Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Family, Friends, and Flowers (HFHM Week 8)

So, it's been 2 weeks since I've posted.  Sorry about that, but life has been one big blur of sorts lately between training, working, and general living and blogging sort of got pushed to the sidelines.  Here's my attempt at a recap of Week 8.  Hopefully I'll be able to catch you up on Week 9 later this week (before my recap of Week 10 is due if I'm lucky)!

Training Week 8:

After my 10 mile run with Mr. R&R the day before, I spent Monday night foam rolling my legs, doing dishes, and generally recovering.  By Tuesday I felt good enough to do the 4.5 miles my training plan prescribed.  I felt good enough to run negative splits!

Wednesday night was another Strider Fun Run at the same park as the last one I attended.  Once again it was chilly and windy when we started running, but that didn't really bother me much since I actually prefer cooler weather when attempting to run my ass off.  I took off like a bat out of hell and found myself as the 2nd place female at the one mile mark.  Unfortunately, I think the real speed demons showed up and I was passed shortly after Mile 1.  I really didn't mind getting passed by that woman - she was obviously having a better night than I was.  What did bother me was the woman who popped out of a side trail and pushed me into 4th. Yes, I know it wasn't a real race, so it's technically not cheating, but COME ON!!!!  The turn into the wind didn't help matters any since I didn't have my two human windshields this time.  I admit fully that the bullshit voice started whispering at that point and a few more women slipped past me.  The monster hill allowed a few more to get in front of me.  Grrr.  I tried to put the irritation out of my mind as I looped around the pond (the goslings are growing fast!) and pushed up the final hill.  As I came down the last hill, I was the 11th place female from what I could tell.  I saw one girl not too far in front of me, so I sucked it up, started running faster, and sprinted past her for 10th place.  That is why you never slow down as you approach a finish - someone might be gaining on you.

Afterward I was discussing the whole "woman who popped in off a side trail" with Mr. R&R and he said that another woman did the same thing later in the course.  For almost 2 miles there were no females in front of him and then all of a sudden, one popped in off a side trail!  What the heck!

Thursday of that week was my Friday since I'd decided to give myself a 3 day weekend.  After work, I had the opportunity to act as a running coach to two of my co-workers.  I took them out for 3 miles after work and it was a very different experience for me.  They're both very new to running and both run at very different paces, so the majority of the miles were spent running back and forth between them and motivating them.  I give them both credit...they were both struggling, but they kept going and when we finished they both said they wanted to do it again soon.  No bullshit voices there! It also made me incredibly grateful to the people who have coached me (namely Mr. R&R and the Iron Cheerleader) - this coaching stuff is tough stuff! I had originally planned to use the run with them as a warm up before hitting the bike when I got home, but when I walked in the door I found Mr. R&R all suited up in his running clothes and decided to join him for a couple easy miles.  My legs felt light and springy, and it felt good to run at my normal pace.  Afterward, we hit up a nearby Mexican restaurant where I may have had one more mango margarita than I should have - but it was my Friday!

Friday was a fun day for me.  I slept in, took my time getting a few things done, and then got to join Little Sister and Tiny (but growing like a weed) Nephew at the zoo!  We only spent about two hours at the zoo, but my nephew really seemed to like it. According to Little Sis, he really likes watching the fish.  I have to say, I was really skeptical about this claim, but as soon as we entered the fish building he was straining to get out of his stroller and Little Sis happily obliged.

He was mildly amused by this wily looking fellow

but as soon as she held him in front of one of the giant fish tanks, his little arms and legs began flailing everywhere and he was all smiles.  Once he grew bored (and Little Sis and I had enough of the shrieking school groups surrounding us) we moved on to the aviary with one purpose in mind: penguins.  We sped through the stinky, open aviary and headed straight for Little Sis' favorite animal.

Watching Little Sister show her son her favorite animal was really cool.  Actually, just watching her with him in general...well...let's just say it made me a little misty-eyed.

And the penguins put on quite a show for them.  One kept swimming back and forth in front of them, making Tiny Nephew shriek with laughter.

After the penguin show, we stopped out for a quick lunch before Little Sis had to take Tiny Nephew to his Grandma's and herself off to work.

