Archive for September, 2010

Writing in another form…

I’m busy writing and editing my personal statement for school applications.  I’ll be back to blogging as soon as it’s done and submitted. I was going to take a short break to update here while attempting to break through a bit of writer’s block, but I just had an idea and I’m heading out. Wish me luck!

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Back to the Gym

After a short work day today, I headed to the gym to meet Curtis and his dad for a workout.  I got there first and actually did a lifting workout.  Woohoo!  I was feeling more than a little discouraged last time I lifted because all the weights that used to be light for me felt so heavy.  Tonight was much better though.  Since I’m easing into weight lifting, I kept the weights light for this first session just to get used to it again.  I did workout A from stage 1 of the NROLW:

A. Squat – 2 sets of 15 reps @ 65 lbs barbell with 60 s RI

B1. Push-up – 2 sets of 15 reps @ BW with 60 s RI

B2. Seated row – 2 sets of 15 reps @ plate 7/8 with 60 s RI (not sure of the weight of the plates, it was probably about 50 lbs?)

C1. Step-ups – 2 sets of 15 reps @ 15 lbs dumbbells with 60 s RI

C2. Prone jackknife – 2 sets of 8 reps @ BW with 60 s RI

After my lifting, I got on the treadmill for about 35 minutes and did alternating 5 minutes walking with 5 minutes running.  I haven’t been on the treadmill in months and it was incredibly boring.  I can’t believe I spent all last winter running on the treadmill to train for my half-marathon, because I know there’s no way I could do that now.  I think my only saving grace was that the Olympics were on for so much of the time last winter.

Tomorrow I’m going running with a friend after work.  We’re planning to run outside, so I’m hoping the temperature drops to a tolerable level by the time we go- it’s supposed to reach 91 degrees tomorrow!  I thought we were done with the summer heat, but apparently it’s not quite gone yet.

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New Plan

I’m going to pull a fast one on you and do a workout switch for this week (and the next few weeks).  Curtis signed us up to run an 8K on October 16 with some friends in Arlington, so I decided I should actually do some training for it.  I found Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 8k training plan and thought it would be a good option, or at least the last four weeks of it.  I think my base running fitness is sufficient to make up for the first 4 weeks of the 8 week plan and I can just start at week 5.

So tonight, I ran 4 miles with dog, Curtis and my father-in-law who is in town in tow.  We set a pretty quick pace for me, and ran my typical 4 mile loop around town.  We didn’t start till after 7PM, so it was already dark out and as I’ve mentioned I haven’t got any reflective gear yet.  I came up with a great solution though!  I attached a small LED flashlight to Tara’s collar so that it hung down and pointed at the ground.  It worked perfectly to light the pathway! And it didn’t seem to bother her one bit!  We were a bit worried that it would be too bright and she wouldn’t be able to see and that it would be uncomfortable, but I think since it pointed straight at the ground it wasn’t in her eyes at all and her running stride seemed to keep it pretty steady so it didn’t seem to bother her either.  I will feel much safer with this solution on the dark, unlit paths around here and add a little reflective gear and we will be good to go for the paths through the woods or near the roads.

By the way, 4 miles isn’t exactly on the plan for today, but it was a happy medium since it’s already Tuesday.  The plan has rest days on Friday, but I know that realistically I need my rest days to be Mondays, so my schedule will look something like this:

M: Rest

T: Easy 3 mile run

W: Moderate 5-6 mile run

R: Intervals or Tempo run

F: 3-4 mile run

S: Cross training

S: Long run
I would like to get in some weight training.  I still haven’t committed to starting NROLW again and I would really like to get back into it.  I originally wanted to lift 3 days a week, but I think that it is unreasonable right now to go from 0 gym days to 3+ gym days a week.  I need to gradually ease myself into it.  So, I’m going to start with doing what I can during the next four weeks then try to ease myself into the lifting program with two days a week of good heavy lifting.

