Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ten Days to Relay

After not running for more than a week, other than the mile and a half in the horse pasture, I went out and got in three miles. It actually felt kind of good. One thing I'm learning from running is that my body is better and/or worse depending on the time of the month. The closer I get to "that time," the worse my legs and arms feel when I first start out. Heavy, tired. Right after "that time," the better I feel all the way around. Lighter, energetic. I'm learning I get about two and half weeks of feeling really good when I run. Then I have to suffer through a week and a half of rottenness. Unfortunately only a week and two days separate me and the relay I'm running in, and I'll be closer to "that time" than I want to be.

But I'll run it and give it my best shot. I still have a goal of running the 5k under thirty, and I was so close at the duathlon when I felt horrible and actually started "that time" the next day. And I've been concentrating on core work and speed work since then, and a whole lot of head work which involves positive thinking and mantras while I'm working out, so maybe, just maybe, I will pull this one off. I'm going to try something new for this race, too--writing a mantra on each hand so if the rotten creeps up on me I can look at my hands and find inspiration. I've found successful runners do this, so I figure I might as well give it a try.

So, it's time to start the countdown to the relay. Ten days. Ten days to get in some final training.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Good Ride This Morning

Getting ready for my first longer ride, so I went 25 miles this morning on a new route. The first half took me up to the lake where I stopped to check my pace per mile and to get a drink. I also talked to an older gentleman who asked me if I'd ever been on a longer bike ride, one that spans a couple of days. We chatted for a minute or two then he went on his way to fish, and I went on my way to start home.

As I sat there, looking at my pace per mile for the ride to the lake, I basked in the six miles during which I maintained 18 miles an hour or faster. Two of the miles were at 20 mph. Go me! With the glow of triumph enveloping me, I started the trek back. Less than a quarter mile into the return ride, the glow disappeared, the breathing became labored, and the legs started to feel the burn. When had the wind come up? And this wasn't just a slight breeze. This was a 10 mph, blowing the cattails by the roadside wind.

To add insult to injury, after the two hills leading away from the boat ramp, I realized a longer, slight incline loomed in front of me. Once I reached the top of it, the road flattened out for a little ways then started up again. Not only had the wind been at my back on the way to the lake, but I'd been riding slight declines much of the way. Needless to say, the ride home was much slower, much tougher. No 18 or 20 mph miles this time. Nope. The fastest mile on the way back was a 16 mph. Most stayed around the 14 mph area.

But in the end I did get 25 miles in. I'm good with that, and I'm kinda excited about doing the same route again to see if I can improve my speed on the way back.

Monday, July 26, 2010

All Signed Up

The plan is set. Four rides scheduled for September and October, starting with a 20 miler and ending with a century ride. The registration forms have been filled out, the checks have been written, and the envelopes have stamps affixed. There's no turning back now. Well, there is, but when I think about the money I'm paying to participate, backing out isn't an option.

With a month and a half to train, the 20 miler shouldn't be a problem. I've ridden 20 miles before. The second ride will be a 40 miler. The third will be 62 miles. I'm really banking on both of those getting me mentally prepared for the last, the 100 miler. Just thinking about doing a 100 miles on the bike makes my buns twinge with rebellion. But I'm excited, way more excited than I ever was thinking about the sprint tri or the 5k.

And today I got my new phone that I downloaded an app onto that will track my rides. I'll be able to see my time for each mile, my average speed overall, and how far I ride. It was either an upgraded phone or a Garmin; the phone was way cheaper and the app will do exactly what I need for training.

I'm ready to celebrate now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Event

After biking with a friend a little over a week ago, and he telling me I'm not a runner but am most definitely a biker, I started looking into biking events. I've found out there are many rides not far from where I live, and I can choose the distance I'd like to bike for the event. Totally going to go for it. And I've talked Hubby into riding with me for the first one.

