conscripted my 16-year old athlete son to come with me.  He's had to lift for years for his various sports, so he could show me what to do, right?  Sadly, he didn't want to play trainer for his gym-impaired mom, so once I got started he abandoned me for the basketball court.

Luckily, the book gives clear instructions and pictures of each exercise.  Not wanting to take it with me every time and be laughed at as I page through to re-read the instructions, I made a little cheat sheet.

Staggering artistic talent, I know.
I'm planning to follow the book's plan and hopefully have some good before/after shots to prove how effective it is.  I was going to have Jeff take my picture in a sports bra and shorts for my "before", but he's balking.  Unfortunately, my sports bras are about as sexy as orthopedic shoes, but he's not so up on the idea of me posting the picture here.  Of course, even if he comes around and takes it (or I just get one of my kids to take it), it'll still only get posted if I like the "after" results, so stay tuned. 

Week of May 8:

Wednesday: 2 mile run/walk to J's school; 5 miles speedwork (800's were 3:50, 3:44, 3:47)
Friday: 2 miles, 10:07 pace
Saturday: 2 mile hike

Week of May 15:

Thursday: 2 mile run/walk to J's school, 1.5 hours on singletrack
Saturday: 6 hilly miles @ 10:52 pace

Week of May 22:

Sunday: Conquer Castlewood--5 mile run/5 mile mountain bike
Monday: 40 minutes strength training--NROLFW workout 1A1
Tuesday: road bike--36 miles (18 on my own, 18 later with friends)
Wednesday: 40 minutes strength training--NROLFW workout 1B1
Friday: 40 minutes strength training--NROLFW workout 1A2
Friday-Saturday: marathon cleaning for son's high school graduation party
**Friday was my last day of school. :)

Week of May 29:

Sunday: 5 hours of sand volleyball (perhaps not a great taper activity before a race)
Monday: Highland Biathlon--5 mile run/15 mile road bike; 2 hours sand volleyball 2-man
Tuesday: ran 3.4 miles on cross-country course
Wednesday: road bike--15 miles
Thursday: walked 1+ miles with J, ran 1.5 miles; 40 min strength training NROLFW workout 1B2

I've been exhausted this week.  Ridiculously tired, especially when you consider that I'm not working.  More tired, in fact, than when I was working.  It's been an emotional last week or so, what with graduation and volleyball playoffs, and I'm pretty sure it didn't help to play all that volleyball on top of training and racing...but the price of getting to do what I want to do is still doing what my husband wants to do so he doesn't resent my training and racing getting in the way of our time.  Tomorrow is a rest day (well, except for my voice...I've almost got it back from Tuesday night's sectional championship match, and I'll be cheering like a crazy person tomorrow again), and I can certainly use it!