Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year in Review

It's that time again, when I document my year-end stats in my training log to remind my mid-winter self that I have made progress and motivate myself for the year to come.

For the second year running I am very disappointed with the amount of weight I lost since this was supposed to be The Year of Concentrating on Weight Loss. But, no thanks to 12 weeks of bronchitis and various injuries, not to mention struggling with the latter half of a 10 month plateau, I am thankful I managed to lose any at all.

I'm also very happy I reached a couple of major milestones this year:
- 1/3 of the way to my goal weight
- 50 pounds lost
- ran my first 5K

I have a need for quantifiable goals and I love to obsess over numbers, learning what the subtle variations over time teach me about where I've come from, and where I'm going. But I must admit the most important milestones I reached this year were mental.

I learned to be patient and accepting of my physical limits so I can push them safely and successfully. I've learned to trust the training process and what it can do for me, which gave me the courage to choose bigger races in the coming year. Best of all, I learned to believe that I can actually achieve even the most outrageous goals I've ever dreamt of.

Original Start: 270
Started 2006: 232
Ended 2006: 220
Lost in 2005: 12
Total lost: 50

Here's hoping everyone achieves their goals in the year to come.

Race Results: GYGO New Year's Virtual Tri

I did the Super Sprint distance, partly because my gym was only open for a little while this morning and partly because my shoulder is still a serious problem (in an 'if my doctor doesn't say something new next week I'm asking for a referral' kind of way). Because of the nearly constant shoulder pain I haven't really swam in a couple of months. My overall time was slower than I wanted, but when I thought about it I realized I was pacing pretty close to the times at my last sprint race, and this was after a couple months of not swimming or biking.

The water was cool for my gym (low 80s) so I was happy, but it's been so long the water felt thick and heavy, like I was swimming through Jello. I took it easy and only felt a few twinges from the bad shoulder. Even though it's relatively slow, I wasn't unhappy with time because I haven't been able to swim in ages trying to let the shoulder heal. The only interesting thing that happened was my pony tail holder fell out towards the end, and on the last lap I spotted it in the deep end. I took a few extra seconds to dive down to retrieve it. For just those few seconds I felt like a kid, diving for stuff on the pool bottom.

Losing the ponytail meant I had to take an extra minute to comb out the tangled hair (yeah, I know, I should have worn a cap), but the real reason my T1 took an eternity was the age-old equation: spandex tri shorts + wet body = not happening. I debated wearing my tri-suit to avoid this issue, but I was already getting enough attention for doing this at my pokey little gym, didn't want to make myself any more conspicuous.

I'm still a bit saddle sore from riding the trainer two days ago, so I decided to go with a recumbant bike instead of the upright. I was disappointed with the final time for the 10K and I assume (hope!!) it's an issue with the gym's beaten up stationary bike. I was hauling ass at resistance Level 6 doing 90-95 RPM, but the time wasn't any better than at my last race, with 90 degree heat and 20-30 mph winds.

Easiest T2 ever - I walked about 10 feet from the bike to the treadmill, re-tied my shoes and got running!

This was officially my first triathlon where I ran the entire run. Sure, it was only a Super Sprint, but it's a big psychological step and I'm excited about it. And I totally negative-splitted the run, starting at 15:45 pace and with my HR holding pretty steady at 175, building to a 14:20 pace, then sprinting the last tenth mile at 12:00. I was also happy to see I was pacing pretty comfortably within just a few minutes of my 5K PR.

I had fun - even brought my obnoxious pink race towel to make it official - but it was lonely. Will be looking for a friend to do it next year.

Swim (400 yards) - 12:11
T1: 8:14
Bike (10K): 27:18
T2: 1:05
Run (2.5K): 23:18
Total: 1:12:05

Friday, December 29, 2006

Punctuated Equilibrium

I just took a giant leap forward in my triathlete evolution:

30 minutes on the trainer. Wearing a HR monitor. Working on my cadences. While watching a triathlon video.

Twelve months ago there wasn't anything anyone could have said to make me believe this day would come. And that I would be happy about it.

Progress Report

With your host, Kona the Goofy Shepherd Monster

Vocabulary Skills

In the 8 weeks since I came to my new family, I learned the meaning of:
Sit (it means bend my back legs until I see the cookie)
Down (it means get up and sniff their hand for the cookie)
Stay (it means they're going to let go of me and I can go look for a cookie)
OOW!! (it means their fingers were between me and the cookie)
Off (it means I can't eat off the counter when they're in the room)
Lay down! Go to sleep! (it means I must protect Mommy from the cats trying to steal her pillow)
GAAHH! Not the computer!! (it means the tennis ball needs a little more slobber before I drop it onto the warm shiny box on their lap)

Dietary Habits

My Mommy and Daddy are teaching me to eliminate unhealthy things from my diet so I can grow up a to be a big, strong boy. All they have to do is yell "Don't eat the..." and I know to cut back on whatever it is. Stuff they've taught me not to eat so far includes:
That other dog's head
Eeewww... what is that?!

Recent Accomplishments

I helped groom my sister - the crunchy slobber all over her head works just like gel!
I gave my Daddy a mild concussion all by myself!
I saved my Mommy money - I helped smash her teeth right into her lip so she'll never need to get that collagen stuff to make them puffy!
I helped Mommy by cleaning up the kitchen while they were having dinner - she didn't need that roast chicken anyway, right?
I helped Mommy with her diet - she didn't need to eat that plate of sausage for breakfast!
I helped Daddy practice using the new carpet cleaner AND helped him get in some cardio 10 minutes before company arrived for a party by demonstrating my muddy hole-digging prowess (that tennis ball wasn't going to bury itself!) and then making him chase me around the white carpet.
I helped the plants get enough sunlight! I'm sure they didn't want those blinds on the windows anyway!
I proved how strong I am by shredding - in less than two weeks - an industrial strength dog toy that not even all the dogs at a kennel could shred in a year!

It sure has been fun living with my new family and I learn lots of new stuff every day. I'm looking forward to next year - I keep hearing about this place called "obedience school." I don't know what it is, but it must be good because Mommy keeps talking about how she can't wait for it to start!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

My family's getting good at following the hyperlinks I send when they ask what I want for my birthday : )

And for my geeked-out viewing pleasure, I also go these DVDs:

Wildflower: The Legendary California Triathlon
What It Takes A documentary about four world-class triathletes' quest for greatness.

Now we're going shopping because, studly Runner that I am (hee hee - I couldn't even type that with a straight face) I need new running shoes.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Not Exactly Funny 'Ha Ha' But We Laughed Anyway

Sitting around the table after a belated Christmas dinner with what's left of my mom's family today, we were randomly chatting and the subject of birthdays came up (and not by me).

A minute or so into the topic you could see a light go in on my mom's face. She reached across the table to get my attention and says (Ooooh how I wish I was making this up):

"Hey, in case I forget, happy birthday"

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santa Must Be a Triathlete

Or maybe his elves read my blog : )

Minoura Mag 850D (Big thank you to Flatman for helping me not only figure out what (to tell Husband) to get, but for finding an insane deal on it too.)

I got the silly T1 gadget I wanted so bad!

Nobody was ever more content to get socks for Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Another Day, Another LSD

To spare the interweb the redundancy of another Siren's-slower-than-molasses-in-January LSD recap thought I'd share this little mash-up, of which I am particularly fond...
Grocery Store Wars

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Explicit SNL

*Warning - do not follow this link if you have a congenital humor defect*

Seemed too boring to talk about another LSD (although I will just say it ROCKS to have a friend call you 5 minutes before your workout to join you) so I thought I'd pass along this hilarious SNL skit that wasn't suitable for broadcast.

(Although, maybe it says something about me that I don't think it was at all inappropriate to be broadcast, since the lyrics are barely explicit and it's on very late at night.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Food Porn

I was looking for a Roquefort Pear Salad recipe and stumbled across this heavenly concoction...

Here's the crazy part - I have everything on hand to make it.

So later today, when Bears fans at other people's houses are eating Domino's and deep fried they-used-to-be-potatos, my guests will be enjoying Banana Nutella crepes after I serve the chicken, artichoke and roasted red pepper pizza.

While they're doing that, some of the girls and I will be making homemade pesto, rum balls (including an experiment with a Chocolate & Chambord version) and maybe some ginger snaps or molasses cookies.

(Now I need to grab lunch - goat cheese, pear and grilled chicken on a toasted baguette - before I hit the grocery store or I'll buy all kinds of crazy things.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

12 Days of Christmas - Triathlete Style

[I must credit Yo Mip for inspiring this today.]

On the first (etc, ad nauseum) week of the season my training gave to me…

12 Sweaty socks
11 Dropped chains
10 Muscle pulls
9 Tubes of Nuun
8 Funky sunburns
7 Tempo runs
6 LSDs
5 Hour Brick
4 Road rashes
3 Black nails
2 Shin splints

... and a finish medal in this sport of three

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cue The Music

'Cause I'm doin' the happy dance!