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Oy Vey…

After my one very successful morning run, I have not yet managed to drag myself out of bed to repeat the experience.  I swore this morning would be THE morning, but alas, when my alarm went off at 5:30AM and it was still pitch black out I rationalized that I shouldn’t run in the dark until I get some reflective gear. (Note to self: add buying reflective gear to already overly long list of things to do).  I’ve decided that Mondays just aren’t good for morning workouts, all Mondays should be rest days!  But that means that other days should actually include some sort of physical activity.  If I make a list here, will you hold me accountable?  Please, oh please leave me a very stern comment or shoot me an email telling me to get my butt back out there.

Workouts for this week:

Tuesday: Weight Lifting (NROLW) after work

Wednesday: Run 30 minutes Hill repeats or Intervals (morning)

Thursday: Run? after work

Friday: Weight Lifting (NROLW) after lab or between labs if I can get my student ID this week

Saturday: Run 4 mile loop

Sunday: Weight Lifting (NROLW) or Swim

You probably won’t see me doing too much bike riding in the near future.  I’m more burnt out on that one that swimming or running.  For some reason the thought of even getting in the saddle completely demotivates me right now.

Have a great week!

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Good Morning, Run!

Woohoo! I finally got my butt out of bed for a workout this morning!  My alarm went off at 6AM and I dragged myself out of bed at 6:05, got dressed, wasted some time fixing my Yanx laces, leashed the dog and headed out for a run.  We only did a short 35 minutes including a warm-up and cool down, but for the first time since Timberman, I felt fantastic.  The temperature was perfect- a bit chilly but I warmed up quickly once I started moving. My pace was probably pretty slow, and my heart rate was still spiking a bit more than normal.  My perceived exertion, however, was much closer to normal than it had been lately.

I had forgotten how awesome it is to do my workout in the morning and just have it done!  Not only that, but it is a great way to wake-up and get to a good start.  I know a lot of people think that’s weird, but really, I have enjoyed working out in the morning since I was on my high school swim team and we practiced in the mornings.  My run this morning reminded me how much nicer it is to exercise in the morning.

Ok. I’ll stop gushing.

I admit, I am a bit more tired tonight than I would be if I had slept till my normal time of 7 or 7:30, but I think that my body clock will reset to this earlier wakeup call if I continue to get moving in the mornings.  Tomorrow I’m aiming to get to the gym first thing to do a short lifting workout.  I’m going to try and get up a bit earlier at 5:30AM to account for travel to the gym.  I’ve already got all my stuff packed up and ready to go for the  morning.  Now I just need to get to bed.

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Out on the Town

We had a very busy but also lazy weekend. I am finding it hard to get motivated to start working out again since every time I do I end up so sore.  So, I did no physical activity Saturday or Sunday beyond long walks with the dog.  I really need to take some time and figure out when I am going to exercise and just schedule it into my day so I can’t bail.  I’m thinking morning workouts might be the answer.

On Saturday evening, I finally got to meet fellow blogger, Amy and her boyfriend Drew.  I have been reading Amy’s current blog since she started it and read her previous blog since spring of last year.  She was originally supposed to do Timberman as her first half-Ironman also, but unfortunately broke her elbow while out in San Francisco for the Escape from Alcatraz race, so wasn’t able to do it this year.  We had a fabulous Thai dinner in DC followed by a very late night of DC nightlife.  Curtis’s birthday was Sunday, so we had to celebrate!   Amy was the good blogger with the camera, and has  a picture of the two of us posted on her blog.  I would say my first meeting of a blogger in real life was quite the success!

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Not Quite Recovered

I can’t believe how much time it’s taking to fully recover from Timberman.  I knew it took a lot out of me, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get back into my work outs.  I decided I would go for a short run on Friday after class with the dog.  I only wanted to do 30 minutes or so, it’s about all I had time to do since we had dinner plans that evening.  I started out walking as a warm-up for the first 4-5 minutes.  I stuck to the paths near my house, but I purposely picked a route with some pretty good hills so that I could do hill work.  Bad idea.  Even the shallow hills were causing my heart rate to spike.  It reached 194 and I could not get it to come back down.  Considering most of my runs in this area maxed in the 180s and averaged about 165 during HIM training, this was absurd.  My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.  I can’t let this be an excuse to continue being a lazy bum, though, so I’m going to just have to deal with it.  At least it was just my heart rate this time, my legs were a little weak, but feel like they’re getting back to normal.