My next stop on Friday afternoon was Emery's (aka: The Toy Store for Triathletes). After last summer's spectacular wipe out at the Shoreline Duathlon I had some doubts about the state of my helmet.  There are no visible cracks in it, but the general rule of thumb is that if you crash in a helmet, it's time to replace it.  I also wanted to replace my shoes since I've never been able to get rid of the annoying clicking noise under the right cleat.  When I walked in, the store was completely quiet and Brent Emery himself was available to help me out.  We discussed what I was looking for in a helmet as well as my price point and I soon found myself having Brent fit multiple helmets on my head.  Eventually, I settled on this:

Bontrager Circuit

Next up was new shoes.  Brent brought out several styles and helped me figure out what was best suited to my needs.  I originally wanted a triathlon specific shoe, but he helped me find one that was good for both road and triathlon riding - and made sure that I wouldn't bang my toes against the ends while I'm riding.  We figured out which cleat type I have (he had to look it up since I suck at remembering these things) and set up a cleat fitting appointment for Monday evening.

I drove home with plans to drive out to the pool and spend some quality time soaking up chlorine, but no sooner had I walked in the door than Mr. R&R called to let me know that his plans for drinks with his friend from out of town (The Groom from the wedding in Puerto Rico) had turned into a full on Usual Suspects reunion.  My pool plans were quickly abandoned and I spent the rest of Friday night catching up with The Groom (and getting to know his absolutely lovely wife, The Bride), Mr. Fix-It, Nacho Nurse (and their little girl), Dancing Queen, Maverick, and Who-Ha.  The only ones missing were Goose, Miss Placed, and Black Betty.  We've all kind of moved on to different places in our lives, so we don't get to see each other much any more.

I probably should have gone for a long run on Saturday or Sunday, but since we were a week ahead on long run mileage, Mr. R&R and I opted to spend the weekend ripping out the rotted old boards and railroad ties that surrounded the flower beds along the side of our house and replacing them with a new, brick border.  Sounds easy, right?  Let's just say that ripping out the old border was the easy part.  Next came leveling, re-leveling, and figuring out how to make a clean break in a brick in order to fit the allotted space.  By Sunday afternoon, we'd finally gotten both flower beds edged and popped in a few plants.  It's amazing how big of a difference a little change can make!

Let's Hope I Don't Kill Them All!
We also managed to find time to fire up the grill on Sunday afternoon in order to make a beer can chicken.  If you've never tried it, I highly recommend this method of cooking a whole chicken.  The meat was super moist and so tender that it was almost falling off the bones!

Looks obscene. Tastes Divine.

I closed out week 9 with:

Swim: 0 yards
Bike: 0 miles
Run: 12.95 miles
Strength: 0
Total Miles: 12.95
Total Time: 2 hours, 9 minutes

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spring At Last? (HFHM-Week 7)

It seems that Mother Nature might finally be getting her act together...well at least sort of.  The week started off pretty chilly/windy/rainy, but ended up gloriously warm and sunny.  I'm not normally a fan of 80 degree days in early May, but after surviving the Polar Vortex all winter - it felt pretty damned good to run in shorts!

Monday was a day of rest after last week's 9 mile odyssey.  The only productive thing I did was go to the grocery store!

Tuesday was chilly and windy, but I put on my running tights (and thermal shirt and windbreaker) and headed out for 4.5 miles with Mr. R&R.  My legs felt like they were made of lead for the first 2 or so miles, but they eventually loosened up and stopped whining at me.  I even surprised myself by not going out of my way to avoid some hills!

Wednesday's run was just a hot mess.  I was supposed to go to the track and run 8x400 @ 5k pace, but the track was occupied and the thought of running in circles made me twitch.  Mr. R&R proposed a 3 mile race pace effort instead and I quickly agreed.  The first mile was fine.  It wasn't the easiest pace in the world, but I was holding my own.  Somewhere around the 2 mile mark the wheels really started to come off.  To put it nicely, my gastrointestinal system decided to stage a protest.  I spent the last mile running when I could and walking when running just wasn't an option.  And of course, the GI issues lead to the Bullshit Voice rearing it's ugly head.  It's one thing to have to battle my body or my mind, but the two together can be a pretty lethal combination.  I was in a crappy mood for the rest of the night after that.

Thursday brought 70+ degree weather and sunny skies.  After being stuck in The Cave on the trainer for months, it was time to take my bike for an outdoor ride for the first time since I wrecked during the Shoreline Duathlon last August.  I loaded my bike onto the rack and Mr. R&R and I drove over to the Rail Trail where I planned to ride 30 minutes out before turning around while he ran.  I was definitely nervous as I mounted my bike.  It's one thing to be locked into the pedals while the bike is in the trainer and can't tip over.  It's quite another to clip in on concrete!  Fortunately, I managed to clip in and start riding.  

