Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kick Ass

I got my ass kicked tonight.  I convinced The Husband to run with me so I could take a route I won't take by myself if there's any chance I'll be on it after sunset (rather secluded, unlit, paved recreational trail).  However, The Husband is much faster than I am, so I knew I was going to have to work hard to keep a pace that wouldn't have him regretting accompanying me.  The first mile was around a nice ten minute pace. The second mile was a scorching 9:40-something.  Mile 3 was ugly since I spent a good chunk of it walking and trying to catch my breath.  After a quick stop at my Mom's house for a drink of water, we headed home and started doing 1/4 mile intervals with walking/jogging recovery periods.  That's where the ass-kicking truly began.  The first one was just under 8 minute pace.  The second one was somewhere in the 7:40's.  I don't even remember the pace of the last one (and I'm too lazy to go upload my Garmin data right now), but it was faster than the previous one and uphill. ass-kicking and I loved it.  Running with The Husband is awesome because a) he comes up with the best informal speed workouts and b) it really forces me to push beyond what my comfort zone. Of course the company is nice too! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Take A Hike: Zillmer Loop Trail

It appears that we skipped spring this year and went from an unusually mild winter straight into summer.  We've had several days over 80 degrees- and it's only March.  While I shudder to think what this could mean when summer actually arrives, neither The Husband or I like to let good weather pass us by. We took advantage of the unseasonably HOT weather last Sunday and drove up to the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest to do some hiking.  After a quick stop to procure our annual state park admission sticker and a quick consultation with the forest ranger, we settled on hiking the yellow section of the Zillmer Loop trails. 

It was 80+ degrees when we set off from the Northern trailhead and after only a few minutes we came upon a 'scenic viewpoint'.

That was the last time we saw a road for our entire hike.
We only saw a few other people in our 5.32 mile adventure, but we did manage to see some critters.
The things I do for the sake of this blog...I HATE snakes!

Future butterfly?     
All too soon, we were hiking through the last pine plantation and up the final hill.

Distance: 5.32 miles
Time: 1:40:46
Avg. Pace: 18:56/mile

I can't wait to come back and try running on this trail sometime!  It's kind of a haul just to go for a run, but there are only a few big hills (as opposed to the humungous hills at Lapham Peak and Scuppernong), so it would be a great place to do some trail running.

Speaking of running (and all other things training-related), here's what I've been up to since my first outdoor bike ride of the year on March 12th.

Tuesday, March 13th: Successfully dragged myself to yoga.

Thursday, March 15th: Running
Distance: 3.58 miles
Time: 35:08
Avg. Pace: 9:49

Sunday, March 18th: Hiking
(see stats above)

Monday, March 19th: Indoor Trainer Ride
Distance:  10.55 miles
Time: 45:00
Avg. Speed: 14.1 mph

Wednesday, March 22nd: Running
Distance: 2.09 miles
Time: 20:05
Avg. Pace: 9:37

Thursday, March 23rd: Running (since my planned brick workout got rained out)
Distance: 3.50 miles
Time: 34:28
Avg. Pace: 9:52

And...since you've made it this 'bout a gratuitous rabbit picture?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hitting The Road

Spring seems to have arrived in Wisconsin, so after work today, The Husband and I took full advantage of the warm weather and the extra hour of daylight and went for a bike ride.  That means I took the road bike on the road for the first time.  I. Was. Terrified.  The last time I attempted to ride a road bike outdoors was a few years ago when I 'test rode' one in a bike shop parking lot. That ended when I crashed it about 5 seconds after getting on it.  Looking back, that bike shop sort of set me up to fail by sending me out on a bike that didn't fit me at all.  Anyway,  I made sure my tires had air, loaded the supplies to fix a flat into the little bag under my seat, strapped on my helmet (never ride without one), and attempted to ride. 

I'm sure I looked ridiculous as I tried to get both feet into the cages on my pedals at the same time.
I think this is an art form it's going to take me a while to master, but I intend to make it work since I'm nowhere near comfortable with the idea of switching to clipless pedals (special shoes lock you to the pedals) anytime soon.

After a few instances of wobbling, we took off on an easy 5 mile ride just so I could get the feel of riding outside. By about the second mile, I was getting a little more comfortable and was able to pick up some speed and really see what my bike is capable of.  I definitely think it's going to take me a while to get used to the way the bike shifts since it's very different than my old Beast, but I liked it a lot, which is good since the road bike (which is still without a name since we're still in the 'Getting Acquainted' stage) are going to be spending a lot of time together in the next few weeks.

My short little ride outside today gave me a short list of things I want to get in the near future. Namely a proper cycling jersey and a pair of cycling gloves.  My hands were freakin' sore!

Distance: 5.31 miles
Time: 31:45 (stupid having to wait for traffic)
Avg. Speed: 10mph
Avg. Cadence: 64 (this needs to improve to around 80)

After we returned home and I returned the bike to it's position in my trainer, the husband challenged me to go for a really short run just to see what it felt like to transition from one sport to the next.  That was quite the experience.  At first my legs were numb, so I didn't really notice how heavy they felt, just that they were a little jello-y. After about half a block, I felt like I was running on two lead sticks and my muscles were protesting loudly.  The Husband took off with about half a block to home (show off!) and I dragged jello-legged self up the driveway about 30-45 seconds later. 