This was only my 4th dedicated LSD workout, and to my absolute shock there was a measurable improvement. Today I was pacing roughly 25 seconds per mile faster than I was 2 weeks ago at the same HR!!

This pace (15:45) was definitely pushing the envelope of how fast I can walk without serious discomfort, so after going that speed for long enough to convince myself it wasn't a fluke (about 10 minutes) I took y'all's advice and started playing with the incline. It worked like a charm, and even though I reduced my speed each time I increased the incline, once I adjusted to it after a minute or so I found my HR actually slowing down and I'd have to bump the pace back up. It was great!!

Just to remind Body what this is all about I jogged for 5 minutes at the end of my 40 minutes at a nearly freakin' perfect 140 HR (+/- 2-3 BPM). Even though I only increased enough to cross the walk/jog threshold - to a 15:00 pace - the ol' HR instantly jumped to 158, and then drifted until it stabilized at 168.

Here's the thing - I felt GREAT. Usually by minute 55 of a workout I'm ready to keel over, but I felt fantastic and had to talk myself into stopping (real world, work, all that jazz).

So - YAY!!! LSD works. I know I can't continue to expect crazy fast results like this indefinitely, but it sure was nice to get them this time to keep me going. I am a bit worried about reaching the walk/jog crossover speed (if this progress keeps up it'll only be another few weeks) and how that will feel. Since my HR always skyrockets by 30 or more BPM when my body shifts from walking to jogging I can't help thinking the transition won't be smooth.

But I can't think about that right now - I've got some dancin' to do.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

For Their Sake...

... I wish the world was different.

This is Abby and Sarah. They're the 15 month old daughters of our dear friends the McKendalls, whom we've known since college.

When Abby and Sarah were born we thought it was beyond wonderful that one twin looked like Sean and one twin looked like Cindy. I never thought too much about what it might mean for them, and their parents, as the girls got older. But it turns out this society is still far from colorblind and they are treated differently.

When I look at these little girls I don't see anything but the beautiful children of my dear friends. It bothered me to learn that they get so much attention for simply being who they are that they were even on the news.

Mental Challenge

My first LSD workout after my epiphany and enthusiastic decision to dedicate myself over the next several months to proper Zone 2 training was a major challenge.

I was very, very slow today and struggled to keep my HR 140-145. I did 35 min, pacing between 18:45 and 17:40, with the majority of the workout at 18:10. Last week I was able to pace in the low 16s with my easily at HR 135-140.

It was mentally tough and very frustrating but I stuck it out for 35 minutes (not counting all the warm-up and cool down time, of course, which made it closer to an hour). I'm not going to give up on it the first day no matter how crappy it was. I just keep telling myself it's all part of the process.

I didn't sleep much last night - maybe 4 hours. I don't function well with less than 8 or 9. I wonder if that has something to do with it? (I sure hope I get that heart rate training book I requested for Christmas!)

High on Ironman

Watched DVR Kona tonight. Loved every minute of it - it was great that this year they seemed to focus more than usual on the fact that ordinary people participate.

I was totally sucked in, cried for John Blais and cheered for Sister Madonna Buder. I barely noticed that it was two hours long and that my bedtime had long since passed. I got high on Ironman.

I must have gotten high... because there's no other explanation for the voices in my head.

The ones that kept asking why not me?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Somebody Hit Me With A Clue Stick

I had a revelation of epic proportions this weekend.

While I have been thrilled with the fact that I finally found my Zone 2 sweet spot so I can do proper LSD base training, I have been not so thrilled with the fact that it is a walking pace.

It has been, to be honest, a serious emotional letdown.

Because I've finally been doing all this running, ya know? And here I am, stuck walking. So the whiny little kid in my brain has been bitching and moaning that we're not going to make any real progress in running if we're not running.

Apparently my recent understanding of LSD concept wasn't enough of a clue. But this weekend I guess I got hit with a clue stick in my sleep, because I woke up and suddenly everything made sense and I'm not so sad about walking my LSD any more.

I finally GOT IT.

Right now any running at all - even a 14:30 plodding jog - sucks donkey balls. After just 1-2 miles it is harder than hell and keeping it up beyond that becomes a matter of sheer force of will. And this is what I've called success.

This whole time I've been thinking I need to do more of that - that horrible torturous forcing myself to go on - in order to make progress.

But I've been reading other tri blogs for over a year now, and I always wondered why my slow runs sounded like other people's crazy fast runs. This disconnect settled into the back of my brain and grew into a clue... which finally burst out and smacked me upside the head.

So, thank you thank you thank you. To everybody who has written about running. To everybody who has given me the - I now understand - extremely solid advice that I need to be walking right now. Seriously - thank you. I GET IT NOW.

I get that I won't make progress in my distance running by engaging in personal torture. I get that by sticking with LSD for a good while I will be able to engage in actual running, and not the miserable exercise in self-flagellation I've been doing. I get that this is what will not just make me achieve my goals for next year - it's what will ultimately make my wildest triathlon dreams come true.

Seriously - thanks guys. I don't think I'd have ever figured it out without your help.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dreaming Big

Last night, honest to god, I dreamt I was doing an Ironman. In my dream I came out of the water with 40 minutes to spare and I finished the bike with an hour to spare.

Note how even in my dreams I'm working in terms of beating the cutoffs? ; )

There was, of course, goofy dream nonsense like wandering around lost in a crowded building trying to find transition, but in general it was one of those vivid, lifelike dreams and I felt perfectly reasonable doing what I was doing.

Of course, Kona woke me up before I saw how the marathon ended.

We just got a DVR (can I get a hallelujah?!) and last night I had my first digitally recorded triathlon experience. Lifetime Fitness Triathlon on a 50-inch HDTV baby!! (Can I get an AAAAAMEN?!?!) So I'm thinkin' maybe watching Hunter Kemper and company racing right before I went to sleep had something to do with my crazy Iron dreams...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Interesting New Ouch

My quads ache along the outer edge of my legs. That's never happened before. It's a goofy place and I can't quite figure out how to stretch it.

I refrained from mentioning this interesting new muscle pain before now because I wasn't sure if it was from the first super-fast-walk LSD workout, or from... (can't believe I even have to admit this twice in like a month)... let's call it 'recently enthusiastic marital relations.'

But, I did the super-fast-walk LSD again today and sure enough my legs ache in the same place again tonight, so I'm ready to conclude that's the cause.

Anybody know how to stretch such a goofy spot?

Establishing a Routine

20 minutes. 16:15 - 15:45 pace. HR 135-140.

LSD. Yawn.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Proved It Like a Theorem

Today was my first day back to working out since the Cough From Hell set in two weeks ago. I decided since I needed to ease back anyway (still have a teeny cough) it was the perfect opportunity to test my theory about where to find my steady Zone 2 pace - the Elusive 140 HR.

I warmed up for 10 minutes and then gradually dialed up my speed until I got a steady 135 HR, which ended up being at at 3.7 mph (~16:15 mile). As I'd hoped/feared, it's not that I was doing the LSD wrong, it's that I'm so lacking in cardiac fitness at this stage that my steady Zone 2 HR is a fast walk.

And I also wasn't exaggerating when I whined about avoiding this pace for a reason - today confirmed my suspicion that I literally could not maintain that walking speed without a treadmill pushing me. It's an almost torturously fast walk, which was frustrating because the rest of me felt fantastic. I know I can only walk like when my legs (bad calves in particular) are feeling their best, so it's more incentive to keep up the stretching and massage therapy because I want to do proper base training.

But even with the little frustration that I currently have to walk for my LSD workouts I'm happy because I learned something concrete today, and I finally managed to nail 20 minutes kept perfectly between 135 and 140. I'm content to know that if I keep doing this the little frustration will disappear because I will get faster.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Snow Day

Highlights from Friday's adventures with blizzard conditions.

Kona's perplexed reaction to his first real snow encounter - but he only sat there for a second before he went crazy with joy.

I discovered the funniest possible way to make a Shepherd lose his mind: throwing snowballs. We did this for a whiiiile - and he never got tired of it.

"But why won't you come out and play with me?"

This gives you a pretty good idea of the quantity of snow we're talking about.

Ahhh... Midwestern cardio at its best. This took nearly 2 hours.

Friday, December 01, 2006

They Cost More Than a New Jersey

Yesterday I woke up, heard the weather report, got dressed and was literally at the shoe store 30 minutes before they opened (which just might be a sign of the apocalypse, because I've never beaten anyplace open in my life). I remember seeing these at the store a few weeks ago - walked right past them to ogle the sleek black leather spike heeled concoctions - and remember thinking that I haven't owned snow boots since I was a little girl and perhaps it was time to do something about that. My snow removal responsibilities (one of the things I agreed to take on when I started working from home) have made them a necessity, and today's snow day extravaganza is the ultimate case in point.