So, for our first ride, we're going to do either the 25 mile ride or the 40 mile ride. Hubby would really like to do the 10 miler, but that's not gonna happen. Even if I have to tie a rope onto him and drag him along behind, he's going to do at least the 25 miler. A cool thing about this event is once we reach the 25 miles mark, we can decide to call it quits or keep going and do the 40 miler. I'd like to do the 40, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Part of me feels like I'm giving up with the running. I keep saying I'm going to continue running, and I'm going to keep trying to bring my time down, but I don't enjoy running at all. The whole time I'm out there I'm cussing and am so focused on how awful I feel that I don't get anything out of it. With the biking, I love every minute of it. The hills. The wind. The rain. All of it pumps me up. While I wish running did the same for me, it doesn't. I've reached the point where I'm asking, "Why torture myself when I don't really have to?"

Enough torture. Come September I'll give the 40 miler a go, and who knows, maybe in October I'll try a century ride, end the season with a bang.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Running in a Horse Pasture

For the next few days I'm staying in Indiana with my mom while my dad takes a very much deserved vacation. Mom has MS and relies on Dad as her caregiver. He seldom takes a break, so when he does, I come over to help out. Help involves lifting Mom from the couch to her wheelchair to the commode back to her wheelchair and back to the couch. The lifting can be difficult. Thankfully my beautiful daughter is here this go round to help me out. With both of us lifting, we get the job done faster, with less stress on my back and legs. And actually, I'm kinda diggin the squats I'm doing each time we go through the process. It's going to be a lower body workout several times a day for the whole week.

I am also thankful for the biking I've been doing for the last four months. The strength in my legs, bum and back help tremendously. Last summer I was hurting doing this kind of lifting, but this time I'm there with the muscle, baby. A pretty good feeling.

Yesterday I ran in the horse pature out back. I thought a cross country type run would be a good change from the usual. Actually I just didn't want to die running along the road out here. Being a back road that leads to town, it gets a lot of traffic. And I'm beginning to wonder if a lot of the people driving this road can even read. The speed limit is 40, but most go much faster. I decided that since I like living I'd just do a cross country run, so keeping watch for horse crap, I managed to get about a mile and a half in before I called it quits. The uneven ground was challenging, causing me to fatigue a lot quicker than usual.

This morning I mapped out a bike ride. All went well until I reached the road I was to turn onto. Gravel. Not packed down, hard gravel. Very loose, just-graded gravel. I decided to go ahead, and for about three miles the jarring vibrated through my body. When I finally reached the blacktop I needed to turn onto, my hands felt like they had been holding onto a jackhammer for some time.

So between the horse pature run and the gravel road ride this morning, my body has been through new workout experiences. The change up is good--gives me something different to have to figure out. These might not be the best workouts, but they certainly make me appreciate the level, clear sidewalks I get to run back home, along with the smooth, little-traffic roads around a beautiful lake I get to ride my bike on.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Keeping On Keeping On

Really nice lake ride this morning. Early, while the temps were still in the 60's and the air was still. Absolutely no wind to speak of. Perfect. A friend joined us, and for the first time in quite awhile, I actually pushed it. Our average speed was in the 16/17 area, with a high speed around 26. That's the kind of ride I'd love to do everyday.

This evening, after the sun sets, I think I'll go for a run. Having a day where it's actually possible to get to workouts in doesn't happen often, so I need to take advantage of it if I can. I'm seriously looking at a Garmin, thinking if I know my pace while I'm running, I just might find it within to ramp it up. I'm so comfortable at my current pace, and with no one pushing me, I just plod along, finding all kinds of reasons not to put a bit more effort into it. It's no wonder I'm not getting faster. Maybe, just maybe, the Garmin will be that little something that gets me motivated. Sinking that kind of money into it should be enough to make me feel guilty if I don't get a little faster.