Please Cheesus, don't let me tip over

It took 2 solid miles before I started to feel remotely comfortable riding again, but after that I started remembering how much I enjoy watching familiar landmarks come and go, the wind in my face, and the burning feeling in my legs when I shift into a bigger gear.  I had no real speed goals for this ride since I hadn't been on the road in so long, but I wasn't terribly pleased at the measly 15.6mph average either.  I know I can ride faster - now I just have to get back there!

In addition to seeing lots of runners, cyclists, and a handful of rollerbladers, I came upon these two fellows hanging out near a giant puddle at the side of the trail around the 7 mile mark.  They were just standing there, completely nonplussed by the humans passing so close by! 

Hangin' Out on a Sunny Thursday Evening
My bike and I arrived unscathed back in the parking lot about 10 minutes after Mr. R&R finished his run.  I was beyond happy that my only souvenir from the ride was a chain tat (okay, really a chain ring tat) instead of road rash!

We stopped home long enough to unload my bike and change clothes before hurrying out to the market to pick up greens for Walter and Spot and stopping at Noodles & Company for dinner.

I should have hit the pool on Friday after work, but Mr. R&R was out with friends and I had the house to myself, so I used the opportunity to make a batch of turkey meatballs to stash in the freezer, clean up Walter and Spot's house, work on my mom's gift for Mother's Day, and hang out with my boys.

My Fuzzy Friday Night
Saturday was another sunny, warm day and Mr. R&R and I had 9 miles on the schedule.  It felt really strange to be in shorts and a tank top after weeks of tights and thermals, but it felt really amazing at the same time.  Our goal pace for most of our long runs has been between 10:00 and 10:15, but with the sudden rise in the mercury and not being acclimated to it, we revised it to 10:15-10:30.  It's a very good thing that we did, because it. was. not. easy running in that weather.  I felt like I was running a lot harder than what the pace that showed up on my Garmin, but somehow it all worked out.  Mr. R&R was kind enough to share his handheld water bottle with me so I didn't have to wear my much-hated hydration belt and the lovely people at the county Parks Department have turned on a handful of water fountains a few weeks early.  I looked like a bird at a birdbath when we discovered this.  I was splashing water all over my head, arms, and legs.  I'm sure I looked insane, but I didn't care!  I even felt good enough to push through an extra mile - marking the first time I've ventured into double digits since last September!  My shoulders are also burnt to a crisp.  Maybe next time I'll be smart and remember to use sunscreen.

After showers and naps, we were both famished...and we'd thought ahead  Mr. R&R fired up the grill and we had a delicious steak dinner - and I felt absolutely no guilt about the amount of gorgonzola sauce I poured on my food!

Sunday was Mother's Day and a planned rest day.  My mom and I had lunch, took a short (1.5-ish miles) walk, stopped for ice cream and generally had a lovely day together.  I think the highlight for both of us was seeing some Canada Geese with their flock of 10 goslings while we were walking.

I also got to give my mom the present I  made for her on Friday night. I haven't given her a homemade gift in at least 20 years!

And on that note...it's time to get ready for another week.  What was the highlight of your weekend?  When's the last time you gave a gift that you made yourself?

Weekly Totals:
Swim: 0
Bike: 14 miles 
Run: 17.5 miles
Strength: 0
Total Miles: 31.5
Total Time: 3 hours, 44 minutes

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nailed It! (HFHM-Week6)

I know it's no secret around here that one of my favorite tv shows is Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch, but I also really, really loved How I Met Your Mother...especially Barney Stinson. And this week deserves a classic Barney-ism:

I nailed all my key workouts, managed to eat pretty well, and generally just felt great about the week.

Monday started off with a the usual bowl of cereal at my desk, but was made extra delicious with the addition of fresh strawberries and raspberries. I'm ridiculously happy that good produce is slowly coming into season again.  Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against apples and bananas, but after eating them nonstop all winter, I'm ready for berry/peach/melon season.

I also took the chance of offending my coworkers at lunch time by scarfing down this protein-packed tuna sandwich!  The whole sandwich was pretty good, but swapping baby arugula in place of plain old romaine took it to a whole other level.

After work it was off to The Cave for 20 minutes of core strength and 40 minutes on the bike, followed by 10 minutes of foam rolling my legs.

 On Tuesday evening, Mr. R&R and I ran 4 miles together.  No leg cramps. No side stitches. Just pure, running fun...complete with negative splits!

The run was followed by pita pizza and more foam rolling.  The foam roller seems to be both my best friend (since it helps loosen up the tight spots in my legs) and my worst enemy (since it hurts like a mofo) these days.