Best part - after selling the same boots to a couple of people before me the clerk asked "is it supposed to snow or something?"

I'd much rather have bought a new bike jersey. Or those cold weather, wind-proof running pants I've had my eye on. Or new running shoes, for that matter.

But as I look out my window at the knee-deep snow, thankful to have a job I can stay in for and dreading the moment it finally stops and I have to go wrestle with the mother of all freakin' snowblowers, I'm awfully glad I spent my gear money on these.

And for anyone who's curious about how we came to own the mother of all freakin' snowblowers... that's a story in itself.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

To Buy or Not To Buy

Since I'm still kinda sick I've got training-free time to surf the web for gadgets and gear, and I came across an ad for something I've been wanting for a while, so...

I'm looking for thoughts from seasoned athletes on whether or not it's practical to purchase my own timing chip.

When I first started I had no intention of ever buying my own ChampionChip, but the more races I do the more I kind of want one. I've been putting together my 2007 race schedule and once again am confronted with screens asking if I have my own or need to rent one.

They're only $35 bucks and it seems like such a cool thing to have. I was thinking about asking for one for Christmas.

What do you think? Do you guys have one? Do you think it's a good thing to have your own or a hassle to deal with? I noticed when I worked chip removal as a volunteer that not many athletes owned them, but then again I was at an entry level, mostly-first-timer race. I have no idea what the percentages are at events with seasoned racers.

It just seems so darn cool. But if your experience has been that it's impractical I can see not bothering to buy one.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Small World

I just found out a very sweet Athena blogger to whose blog Wylee had recently introduced me lives just about 20 minutes down the road! Yaaay!

And we've got at least one race in common for 2007! Double yaaaay!!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Race Report: Turkey Day 5K

Event: 5K Run/Walk
Date: 11/23/2006
Location: Crystal Lake, IL

I went to the race with no particular plan, especially considering the tickle in my throat from the night before had developed into a little cough. It's unusual for me to not know exactly how I'm going to do a distance - how long the run intervals will be, when I'll take walk breaks. I knew I was probably coming down with something so shouldn't expect to run, but aside from my throat I felt perfectly fine. Besides, my goal had been to run it... so why plan for anything else?

I took some cough suppressant, checked the temperature, geared up accordingly and was out the door by 7:20. It was 31, sunny, no wind.

I feel pretty good about my upper body cold weather gear now that I've got gloves, a good base layer and technical fabric pullover. I wore a long-sleeve t-shirt over the two technical layers and I was fine. I still haven't found running pants, so I wore my cool weather cycling tights, which had worked out well on last Sunday's 23 degree run. They look enough like running tights, and I figured I'm a triathlete so am used to running with some cycling padding in my pants. They worked great as an interim solution.

Since I require a long time to warm up I made sure I arrived with time to walk around a stretch a lot. I was hoping Monday's visit to the therapist and a lot of stretching would keep me from needing to stop along the run to stretch out my cranky calves, and this time it worked like a charm.

I was thrilled to see a full parking lot, because there had been a tiny voice in my head saying "what if only Hard Core Runners run this and they all go home before you're finished?"

It was nice to see such a wide cross-section of people at this event: Runners, runners, Team Runners (junior high, high school and college kids bearing XC shirts from local schools), Junior Runners (kids as young as 7 sprinting around the course), Walkers and walkers. There were even families with kids and dogs. As I was greeted exuberantly by many a happy dog while warming up I wished more than once I'd known they were allowed. Definitely bringing Kona next time.

It was also great to not be the only one decked out in technical gear - more than half the racers were and except for the fact they they all left me in the dust I blended right in. A good number of gazelles were wearing shorts, and a couple were wearing nothing but. (I later heard one of these nearly naked men report their time as 16:32... and he wasn't the winner.)

I felt kinda cool as we got started and the beep of my lap watch one only one of many. That feeling quickly dissipated as the entire pack thundered by, leaving me ahead of only a few walkers. I resisted the adrenaline rush that comes with every race start and initiated a sustainable pace.

I forced myself to a frustrating, ridiculous slow pace because, aside from not feeling my best I knew I'd never run farther than 1.5 outside (and 2.5 indoors). I really wanted to see how far I could go.

At the half mile marker I was feeling noticeably warmer and took off my gloves.

As I passed the 1 mile marker I remembered to hit the lap button, then I took off the t-shirt layer, tied it around my waist and unzipped the pullover as far as it would go. It was maybe 35 degrees now, but I was suddenly understanding how the Nearly Naked Gazelles (who, btw, had already lapped me several minutes earlier) could do it.

At this point I did a little survey and liked what I found. Legs - fine. Lungs - fine. Heart - fine. I picked up the pace a tiny bit.

As I passed the 1.5 mile marker I briefly channeled Veeg, thinking, happily - this is the farthest I have ever run outside. AND I FEEL GOOD.

A few minutes later I passed a lone woman with a little boy, maybe 3 years old. They were sitting on a park bench watching. She was teaching him how to cheer for the runners and shake cowbells like it was a real race. I laughed and we exchanged 'Happy Thanksgivings' and then they were lost around the bend, but they kept me going for a little while.

Next I passed a woman walking with her daughter. We chatted briefly and I learned she's a long-time runner and was trying to get her clearly reluctant daughter to catch the bug. She congratulated me on my progress, then turned her attention back to the daughter who had stuffed her hands into her pockets and was stomping dejectedly along. I wished with all my heart I could convey to this overweight little girl how good it feels, and how it changes your life, to embrace exercise. But I knew there was nothing I could say because this is a lesson we have to learn on our own. I kept going.

I found myself looking hard for mile marker 2 and inordinately happy when I was finally able to mark it on my watch. Things were definitely not as easy as they had been. It wasn't quite as easy to breathe, my legs didn't feel quite as light. The crowd had thinned considerably and the first of the gazelles who were running a 10K just for kicks had passed on their way back through the course. And I was starting to get the first of many "good job, you're almost there's" from finishers who had come back through.

On the way to the 2.5 marker my legs piped up and asked 'would you like some lead with that Jello?' But thankfully the feeling passed quickly and they came back to normal. But as I passed the 2.5 marker my breathing was noticeably more labored and the voices started up.

This is the farthest you have ever run. EVER. That's great... you can STOP NOW.

My lungs seconded the motion. As did my heart.

But I kept telling them that it was only another half mile, maybe 7 minutes, and we can TOTALLY keep it together for 7 minutes, right?

The angry chorus reluctantly calmed and I returned the focus to my breathing. I noticed right away it was no longer the smooth in-two-three out-two-three hypnotic rhythm I have come to know when running without headphones. There was a ragged quality, with extra beats here and missing beats there.

Then I came around a curve, the 3 mile marker came into sight and Legs made a break for it. I felt myself speeding up and had the eerie feeling I couldn't do anything about it even though I couldn't breathe enough to keep it up.

I decided to let them go - my legs clearly wanted to run even though the rest of me wasn't on board. I hit the lap button as I passed the 3 mile marker and as I turned toward the finish line I broke into the closest thing I could must to a sprint. My face was hot, my heart racing, my breathing ragged, but I couldn't slow down without stopping, and I hadn't run this far to walk the last 25 yards.

I remembered to look at the clock when I crossed, remembered a second later to stop my watch.

I was such a wreck I couldn't speak to thank the volunteer who handed me a finisher's card (no chip timing or bib numbers at this informal event - you mark your own time on an index card and turn it in). I made myself walk until my heart returned to normal and my breathing was controlled.

Then I took stock and was amazed as how normal I felt. My legs weren't tired at all and it took me a minute to remember it's because they're used to going on a bike ride before a 5K. But the next day - same thing. Not a hint of tiredness or soreness from the race.

Clearly my body is ready for this now. I just need to get in some solid base training this winter to get my heart on board.

Mile 1: 15:04:13 (this includes the time it took to reach the starting line from the back of the pack, 10-20 seconds)
Mile 2: 14:25:44
Mile 3: 13:27:30
Last .1: 1:02:72
Total Time: 43:59:59

Goals Met
- run a 5K
- in under 45:00
- by the end of 2006

Next Steps
The Shamrock Shuffle in April is an 8K. I think I'm going to sign up, it's the perfect next step towards my 2007 half-marathon goal, and perfectly timed to keep me running through the winter.

[Post-script: That tickle in my throat turned into a nasty cough with some kind of raging chest infection. My throat's on fire and I've got no voice. Calling doctor tomorrow, expect to be out of commission for a week.]

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I DID it y'all!!!


Don't have time to elaborate, must get showered and make stuffing, will do a proper write-up later.

For now - thank you all SO MUCH for all your kind words and encouragement. This was a huge personal goal and your support helped me achieve it.

