Sunday, April 27, 2014

Where Did The Week Go? (HFHM - Week 5)

Seriously...the last week passed by in a the blink of an eye.  One minute I was sitting in the living room watching Walter and Spot play with their Grandma Naner and the next minute I was sitting in my in-laws living room celebrating Easter #2.

It was absolutely beautiful out on Monday - 70 degrees, sunny, light breeze - the whole 9 yards.  Mr. R&R and I set out for a nice 3.5 mile run IN SHORTS!!!!!  It's a good thing that the weather was fantastic, because the run was not.  The first mile was pretty uneventful aside from both of my shoes coming untied despite having been double knotted.  About a quarter of the way through the second mile, my left calf started to cramp a little.  It was annoying, but I tried to push it out of my mind and keep running.  I think I must have subconsciously adjusted the way I was running to compensate for the calf cramps because a quarter mile later I ended up with a miserable cramp under the right side of my ribcage.  I caved and stopped to stretch.  We got moving again and half a mile later I was forced to stop again to stretch out my various aches and pains.  Fortunately, that seemed to do the trick and we were able to run the rest without much incident. Of course my dumb self didn't look at my training calendar before we headed out - it was supposed to be a 4 mile run!

Tuesday was a quick trip to The Cave for 40 minutes of Pump and Shred (I skipped the lunge track since my right knee is being a bit tweaky).

Wednesday was a chilly one, but Mr. R&R and I bundled up and hit the local outdoor track for a brutal Groundhog workout (7x400).  The first few repeats felt good, and then I think I had a few brain lapses when my Garmin beeped for the rest periods, because I ended up running 3 speed laps in a row instead of sticking a slow lap in the middle!  By the time it was over, I was worn out and starving!

Neither of us felt like cooking, so we swung by a new-ish burger/custard place (the place that provided the bananas and chicken soup after Gary's Gallop) to pick up dinner.  I had no intention of ordering custard, but when I saw that the flavor of the day was sangria, I had to try it.  Verdict: Yum!  The rest of the night was spent on the couch watching the first episode of Deadliest Catch: Season 10.

Further proof that I've never met a sangria I didn't like
Thursday was supposed to be a bike ride, but my legs were killing me, so I took an unscheduled rest day.  Friday was a scheduled rest day, so Mr. R&R and I took advantage of it by going out to our favorite running store on a quiet night so Mr. R&R could pick up a new pair of running shoes since his current pair had hit their maximum mileage - and I got a sneak peek at what my next pair of shoes will look like when the current pair hit their limit.  I'm a fan!

Saturday was long run day and it. was. awesome.  Mr. R&R ran with me again and it was the best long run I've ever had.  7 miles flew by - and felt more like 3 miles than 7.  I'm hoping this is a good omen of things to come over the next 7 weeks. 

The long run was followed by a quick lunch, a shower, and 80 minutes on my new massage therapist's table.  Once again, she managed to work out all the knots in my back and she released a lot of tight spots in my legs.

Sunday was a belated Easter celebration at my in-laws house.  I think the highlight of the event for me was when I took the funky socks out of my Easter basket (my mother in-law likes to give everyone novelty socks for holidays) and put them on my in-laws very tolerant (and somewhat indignant) Australian Shepherd.

Oh, the indignity!
When we got home, Walter had to up the Cute Factor by 1000 while Mr. R&R was cuddling him.

He scooted up that far on his own!

And on that note...I'm out. Monday morning is going to come way too fast!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Overload

Hi! Walter and Spot here.  We've taken over our mom's blog again in celebration of Easter Walter and Spot day.  Yes, we're a few days late, but we needed a little time to recover from all the attention and spoiling!

You see, our Grandma Naner came over to have dinner with Mom and Dad spend the day with us and she brought us an Easter Basket!

Carrots and Parsley and Bananas...Oh My!

At first we weren't so sure about having an extra person in the house, so we hid in our favorite places before coming out to say hi to Naner.

If I scooch all the way to the back of my deck, they can't reach me.

Hiding under my box - on one of my favorite blankets

Our Grandma Naner knew exactly how to get on our good side...she got down on the floor and gave us carrots and lots of nose and ear rubs!  We rewarded her efforts with little nose bumps.

She even plays peek-a-boo with us!
By the time Easter Walter and Spot Day was over, we were exhausted.  The only thing to do was scarf down some of our goodies from Naner and then cuddle up and go to sleep!

Attention = Exhaustion
 We hope you had a good Easter Walter and Spot Day!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I Didn't Believe It Was Possible...

...Until It Happened.