Another area I need to keep in check is the eating. Most of the time I do okay. Breakfast is always exactly what I should be eating: egg whites, Greek yogurt, fruit. Lunch is usually okay: salad, chicken breast, fruits. I've noticed that lately, though, I've been leaning towards chips (which I actually don't even like), sandwiches, and ice cream sandwiches (hey, these help conquer the heat!). Not the best, but I don't go overboard. Dinner is where the damage is done. Hubby is on a sandwich kick: pulled pork, grilled chicken. This means bread carbs twice a day. Time to rein it in. I have a really nice garden going, and the tomatoes are just starting to ripen, the onions are perfect for salads, and the lettuce just keeps on growing. No reason not to have salads every single day.

All in all, training is going okay. Three weeks until the relay, so I still have time to get in some good workouts. The relay is going to be fun, at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Frustration Overload

Yesterday I was working on a new piece, one that I was loving with each word appearing on the page. It was just one of those moments of writing where the idea, the expression, the character, all of it meshed in a truly satisfying way. I had reached what was almost the end when I thought it'd be a good time to take a short break. I knew how I was going to finish it off, so a stretch of the legs, a breather of the mind would do me good. I clicked on save, clicked on yes when the dialogue box asked if I really wanted to save, and the document disappeared. I thought it had gone into my personal documents file on my laptop. Only it didn't. I have no idea where the document went.

After six hours of searching for it, implementing suggestions from my wonderful, helpful friends, I called off the rescue. Apparently there's no recovery to be made either. The document is gone. Well, I'm sure it's here somewhere, but it's hiding really, really well.

So today I rewrote the piece. It has the same idea. It has the same character. The expression, though, isn't at all the same. The totally zoned in writing moment of yesterday is but a memory.

If there's anything to be positive about right now it is that I do feel like I'm finding my voice. After many, many years of being away from my first love--the short story--I do feel like I'm finding my way back with a totally new perspective, totally new way of offering an idea. That excites me. Though the rewrite of yesterday's story may not meet the level the first version achieved, I know somewhere along the line I'll step back into that zone I found, and when I do, I'll make sure to save my work to a clealy labeled file.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hungering for Youth

My youngest is participating in a kids' tri training program. I was a little surprised that he agreed to do this since he's mostly a computer/video games kind of kid. He rarely comes out of the boy cave, mostly just to refuel in order to return to the cave for more gaming. But he did agree, and last evening was the first evening of training. He actually ran a full mile.

While I'm ecstatic that he can do this, I'm also grinding my teeth with envy. He made it look so easy. Why can't it be that easy for me? How is it that someone who doesn't go out every single day to run can just up and dash through a mile like he's simply going to the mailbox? That whole "youth is wasted on the young" is definitely true. I want youth and I want it now. It's enough to cause a full-blown case of mid-life crisis.

I really am glad he's doing the kids' tri. It gives us something we have in common and can talk about. And we've decided we'll train together, biking and swimming. Heck, maybe we'll even run together. Maybe he's exactly what I need to get faster.

Friday, July 9, 2010

One 9:15 Mile


It's all so totally in my head.

If I can do one, I can do two. Then three. Then six.

I will do this.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sometimes Things Just Click

One of my desires, in addition to becoming a faster runner, is to be a writer. A real writer. Someone who writes each and every day. Someone who has work published. Someone others read and say, "Wow, that was a good read." Today I offered a new piece to a trusted friend, another writer who gets what it means to want to touch others with words that create images and emotions. Her response to my new piece was that she really did get it.

With this short story, I reached a point where I couldn't decide how to continue. I wasn't exactly sure where to take it, though, so I saved my work and closed my computer to take a break. I returned to it a few hours later, started from the beginning, and added in details as I read through. When I reached my stopping point, I realized it worked just the way it was. I sat back, a little surprised with how what I had truly made the story do exactly what I wanted it to do. I reread from the beginning again just to be sure I wasn't reading it in a way that wasn't there. The ending worked.

And my friend's response showed me the piece as a whole accomplished exactly what I'd set out to do. Listening to her made me feel like she'd been in my mind, seeing my intentions, the paths I'd traversed while writing the story. I left our get together stoked and ready to get busy on another idea I have percolating.