Time: 43:59:59 (PR, and below 45:00 goal)
Distance: 5K (distance PR)

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Resistance was futile. I have been assimilated.

I am now: One Of The Crazy People

Today's subset: Crazy People You See Out Running On A 23 Degree Sunday Morning

Got my OOTCP badge just in time too, 'cause the Crazy People You See Running a 5K on Thanksgiving team is getting together in just 4 days...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Am I Doing This Wrong or Does It Really Suck This Bad

Yesterday I did an LSD workout.

I remembered not liking it the few times I tried it earlier in the year, but now that I've got the HR monitor I REALLY don't like it. In fact, it's awful and miserable and frustrating to the point I'm almost in tears just thinking about it.

I read other bloggers talking about how they hate going so slow... but so far I've never heard anyone talk about the misery of running/walking/running/walking... and everybody makes it sound like going slow keeps their HR around a target rate. Really, everybody makes it sound like running at a particular pace, whatever it is, keeps their HR in the general vicinity they were planning for that pace.

But mine soars when I start even the slowest little jog and I must walk to get it down. This yo-yo effect drives me crazy because I don't get to run for any amount of time, which I figure can't possibly be getting me anywhere.

Based on advice from my doctor (a marathoner) and information I've learned from various places, I'm pretty sure the Zone 2 limits set on my Polar are reasonable. But it is all I can do to stay in them for even a minute at at time. I suppose I should admit that all the recent running successes I've had are because I'm either not wearing the damn thing or ignoring it, because if I follow it I don't get to run.

Yesterday the longest running time I managed before it left the zone was 1 min 18 seconds. The shortest was around 45 seconds. I did every single "run" at a ridiculous slow 15:00 pace. (That's the speed at which a fast walk becomes a slow jog for me and my short legs.) I should note I'm trying to keep it between 135 and 155 - yes, I get that's ridiculous - and yet am still failing miserably.

My calves were a problem so I had to drop the walks down to a 20:00 pace (zone 1 speed) - they're just too tight to speed walk right now so I couldn't test a theory I've got.

I'm wondering if I find the right speed, will I be able to sustain my HR in a more reasonable manner? I understand that HR drift is normal, but I don't think "drift" means "jumping 20 bpm in 45 seconds." I know I'm super slow, so I wonder if the reason it seems to work for everyone else is that their Zone 2 speed is just that much faster than mine, so much so that maybe mine's a walk?

I figured I should try something in the high 3s (3.6-3.9 mph) to see if my HR is happier in Zone 2 at that speed. Problem is, that pace falls smack between "walking comfortably at a brisk pace" and "starting to jog." It's a kind of tortured super-fast walk and does awful, painful things to my already stressed calves so I avoid that speed range altogether.

Everyone says that LSD improve your speed and stamina in the long run (no pun intended.) But I don't know how to make that happen if even the slowest, shortest jog makes it soar out of control. I have had no noticeable improvement in keeping it from spiking so high at such a low intensity. (Last week when I ran outside it did seem to say in the 160s-170s for much longer than usual before it spiked into the 180s and 190s; that run was at low-moderate intensity, but in the last quarter mile of the 1.5 I wanted to DIE.)

I will say there has been a dramatic improvement in the speed at which it falls back into range - when I first started it could take several minutes, now it takes about 30 seconds from when I drop to a walk. Not much, and maybe only because my calves are so sore I'm dropping to a much slower walk than I normally would.

This has got me really upset. The more I learn, the more I understand that I cannot successfully continue my journey up the race ladder without getting this basic thing under control. Right now my heart seems to be stuck in sprint mode even though the rest of me seems to showing a preference for longer distances. The way I feel after going a long time at a reasonable pace is miles better than how I feel after anything short and fast (OK, "fast")... in fact, once I finally get warmed up and get into a groove (in all 3 events) it's already over and I want to keep going. I have a feeling I'm really going to come into my own as I increase distance because it appears I'm inclined to excel at the long slow burn. Which is why I want to get this whole LSD thing worked out.

So am I doing it wrong or what?!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

You Might Be a Triathlete If

You pack a transition bag with swim and run gear because you want to get in some workouts... on a weekend trip for a family wedding. 14 hours of which will be spent driving.

The way my shoulder feels (mental note: playing with 85 pound puppy + already strained shoulder = bad idea) I have a hunch the swim gear isn't going to see much more than the hotel hot tub. But I really would like to sneak in a run, if for no other reason than to get a little more acclimated to running in the cold. I figure if I can run in Minnesota cold the week before Thanksgiving, I can run in Chicagoland cold on Thanksgiving.

I just hope I can find somewhere to run around Forest Lake that isn't the highway by the hotel. It's hard enough to run without breathing car exhaust.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Try Explaining THAT to the Doctor

The ouchy shoulder problem (supraspinatus tendonitis) that plagued my swimming this summer is back. 'Cause I, um.... well, ya see... I kinda reinjured it. In a grown-up, happily married, sometimes it's nice not to have kids yet, x-rated fun kinda way.

Damn. I was SO looking forward to doing drill sets today...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Procrastination and Irony All in One Morning

You know you're not in the mood to go to the gym when the following activities are not only more appealing, you actually do them (while of course, dressed in full gym regalia and running shoes. Because you're going. Really, you are.):

- Cleaning the litter boxes
- Hand washing bras
- Scrubbing last night's roast pan
- Returning movies to the video store
- Returning what was obviously a sales call dressed up as a pretend potential client call from a commercial realtor

I was contemplating painting the basement when I accepted I was being ridiculous, set aside my fatigue and general crabbiness and went. It was pretty busy and the good treadmills were taken, but thankfully the one I got has an interval program so today's workout could proceed as planned.
I have a terrible habit of falling into a rut of the same workouts, and I've been consciously trying to mix it up a bit because it's obviously what works for all y'all experienced athletes. Hence today's speed intervals.

Long story short - it SUCKED. Not the running part - that was fine. My calves froze up on me pretty bad, hurt quite a bit, made me stop quite frequently to stretch out the pain - that's what sucked. (Hot wasabi balls, in case you're curious as to what, exactly, it was sucking.) My best workouts always start with 10-15 minutes of easy walking and then some good stretching before I can even think about running. I blew that off today because the interval program allowed for 5 minutes of slow walking warm-up... clearly I won't make that mistake again. (OK, yeah, I know - I'll TOTALLY make it again. But not for a while.)

One nice surprise - the interval program on this machine very different from my favorite treadmill (which is 2 min run/2 min walk ad infinitum) and I really liked it. This was sets of 1 min intervals of run hard/walk fast for 5 min mixed in with longer 5 min sets of moderate jogging (total 45 minutes). Because of the stiff calves I had to push the fast walk way down to an easy walk, but I (easily!) pushed the run intervals to an 11:30 pace (fastest yet), with the very last one at an 11:10 pace just to see how it felt (surprisingly comfortable, but 40 min into a 45 min workout I couldn't keep it up more than a minute).

Oh yeah, wait. I had a point but I lost it. Stu! It was about Simply Stu. I'm out of GYGOs so have been going back to catch up on the early episodes of Simply Stu. And as irony would have it, he was doing a speed interval workout and talking about how you really need to feel good - to really feel your best - when you're heading out to do a speed interval workout.

I decided to relish the irony and consider it a lesson learned. But it's good to know what kind of workouts to avoid on the days when I feel so pissy and tired that scrubbing baked-on grease is more appealing than fresh air and exercise.

Monday, November 13, 2006

It's That Time of Year Again

Goal setting. Race schedules. Fa la freakin' la.

This is the time of year I cave to the 4:30 darkness and get sad and wallow in self-pity about how slow my progress has been considering I've been at this whole weight loss and exercise thing for 3 years now.

This is the time I year alternate that with yelling at myself about how I need to get over myself because I'm doing great - I've lost 50 pounds, I made huge progress in my swim, I learned to run for goodness' sake - while stuffing myself with homemade dressing instead of the turkey.

This is the time of year I do things like adopt 85 pound untrained puppies and act like it has nothing to do with still being childless.

This is the time of year I realize I'm THAT MUCH CLOSER TO 35. My scary age. The age before which I had decided I would be done having children. The age at which I promised myself I'd run a marathon. The age at which I theorized I might tackle my first half-Ironman. The age that is ONLY A YEAR AND 6 WEEKS AWAY with none of those goals feeling any closer.

So. Yeah. Been doin' some math.

My birthday is at the end of the year, and even though I weasel-worded the terms of my marathon goal to buy an entire year ("WHEN" I'm 35 vs "BEFORE" I'm 35) the voices in my head are still freaking out.


This year there's a new voice in my head - one that I can't seem to drown with gravy. She has been helpfully pointing out in a nauseatingly cheerful way that I've come an awfully long way and I'll be disappointed if I don't push myself harder next season.