This week will hopefully include some good weight workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  I’d like to run some too.  It’d be nice if I can get my schedule figured out so I can go running or to the gym in the morning before class.  If I could only get to bed just a bit earlier I think I could do it.

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Back to the Weight Room

After Timberman, I had one week of absolutely zero physical activity other than reflecting on the race. I could hardly walk the first three days, so it was not difficult to make exercise the lowest priority of my life. By the end of the week though, I started itching for something. I knew Curtis wanted to do some running races this fall, but I couldn’t get very excited about more run training, so decided I would start lifting again and do the New Rules of Lifting for Women program from the beginning.

The last time I didn’t complete the program because I was overwhelmed with HIM training, but this time I am determined to see it through. So I sat down and scheduled all my workouts. I decided to start on Tuesday, and the whole program would take me through the end of March. That is with doing 3 weight sessions per week and a rest week in between each stage.

Well, starting this only a week and a half after Timberman may have been a bit ambitious. I did stage 1, workout A last Tuesday and I was in pain the rest of the week. I used to squat ~110 pounds. On Tuesday I barely made it through my sets with 65 pounds. I’m sure that it was a combination of some strength loss and the fact that I was still recovering from the race, but wow! An unexpected day in the weight room!

After that workout I decided to put things on the back burner again for another week. Clearly my body isn’t bouncing back as quickly as usual and there’s no point in pushing for an off season injury. I’ll try again with the weights this week some time. I’m thinking some run intervals and speed work may be on the agenda soon too.

Anyone have good sources for short run speed workouts?

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Trying the Mobile Blogging thing…

I’ve been a very bad blogger. I have to confess that I actually started writing my race report the day after the race (8/23), it just took me an excessive amount of time to finish it. I’m chalking some of it up to general burn out. By mid-summer, I was so tired of training all the time that I had no desire to sit down, blog about it and still maintain a positive attitude. The rest is the simple inconvenience of having to type it all out at home while sitting in front of the computer after spending several hours at work sitting in front of a computer. I do most of my emailing, blog reading and general Internet surfing on my iPhone, but I thought it would be too much of a pain to write a blog on it. But I’ve decided that this blog has suffered enough and something has to change, so I’m giving this mobile blogging thing a shot. I just downloaded the wordpress app about 5 minutes ago and I must admit, the experience so far has been top notch. I had no issues syncing with my three blogs. Yes, I said three, and no, you are not missing out on anything exciting. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I have never published a single post on either. If I ever do, you will be the first to know! I digress. Several sentences into this post and I’m already enamored with this app. It allows me to type in landscape or portrait mode, save my posts midway and I’m hoping may even let me add pics (if successful you will see a random photo of my pets hanging out). So, what I’m really trying to say is, this app is superfantastic and is expected to drastically increase the number if posts I make in the near future. Enjoy!

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Ironman 70.3 Timberman Race Report

I did it!! I finished my first 70.3 Ironman.  🙂  I’m just a little behind in posting my race report…

Curtis and I left for New Hampshire on Friday morning before the race around 8:20AM.  I had for some reason convinced myself it was only an 8 hour drive, but really it would have been about 10 hours without traffic and ended up being about 11 hours total.  Traffic around NYC was pretty terrible, but other than that things weren’t too bad.  We arrived and checked into the hotel, but not without checking out the competition on the way in.   We were surrounded by triathletes and fancy bikes.  After my ogling, we unpacked the car and headed up to our room, which turned out to be quite nice – we had a nice big room with a king-sized bed.  We took some time to settle in a bit and then went to find dinner at Uno’s, where I had a delicious chicken and pasta dish (carb loading!).  After dinner we went back to the hotel and thought about going down to the hot tub, but we were both exhausted after the long day in the car and decided to go to bed and we would try to relax a bit in the hot tub on Saturday.

