Sunday, March 30, 2014

Runners & Triathletes, Report! (HFHM Training - Week 1)

The off season is definitely over, and I can't say that I'm unhappy about that.  In the midst of my chaotic week at work, having key workouts to do was a welcome dose of structure.

On Monday evening, Mr. R&R and I set out to "run some miles".  Our overall plan was at least 3 miles, maybe more if we were feeling good.  We bundled up and set out super slow since we weren't sure how far we were going to go and didn't want to run out of energy.  We were doing okay until we decided to see if one of the wooded trails was runnable...dumb idea.  It was nothing but hard packed ice punctuated by random gooey mud patches.  It slowed us to an absolute crawl as we picked our way carefully out of the woods and back onto concrete.  The last 2/3 of a mile was a steep uphill and we decided to redeem ourselves by hauling ass.  I seriously thought I was going to puke in the last quarter mile when Mr. R&R pushed the pace down into the 7:10-7:15/mile range, but I hung on and finished (without puking).

I also rewarded myself for running outside with a couple of truffles for dessert!
Tuesday night involved 30 minutes in The Cave doing Pump and Burn.  For some reason, the squat track felt easy, but the chest track freakin' burned.  I sucked it up, got it done, and took to the couch for the remainder of the evening.

Wednesday involved the infamous "Groundhog Workout"...400 meter repeats at 5k pace.  It was pretty cold and crappy out, so I hauled it over to The Track.  After a 1/4 mile warm up I alternated 400 meter repeats at 5k goal pace (8:45-8:55/mile pace) with 1 minute of rest in between.  My hope was to keep running, just at a slower pace, after each 400, but that didn't quite happen. I managed to run after the first 3 400's, but by the last two I was walking for the first 30 seconds of each rest period before I resumed running.  On a positive note, all 5 of the 400's were right on target.

I was pretty happy about those splits, and I even felt good enough to run my friend A's warm up lap with her (my cool down lap) when I spotted her just as I was finishing up.  By the time I got home, I was starving.  I didn't even care that my pork chop got a little over I was too busy shoveling it all in my mouth!
Thursday was a high stress day at work (as Thursday's always are), so I was pleasantly surprised that I got home just after 6pm.  I threw on my bike shorts, hit the trainer hard for 45 minutes, and had a great (and incredibly sweaty) ride.
Mr. R&R got home just as I was crawling up the stairs, so I threw together mac 'n cheese with tuna and peas since it was the quickest dinner I could think of.  It still felt like it took forever since I was ready to start gnawing the furniture!

On Friday I was supposed to swim, but I got sidetracked by office happy hour and an unexpected shopping trip.  I was still in search of dress pants and ended up with two more skirts, a top, and a dress!  After our little shopping adventure, Mr.R&R and I had an impromptu date night at our favorite bar.

I probably should have found time to make up Friday's missed swim on Saturday, but that didn't end up happening.  We were up early to take Walter and Spot to their annual check up with Dr. Beast.  I'm happy to report that Spot is healthy as can be and Walter's respiratory infection is under control.  As much as the boys don't like the car ride to see Dr. Beast, they really like her...and one of her techs.  I've never seen Walter so willing to cuddle with anyone.  He gets excited and practically jumps into that tech's arms!

After the vet appointment, we got the boys settled back at home and headed out to try a new-to-us restaurant: Bel Air Cantina.  This little Mexican restaurant serves up a la carte tacos with funky fusion twist.  We started off with cocktails and complimentary house-made tortilla chips with a trio of salsas.  I went for the red wine sangria while Mr. R&R tried their margarita of the month: cucumber mint.
Chips. Salsa. Sangria.

We also ordered guacamole to go with our chips and salsa...holy yum!  It was possibly one of the best guacamoles I've ever had.

We each ordered 3 different tacos for our main courses and were very excited when they arrived.  I opted for Soy Chorizo,  Habanero Pork, and Korean Beef while he ordered Barbacoa, Lobster Shrimp, and Ninja Pig. We dug into our plates and traded bites of each flavor back and forth.  We agreed that all of them were good, except for the Soy Chorizo which had a texture similar to wet cat food.  The Ninja Pig was the hands down winner though.  Neither of us could shut up about that one - and Korean Beef came in a close second!

From Back to Front: Soy Chorizo, Habanero Pork, Korean Beef

Sunday was long run day.  I should probably refer to it as a "long" run since it was only 5 miles, but none the less, it was my longest run of the week (and my longest run since Fox Cities last fall).  It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, so Mr. R&R agreed to run with me.  I'm happy to say that there was only one "dog pile mile" in the mix and that was followed by the best mile of whole run (even though I thought it was never going to end).
We covered those five miles at an average pace of 9:48/mile, which is 2 seconds per mile faster than my half marathon PR pace, so it appears that I'm heading in the right direction.