So I took the aggressive stance that I would do an Oly next year. (OK, maybe it's just aggressive to me. I have a feeling it's more of a "DUH!!" from the outside looking in.)

Then I started playing with the schedule and it hit me hard that in order to meet my marathon goal I really should put a half-marathon into my 2007 race plan. Which means I really should put a 10K in the plan for early in the season - which I should really do anyway to help prepare myself for my first Oly. And call me an incrementalist if you must, but I figure if I'm really gonna run that half-mary late in the season I should probably stick a 15K in the middle somewhere.

And well, this "haven't even done a 5K yet" girl is feeling more than a little bit freaked out about that.

'Cause ya see.... that's a LOT of Ks.

I think I can do it. Hope so, because I'm not the sort to back down from a challenge. I'm already weasel-wording my half-mary plan with terms like "finish" instead of "run"... but considering I'll still be dragging around at least 75 extra pounds (and that's being very, very generous about what I might be able to lose in the next 10 months) I'm not going to set any crazy expectations about running the whole thing. If I do, GREAT. But this is hard enough without setting myself up for failure.

So. It's that time of year again. I pick races. I get freaked out. I sign up for them anyway. There's just a whole new level of freak-out going on because I'm contemplating a whole new level of scariness.

Unlike 2006, I'm not just trying to improve my sprint time in 2007. I'm trying to simultaneously meet my holy grail sub-2 sprint goal while moving up to Oly distance and adding distance running in a serious way. Just contemplating the idea of me and those races in the same context at this point is pushing my rational mind a bit far.

Guess it's a good thing I'm a little bit nuts.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What I Learned Today

1) I can be too rigid, in that I will follow plans I've made when even I see they should be changed. Case in point: today I drove to the gym for my planned treadmill interval workout even though this glorious - and completely bizarre in a "proof of Greenhouse Effect" kind of way - November day is sunny and 65.

2) Sometimes the Powers That Be will reach down and break my favorite treadmill to save me from myself.

3) There is no shame in walking right back out of the gym without working out if you're leaving to go for a run outside, like nature intended.

4) Going for an impromptu outdoor run means I do not have certain things with me; specifically, my Fuel Belt. That means I can't carry my car keys, cell phone or drink bottle.

5) I've lost enough weight that I can fit my car key/opener in my sports bra.

6) It turns out I can go 3 miles without carrying a drink bottle when it's only 65. (I'm used training in July when I need a sip every quarter mile.)

7) There is something indescribably wonderful about running with leaves crunching under your feet.

8) You can still sweat and get sunburned in November.

9) Sweat will short out electronic door lock openers.

10) Always bring the key as a back-up to the electronic opener unless you want to walk home.

11) What turned out to be the same pace feels slower without Kona's company.

12) When I think I'm going slower I can run farther.

13) If I listen to my Polar I will never get to run because it says I'm ALWAYS out of my target zone. It's routine for me to be running easy and feel great and have my HR in the 180s. (My doctor told me to just run as long as it feels good and ignore the monitor for now.)

Walk (warm-up): .5 mile - 10:00 min
Run: 1.5 mile - 19:33 (Half mile splits: 7:17, 6:30, 5:56) (Outdoor distance PR)
Walk: .5 mile - 10:15
Run: .5 mile - 6:54

Total workout: 47:39
Total distance: 3 miles

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Christmas Came Early

Earlier this year I volunteered to help RTP work on a foreclosure she was rehabbing. I've been a homeowner long enough that I've picked up a few skills, and I really wanted to help, especially when the property's issues turned out to be of the 'worst-case-scenario' variety. After they got a few quotes and found out the cost of hiring painters was equivalent to the entire budget, I was put in charge of painting the interior.

It was a lot of hard work and the running joke was that she was getting me back for making her do a triathlon last summer. I never expected anything out of it because she's my best friend and I was happy to lend a hand. She said more than once she wanted to pay me something for my time but I always brushed it off because I knew their budget was too tight to be paying the volunteer labor. I'd move mountains for this woman, so I didn't getting sweaty and covered in paint was that far-fetched a thing to do for a friend. Especially the friend who stood by my side the entire year it took me to train for my first tri.

Imagine my surprise when, after the sale closed about a week ago, she presented me with a check. A check which is now burning a hole in my pocket in the shape of a bike trainer.

So here's the deal - I need advice on bike trainers!! I know less than nothing. I didn't think I could afford to get one this year so I haven't even looked at any.

I'm really excited about the idea of riding indoors but like I said, the only thing I know about them is that we use them when it snows. It's a lot of money, so I want to make sure I am well informed before I spend it.

What kind do you have? What kind are most quiet? Is that something to worry about - are the noisy ones all that noisy? Which models are easiest to use for a clueless newbie? Are there things I should know about size? (I've got 650s on a 47cm frame). What about maintenance? What features are critical and which ones can you live without? Do bike trainers even have features?

Please help!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Breaking a Mental Barrier

Isn't it funny when you catch yourself doing something you didn't think you could?

My training runs the last few weeks have all started in the 14-15 range, easing into the 13-14 range. I find it hard and my average for the 2-2.5 mile runs I've been doing is around 14ish. My big hope for the rest of 2006 was to work up to a 12-13 pace. When I'm running indoors (which honestly, I really like because it feels safe and predictable and is so much easier on my body), even though I know my pace is slow, for some reason it feels pretty quick.

Today was a great day for a run - 49, cloudy, no wind - and I had just enough time between my morning chores and dentist appointment to get in a quick 2-mile loop around the neighborhood. So I grabbed my shoes and my dog went for a little run.

Since I didn't have time to do my normal 15 minutes of warm-up walking and stretching I decided to walk/run half-mile intervals.

I could tell Kona was pushing my pace a little. I held him back, but not too much because I felt great and I knew the distance was shorter than usual. I even found the floaty place in the last run interval, and was shocked when I came out of it to find I was coming up on my house - the easiest half mile I ever ran!

Luckily I'd remembered to time that split, so I eagerly checked my watch when I hit my driveway. 5:55. I was on pace for an 11:50 mile! I felt great and wanted very much to tack on another half mile so I could confirm the pace but alas, the dentist couldn't wait.

I'm definitely going through another paradigm shift. Pacing progress aside, even six months ago I would have thought of today's weather as "chilly" and "depressing" and would either have gone indoors or blown off the gym altogether. Now I'm excited about cool days and eager to go out in them and push my limits.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Be Just Like Matt and Trey

Create your own South Park character!

Nine Lives

Thanks to everybody for all your support - I was feeling alone and overwhelmed and you have no idea how grateful I am for your words of encouragement.

Ongoing family dramas aside, things at home are coming along literally as well as they possibly could be. Kona's taking to obedience like a champ and Bogart is taking to his insulin regimen like it's second nature. In fact, he's pretty sure he's a rock star now that he gets special food served like a prince in a private room. When he sees the food coming he runs into the bathroom yelling for it. Needless to say giving the injection while he inhales his (apparently very tasty) special diet food is anticlimactic.

We can already tell the insulin is helping and he's feeling like his old self again, which he amply demonstrated in the middle of the night by knocking a plant over onto the white carpet.

It's great to have my cat back : D

On a related note... I have a new mantra. There's a wonderful woman at the Chamber I just adore - she unwittingly gave it to me. Friday morning, as I was late and rushing to the event I was supposed to help run, all I could think was that what I really needed was a hug from Bonnie and everything would be fine.

After the event was over she pulled me aside, concerned because it's not like me to be late (not to mention be late in a suit covered in cat hair.) I told her what was going on and she gave me a great big hug. Then she told me I was obviously going to be fine and now that I'm past the initial shock I can just stand up and say: Watch me handle this.

And she's right. There's nothing here I can't deal with by itself, therefore there's nothing here I can't juggle as a matter of course. So, here we go...

Watch me handle this.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

This is Why I Love Him

While we're watching a special called Einstein: Exploring the Genius that discussed, among other things, how his theories on light were the basis for Quantum Mechanics, he turns to me and says:

"You know, I'm just not certain about this Heisenberg guy."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Race Day!

Here's wishing best of luck and a great race to all our Tri-Geek Dreams Ironman Florida Athletes!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Just One More Thing

My youngest cat was diagnosed with diabetes today.

I just left Walgreens for the FOURTH TIME today because they are apparently incapable of locating a box of syringes and slapping a label on them. (I wish I was kidding.)

Part of the reason this pisses me off so badly (aside from 4 trips in 8 hours because of their incompetence) is that I have worked in a Walgreen's pharmacy and I know how it works and it should not require 4 trips and multiple doctor phone calls to obtain a bottle of insulin and a box of insulin syringes that are pre-labeled and pre-packaged.