Saturday ended up being a surprisingly long and busy day.  We slept in until almost 9AM, and when we finally got up, we ran downstairs to take part in the continental breakfast that ended at 10AM.  I grabbed a bagel and some peanut butter and a banana plus an extra bagel and peanut butter for eating before the race.  I felt like a huge slacker when all the triathletes around were dressed in their workout clothes looking like they had just gotten back from a ride or a run.  I had planned to do a very short swim and/or run but nothing major, and I was going to try and fit it in after driving the bike course, which was my number one priority for the day, besides the mandatory meetings, check-in and bike check-in.  So after breakfast and a few errands to the grocery store and Wal-Mart, we headed up toward Ellacoya state park and found the bike course.  We didn’t start from the very beginning because the Sprint tri was that morning and we didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic.  I’d say we started about 2-3 miles in.  We did go off course a little in two places, but for the most part we got it right.  It started with hills and ended with hills.  The middle was slightly less hilly, but it wasn’t flat either- it was more of a gentle sloping.  I was not feeling prepared, especially after we started seeing all the triathletes out riding the course.  Were they crazy??  I wasn’t even considering trying to ride the course the day before!  After becoming sufficiently nervous about my preparation for the climbs, we finally finished driving the 56 miles.

It was closing in on 1:00PM quickly and I wanted to get to the Gunstock Mountain Resort and Timberman festival to register and attend meetings.  There was a 2:00PM first-timers meeting and 3:00PM mandatory race meeting, so we figured I could register and get to both meetings before heading back to the hotel to get my bike and head over to transition.  I picked up my numbers, timing chip and goody bag, signed my life away and grabbed some food just in time for the first-timers meeting to start.  I was surprised by the number of people who were doing their first 70.3 and even more surprised by the several people who raised their hands to say that this was their first triathlon at all!  Wow!  That’s ambitious!  There were some helpful tips, including the mechanics of a bottle hand-off at an aid station on a bike and how to use the wetsuit strippers.  🙂  Afterward was the mandatory pre-race meeting for everyone where they went over the rules and other logistical details.  Not too different from any other triathlon.

I picked up a Fuel Belt bento box for my bike at the festival, and then we hurried back to the hotel to grab my bike and drop it at transition.  Unfortunately, we got stuck in horrendous traffic due to a nearby concert, and it ended up taking a lot longer than planned.  We finally got to Ellacoya state park, I racked my bike and covered my saddle with a plastic bag to cover for the impending rain and we took a quick run (~15 minutes) as my only workout of the day.  We ran a tiny portion of the run loop (although we didn’t know it at the time) before quickly changing in the car and going to get dinner.  Luckily, we managed to find an alternate route away from the park and avoided the traffic on the way out.

Curtis had found some reviews on yelp for a great little Italian place called Ciao Pasta, so we headed there.  They make their own fresh pasta and you can “create your own meal” by choosing a pasta (one of theirs or another), a sauce and any extra protein or veggies.  I had a fresh cracked pepper fettuccine with a pomodoro sauce and grilled chicken, plus tons of fresh warm bread.  It was a delicious meal, especially considering I tried to choose one of the more “bland” options.  I was a little worried that too much cheese or tomato might upset my stomach, but luckily I had no issues.  It turned out to be the perfect pre-race meal- not too heavy, but enough carbs and protein to prepare me for the next day.

Once back at the hotel, I gathered all my gear together and laid it out for the early morning.  We went to bed right at 9:00PM, but I didn’t fall asleep for quite awhile afterward.  I really didn’t sleep very well at all  and I think I woke up several times throughout the night.