2 weeks until my first "tune up" race of the year!

I closed out Week 1 with:

Swim: 0 yards
Bike: 13.58 miles (45 minutes)
Run: 10.00 miles (1 hour, 40 minutes)
Strength: 30 minutes
Total Miles: 23.58
Total Time: 2 hours, 55 minutes

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Final Week Of The Off Season

This week was the beginning of what will likely be two very challenging weeks at work.  My immediate boss is on vacation, so I'm doing my best to fill in for her.  I'm pretty sure I can do it, but I'm absolutely petrified that I'm going to forget/mess something up! It's also my last week to get my act together before I start training for the spring/summer racing season, so fitting all my workouts in was also really high on my priority list.

Monday started with a minor freakout that there was no way in hell that I was going to be able to get everything done at work, but somehow it all worked out in the end and I escaped from the office by 5:30pm.  After a quick stop at home to check the contents of my refrigerator (since I utterly failed at getting to the grocery store over the weekend), Mr. R&R and I drove out to the market to restock Walter and Spot's stash of greens and to pick up a few basics for ourselves as well.  I knew I still needed to workout (Pump and Burn) when I got home and honestly, I really didn't feel like cooking tonight, so when the deli gals pulled some fresh wine and herb chickens out of the rotisserie, I was sold!
After dinner, I packed up my food and everything else I'd need for Tuesday, played with the bunnies for a bit, and hit the hay early.

Could someone please inform Mother Nature that it's March and that this sort of thing is not acceptable!
That said, I had no desire whatsoever to go run in circles at the track Tuesday night, so I piled on the layers, fired up my Garmin, and hit the road for 3 cold and windy miles.  Apparently I should run in the cold more often - I run faster!
By the time I got home, all I wanted was a nice, hot dinner.  Fortunately, I'd thawed out some leftover Snobby Joes and they were just as good the second time around - especially when chased with a chocolate raspberry protein milkshake.
Wednesday and Thursday were forced rest days due to my work schedule, but the eats were good!

Friday involved a whole lot of work followed by a whole lot of beer.  I probably should have worked out, but this is my last weekend before training really starts, so I gave myself a break knowing soon I will have to prioritize swim/bike/run over beer.

Saturday was truly a day of leisure. I got a massage (and thought I was going to pass out when he hit a trigger point in my right shoulder) which I really needed and went shopping with my mom - and came home to find that Mr. R&R had done all the laundry and cleaned the house!  I seriously don't know what I did to deserve him!   I also registered for a new-to-me race that I've been considering for a while...the offer of a free entry courtesy of the tri team helped me decide to go for it!

Sunday was the TriWisconsin kick off party, marking the official beginning of our season.  It was nice catching up with some of my fellow Newbie Herd (now known as the TriWI Class of 2013) and the Iron Cheerleader.  Of course, in true Iron Cheerleader fashion, he roped us into volunteering - because he wants help with his incoming herd!  I also picked up my team "shirt" for the year:
and I acquired a long-sleeved thermal shirt, which is going to be really helpful since I don't have too many long sleeved base layers.
I guess that all this can only mean one thing: Time To Train!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pace, Pancakes, and Pi Day

So...I jumped the gun a little in my last post. Actual training doesn't start on March 17th. It starts on March 24th, which makes me happy because it gives me an extra week of prep time and I'm definitely going to need it.

Monday: He Loves Me, Therfore He Tries To Kill Me
I think spring, and my masochistic side, decided to make a brief appearance today.  When I left work it was 54 degrees which made running outside for the first time in months an absolute necessity.  Mr. R&R joined me and we ran 2 glorious, puddle-filled miles together. I'd almost forgotten how tough it is to maintain a pace when there's actual wind and terrain involved, but I didn't really mind since I was outside for the first time in months without a having to wear a jacket and gloves. Of course running with Mr. R&R is always a challenge since he's such a speedy thing, and today was no different.  I'm pretty sure that he spent the last quarter of a mile trying to kill me (he says he wasn't) by pushing the pace so hard (between 7:12 - 8:11/mile) - I need to run with him more often!

When we got home, I wanted Mexican food for dinner and Mr. R&R wanted pizza, so we compromised: Mexican Pizza.

Not very pretty, but quite tasty!
Tuesday: Burn = Booty
It was still relatively warm (low 40's) but it rained all day, so running outside would have been more of a steeplechase than a run, so I headed for The Cave and knocked out 40 minutes of Pump and Shred.  It would have been 45 minutes, but I skipped the 5 minute lunge track since I think my legs will be taking enough abuse in the near future.  I went with the heavier weights again for the lunge, chest, and back tracks and it was challenging, but manageable.