The chick tonight tried to blame it on a "problem with the scrip." I read the prescriptions carefully and there was nothing wrong with them. The only thing I can fathom is that perhaps there was a problem with how the idiots ENTERED the scrip into the system. (These are the same people who have never once - in 3 years - gotten my thyroid prescription right. I don't even let them ring it up any more before I check the fill because I'm sick of getting it home and finding it wrong.) And before you suggest I change pharmacies - it's because they're in our insurance network. Our options are extremely limited (but believe me we're going to check the fine print because I am DONE.)

This changes EVERYTHING in our lives and how we plan things. He's an aggressive, difficult cat and not just anybody can do his injections. Twice a day. 12 hours apart. And he has to have eaten first. And the other 3 cats have different food (or we spend a mint on the special food for all of them, but they could lose too much weight on it.) Forever.

I can handle this. I was a vet tech. I wanted to be a vet. I have had a diabetic cat. I can handle this.

But I don't know if I can handle anything else at the moment (85 pound puppy and mother melting down about her divorce and if I have to smile childless through one more goddamn baby shower which, incidentally, is where I'll be the next two Sundays and really that's just the tip of the iceberg...). I am hereby imploring the Powers That Be to back the fuck off for a little while because pretty soon I'm gonna start blowing shit up.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Found Another Training Tune

I'm a big Green Day fan and one of the biggest original U2 fans so I couldn't resist passing this one along.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Spell is Broken

It's November first and I just finished taking down Halloween. I only did the yard this year since we didn't have a party so tear-down was quick and easy - all that's left is to carry the graveyard to the basement.

I have no idea why I developed this obsession with Halloween because I'm the girl who still can't watch even the tamest horror movie. But come August you'll find me immersed in Google, eBay and my collection of Halloween catalogs, heatedly arguing that $600 is perfectly reasonable for a custom-ordered rotted corpse while simultaneously drafting plans to build my own guillotine in which to pose it.

I have a wide variety of props both purchased on home-built. If I can make or build something cheap then I do. I try to do things that are general enough I can use them in multiple ways because I decorate differently every year. I do it because it's fun for me, but I have to admit I love it when the neighborhood kids give me compliments and the moms ask for tours (when I do the inside on party years).

This year the entire display had a spider theme, inspired by a 3-foot foam latex tarantula I found in a catalog and couldn't live without. The details aren't clear in the picture but you get the idea.

Front porch display, complete with two life-size skeletons, various large spiders, a giant spider and a hanging cage full of heads.

Tree decorated with shrunken head "ornaments."

I love my cemetery - I made it all from scratch.

I love to do complex pumpkins and I try to make the image coordinate with the decorations.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Day of Firsts

Today was my first cold-weather run (40 degrees, wind chill 30, 20-30 mph wind). First time I got to wear my snazzy new base layer. And the first time I got to run with my new puppy (who's officially been dubbed Kona by an overwhelming majority vote - even from non-tri friends and family who don't know what it means. The consensus is that it suits him perfectly. We agree - we found ourselves calling him Kona without trying to.).

On a gear note - base layer was great and that part of me felt just right. I could tell right away plain old sweats weren't the right choice because the wind cut right through them, but for now they're all I've got. I found a local tailor who's going to be my new best friend (I wear a lot of high heels because pants are always too long for someone of my height and he only charges 8 bucks to hem pants) so now I'm hoping to find a pair of running pants with a reasonable hem (i.e. without fancy stuff like zippers) and have them taken up, because it's only going to get colder.

Kona did surprisingly well considering he barely knows me as a handler and has certainly never run with someone before. Weaved in front of me when I wasn't being careful to make him heel and got his paws stepped on more than once, but the norm was for him to run nicely beside me. I was pleasantly surprised to find a fast walk/slow trot for him is the speed I've been training at and he paced me as steady as any treadmill. I forgot to time it, but I think we were in the 13-14 min/mile range; probably on the faster side since it was a bit challenging after a while.

We did a total of 2.5 miles, running a half mile twice, alternated with walking the rest. Not quite as much as I'd like to have run now that I'm up to 2.5 indoors, but not too bad with raging headwinds and occasionally tripping over Kona's feet. I did feel like I could have run longer stretches, probably even gone a whole mile at least once, but when I started to struggle with the headwind and feel my energy draining I was worried about hurting him and/or me by tripping over something (his feet, the garbage blowing around, curbs, gravel from construction).

All in all, a great start to what I hope will be a long and happy relationship.

[I must offer my apologies to Nytro for the obvious 'lipstick' in this picture. I'm not loving it, but I love him so I've gotta accept it.]

Gratuitous Cuteness

If Bold can post gratuitous fruit porn then I can post gratuitous puppy porn.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Harder Than I Remember

About two weeks ago I was excited to learn that my fabulous Yogini/Pilates instructor moved the Pilates class from Wednesdays to Mondays to resolve the conflict with the Advanced Weight Training class (it's practically the same crowd in both, so we could only do one or the other.)

I have a lot going on today between work projects and the new dog and hosting a Chamber of Commerce small business workshop here tonight, so I had my list of excuses all lined up for why I was going to blow off Pilates this morning (as if I needed more of an excuse than "it's at 9:00 Monday morning").

But it turns out my new dog has a built-in alarm clock feature (that feature broke years ago on my old dog) and we were not only up early enough for Pilates, we were up early enough to play fetch, tug-o-war, snuggle, get belly rubs, learn that someone touching our enormous paws is not the end of the world, learn that it's silly to walk past the water bowl to drink out of the toilet, check email, make breakfast (pause to thank the Powers of the Universe for the glory of Nutella), learn that it's not necessary to chomp Mommy's entire hand when she offers a treat, and carve a bit more on the pumpkin I didn't finish last night.

I've had entire weeks when I accomplished less.

THEN I went to Pilates. I've been a huge slacker about core training and it was way harder than I remember. But a tough class is such a great way to start the week and I'm really happy it's an option now.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Name Game

One of the quirky things that makes our relationship work is our obsessive devotion to naming our pets. It's a little trickier when you adopt an adult animal who's got a name, and we truly debated changing our new guy's name since he's pretty used to it.

We'd only had him for a few hours before it was obvious his name simply doesn't fit him (an artist friend said it best - "Jazz" is mellow). What's worse, it's doesn't roll off the tonge, and in the last 24 hours he's been inadvertently called names of every other naughty dog we've had.

One of our cats went weeks without a proper name, so we're in no rush here. And we are wide open to suggestion - sometimes when you're so close to something the obvious doesn't occur to you.

We've compiled a list of potential names based on what he's really like - big, lumbering, sweet, goofy, affectionate, and inadvertently destructive.

Havoc (Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war. We find this hilarious.)
Gamra (friend to people but destroys their stuff)
Shiva (Male god of benevolent destruction. But common usage is now female.)
Juggernaut ('Nuff said.)
Janus (A god of doorways... but he's not really a "guard" dog other than as a visual deterrent. He's more of a "come on in, I'll show you where we keep the jewelry" dog.)
Kona (Epic challenge. Massive scale. Requires a lot of training.)

Soooo... whatcha think?

It's a Boy!

We are proud to announce the adoption of 11 month old (and soon-to-be-renamed) Jazz into our furry family!

We were lucky to get copies of every single record about him (a rare luxury in rescue) and I read the shelter personality tests with great interest. His transformation from the rough, unruly pup turned into the shelter to where he is now is nothing short of amazing and is a clear testament to the value of shelters and rescues working together. The shelter staff saw his potential in spite of the ridiculous behavior his original owners created, got him in with the rescue and their skilled volunteers (special kudos to his amazing foster dad) immediately started reshaping this diamond-in-the-ruff into the stellar dog he will eventually be.

He's got a long way to go to perfect his manners and to learn not to bowl people over with his enthusiastic affection, but he's incredibly smart (less than 24 hours before he learned to open my husband's office door) and we are thrilled to have the honor of raising this special dog.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Questions for the Girls

I've got a couple of questions that I have a feeling are the type of thing - like the fancy parts going numb on the bike - that nobody talks about. But I have no shame so I'm putting it out there because inquiring minds want to know.

1) Is it normal to go from 'I could run forever' (after 30 minutes) to 'I'm going to die if I run one more step' (after 6 minutes) in two days and is it because of the PMS?

2) What the hell is up with my nipples burning like they're on fire? I learned about this after crossing the 30 minute run threshold last week. Not something I want to experience again if I can help it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Warming Up to Cold Running

Thanks to everyone who gave me such great advice about cold weather running gear - I went shopping today and bought a base layer and running gloves. I LOVE getting new training stuff!!

I found a killer Under-Armour base, but of the gazillion types and colors there not a one had the thumbholes I really wanted. I agonized over it because I really loved the feel of the Under-Armour fabric, but I ended up with a very similar Nike one with holes. I dig thumbholes.

I also found an impressive selection of cold running pants that (gasp) would fit me except for the fact that they're all cut for Amazons. Seriously - do apparel manufacturers think all women are 5' 11"?

