Thursday, January 28, 2010

it really is all about the food, isn't it?

Today my favorite number is 33! It's going to be a good year. I started the week-long birthday celebration on Saturday, giving myself a good head start before the actual date. Jeremy was in town and I pried him out of the apartment for master's swim by promising a delicious lunch at Eclectic that afternoon. After a short bike ride, that is. 

We swam and then played in the pool, giving Damie some great video footage of her swim stroke, as well as of mine, Jeremy's, Nancy's, and Laura's. I have to thank Mary for the feedback for all of us, even me! I'm the one who doesn't pull under my body but has NO problem keeping my legs afloat. I think it's because of the built-in buoy commonly referred to as the derrière. Mine even sticks out of the water. Yeah. So anyway, we promised we would not post any actual video of us on The Internets, but here's a still pic of me getting my filling checked.

So we eventually got our pruny bodies out of the pool and got moving on the bike. It was my second time in a week on my Magnolia, and it was awesome! A bit of headwind slowed us down getting back into town, but the company was awesome and I couldn't complain. 

Then began the champion eating. At Eclectic, I had a $25 gift certificate which J and I HAD to use all of on our lattes, wraps, and brie and pear sandwiches (ok, make that singular). We got home to find a nap more than appealing and snoozed until it was time to get ready for the Melting Pot birthday dinner with my parents. Stuffed again that evening on wine, cheese, salad, veggies and steak, we still couldn't resist the chocolate fondue for dessert. Keeping with our food theme of Birthday Week, my mom gave me my very own mushroom box where I can grow my very own button mushrooms in 14-21 days! I'm a little nervous about keeping the box at the specific temperature with the specific amount of light required. Who knew fungi were so fragile? Nobody who's ever gotten athlete's foot would believe it.

Sunday the big events were a long run and a buffet. We did our two hours around downtown with Nancy, Jerry, and Gigi, and got finished early enough to be in line at Paula Deen's buffet in Tunica by just after 11. Now this is a real study in eating behavior. I could've sat there for hours watching others pile their plates so high that onion rings teetered off the side. Jeremy and I, knowing you only have about 20 minutes to stuff yourself before you start feeling the pain, surveyed the multiple lines then quickly piled up one, and then two plates of golden brown fried-ness. I looked at my plate at one point and realized that besides the greens and butter beans I'd intentionally placed to make myself feel better, everything was either fried or a casserole. But it was delicious! (And well deserved, especially for J, who tried to stop his long run at 1:40 and I dragged back out for 20 more minutes. I still think he'll thank me on race day.) Here's just one of the 6 or 7 buffet lines at Paula's. Look at how lovely and brown it is. 

So now, at this point, I have to stop this post and admit that it is now Thursday, and I am 33 + 2 days. There was plenty more consumption, mostly of alcohol, mostly by me, that occurred on my birthday evening. I had a great time, y'all, and thank you so much! I won't go into much detail, mostly because it's all a little fuzzy to me. But I would like to also thank Apple for making the iphone 3G with a video camera, so that if I ever need to be bribed, Charlie and Laura should have plenty of good footage. 

Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chill in the Hills

Something about the name of this 10k didn't sink in. I was telling my dad that I was going to race on Saturday in Vicksburg and he said, "It's really hilly, you know." Finally the realization set in. I normally think of any city on the Mississippi River below the Tennessee state line to be "delta." Upon further research I have learned that the Mississippi delta is the area that "begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg." And in case you're not familiar with Catfish Row, it's just north of the city, leaving plenty of room for the flat delta to disappear under the 300 foot bluff. This sounds like small potatoes to those who live in hilly areas, but for Memphis, we don't get that kind of altitude change anywhere outside of Shelby Forest, if even there. 

So back to the race. Up until the day before, I had been most concerned about the Chill part of the 10k, which turned out to be a non-issue. It was a perfect day, about 53F and overcast. In my clothing decision of shorts and a tank, I may have underdressed my forearms, as they seized up in the first hill. Of course that could have been due to effort (but like Coach Shankman told me, "you don't run on your arms!," so it shouldn't have been a problem). Most other women were wearing tights and long sleeves, but I just chalked it up to being further south. I convinced Jeremy to wear shorts and short sleeves, and he thanked me later. 