Wednesday: If It Doesn't Challenge You, It Doesn't Change You
I really don't like going to the track on Wednesdays.  Why?  Because my tri team has an outdoor group run that leaves from the track every Wednesday night and I always feel like a huge loser for not going with them - even though I don't like running outside when it's cold and I'm monumentally slower than all of them, so I'd inevitably get dropped. I opted out of the track and spent a challenging hour on the trainer.  Somewhere in that hour, the 6 months between now and the Door County Century started feeling very short!

Thursday: Yeowch!
I woke up this morning feeling like I'd done 1000 crunches and been punched in the gut the night before and the sore abs continued all day.  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how my abs hurt from a bike ride, but then I remembered a little gem from last summer's semi-private bike session with Brent Emery: You need to pedal from your core, not just from your legs.  Well...I guess I did it right then!

I had anticipated a 12 hour day at the office, so you can imagine how happy I was to wrap it up after only 10 hours.  Once I got home, I spent 20 minutes in The Cave doing HardCore Abs and called it a good use of time since I'd originally expected to be taking a rest day today.

Breakfast: It's What's For Dinner
Friday: Swim, Drink, Run
I think I may have mentioned it before, but I can easily be persuaded to blow off my workout plans in favor of drinking beer with the Usual Suspects - especially when one of the Usual Suspects is leaving.  Miss Placed is moving on to a bigger and better job, so it wasn't too hard to convince me to blow off my plans to go for a short run and then hit the pool, to celebrate!

I may have a) had one or two more beers than I should have b) plotted about Mr. R&R's birthday present with his boss and c) agreed to go on a kayak trip this summer.  I also celebrated Pi Day when I got home by ordering a "pizza pie"...and I really like pizza when I've been drinking!
Saturday & Sunday
My body did not get a workout on either of these days, but my mind sure did!  On Saturday afternoon, Mr. R&R and I did our taxes.  The whole thing only took an hour, but by the time we were done, the only thing I was good for was snuggling/napping on the couch with Walter.  On Sunday afternoon I went over to my mom's house to do her taxes.  Apparently I should have started that project sooner because as of now (11-ish p.m. on Sunday night) those taxes still aren't done because I had to get home to meet up with Little Brother so he and I could carpool to my dad's birthday dinner 45 minutes away!

I wasn't a huge fan of the restaurant Dad picked, but it was nice to see Dad, Little Brother, Little Sister, and Would-Be Brother In Law (Tiny Nephew was not in attendance since he's got a bad cold).  By the time I got home from dinner, it was pretty late and I only managed to put in about 30 more minutes of work on mom's taxes.  Looks like I'm adding that to the coming week's 'To Do" List. 

How was your week?  Have you filed your tax return yet?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Getting Ready For Spring

Spring Training that is.  My goal is to use this week and next to ramp up my activity level in preparation for actual training which begins on March 17th.  I only worked out three times this week, but all three workouts were really good.

No matter how you spin it, Monday will never be my favorite day of the week. I did the usual grind at work and then hauled it home and down to The Cave for 30 minutes of Pump & Burn goodness - complete with heavier weights for each segment.  The heavier weights were challenging, but in a good way!  I followed the workout with a black bean burger from the stash in my freezer (thrown in a skillet for about 5-6 min/side) and crashed hard.

Oh were like another Monday this week.  Seriously, this was the day where nothing went right.  I was running late for work, and in my rush to feed the rabbits, wear matching socks, and get out the door, I managed to forget both my breakfast and a key component of my lunch at home! There was exactly zero chance of going home over lunch to fetch those things, so I made do with a banana for breakfast (I had one lurking in my office) and made a mad dash to the sushi place up the street for a take out lunch.
Spicy Crunchy Salmon Roll, Tuna and Salmon Nigiri
I crawled home from work completely spent and decided that hanging out with Walter and Spot sounded much better than doing anything else!

Wednesday was much better than Tuesday.  I made it to work on time and all of my food for the day made it too!  I got out at a reasonable hour, scurried home, threw some shrimp in a colander under cold, running water to thaw, and hit the trainer for a solid hour! I usually only ride for 45 minutes, but I need to start increasing my time in the saddle. I was pretty engrossed in what I was watching (Kona footage from 2009 - if you want to know) and felt good, so I went the full hour...and loved it!
Once I chugged down a protein shake, I threw together a quick dinner, made my lunch, watched a little tv, and fell into bed.
Mojito Lime Shrimp, Cheese Quesadilla, Black Beans
Another day of work was followed by the most awesome run I've had in a very long time.
That run was so good...Morgan Freeman should have narrated it!
I got to the track with no real specific plans other than: a) run 3 miles b) try to keep them at 9:45/mile pace or better.  I ran those 3 a pace I didn't know I was capable of right now!!!!!!