The only gloves I could find at that store were for snowboarding type sports, so my next stop was the dinky local running store where I found the perfect pair. My ulterior motive for going there was to get the scoop on the Thanksgiving 5K I decided to sign up for.

Turns out there's no official sign-up because it's basically free and you just show up with a canned food donation. So, I guess posting it here is as "official" as it's gonna get!

My Last Race of 2006:

Thanksgiving 5K
November 23rd, 8 am
Lippold Park, Crystal Lake

And here's a sneak-peak at the main reason I'm so psyched about running in the cold. It's not official yet - he has to be tested to see if he thinks cats are a food group - but if all goes well on Saturday this will be my new running buddy....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

He's a Present-Shaker Too

Plopping down next to me on the couch earlier tonight, pretending to be nonchalant: "So. Where's the candy?"

"I don't know." Thinking: wow - he waited 8 whole hours.

"Weeelll. I don't think it's on the first floor."

"What are you basing that on?" Trying desperately to keep it breezy and not hint at the answer with the tone of the question while hoping he'll respond by telling me what clue I left behind so I can get better at this.

"Based on my preliminary sweep."

He reads my blog. I'm thinking about posting a picture of the hidden Halloween candy in situ to torment him with.

By the Numbers

Having an angsty 'I'm a giant hideous cow' moment, brought on by a Halloween costume sized by someone with an evil sense of humor. I erred on the side of conservative sizing because these things never fit the way they claim and I still got screwed.

I've gotta say when a label says it will fit between a 14 and 18 and you are a 14/16 top and a 16/18 bottom then it should fucking fit. It's bad enough that XL, 1X, etc does not mean the same thing from brand to brand so to buy clothes at my size you have to spend inordinate amounts of time researching the numbers behind the Xs. But when something gives numbers then damnit the numbers should mean what they mean. This costume is, at best, a 10/12. The PMS and 4 extra pounds of bloat didn't help the fit or my mood when I tried it on. The bonus round: I no longer have time to order a new costume before Saturday.

One more thing to keep me working towards my goal weight: not having to special order plus-sized Halloween costumes off the internet.

Sidebar only y'all can appreciate: I found an Athena costume. My husband thought it was hilarious and wanted me to get it. Problem is he and I would be the only ones at this particular Halloween party who'd get the triathlon joke so I decided not to.

In the interest of having numbers to be happy about today, here's the stats on the workout I just finished. These numbers may not always make me feel great, but at least they never lie to me.

Run time: 35 min (PR)
Run distance: 2.53 miles (PR)

1st mile: 14:25
2nd mile: 13:36

Monday, October 23, 2006

Five Thousand

As I approach my goal of running 5K for the first time, I also noticed that my blog is approaching its 5000th visitor.

I decided to celebrate these nearly concurrent milestones I would sign up for a 5K race in the near future, maybe one of the ubiquitous Turkey Trots.

Here's the catch: it's COLD around here!

I know there's races available, but I have no cold weather gear. In deference to my weak ankle, crappy knee cartilage and pathetic immune system I do most of my running indoors in general - all of it once the temperture drops below 60. But as my athletic horizons expand, so must my willingness to play outside in all temperatures.

I did some reading and some gear-surfing and have some vague ideas about what I need, but before I run off and blow a couple hundred bucks on cold weather running gear (by "cold" I mean "anywhere from -10 to 40 F"... but if it's less than 20 I'll probably bail) I thought I'd ask y'all for advice.

What do you recommend? What do you wear? Any brands to look for or avoid? I honestly don't even have the simplest base layer. Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Operation Cat Trap: Frustration

Got a call this morning the trap was sprung. To our surprise it was an adult cat no one had seen before. That brings the total up to 7 - the momma (all black), the all-white one I learned today that someone saw Friday night, and the black & white one we caught today... plus the 4 kittens, 3 of whom are still at large.

It's a LONG story, but because she could technically be the momma the shelter said they'd take her. But they really didn't have room, so when I showed up they tried to evaluate her on the front porch.... you can guess what happened next. Even as she was saying she wanted to check her for fleas outside I was saying to myself 'this will not end well' and it didn't. She got away.

Needless to say I'm furious. I understand the shelter means well but rather than risk something like this happening trying to help they should have said "no, I'm sorry we're full, you'll have to find another place." And we would have gotten on the phone to do just that. Instead, all we accomplished was moving a scared cat from the place she was familiar with to a place she's not, with freezing overnight temperatures already here.

In the meantime, we're calling other area shelters just in case, because we're still setting the trap for the other 5...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Operation Cat Trap: Update

That trap was the best fifty bucks I ever spent. We got our first kitten!

Aside from a big ol' belly (probably worms) and some fleas he looks great - no evidence of respiratory or other infections. He's camping out in my spare bathroom until the shelter opens tomorrow. Even better, he's younger than the descriptions the employees gave led me to guesstimate, which means less time to go feral. After only an hour of being allowed to chill quietly he let me pick him up and he even snuggled up to me. He's gonna be just fine.

We got a picture of him after the extensive wrestling match to get him out of the trap (I'll post it tomorrow). I was officially his first human contact and he was having none of it - his impressive use of claws got him dubbed Freddie.

We're a little concerned because he's the only confirmed sighting since Wednesday. The others may well have moved on and he could have stuck around for the free food. We'll know soon enough - we just got back from resetting the trap and have arranged shifts for checking it all weekend.

Happy News

My cousin is home safe from Iraq. He's back at his Air Force base in Texas so we won't get to see him until next summer, but it's a relief to know he's no longer in danger.

Here's hoping the rest of the families in America waiting for their soldier get to say the same thing very soon.

On a Mission

My workout schedule has gone out the window the last few days, but I think you'll forgive me because it's for a good cause. I've got a mission.

Late Wednesday Night
Phone call from my friend and fellow cat-lover Deb. She just learned there's a momma with a litter of four living under the shed in the play yard at the child care center she runs. She wants to help them but is not an experienced animal person and doesn't know what to do. She did offer them food, which they promptly devoured, and she was able to get close enough to see the momma cat a flea collar, so at some point was used to people.

I gave her the names of every no-kill shelter for two counties and told her to get on the phone to see if anyone can take them in. (No point catching them if they have nowhere to go.)

Then I tell her I'll be over the next day with proper crates.

Thursday 1:00
I arrive to find the hidey-hole under the shed empty. But I was pleased to see the situation - this is one smart momma cat! She picked a nice dry spot under a shed sitting on artificial turf inside a brick-walled play yard accessible only through a locked gate. Cars in the parking lot aside, she couldn't have picked a safer spot to have her litter.

After patrolling the area (a momma leading a band of four kittens is bound to be conspicuous, but no luck) I left a can of the yummy stinky food near the hole with orders for her to check the food status, then I went back to work.

Thursday 4:30
My cell rings - it's Deb saying there was a kitten eating the food I'd left. I'm very behind on a project but this is important so I ditched work again and headed back to the college.

Of course, by the time I got there the kitten was gone again, but at least I finally had a better description of their size. I'm guessing they're close to 8 weeks - big enough to (unfortunately for us) be acting independently.

So now we're not catching a semi-friendly momma with babies, we're catching a semi-friendly momma and 4 feral kittens. There's nothing else for it - I need a trap.

I called my vet friend hoping they'd have one I could borrow, but before I could talk to her I managed to find out (Google anyone?) they're easy to get and quite affordable.

Friday Morning
I bought one this morning and just got back from setting it. With any luck, by this time tomorrow we'll have the first of these cold, hungry little kittens safe and sound at the no-kill shelter that agreed to take them. (Animal lovers interested in helping a small shelter that opened their arms to this family of 5 can visit their site for donation info.)

At this point I feel like if we don't catch them it will be all my fault, but I spoke with my vet friend and I'm doing everything possible. It will haunt me forever if I can't save them all, but even if we just save one it will have been worth it.

On a Mission

My workout schedule has gone out the window the last few days, but I think you'll forgive me because it's for a good cause. I've got a mission.

Late Wednesday Night
Phone call from my friend and fellow cat-lover Deb. She just learned there's a momma with a litter of four living under the shed in the play yard at the child care center she runs. She wants to help them but is not an experienced animal person and doesn't know what to do. She did offer them food, which they promptly devoured, and she was able to get close enough to see the momma cat a flea collar, so at some point was used to people.

I gave her the names of every no-kill shelter for two counties and told her to get on the phone to see if anyone can take them in. (No point catching them if they have nowhere to go.)

Then I tell her I'll be over the next day with proper crates.

Thursday 1:00
I arrive to find the hidey-hole under the shed empty. But I was pleased to see the situation - this is one smart momma cat! She picked a nice dry spot under a shed sitting on artificial turf inside a brick-walled play yard accessible only through a locked gate. Cars in the parking lot aside, she couldn't have picked a safer spot to have her litter.