I ran my first "tune up" race (a 5k) of the season today.  In the days leading up to the race, whenever anyone asked me how I thought I'd do, my answer was usually something like "It's gonna be ugly.  There are so many huge hills that I'll be lucky to get under 30 minutes."  I really wasn't expecting to have a good race, much less come anywhere close to my PR from almost 3 years ago. Yes, the first mile and a half was mostly downhill, but that meant that the last mile and a half was all. up. hill.  And one of those hills is the long, steep, monster hill I've grumbled about training on.  Only once in my life have I made it up that hill without walking - today was the second.

But let's back up a little first...

The race started and finished at the athletic complex of a local private college, so I was able to sleep until 7:30-ish this morning which was a nice change from having to be up at Stupid O'Clock.  It was chilly and overcast - perfect running weather.  We drove over to the college, parked, and I went to pick up my packet.  Mr. R&R made the last minute decision this morning to register for the race as well.  Last minute registration and packet pickup were both incredibly well-organized and every volunteer we encountered was super friendly. We still had over half an hour before the race started!

About 15 minutes before the gun went off, Mr. R&R generously offered to pace me to a sub-30 finish. I was all for this idea and quickly agreed as we ran a quick warm up lap on the track while discussing our race strategy: Go out fast. Try to minimize the suckage on the big hills.  After our lap, we finished stretching, listened to the national anthem (complete with two Canada Geese doing a fly over), and observed a moment of silence in honor of those who were killed and injured almost a year ago during the Boston Marathon bombing.

We knew that there was no chip timing for this race as we made our way into the starting area, so time would start as soon as the gun went off - not when we crossed the official starting line.  There was a quick countdown followed by an air horn blast.  I hit 'start' on my Garmin and did my best to push through the slower starters and stay on Mr. R&R's shoulder.  We turned out of the athletic complex and onto the familiar terrain of the parkway.  The first mile was all downhill - including the monster hill.  I rarely looked at my Garmin and instead focused on staying next to Mr. R&R and regulating my breathing.  We hit Mile 1 in 8:26!* 

The road flattened out until just after the turnaround point before beginning the climb up the hill I'd been dreading.  Strangely, it didn't feel as horrible as it usually does.  I was calm, in control of my breathing, and actually enjoying watching the back of the pack and the people doing the 2 mile walk coming down the hill on the other side of the road.  At the top of the hill (and the Mile 2 marker), a volunteer was calling out splits, and I was absolutely stunned to hear 18:xx as I had intentionally only been looking at the distance on my watch, not the time/pace.  Mile 2 was an 8:55.** 

After an all too brief dip in the road, it was all uphill back into the stadium.  This is where the suffering really began.  I was desperate for a short walk break as fatigue hit me hard and my breathing spiraled out of control - oh yes, the bull$#!^ voice was getting very loud. I begged, and Mr. R&R simply said 'No'.  For some reason, that was enough to make me squash the now kicking and screaming bull$#!^ voice back down and keep running.

We turned onto the track for the final lap and I think I finally started to believe that this was really happening.  As we entered the final stretch, a cross country style run from the end zone to the 50 yard line of the football field, Mr. R&R slowed down and said, "Go! Take It!" (he voluntarily let me come in ahead of him!).  I started my closing kick and I felt someone coming up on my shoulder.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a ponytail and its owner looked to be in her mid-to-late twenties, but I wasn't taking any chances after what happened at the South Shore Duathlon last year (got passed in the last 1/4 mile by a girl in my age group), I dug way down deep and kicked a little harder. She dropped off my shoulder and out of my sight as I sprinted across the finish line in a glorious 27:33 - eclipsing my old PR by 1 minute and 18 seconds!  I don't think it would have been possible without Mr. R&R there pushing the pace and refusing to let me give in to the bull$#!^ voice. Best. Husband/Coach. Ever.

As soon as Mr. R&R cleared the finishing chute we moved off to the side and I dropped onto the turf; dizzy, out of breath, and absolutely shell-shocked!  After a few minutes, I dragged myself vertical and we made our way toward the post-race goodies.  I chugged a bottle of water and scarfed down a banana while Mr. R&R enjoyed chocolate milk and chicken noodle soup (I had a bite and it was really good!).  We were going to hang around to watch the kids race and wait for official results to be posted, but big fat raindrops started falling and we took that as our cue to bug out and go home.

Golden Garlic & Buckeye BBQ Wings

We enjoyed a victory lunch of chicken wings at Quaker Steak & Lube and by the time we got home, official results had been posted online.  It turns out that it was a very good thing that I out sprinted that girl at the end, because she was 31 years old...which puts her in my age group! 