The excitement I feel when a story clicks consumes me, makes me want to ignore everything else in my life in order to keep writing. Like just now. My 11 year old was telling me something about something. I have no idea what the something was. I just smiled and nodded as the fingers kept tapping the keys. I can't decide--was that a bad thing?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Not the Best Workout But a Workout Nonetheless

Back on the treadmill tonight. I know, I know--I made the promise to run only outside. I have no excuse other than I wasn't really in the mood to run, but I knew if I did it in the garage and watched TV while doing so, I'd get some kind of workout in. I ran two slow miles: 10:30 each, and I did some abs work. Definitely a junk workout.

I am liking the abs work. Now that I can actually do Russian twists with a five pound weight, with good form mind you, I can really tell how much stronger my core has become. The leg lifts, the standing Russian twists with a ten pound weight, and the plank have all become easier. I've added more sets and more reps. I'm stunned and giddy all at the same time. Even my shorts and capris are showing my middle is becoming tighter. A bit of a gap at the waistline makes getting dressed a pleasant activity.

The bad part about being in the garage is the heat. The sweat rolls like I'm sitting in a sauna. Part of me likes this, but when the heat around my face gets to the point that I feel like I'm going to pass out, that can't be a good thing. Even my feet become so hot it's just uncomfortable to keep going. Makes coming in the cool air of the house seem like heaven.

Tomorrow will be better. We're already planning on a lake ride, and I think I'll do a run right after. The hills will be a nice change from the track and the treadmill, and will help with the speed work I'm wanting to do.

Monday, July 5, 2010

One of Those Days

No workout today. The time just slipped right by, one of those days where 9 p.m. shows up and you're stunned the day is about gone. I'm not sure what happened other than stuff just got in the way--grocery shopping, installing an ethernet line for the boys' XBox, house cleaning, reading, writing, and fixing meals. Oh, and watching a movie with the boys, a movie they'd been asking to see for quite awhile. While I'm a little bummed I didn't run or bike today, I'm okay with having a day off. The interval/hill training yesterday showed up as hip/thigh soreness today, getting worse as the afternoon progressed. Taking it easy today is probably a good thing.

I know I'll get back at it tomorrow. The weather, though, isn't looking too promising for the rest of the week. Rain in the forecast everyday means having to get back on the treadmill. I promised myself I'd only run outside from now on, but now, as I think about it furhter, I could run in the rain as long as there's no lightning. I've never done this except for the sprint tri in April, and it wasn't so bad then. I kind of liked it. Biking may be a bit more hazardous in the rain, but I rode in downpours during the sprint tri, too, so it can be done. Just slower.

I really only want to focus on the running right now, though. With the upcoming sprint tri, we're doing it as a relay, and I'm the runner. My goal is to finally get the run finished in 29 minutes or less. The more I read about running and see the people who run really fast, the more I'm thinking I'm just not built to run distance. I'm not tall and slim. I'm average height and thick with muscle. This seems to be working against me. Talk about frustrating. I'm not ready to give up, though. I'm going to take this month before the sprint tri to work on getting faster. I truly think it can be done.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tough Game Day

This weekend my son was involved in a basketball tournament. His team played five games--three yesterday and two today. They lost all five games. The last game today the final score was 80-23. And it was obvious by the looks on the boys' faces that they weren't having any fun whatsoever.

As I sat and watched the boys take a beating, I wondered when it happened that the fun in playing basketball disappeared. I watched coaches yelling at thirteen year old boys, almost screaming at times, over a bad pass, a missed shot, and not being in position. While I understand wanting a player to make smart decisions on the floor, these are thirteen year old boys; they're brains are in overdrive most of the time, so bad decisions just come naturally. Most of them just want to play to have a good time, be with their friends. Why do coaches, and even some parents, treat playing basketball like the search for the holy grail?