We got a good 10 min warm up in and lined up by the train tracks in the group of about 100. I don't remember if there was a gun; I'm thinking it was more of a verbal "go." I decided to stay with a couple of girls at the start, and we remained a pack through the long gradual downhill that was the first .75 miles. Then the beginning of the bluff came. At that point the negative self-talk also came, saying "I don't run hills" over and over. Part way up the bluff was the one mile mark, which I hit at 6:15. If that was correct, then the second mile was 7:45. Whatever, I don't run hills, and about 3/4 of the second mile was uphill. I kept telling myself it was just the Auction Street bridge to Mud Island. It flattened out into some smaller rollers through the next 3 miles, and I stayed mostly with one of the girls from our starting group. I noticed how relaxed everyone looked, while I was gasping for air. At 4 miles (I missed the 3 mark), I was just under 7 min pace, but really getting tired. Luckily after 5 miles, we headed back downhill, screaming down the bluff and around a corner that I considered just dropping and rolling down, and back up a small hill to the finish. 

I learned that when I'm this out of shape, my competitive spirit is nonexistent. First place was 25 seconds ahead of me, and second was 5 seconds ahead, yet I still had no motivation to try to catch them. But my thoughts are changing. At first I saw this as a way to get quantitative data on how badly I suck. But now I'm seeing it as the first step in my comeback. I may not be anywhere close to the speed I was just a couple of years ago, but it will still be fun to see the progression of suck to decent to fast again! (side note: it's all relative, so don't make fun of my slowness when I call it "fast" :)

And a very exciting part of the day was Jeremy's comeback after knee surgery. Look at those knees going strong!

I, on the other hand, look like I should've taken the grandmaster's division. On the plus side, I'm color coordinated and even got a compliment on my top. A woman asked me where I got it. :)

And yes, I beat Jeremy. I guess that's success. :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

going public

Did you notice I avoided mentioning any talk of New Year's Resolutions, goals for the season, hopes, wishes, dreams? That's because I don't have any. Well not really.

This year, for the first time since 2000, I am not signed up for an Ironman. Nor will I jump into one via charity slot or because Ironman Louisville is still not full. I'm not doing an "iron-distance" race either. Are you so proud of me? You should be! It takes a lot to get out of ruts, even if they are the type that test your strength, perseverance, and will to live regularly. Just kidding about that last one.

I actually love Ironman training. Part of my love stems from the way I can eat everything in the kitchen completely guiltlessly after a 6 hour ride/40 min run brick. But I also love the time with the training buddies. You really get to know somebody when you spend 5 or 6 hours together and go through all types of potentially ugly situations. There are bonks, thunderstorms, multiple flat tires, and lung-searing intervals. Did I mention bonks? It's also a chance to be somewhat social when all you do is sleep, eat, train, work, eat, train, eat, and sleep.

After the lackluster 2009 season, I decided that my body may be asking for a break. So I'm taking off from Ironman training for at least a year. But I'm not taking a complete break. I plan on racing short distances and maybe actually training for them. Once, back in college, I think it was junior year, my track coach suddenly one day decided that I was a middle distance runner. I think he discovered that we had nobody else on the entire girls' team willing to run the 800 or 1500m races, and since I had big quads, then surely I had some speed. So he sent me to run with the middle distance guys (since, like I said, no other girls were mid-distance). I did end up racing those distances that year and the following one. I wasn't completely terrible for a Division 3 female 1500m runner-- I think I got like 4th at conference one year-- but I was terrible at the 800. As I recall, the 1500 came at the beginning of the meet, and the 800 was at the end. My first 800 of the 1500 was usually right about the same speed as my flat out 800, if that tells you anything. Apparently my top-end speed is not particularly fast, but on the plus side, it's one I could maintain for almost a mile. 

The point of this is that I'm a little afraid of the short distance triathlon racing. What if my top end racing speed in a triathlon is my half ironman pace? One year from Gulf Coast to Ironman Florida I exactly doubled my time: 5:23 to 10:46. I know conditions are different and all, but still, it makes me wonder. But then again, if someone saw potential speed in these quads, maybe I have hope? 

In past years, since I've not trained specifically for short distance, I had my built in excuse for slowness. Not this year; it's time for public statements of goals. And what better place to start going public than to my blog's 3 readers? And now that THAT's out there, it's time for a run.