Final Results:
Official Time: 27:33 (8:52/mile avg.)
Overall Place: 119/273
Gender Place: 33/141
Division (F30-34) Place: 7/25

* = Mr. R&R says this is where he started to suspect that I was going to PR.
** = Mr. R&R says this is where he knew for sure I was going to do it.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Bull$#!^ Voice (HFHM - Week 2)

Monday: I should know better than to run the day after my long run.  Actually, I do know better than to do that, but it was warm and sunny out and the forecast called for cold/rain/wind the rest of the week, so I couldn't pass up the chance to run outside again. And fortunately, neither could Mr. R&R.  We headed out on tired legs for a very easy 3 miles.  I really love running with him because he has absolutely no interest in listening to what I've started referring to as "the bullshit voice".  The bullshit voice is that little voice inside my head that is always saying things like: 'This pace is too fast.' 'It's okay to walk for a little while.' and 'I can't do this.'  It's quite simple: If I want Mr. R&R to run with me, I have to tell the bullshit voice to shut. the. %@#!. up - or at least do my best to ignore it.

The first 2 miles were run at a really easy pace, which was a very good thing since my legs were still sore from the previous day's 5 miler and we were running into a pretty strong headwind.  I consoled myself in the last quarter mile leading up to the 2 mile mark that all I had to do was make it up the hill to the turnaround and then the last mile would be mostly downhill/flat and there'd be a nice tailwind.  No sooner did we turn around than the wind switched directions and that tailwind I'd been anticipating became a headwind and Mr. R&R picked up the pace!  Let me tell you - the bullshit voice, which had been pretty quiet, started shouting.  It was saying things like: 'I really need to walk a little.' and 'This is miserable. I don't want to be doing this.'  I could have whined at Mr. R&R and he'd probably have slowed down a little, but I didn't want to do it. I wanted to prove that I could suck it up and hang in there - after all, a big part of racing (especially short distances like the 5k) is learning to suffer because it's over so fast - so I sucked it up and stayed on his shoulder as the pace on my Garmin continued to drop.  By the end of the last mile, I was gasping for air, holding on for dear life, and doing my best to ignore the bullshit voice.  The last mile was a 9:03!  Take that bullshit voice!

Tuesday: My legs were a little creaky this morning, but that was to be expected after running 8 miles in two days after barely running at all in the last 6 months.  It was also rainy and crappy out, so I hit the trainer for a 30 minute spin (while Mr. R&R did his workout) followed by 20 minutes of HardCore Abs.  I learned a little lesson: Do the ab workout before the bike workout!

Wednesday: Rest Day.  I spent my night off from running parked in The Mane Wrangler's chair, sipping red wine, and discussing the best way to keep my highlights from turning 'chlorine green'

Thursday: It was cold. It was windy. I ran anyway.  Mr. R&R agreed to pace me through my first tempo run of the season (my least favorite form of speed work on the planet) so we set off at an almost too easy pace - and every so often, he'd pick up the pace a little.  Around the 2 mile mark we reached the peak of the tempo (2 minutes at under race pace) and then slowly began backing the pace back down.  By the time we were finished, I was pouring sweat and had the bullshit voice pouting in a corner.

Friday: I had dinner with Little Sister - just the two of us.  We met up at a new-to-me restaurant called CoopersHawk Winery around 6pm. The wine was good, the food was average, the company was outstanding!  I had initially planned on hitting The Cave when I got home, but that plan was made under the assumption that I would be home by 8pm.  I didn't roll in the door until close to 9:30 and I was nearly asleep on my feet.  Workout plans were scrapped and I hit the couch and fell asleep shortly thereafter.

Saturday: Um...yeah. Life happened, so not only did I not go to the pool, but I also skipped making up my missed time in The Cave.  On a positive note, Mr. R&R and I had lunch at Ono Kine Grindz...and that never makes me unhappy.


Sunday: It was a warm(ish), sunny, beautiful day and I had 6 miles on tap.  Mr. R&R joined me again (really liking this trend) and we took the first few miles easy, which is what you want to do on a long run, slowed down a little more for the fourth mile, and then cranked it up for Mile 5.  That mile was tough on my body, but Mile 6 was just brutal on my mind.  The bullshit voice was screaming at me.  My body ached, my heart was pounding, and I gave in.  I begged for a 30-45 second walk break to catch my breath/slow my heart rate - and then got really pissed off that I let that happen.  When I started running again, I still felt like crap. My hip was getting sore, I felt like I was fighting for every breathe, and every time I looked at my Garmin, I could have sworn I was running much harder than I was.  The bullshit voice flared up again and I actually started saying "shut up. shut up. shut up." out loud trying to beat it at its own game.  It's probably a good thing Mr. R&R was with me, or I would have looked like a raving lunatic!  The last mile was a fight, but I finished it...running.  I know, intellectually, that not all runs go well, but I really hate when they feel harder than they should!

I closed out Week 2 with:

Swim: 0 yards
Bike: 9 miles (30 minutes)
Run: 12.12 miles (1 hour, 59 minutes)
Strength: 20 minutes
Total Miles: 21.17 miles
Total Time: 2 hours, 49 minutes

 Next week will bring my first "tune up" race of the year.  Now the burning question is: Race with music or without?  What do you think?