I had plans to go out to dinner with Little Brother tonight, but the actual time of said dinner was kind of up in the air due to his job.  He could get done with work at 2pm or he could end up working until 8pm.  I figured that if he got out early, I'd skip working out and if he got out late, I'd hit the pool for a while.  Guess who got out of work early?  We met up around 5:30pm, stuffed ourselves with Italian food, and caught was really nice.  Of course after all that food, I was couch bait since I didn't think it would endear me to the folks at the pool if I tried swimming and ended up tossing my cookies!

Believe me when I say that I wish all my Saturdays started out like this:
After some wonderful snuggles from Walter, Mr. R&R and I headed for the East Side to run a few errands and stopped for lunch at an old favorite, Apollo Cafe.  We used to eat here at least once a week back when Mr. R&R lived in the neighborhood (before we were moved in together).  I ordered one of my favorites, spanakorizo, and unfortunately it just wasn't as good as it used to be.
Tasted more like spaghetti-o's than spanakorizo
We took a little walk around the old neighborhood and stopped into a little, and wildly popular, italian market to pick up a few treats - including Purple Door Whiskey Ice Cream!  Purple Door is a local company and their ice cream is phenomenal!
Today was all about getting ready for next week.  Laundry was done. Groceries were bought.  Walter got his weekly bath (Normally it's not advisable to bathe bunnies, but we're doing this with the full blessing of his vet. His mobility issues cause him to end up with urine burns if we don't bathe his lower half regularly.)  I think my favorite part of the day was the hour Walter spent snuggling with me and napping on my chest afterward. He even got super-playful at one point and was tossing around his blanket until he made himself a tent...and then promptly took a nap!

On to another (busy) week!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Swim, Bike, Indulge (And My 200th Post!)

According to the calendar, spring is just around the corner, although the view out my window makes me think that winter will never end.  As much as I would like to continue hiding on the couch, that's not going to help me much once racing season comes around, so I decided to make this week all about getting ready for spring training.

Of course the first thing that happened was waking up Monday morning and feeling like I got run over by a truck.  I caved in, called in sick, and spent the day under a blanket and sleeping.

I felt much better Tuesday morning - which is good since it was my 34th birthday!  I picked up bagels for the office and spent the day plowing through some projects at work.  My original plan for after work was to go to the track and pick up sushi, but when Mr. R&R suggested going out for a nice dinner, I was sold! We dressed up a little and headed to Le Reve for what may be the best birthday dinner I've ever had.

We started with escargots for an appetizer:
We both tried the evening's specials for our main courses:

My Main Course: Cassoulet

Mr R&R's Main Course: Sweet Breads and Scallops
And of course, no trip to Le Reve is complete without dessert!
Opera Torte and Dessert Du Jour

Wednesday was about getting back to business.  After work, I made a trip to the grocery store and headed down to The Cave for 30 minutes of Pump & Burn.  I wasn't feeling lifting heavy things, so I dropped my weights a little and had a great workout.

I was a little short on time on Thursday night, so I jumped on the trainer for 30 minutes with the goal of riding each mile faster than the previous one until time ran out - and I succeeded!
On Friday I finally did what I've been saying I was going to do - I went to the pool.  I keep telling myself that Friday night is going to be Swim Night, but I end up staying home or going out for beers because the thought of having to go outside with wet hair post-swim just sounds so unappealing.  I finally sucked it up and went.  Going in, I had no real plans other than to swim for 30 minutes.  It ended up being better than I'd expected.  The water was a toasty 83 degrees, I had a lane to myself, and I knocked out 1000 yards in those 30 minutes.  I even found myself trying to tackle some of my bad swim habits.  Post-swim, I stopped by the market to pick up greens for Walter and Spot and ended up buying a bottle of wine on impulse (the label reminded me of last summer's trip to North Carolina) - and getting carded! I guess there's something to be said about a willingness to stop into a high end market in sweat pants, no make up, and a messy ponytail.

I woke up later than planned on Saturday, but despite a slow start and a rather ominous looking forecast, I ended up driving down to Chicago to meet up with my fellow bloggers/twitter pals Megan and Anastasia.  The three of us went ice skating at Millennium Park:
Took the requisite selfie in The Bean (which is actually a sculpture called the Cloud Gate):
And hoofed our way up Michigan Avenue to the John Hancock Building where we rode the elevator to the 94th floor and were treated to spectacular views of the city:

I wish I could have hung out with them longer, but since the forecast called for some pretty hideous snow (and I really hate driving in the stuff), I headed home just as the snow flurries were starting.

Saturday night was spent watching Spot "camp" in his tent.  He gets very territorial when he's in there.  If I put my hand on the floor in front of him, he uses his nose and front paws to push it out! 

This is my tent. No humans allowed!
Sunday started with a leisurely stroll up the street for breakfast:
and will be followed by: laundry, cleaning up after the camper above (he dug out his litter box overnight), work, a trainer ride, and dinner with Dad and the rest of the family...including Tiny Nephew!

How do you like to celebrate your birthday?