Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Half of a Year

What a half-year it has been! Overall quite amazing, with such a newness about everything. Of course it has been hard at times, and quite an adjustment, but pretty awesome nonetheless. Just six months ago we were eagerly awaiting this little bundle of baby, and now here he is growing so fast!

Just in the past three weeks we've seen some big changes. Hunter has a tooth and a half! We gave him his first (somewhat) solid food -- mashed butterbeans. He wasn't overly impressed. He's had small samples of a couple of other veggies since then -- and a few pieces of paper sneaked in there somehow. So I continue to be his sole source of nutrition; I am now breastfeeding a growing 20 pounds (and no frozen breast milk in a bottle for him - no thank you!). He had been sitting right on the 95th percentile line in weight and holding well over it in height until his 5 month weigh in that showed slower weight gain, and this month when he only grew taller by a quarter inch, but he still only slipped on the chart a little. I have to be thankful for that; I dreamed that he was already 6 feet tall and I couldn't carry him in the Bjorn anymore.

He wants to be going all the time now. There will be no sitting in the jumper seat, walker, or staycation (exersaucer, whatever, I keep forgetting the name of it) long enough for me to get lunch, or heaven forbid, use the bathroom. If we hold him standing those little feet start going, supporting that weight, so he's essentially walking with help now. If he could have it his way, and he lets us know his way, he would already be walking by himself -- running really -- around the house and outside and on the mountain trails. I love that he's so excited to learn about the world and to go out and do things.

Baby laughter is the best sound in the world, and we get to hear lots of it. I think I'm pulling ahead for funniest right now. But of course I'm also head of the complaints department. Jeremy is head of transportation. Hunter is so interested in Daddy now, that he tries to get his attention when he is not looking. They get to hang out in the early mornings when I run, and what's a better way to wake up than a cooing, smiling baby?

Last week we had a visit from Nana and Granddaddy, my parents. They brought new toys and taught Hunter new games and songs, and he had a blast. When he woke up from his nap after they had left to go home, he looked all over for them immediately. The days were so much more exciting with them here, and we sure miss them (and their delicious food and dishwashing skills).

Hunter gets more and more fun every day, and as much as I loved him the day he was born, I love him more every day. How could you not smile seeing this face?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Just a little Saturday morning workout

I can't call myself a prompt person, but I've had too many nightmares about being late to races to let myself procrastinate on race mornings. Hunter, on the other hand, seems to have zero sense of urgency when it comes to my racing (although when it comes to eating it's quite a different story). So after a week of waking up before 5am, he decided to sleep in on Saturday morning. I only have one rule (HIMYM fans), and that is never wake a sleeping baby. So we left for our 45 minute drive around 6, when lazy-pants finally decided to roll out of bed. The race start was scheduled for 7:30, so I already knew there would be little chance for warm up.

Nobody in the desert thinks about things like weather forecasts, unless they just want to calm their fears about the wind (which is always worse than predicted). The sun is pretty predictable: it will be out. So it was somewhat of a surprise to me that it rained the whole drive over. And here's the short report: it kept raining. I realized a few months ago how accustomed I am to perpetual sunshine when I told my sister that it rained and rained and rained -- for like 30 minutes straight! Apparently that is not a lot. Well the race day rain was a lot, so much that the second half of the bike course was too flooded to ride on. It is either the fact that the soil doesn't absorb any water or the road builders don't fully understand the physics of road water drainage, I don't know, but flooding is a big issue out here. The result of this was the bike course being cut in half -- hooray! We also had a 20 minute delay, which I could've used to nurse, or even warm up, had I been forewarned. Instead, my warm up had consisted of running from the car to transition and back many times to get all the equipment I kept forgetting. What a total newbie. Hunter was too busy learning to drive the car to nurse; he was so obviously annoyed that I tried to take him away from the fun!

So I stood at the prerace meeting chatting with my friend Dave about how we are better runners after the bike, which is a much underutilized skill in the reverse races. I somehow managed to be at the starting line on time despite a couple more forgotten items. Starting out slow is my thing, especially when I don't warm up, but I wasn't expecting a woman to still be ahead of me half a mile in. And then she started pulling away. It was surprisingly easy to talk myself out of hanging with her, and next thing I knew she was 100 yards ahead. So I splashed through the ankle deep water all by my lonesome, thinking of things like how I need a dress for an upcoming wedding, my parents' visit and what mom would fix us for supper, you know, the usual race thoughts. Then I came upon the 2k mark, such a standard first marker, and of course I had to utilize all brain power to calculate what 8:45 would be in minutes per mile. It took me a while, since, although I love my numbers, the most basic equations escape me while running. Just as I was figuring out my pace, we turned a corner into the wind and driving rain, which pelted my face despite turning my visored head downward. Taking my eyes off her did little for my motivation, and she pulled further ahead. There was nobody near me to block the wind or chase, but I did manage to pick up a little speed and I do believe I negative split the 8k. I have no proof since I had to forgo the garmin. Rain and my finicky bezel don't mix.