Friday, January 8, 2010

this could take some getting used to

I did it! I swam this morning. Before even getting out from under the 4 layers of covers in my bed, I planned the attack. My swimsuit was laid out at the foot of the bed, there was a hoodie sweatshirt near it, along with my fuzziest Nike pants. Within approximately 15 seconds of being upright I was dressed. Covered from head to toe. I have this huge window in my bedroom that causes me to be drawn, trance-like, to the bottom side of the heavy bed covers. It's almost impossible for me to exist anywhere else in this room this time of year. Or at least when the temperatures are around 11F. ELEVEN! This is the furthest north I've ever lived, and I have to admit that it's difficult to imagine that I may have to go even further into the arctic zone this year. Please, Air Force people-to-whom-it-may-concern, PLEASE forget we have Cheyenne on that list of potential bases. I know it's probably beautiful, especially in the summer when the southeast is melting in the 95F, 90% humidity. But Honolulu is also beautiful and I can keep all of my fingers and toes there! Plus I can actually venture outside to see it. 

I'm not really a complete wuss. All the time, that is. After my treadmill run on Tuesday and the subsequent Achilles pain, plus Damie's blog about how she runs outside when nobody else does, because nobody else does, I ran outside. It was actually beautiful yesterday afternoon, plus it was 26F or so, and not bad at all. I learned that trail shoes probably would have been helpful, even though there was only about a half inch of snow on the trail. My lightweight trainers with the mesh let in a little too much wetness for my comfort. But besides that, I warmed up nicely. Maybe this isn't so bad. I've run a few trail races, 25 and 50Ks in much colder. It's all about how you dress. And maybe starting out at a quicker pace to get the blood flowing.

I therefore had the motivation to try swimming again. I'm thinking that maybe this once a week swimming is not going to cut it, despite only doing short distance races this year. Or maybe because I'm only doing short stuff. Every extra minute counts a lot more. So I had thoughts of getting to the (indoor) pool deck and it looking like this:

Because seriously, if we have to get out when lightening strikes, it must be just a little too connected to the outside world, right? But instead it was a nice steamy 84 degrees, or so says the sign. The sign which says 84 degrees everyday. But it was comfortable!

I pleaded with Nancy to make the workout total no more than 2000 yards. But once we got in and started doing our favorite pyramid pull set, it went by quickly and warmly. I could pull all day, I love it. But just for a little torture, we did some kicking sprints at the end. You know, working on that lactate clearance. Brutal! But again, warm, so I couldn't complain. I got out at precisely 3000yds completed, and felt totally accomplished. A hot shower, some hot oatmeal, and hot coffee completed my pre-work morning. It may take a little getting used to, but I could handle this routine a few times a week. 

Ooooo, just saw that Wednesday's high is 49! Ha, I may not have to now. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

winter workouts

This was the scene last night at the Y:

Darn, I can't embed it!

I was the one in the pink pants. Too bad it wasn't half as exciting as this in real life. After the friend-who-will-remain-nameless-to-protect-her-innocence and I got suited up and all the way to the edge of the moderately crowded pool, then walked straight back into the locker room, dry as the desert, I ventured upstairs to the weight room to greet the resolutioners. Surprisingly I got a treadmill right away. I'm still not sure where all these drivers of the cars in the packed parking lot were, because it didn't seem particularly crowded in there. I guess it was Tuesday, after all, and after 4 days of exercising this year, it's time for a break.

But anyway. I have to arm myself with a plan whenever I step upon that massive piece of exercise equipment. This plan must involve changing the speed or incline at least every 3 minutes or boredom will quickly ensue and the workout will come crashing to a halt (hopefully not literally, although I recently witnessed a work incident where a person took an odd step and not only ended up flat out on the moving belt, but failed to let go of the bar, like a waterskiier who has fallen and is still hanging onto the rope, and sustained multiple belt burns. He was for the most part fine, and we onlookers still have that hilarious image to bring tears of laughter to our eyes. It was way better than my sideways treadmill fall, even though I was wearing a skirt).

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, boring treadmills. It was another 40 minute attempt to stave off boredom for as long as possible. The only mild excitement came when I discovered that this newfangled treadmill has an actual fan inside of it! It was a pathetically light stream of air, and I decided that it should at least correlate with running speed, just as real wind outdoors would. The end result was that I worked up a sweat for the first time in several weeks (during a run, that is-- I woke up last night sweating when I had a nightmare about my wedding dress being a pastel floral print).

I think the one case that I would actually really love a treadmill is in my office. If you've never heard of James Levine, MD, you might not have heard of his research in Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. What really interests me is his office setup, which would be my dream! I wonder how fast I could run and still be able to type? Experiments may follow. Stay tuned.