It's not just the coaches behaving badly. Parents do as well. One woman sitting behind us yesterday became upset over one boy pushing another. The offender tripped over his own feet and fell into the other boy. The parent screamed, "Hey, that's poor sportsmanship. What a freak!" A mom, not of the boy who caused the foul, quietly asked the screaming woman to please not call any of the boys a freak as it wasn't necessary. The screaming woman turned her ire on the mom and told her to, "Just shut it." How mature. Then screaming woman proceeded to talk loudly the entire game, about a car accident she had been involved in, the tires she had to buy for her vehicle, and other things I really didn't need to hear about. I was so tempted to turn to her and suggest she "just shut it" as all of us around her were exhausted by her constant blather.

I wish I could start a program for the boys where they could come and play basketball just for fun. No coaches or parents would be allowed. Then maybe, just maybe, their faces would show delight rather than despair and disappointment. They're thirteen. They should be having fun.

Happy 4th of July Everyone

Many, many thanks to all those who have served, are serving, and will serve. I truly appreciate your sacrifices for our wonderful, beautiful, filled with freedoms country. We are blessed.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Probably Not Good For Running

Drinking, that is. I don't drink often, but when I do, my choice these days is whiskey straight up. No watering it down for me. No mixing the golden brown goodness with a cola. Just a solid shot of whiskey. I know alcohol is one of the no-no's for anyone working out, trying to be healthy, searching for that six-pack abs. But damn, whiskey is magical.

I'm quite certain I won't be saying this tomorrow during my run. I'm pretty sure I'll be cussing a blue streak, wondering what I was thinking having that extra shot of whiskey. When the company is good, when the laughter is flowing, it's hard not to say, "I'll take another one." These kinds of evenings are what life really should be about--friends, family, good times.

Happy 4th everyone.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lake Ride

This morning we biked around the lake. With little traffic, a cool breeze coming off the lake, wildlife that inspires, and the scattered hills along the way, the lake route proves to always be enjoyable as well as invigorating. By the end of the 12 miles, and since I'm not pushing it too much since Hubby can't keep up, the legs feel somewhat fatigued but not overly so, which makes me want to return soon to see just how fast I can actually do the route. One day in the very near future, once Hubby puts the new cassette on his bike, maybe he'll be able to keep up and make me work harder. I'm looking foward to not having to slow down.

Today a doe with her fawn, a little one that couldn't have been more than a day or two old, stood on the shoulder of one of the back roads. She watched us approach, and when we were about twenty yards away, she turned and darted into the cornfield. The fawn didn't follow. Rather, it ran along the shoulder, crossed the road and went into an field of tall grasses. I know the mom will bleat, calling to her young, and they will be reunited, but as a mom I also know separation is scary.

Other days we've seen a hen turkey with her young, several chicks that follow obediently. We've seen great blue herons glide over the lake to land at the water's edge. We've also seen a bald eagle. The lake ride soothes my being, makes the rest of the day all the more easy to deal with.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Weird Moment

I was getting ready for work this morning, about 5:30ish, and I was thinking about working out after class was over. The very happy thought I get to run this afternoon ran through my mind. I stopped and laughed. That was the first time I've ever been happy about running. Most of the time I dread the run. My legs always feel tired. My shoulders and arms feel like weights are pulling them down. Running is seldom a pleasant activity for me. But I can't not run.

So this evening I walked briskly to the University track. I've been reading a lot lately on working to improve speed, so I gave it a go. I only did one mile of speed work, probably not near enough to really do anything good for me overall, but this is a new approach, and dopey me ate too much watermelon before I went to the track . . .. Unfortunately, no porta-potty is available at the track. I decided to head home before a trickle began running down my leg. Most of the time I can get through a run without embarrassing myself, but every now and then, my luck runs out.

The speed work went well. I used my HRM to gauge my time/speed, and I accomplished my goal: a nine minute mile. My next 5k is in a month. I'm hoping the speed work helps me meet my goal of a sub 29 5K, but I know I'm going to have to do more than just a mile of speed work if I really want to run a 29. Having a partner would definitely help, but it's just me. I'm just going to have to dig deep inside, find that self-determination I know I have.

Even now, many hours after the thought I get to run flitted through my mind, I'm still smiling about it. I hope this thought becomes the norm rather than the exception.