Distance: .44 miles
Time: 3:53
Avg. Pace: 8:45

I guess this means I've done my first brick (a week ahead of schedule).  This duathlon training thing just got very real and I realized just how much work I have in front of me.  Bring it!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Climbing The Walls

Last night I met up with two of my girlfriends, Dancing Queen and Maverick, for a Girl's Night Out.  Instead of heading for the nearest bar, we went to an indoor climbing gym and spent the evening literally climbing up the walls.  It was a blast!

After signing our lives, and the right to sue, away we were fitted with harnesses and given a quick orientation on the gym's auto-belay system.  The auto-belay is basically a giant pulley system rigged through the ceiling that allows people to rock climb without having to learn the mechanics of belaying (safety ropes).

Maverick: Modeling our uber-unsexy harnesses

After that, we were turned loose in the 12,000 sq. ft. facility to climb to our heart's content.  And climb we did.  It quickly became obvious that Dancing Queen is part spider-monkey as we watched her scale the walls like she was walking up a flight of stairs.  In no time at all, she tagged the ceiling 35 feet above our heads! 

Dancing Queen or Spider Monkey?

I was up next.  Climbing up the wall wasn't too difficult as long as I took the time to figure out what my next move was. 

Coming down was another story.  In order to get down, we had to let go of the wall and let ourselves fall backward (and then the auto-belay kicked in, slowed the fall, and lowered us somewhat gently to the ground).  Let me tell you...the last thing in the world you want to do when dangling 35 ft. in the air is let go and fall backward!  Once I finally convinced myself to let go, I discovered that coming down was almost more fun than climbing up.  It sort of felt like floating.
It felt much cooler than it looks!
After getting comfortable with what we were doing, we decided to each take a turn on a more difficult route.
See the part of the wall jutting out by my waist? Yeah. Climbing over that was much harder than climbing straight up the wall. Of course, Dancing Queen made it up there in no time at all and I made it eventually.  Poor Maverick was within one step of the top when she fell off the wall. Although really, she deserves a ton of 'brass balls' points for going rock climbing.  I had no clue, until now, that she's terrified of heights!  The woman is a rock star!
After a few more climbs, our arms were burning and all three of us were exhausted.  We retired to the burger joint next door for dinner, ice cream, and of course, girl talk. It isn't a Girl's Night Out without girl talk!

I can't wait to do this again!  I discovered that the gym offers introductory belaying, knot-tying, and climbing classes for adults and am seriously considering giving it a try next winter!

Have you ever tried indoor or outdoor rock climbing? 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spin Cycle

I decided that tonight was definitely a cross-training (read: trainer ride) kind of night since it's pretty cold and crappy outside.  I'm really loving having the bike/trainer combo in the basement for days like these. It allows me to get a workout in without having to leave the house and, as a bonus, I got some laundry done in the process.

I threw in a load of clothes, got my laptop set up so I could watch and episode of Sex and the City while I rode, climbed on the bike, turned on my Garmin, and discovered that the battery was pretty much dead!

I ran upstairs, threw it on the charger and waited 20 minutes, hoping it would charge up enough to get through a short ride. I had really been hoping to ride for about 45 minutes, but decided that in the interest of eating dinner before 8pm that I'd cut it short.

With my semi-juiced Garmin in hand, I returned to the basement, hopped on my bike, and proceeded to pedal for the next 30 minutes.  One episode of SATC later, my laundry and my workout were done!

Total Time: 33:00 minutes
Distance: 8.03 miles
Avg. Speed: 14.6mph
Avg. Cadence: 82rpm

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Think Spring

My spring/early summer racing schedule is definitely ambitious.  I'm registered for the Madison Half Marathon in late May (#11 if you're keeping track), the South Shore Rock 'n Ride Duathlon on June 10th, and the Warrior Dash on June 16th.  Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment, but I figure you only live once and in that time you should

To that end, it's time to start training for all this epic goodness.  I'm armed with a shiny new training plan and I'm ready to go.  Now granted, a training plan is just that - a plan.  It's an outline of what workouts I would do if my life existed in a vacuum.  I assure you, it does not.  There are going to be days that I just can't squeeze in a workout and there are going to be days where I flat out just don't want to. I've also built in some step-back weeks, rest days, and done a little rearranging based on events that are already on my calendar.  As long as the "I Can't" and "I Won't" days don't outweigh the "I Will" days, I should be race ready.

I'm not too concerned about my ability to finish the half marathon, but I'm going to have to work my butt off if I want to finish well. I've run the Madison half twice before, and although the course has changed immensely since then, I remember it being somewhat hilly.  I guess I'd better get over my hatred of hill training!

I know I'll be fine at the Warrior Dash.  This one's all about fun, not speed. I'm just looking forward to a fun, muddy weekend with The Husband and our friends.

The duathlon, however, has me a little nervous.  First of all, I've never done one before, so the 'newbie factor' is definitely coming into play here.  Second, I'm getting comfortable with my new road bike in the safety of my basement, but taking it out on an actual road is freaking me out a little. I'm terrified that I'll get penalized for drafting, crash, or just generally piss off the more experienced athletes. I guess I'd better suck it up, face the fear, and do it anyway!

So here goes nothing!

I wonder if I'll be adding to the 'retired shoes' pile after all of this!