Friday, January 30, 2009


Yesterday I walked into work carrying my gym bag...instead of my hard hat, safety glasses, and respirator. I found great humor in this. Except that it was raining and I have to walk quite a distance between my car and the office...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The first race of the season is out of the way. Now it's time to get serious about training...

Race: Vancouver Lake Half Marathon
Location: Vancouver, WA Distance: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
Time: 02:28:00 (pace = 11:18 min/mi) Despite my huge amount of under-training for this event, I PR'd the distance by over 2 minutes and beat last year's time by about 26 minutes. Woohoo!

I've struggled with the motivation to run ever since the Portland Marathon back in October followed by a half marathon 2-weeks later. As a newcomer to endurance sports, I often have difficulty finding a happy and healthy balance between obsessive training and couch potato. The past 3-4 months have definitely leaned towards the couch potato side of the spectrum. Suddenly I found myself 2 weeks out from the first race of the year, completely undertrained and even less motivated to start running again. The only thing left to do was make the most of it and try to enjoy the experience. And let it be a (painful) lesson learned.

The day prior, a few of us played hooky from our Saturday workout and went snowshoeing instead. It was a blast, but I woke up on race morning very sore with blistered feet. inch of snow on the ground. My warmup consisted of ibuprofen, bodyglide, poptart, coffee,and huddling around a propane heater. The race:
This event is quite small, and most of the participants are members from the local running clubs. They are mostly fast. The winner usually knocks out just over a 5 min/mi pace. So, just like last year, my friend Mark (who is significantly faster than me) graciously decided to run alongside me and keep me moving forward. But, unlike last year, we were not left in the dust within 30 seconds of the horn going off. Yes, we were very clearly in the caboose, but not dead last. This was a nice start to the run.The entire race was fairly uneventful for me and was actually relaxing and peaceful. Those are two words that I rarely use, okay...never use, to describe running. The snow on the ground muffled neighborhood noise and made everything extraordinarily pretty to look at. Mark kept me company with many funny stories and pushed me just enough to be out of my comfortable sluggish pace. Around mile 8 we realized that we could probably break 2:30, which I had never done before. (Hey! No laughing!)We picked it up a little and by mile 11 I was very much ready to be done. I was convinced that we couldn't break 2:30 anymore and I was plenty vocal about it. Finally, Mark said to me "I have no patience for your negativity". We agreed for me to shut up and for him to continue making me laugh. Which he did. I was laughing so hard that the next mile disappeared. With big ol' grins, we sprinted in to the finish line in 2:28:00.
As usual, I ate about 5 too many cookies (cookies are so yummy!) and downed a bunch of water. The crew from my gym had a tent set up with heaters and a propane stove/oven. There is nothing better than warm turkey noodle soup, hot cider, and freshly baked cookies right after a snowy race.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We've only just begun...

Saturday morning workouts are the toughest training day of the week. It starts at 6am with a pool swim. Usually 2100m, but there is little rest in between sets. And most people wear wetsuits (I don't), so it's a struggle to keep up with the people that I can normally cruise with. Then it's on to 75 minutes of spin class with the craziest spin instructor ever. Here are a few gems from recent classes:

"Come on you big sissies, get your head out of your crotch and PUSH. Suck in that fat gut too, because you're all disgusting me."

"No one likes a sissy! What? You're okay with getting that award for 'special honors'? They'll tell you that everyone is a winner, but guest what? IT'S NOT TRUE! Now CLIIIIIIIIIMBBBBB!!!!"

"Look at those thighs jiggling. You've all let yourselves go. Pathetic. Pathetic, ALL OF YOU. Now push. Push. PUSH. I....SAID....PUUUUUUSH. PUSHPUSHPUSHPUSHPUSH!!!!!!"

"Get what you came here for. Give a little now, get a lot back later. What's your flavor? That's right, KOOLAID! Everyone Is Drinking It RIGHT NOW!"

"No one likes a sissy. And if you are one, keep it to yourself for God's sake, don't tell anybody. If you're a sissy, just quit, get out of my class. Everyone else, STAND UP AND CLIMB! SUCK IN YOUR BIG....FAT....DISGUSTING...GUUUUUUUUTS!"

The classes have been getting progressively harder over the last few weeks. The pools of sweat under the bikes are starting to meld together and form rivers. Today was brutal. I would like to blame it on some minor nagging injuries, or cumulative fatigue from starting training again. But the truth -- I'm just out of shape and yeah, I've let myself go a bit lately, and really, his class is kicking my ass. KungFu style.

Today we did some climbing, some speed work, and then in the middle of class he told us to get off our bikes. Huh? Oh yeah, grab your bike, get on your tippy toes, squat. Good. Now hold that position for 3 minutes. Holy mother of the devil! Within a minute I was shaking pretty good. Shortly after that I started crying. And then thankfully it was time to get back on the bikes and sprint. About 10 minutes later we had to do it again. I was crying in about 30 seconds this time. I mean full on sobbing, tears dripping on the sweaty floor, snot stringing down my face kind of crying. Then we got to do 40 squats. Those weren't as bad though. And then 3 minutes of holding our elbows at shoulder height, pulling our arms back and then to the front clapping our hands.

It was a fantastic workout. But I'll be recovering from it all day. And probably tomorrow, but I have an 8 mile run to knock out. And during all this, I can't help but have this on repeat as the soundtrack in my mind - "we've only just begun...."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sharky Swim 2009

Location: Lacamas Swim & Sport, Camas, WA
Distance: 5k (3.1 miles)
Time: 1:52:00 (pace = 2:14min/100m)

Last year I rang in the New Year by running a 5k at midnight, catching a few hours of sleep, and then swimming a 5k at my gym. Last year I was also swimming on a regular basis. I haven't been in the pool much this fall/winter. Despite a 2008 swim total of almost 150,000 meters, I only swam a combined total of 2750 meters in the entire month of December. So instead of committing to the entire Sharky Swim, I decided to show up and swim as much as I could. I figured 3000 meters was doable.

The night before the swim, Ken and I celebrated the passing of 2008 with some good friends in Portland. It was a mellow evening of drinks and watching the countdown on television. We were in bed by 1am, but 7:30am still came too early. I reluctantly changed into my swimsuit and loaded up. Ken came along to help count laps and snap a few photos (however, I forgot to pack the memory card for the camera...).

Last year I had a perfect group of ladies to swim with, and I was also wearing a wetsuit. This year, I had no wetsuit and no one the same pace to swim with. I tried doing the first 500m with some fun gals, but it was a tad too slow so I ultimately climbed into an empty lane and continued solo. After 2000 meters I knew I could easily complete 3000 meters. At 3000 meters I thought, "well, only another 800 meters and I'll have finished the Ironman swim distance." After 3800 meters I had to complete 4000. And then I was just too close to 5000 to quit. With about 500 meters left to go, my friend Jon (also fellow IMAZ09 competitor!) hopped into the lane with me and helped me finish up.

Final time was just shy of 2 hours (that is including breaks). About 12 minutes slower than last year, but with no wetsuit and no one to draft off of. And with little recent swim training, I'm thrilled. Woohoo, 2009 is off to a fabulous start!