3:15AM, the alarm blaring in my ear signaled the start of the single longest day of my life.  I dragged myself out of bed, brushed my teeth, got dressed and filled my water bottles.  I grabbed the last few items that I hadn’t packed yet and we left for the race site.  It was surprising to see that most of the cars were still in the hotel parking lot and we seemed to be the first ones to be out and about.  On the way to Ellacoya, I ate my bagel and peanut butter that I had grabbed from the hotel on the previous morning.  Soon, we arrived at the park, and as it turned out, we were one of the first cars into the parking lot and got a prime spot very close to transition and right next to the finish chute.  It was right around 4AM, and we hung out in the car till transition opened at 5AM.  We found some hot water at the local firefighters’ stand, so I had my green tea that I had brought from home while we were waiting.

Finally, transition opened.  I stopped to get body-marked on the way – 2212 on my left arm, left hand, left quad and my age on my left calf.  I think the mark on my quad was still a bit visible three days later, despite scrubbing but all the others were gone by the end of the race.  Weird.  I’m really glad I brought a bright pink beach towel to use as my transition mat, it turned out being really easy to find amidst the sea of bicycles.  After I had everything arranged exactly as I wanted it, I pumped my front tire.  Then I went around and pumped my rear tire.  Both looked pretty good, but I managed to convince myself that the rear tire needed just a few more pumps of air.  As I removed the bike, I heard the valve break. Doh!  I didn’t really want to frustrate myself by changing the tire on race morning and it seemed to be holding air so I decided to leave it for the time being.  A half hour later, I would check the tire and if it didn’t have air in it or seemed to be leaking, I would change it.

I took all my nervous energy back to the car and tried to sit and relax with Curtis for a bit.  The time went by pretty fast, and soon enough it was time to check my tire again and use the bathroom for about the 4th time of the morning.  I ran into transition and found both tires still full of air and ready to go.  I decided I’d leave well enough alone and ran back to join Curtis in the Porta-potty line.  We wandered around to check out the swim exit and before we knew it they were clearing transition and calling for people to head to the swim start.  We joined the throngs to watch the pros (including Chrissie Wellington!!) start at 7:00AM.

Pro men went off first, followed by Pro women, then another hour before my swim wave would start at 8:05.  I got my wetsuit on around 7:15 and joined the line to the corral around 7:45.  It was an in-water start, but only about 2 feet deep and we waded in as soon as the previous wave left at 8:00AM.  I got my watch ready and my goggles on as the announcer gave us warnings every 30 seconds.  Finally, we were off!

I started the swim running into the water and got a few dolphin dives in.  I had lined up in the middle, but at the back so it was difficult to find clear water for dolphin dives.  I did stop a few times right at the beginning because my goggles were being uncooperative, but luckily I fixed them quickly and they gave me no trouble for the next 1.2 miles.  I was surprised at how mentally strong I felt in the water.  If anything suffered during training, it was my swimming and I was expecting my mindset to reflect that.  I guess I have had enough open water experience to relax and do what I know.  I was pretty sure I was dead-smack in the middle of my wave for the most part.  When I reached the first turn buoy, I started seeing white caps from the previous wave.  Shortly after, a few yellow caps started swimming over me (literally!).  Also around this time, the water got pretty choppy.  I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as churning as it was, there were moments when I actually thought I might be sick from the motion!  The next turn came quickly and then it was just the homestretch left.  I did peak at my watch at both turn buoys, so I had an idea of how long I’d been in the water (15 minutes and 24ish minutes) and knew I was on track.  My private goal for the swim was to finish in under 45 minutes, and I crossed the timing mats at 40:06!!