I ran my first Badgerland Striders Fun Run of the season on Wednesday night. Mr. R&R and I met up with the group (including The Iron Cheerleader) at a local park and commiserated about the unseasonably cold weather as we stretched and prepared to run.  The Strider Fun Runs are a near-weekly occurrence from May to September that moves around a handful of local parks.  There's no chip timing, it's just you vs. the finish clock for 3-ish miles. 

Everyone slowly shuffled toward the starting area and as soon as everyone was in place, someone shouted "GO!" and we were off.  I've run this particular course before (same course as the Hot Dog Run from last summer), so I knew that the first mile was a slight downhill through one of my favorite places to run, followed by a steep, nasty, long (over a 1/4 mile long) hill around the 1.5 mile mark, and then mostly flat with a fast downhill finish.  To give you a better idea, here's the elevation chart from my Garmin that night:

I took advantage of the slight downhill for the first mile and clocked a 8:39.  This was also useful in escaping the chatter of some ladies who were behind me for a bit.  I tucked myself in behind two guys just past Mile 1 and used them as human windshields as we turned West and into a strong headwind.  I lost them on the giant hill since I slowed significantly on it. I hit Mile 2 in 9:02.  As I started my lap around the pond, I became aware of a guy running just off my shoulder and it was enough to make me speed up a little in an attempt to shake him.  For a while it seemed to work, but as soon as I slowed down a little, there he was, right off my shoulder again.  I pushed the pace a little more, since I hadn't been passed since before Mile 1.  I made it up the last little hill and kicked it into high gear coming down the hill...sprinting for the finish clock.  I made to the finish in 26:27 (avg. 8:56/mile).  Afterward, the guy who'd been hot on my heels for the last mile found me and I thanked him since he made me run harder. Funny enough, he said that I'd made him run harder than he'd planned because he was trying to chase me down!  I located Mr. R&R and the Iron Cheerleader and we chatted for a bit before making our way through the food line.  Oh yeah...Strider Fun Runs come complete with a weekly food theme and beer after the run.  As Mr. R&R and I were eating, he mentioned that he was pretty sure that I was the first female to finish that night.  I know it was only because most of the real speed demons weren't there, but it still blew my mind. Me? First? Really?

My legs were killing me on Thursday, so I did absolutely nothing other than foam rolling my legs.

Friday was a rough one at the office.  I'm trying to get through a massive project and it seems that for every step I take forward, I take 2 steps back. Fortunately I had a fantastic snack to power me through the afternoon:

Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Baby Arugula w/ Balsamic
After work, I stopped home to change and headed to the pool for the first time in far too long.  I had no goals other than 'Swim for 30 Minutes'.  I surprised myself and swam 1000yds in that time.  I was also pleased to discover that I can actually breathe on my right side without swallowing half a gallon of chlorinated water...which is something I couldn't do at this point a year ago.  WIN!

When I got home, I ended up meeting Mr. R&R and some friends at the bar...and having at least one more beer than I should have.  Needless to say, that cemented a decision I'd made earlier in the week: I wasn't going to race the Trail Assail 5k on Saturday.  That decision was made partly due to the crappy, rainy weather we'd had all week.  I don't mind getting a little dirty, but all the rain lead me to believe that the trail would be more like a mud pit, which greatly increased the odds of getting hurt.  The other part of that decision came from I needed to run 8 miles at some point in the weekend and I was supposed to meet some of my teammates for a bike ride on Sunday morning.  Something had to give, and it was Trail Assail.

I ended up sleeping right up until gun time on Saturday morning!  After some discussion, I used Saturday as a Rest/Run Errands/Get Stuff Done day and let my friends know that I wouldn't be able to meet them on Sunday morning. 

Sunday was long run day.  Mr. R&R and I set out to run 8 relatively easy-paced miles.  It was breezy, sunny, and all around perfect running weather.  When we got to the 4 Mile mark, Mr. R&R asked me the same question that he asks me at the half way point every week: "Do you feel like you're half way done." Surprisingly, my answer was 'No'.  We were both feeling pretty good, so we ended up running an extra mile.  There were a couple of steep hills between Miles 6 and 7, which kind of tanked the pace, but we recovered and finished strong.  I'm starting to believe that something good might be brewing for the Hartfest Half !

I closed out Week 6 with:

Swim: 1000 yards (32 minutes)
Bike: 11.64 miles (40 minutes)
Run: 16 miles (2 hours, 34 minutes)
Strength: 20 minutes
Total Miles: 28.21
Total Time: 4 hours, 6 minutes