After patrolling the area (a momma leading a band of four kittens is bound to be conspicuous, but no luck) I left a can of the yummy stinky food near the hole with orders for her to check the food status, then I went back to work.

Thursday 4:30
My cell rings - it's Deb saying there was a kitten eating the food I'd left. I'm very behind on a project but this is important so I ditched work again and headed back to the college.

Of course, by the time I got there the kitten was gone again, but at least I finally had a better description of their size. I'm guessing they're close to 8 weeks - big enough to (unfortunately for us) be acting independently.

So now we're not catching a semi-friendly momma with babies, we're catching a semi-friendly momma and 4 feral kittens. There's nothing else for it - I need a trap.

I called my vet friend hoping they'd have one I could borrow, but before I could talk to her I managed to find out (Google anyone?) they're easy to get and quite affordable.

Friday Morning
I bought one this morning and just got back from setting it. With any luck, by this time tomorrow we'll have the first of these cold, hungry little kittens safe and sound at the no-kill shelter that agreed to take them. (Animal lovers interested in helping a small shelter that opened their arms to this family of 5 can visit their site for donation info.)

At this point I feel like if we don't catch them it will be all my fault, but I spoke with my vet friend and I'm doing everything possible. It will haunt me forever if I can't save them all, but even if we just save one it will have been worth it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pool Hangover

Last night I had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner. It was nice - the last bottle of one of my absolute favorites (a Gewurztraminer) from a lovely little winery in Door County where we often vacation. As I stumbled into bed I realized perhaps I'd had more than I thought, and when I woke up this morning with a bit of a headache that suspicion was confirmed.

For obvious reasons I was a bit slow joining the land of the living today, and so missed my 9:15 weights class. I'd planned to lift and then swim, but because I have a ton of work to do and was already running late, once I felt good enough to exercise (around 10:30 - pathetic, huh?) I decided I'd have to skip lifting and just swim.

I stepped into the pool and the part of my brain that's recently developed into a pool thermometer spiked (as my husband would say, it's my mutant power emerging). Just with one foot in the water I'd have sworn on a stack of bibles it was at least 89 degrees, and I did not change that estimate once I was fully in.

I tried hard to do my laps properly - alternating sets of my newly learned (but still comically rough) breast and backstrokes. But I had to stop every few laps just to catch my breath. My headache returned within 200 yards. I grew increasingly queasy and gave up after only 30 laps (1/2 mile). The pool gave me a bigger hangover than my actual hangover.

On my way out the manager happened to be at the desk so I asked her if she knew the pool temp today. This isn't an unusual question - the water temp is an ongoing battle between the (very few) swimmers and the arthritic water aerobics classes. She looked uncomfortable and said "yeah, I know it's really warm today.... I saw it was 89."

Because it's so often too warm and they don't seem to be able to regulate it well I can only assume there's an issue with the heater. Regardless - I thought it was cool my estimate nailed the temp exactly. (I can do the same with the hot tub - which is always several degrees above the safe limit of 104 and generally so hot I can't even put my feet in.)

I don't mind having an occassional bad workout and I totally get that tmperature preferences of the dozens of patrons who take water aerobics every day take precedence over my 1-2 weekly swims... but I do mind that the headache it gave me is sticking around and is looking impact the rest of my day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Two Birds

I went to the gym today with one goal, and came out having achieved two.

Ever since I started running - nearly two years ago - running for 30 minutes has been a goal of mine. It's an arbitrary number, to be sure, but back when it was all I could do to run 15 seconds out of every 5 minutes, it seemed like an epic destination that I may never reach.

I don't really know how to run, or how to train to run, so I've gone back and forth a lot between running for time and running for distance. In hindsight that was probably counterproductive, because I never really made any progress in either.

In the last couple of weeks I've enjoyed a lull in this year's absurd daisy-chain of illnesses and injuries with a simultaneous renewal of my committment to base training. And the results have been nothing but outstanding.

It took me 2 years to run that first mile. That was 10 months ago.

Since then I've desperately wanted to work that up to two, and three... honestly, at this point I can't even wrap my brain around anything farther than three. I had to let go of all my goals and grand plans this year and focus on healing and maintaining a basic fitness level in whatever manner my injuries would allow.

Now I can say I've reached that second mile - and beyond. 2.12, to be precise.

It happened when I was pursuing my original goal - the 30 minute run. Which I achieved in what is becoming typical fashion for me - starting at a 15:00 pace and gradually increasing speed as it feels good until my time is up (today's final pace: 13:20).

Maybe it's my born-and-raised midwestern winter blood, because even in the moderate fall weather I'm a cold-start engine like an old truck in January: great once I get going, but takes a long while to warm up. Even after a full 10 minute warm-up it's all I can do to scratch out the 15:00 pace when I start, but as each few minutes passes I feel stronger and faster and can pick things up.

I also find it interesting that these recent workouts - where I've been adding 5 running minutes to each - I've been getting a side stitch in the last 2 minutes or so with fascinating regularity. I think it's interesting that my body is so clearly telling me "ok, we processed the extra 5 minutes from the other day and it's all good, but you're only getting 5 more today."

It's hard for me to think that my formerly inconceivable 5K goal is now so clearly within my grasp. It's really hard for me to think that distances beyond that will follow close behind. I think it's time for me to open my mind regarding next year's race schedule - because now that I'm no longer limited by my run, the possibilities are endless.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


It's a gorgeous 59 degree day, probably the last of its kind for this year. Before I'd even brushed my teeth or put my contacts in this morning I'd put on my bike tights and jersey, ready for the ride I've been planning since Friday.

But here it is almost 4 hours later and I still haven't gone. I reeeaaaaally want to go. But my knees have been bothering me like crazy so I keep vacillating.

On the one hand, I did all kinds of running this week with them being mildly irritated and they seemed fine. On the other hand, I did all kinds of running this week with them being irritated and now they don't seem so fine, so going for a hilly 10 mile bike ride would likely be an irresponsible course of action.

I think maybe I'll go take the dog for a walk. That way I can say goodbye to my favorite bike roads for the year even if I can't bike them.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Things I Don't Need But Can't Live Without

I saw this in the back of an issue of Inside Triathlon and it made my geeked-out, gadget-loving little heart stop.


Logic dictates that the bottle of water I pour over my sandy feet is just as effective. Easier, in fact, than blowing up a miniature kiddie pool and then finding a water source with which to fill it.

But for six bucks... ya know what? I'm SO buying it. Even better, I'll show it to my mother-in-law, who will hopefully put this in my stocking in lieu of the random oddities that usually find their way in (most often some form of bizarre office supply.) It's just such a damn good idea, even if I never use the thing I want to reward the guy who thought of it.

If you're one of those people I see carrying a mop bucket into transition for your T1 foot hygiene needs... please. Do yourself a favor and check out their website.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Moving Right Along

Wasn't sure I'd make it to the gym today, but I managed to squeeze in a quick run late this afternoon. It was hard to find the motivation - for some ridiculous reason it SNOWED today and that totally messed with our heads. But I also had an itch to run, so after finishing the most critical work and exercising no small amount of willpower I pretended there weren't icicles on my car in freakin' October and went.

I'm so glad did, because the result was nothing short of mind-boggling(times do not include warm-up or cool-down):

Time running: 25 minutes (PR)
Distance: 1.73 miles (PR)

I started at a 15:00 pace and gradually sped up, doing the last 10 minutes at a 14:00 pace.

Also, today I realized I'm still wearing the heel cups from my calf injury. Legs felt great after Tuesday's run, so I figured it was time to give it a shot without them. There was a noticeable difference - my left calf was a little tight and the right much more so. I had to pause twice to stretch it out, but otherwise everything was great.

I think it's time to make an appointment with the massage therapist for some more torture. Right now I feel invincible and like every running goal I've ever had is finally attainable. The last thing I need is for the 'little tight' to turn into another two-month training hiatus.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Great Season Ender

I was recently invited to participate in a charity bike ride taking place this weekend. It's an annual event commemorating a couple of outdoor enthusiasts killed in a car accident on their way home from a bike race. The proceeds go to bike path maintenance in the area.

The more I learned about it the more I wanted to participate, and my friends are so enthusiastic about it we are now talking about making it an annual event. I love the concept because it's the closest I'm ever going to get to doing an event (can't call it a race) with nearly all my friends.

It's a 20 mile bike ride on paved roads (roadies and MTBs welcome) around Lake Geneva (Wisconsin) with periodic tavern stops. The event is essentially a leisurely ride with optional beer breaks followed by a pig roast.

Anyone in Southern Wisconsin/Northeastern Illinois interested in having a good time this weekend can visit the website to learn more: Fat Tire Memorial Tour

I was planning to attend, but my compatriots just had a schedule conflict arise so am wavering because this is definitely something to do with friends. If any tri-bloggers plan to go and are looking for company let me know.