I had my wetsuit stripped and ran into transition to retrieve my bike and I was on my way.  About 3 miles in, I started to get paranoid about my tire.  I actually convinced myself that it was flat, so I pulled over and checked it.  It was completely full.  Silly me!  I was pretty quick and only 2 or 3 people passed me while I was stopped and I quickly passed one of them again.  I was still a bit paranoid about the tire for the rest of the ride, but I planned to ditch one water bottle at the first stop for Gatorade and alternate water and Gatorade for the whole ride.  The roads out of the park were not bad, but pretty soon the hills started.  I think I saw Chrissie Wellington leading the women before the first aid stop.  Around mile 10 was the biggest hill of the race, Marsh Hill and it was steep and it was long.  I just took it in my granny gears. We did see two pro women wipe out coming down the other side, so I knew it would be a fast and probably technical bit of riding. Soon, but not soon enough, I reached Route 106, which was the bulk of the course.  It was a long, straight and gradually sloping road that made for somewhat boring riding.  I got a kick out of the aid stations with some very over-the-top volunteers all dressed up in crazy outfits.  We even got to see Santa and his Elves at the North Pole!  Pretty soon we were climbing again.  This time, my bike got stuck in the big ring so I had to take it really slow and easy in order to not destroy my legs.  It was hard work!  Coming back down Marsh Hill was a blast, I’m not sure what my top speed was, but it was definitely fast.  Finally, the park was in sight and I realized that I was going to finish much faster than my expected time of 4 hours.  I saw Curtis cheering on the bike in chute, dismounted and ran into transition.  I finished the bike in 3:32:55.

After ditching my bike and changing shoes, I decided I would step into the porta-potty at the end of transition.  The volunteers standing there tried to convince me to continue on to the run and stop on the run course, but I knew it would be in my best interest to stop then.  My transition time turned out to be only 4:08, so I’m glad I made the decision to go then.  Curtis was there to cheer me on as I started my run.  It was two loops, so I would get to see him again at least once before I finished.  I ate one package of Clif shot blocks as soon as I started the run, and I had another package that I decided I would take at the beginning of the second loop.

I knew the run was going to be the hardest part of the day.  The biggest issue I had been having during my bricks in training was that my back hurt when I ran after biking for the 50+ mile distances.  The one difference in the race from my typical bricks was that I put on my fuel belt.  I’m really glad I did because it ended up having a stabilizing effect on my back and completely eliminated any pain in my back.  It did not, however, do anything for the pain in my feet and legs.  I had not accounted for the amount of swelling in my feet after more than 4 hours of constant exercise and my shoes felt tight on my feet from the moment I started the run.  They went numb quickly despite my best efforts at wiggling my toes to keep the blood flowing.  My right knee gave me trouble throughout the bike and didn’t get any better on the run.  I just kept repeating to myself, “It can’t hurt any more than it already does.”  So I kept running, it was just four 5Ks.  I could do four 5Ks.

The run course was pretty challenging with one pretty significant hill.  It was no worse than training runs at home, though.  The first loop was pretty crowded, but by the time I started my second loop, many of the rest of the athletes had finished and I spent a lot of time alone.  It was a treat to get to each aid station, with all the very enthusiastic volunteers.  The turnaround point for the first loop was decked out in patriot decorations and bubbles and there was a stereo blaring “Yankee Doodle” when I passed through on the first loop.  I was still running when I reached the teaser end of the first loop, which shared part of the route with the finish chute.  I kept running the whole second loop.  In fact, I am very proud to say that with the exception of walking through the aid stations when I got something to drink, I ran the entire 13.1 miles!  When I reached mile 12, I realized that if I picked up the pace and got in a strong 10 minute mile I would be able to finish in under 7 hours.  I summoned all the energy and strength I had left and picked up the pace.  When I could finally see the finish chute, I knew I had to push just a little harder, so I ran as hard as I could at that moment (which wasn’t very hard!).  I passed two men who were walking in the chute and ran across the finish line!

I cannot even express the overwhelming feeling of that moment- never before have I felt such a desire to cry and jump for joy at the same time, but be so mentally and physically exhausted that I was incapable of either.  I got my finisher’s medal and a hat and a blanket and hobbled out of the chute.  I did it!

My total time was 6:58:39.

1.2 mile Swim: 40:06

Transition 1: 3:39

56 mile Bike: 3:32:55

Transition 2: 4:08

13.1 mile Run: 2:37:51

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