The rain continued on the bike, and I admit I was a little scared of how slick the road was. My racing flats were light on the traction, and I kept picturing skidding out on the bike. I've gotten wimpy in rain! The first half was a nice downhill with a tailwind, so I was preparing myself for the return trip. As soon as I hit the turnaround my speed dropped by 10mph and my watts increased. I did decide to take the power tap along, and luckily it is waterproof. While I'm not as close to 4W/kg as I'd like, but it wasn't as bad as I half expected. I never caught the girl ahead of me, and being able to see miles up the road, I could tell there wasn't much chance. My speed kept dropping a little bit lower every few miles, and it took me 10 minutes longer to do the back half of the 14 mile course than the front. Ouch.

While the temperature wasn't super cold, the rain had a chill. I was a little stiff coming off the bike but the pool water was nice and warm. I immediately passed a man who jumped in just before me and get this, did flip turns on every other wall the whole way. Never before have I flipped in a race, probably due to panic. My arms literally got a warm feeling and not long after somebody attached that darn vice grip to them and I drug lead weights around for 400yds. The last few hundred, when breathing toward the end wall, I could see my sweet husband holding my precious sleeping baby near the finish. It was so cute; it made me really happy.

So I ended up 2nd female but of course was a bit disappointed in my effort. There are just so many new things to think about when planning for and racing now, that I forgot to pack my motivation. Adding to that was the rain-- I mean, rain? This was the wettest triathlon I've probably ever done, and it took place in the desert.

I'll give this racing thing one more shot this fall, but I'll try to leave complacency at home.

Solid grayness. Where's my blue sky?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Power in the Legs

Back in Memphis, we did many a workout up and down good ole Watkins Street, in good ole shady North Memphis. As a side note, I guess it kind of helped your average speed when you got caught in the neighborhoods on the way home at dusk. Anyway, one of my favorites was the Power in Leg drills (pronounced powwah in leg). The name is a tribute to some of our German riding buddies. Right at 20 minutes into the ride, we'd hit Watkins, and it was on. We clicked up to our hardest gear, and smashed up and down the rollers. I miss that.

Now that I have the power tap up and running, I sure wish I'd had it back when I was racing (really racing, not what I pretend to do now). It's just fun. I haven't gotten obsessed with it yet, like in the sense that I'm disappointed if I don't hit certain numbers. For one thing, the first 5 or so rides I did with it in my jersey pocket, since we hadn't attached it to my bike yet. I kept pulling it out on hills or between those light posts where I always sprint. 

The best part of it so far is that I finally get some credit for the slow grinding uphills and the wind! All I used to see was that I was going 12 mph. Now I see that actually I'm working pretty darn hard. Validation!

I feel pretty good about myself until I get home and see that I'm not really that good after all. Those Tour de France riders -- yeah I know they're the top professionals in the sport, but whatever -- they can produce around 7 watts per kilogram during some of those 30 minute mountaintop climb finishes. The sportsscientists don't believe this is physiologically possible without a little, uh, help, though (see here). But they do believe a decent, trained cyclist should be capable of 40 mins at 4W/kg. I'm pretty sure I'm not capable of that, but I'm going to keep that number in my head: 203W. Maybe in the past I usetocould maintain that, but the legs need some retraining.

Maybe it started in my grad school days, my excitement over numbers. Or I guess I was always a number person. Mom says she used to keep me occupied at church suppers when I was about 4 by giving me math problems on the paper tablecloth. I like the objectiveness of it, which makes me wonder why I got my bachelor's in psychology with all of the paper writing it involved. Anyway, I'm giddy over all the data I come home with after each ride. It records every second, so after  just an hour ride I have 3600 "records, " which can show me my best average power over many time increments. Having taught so so many weight loss classes in my life, I also can't help but notice my energy expenditure. It tells me the kJ that I've used during the entire ride, and by assuming a very awesome 25% efficiency (Lance is around 23%, so I'm being very conservative on kcal expenditure), I can calculate calories burned.

All this data is just sitting on the computer waiting to be pored over, since naptime is one of the few times I have to devote to this. And naps can't be predicted or projected in this house! I also feel like I need a bit more data to analyze before I start making specific workouts for myself. I'm racing again on Saturday, and I'm thinking of riding the PowerTap wheel. It's a bit heavier, but the course should be mostly flat. Any votes?

Update: In my last post, I commented that I'd yet to see Jeremy's coyote. The very next morning on my run, just before the sun came over the mountain, a coyote nonchalantly crossed the somewhat busy road between me and a man walking a few dozen yards in front of me. Maybe not so coincidentally, I had seen a roadrunner in the vicinity just before.

 Now for the required fat baby picture. Speaking of power in legs, these fat thighs are getting strong enough to hold up 19+ pounds of baby for short intervals. He'd be able to escape the Bumbo seat if they weren't so chunky that they get stuck in the little slots. It takes some work getting him in and out.