Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 4 Recap: The Meaning of Recovery

This week was the epitome of recovery.  Not so much a needed break from training, but time for my body to recoup from the invasion of the mega germs.  A throat virus turned into a sinus infection and completely knocked me down for the week.  Fortunately, laziness is generally accepted this time of year without a lot of associated guilt.  Unfortunately, my appetite never went away and I continued to inhale all of the Christmas goodies surrounding me, but didn't have the energy to work any of it off.

This was my view for the last several days.  Curled up on an overstuffed chair/ottoman, snuggled under the race t-shirt quilt handmade by my Mom (isn't it the awesomest thing ever?!?!), with either the Kindle (another gift from Mom) or a knitting project on my lap, and football or Dexter on in the background.

Memorable Training Moments
There wasn't a whole lot of training going on this week, but there were still a couple of highlights:

- Santa brought me a Garmin cadence sensor for the bike, which is compatible with my 310XT.  Pretty rad, especially since my bike computer recently crapped out and I've been training without cadence.  The stars aligned just right and the weather held off long enough on Saturday for me to do my long ride outside.  OUTSIDE!!!  I haven't ridden off the trainer in about 4 months.  Soul food!
- Speaking of ugly feet, another freakin' toenail fell off.  Just when I had them finally looking all pretty again.  If only there was a toenail fairy...

Plan vs. Actual
Don't laugh.

Seriously, don't laugh.
Swim: 0 meters
Bike: 38.82 miles
Run: 2.55 miles
Strength: 1.00 hour
TOTAL = 4.27 hours

Weight Loss
I'm going to practice a little self-kindness and not go there this week.  I'll get back on the scale for the next weigh-in, but for right now, I am giving myself a pass.

Week 5 Plan
This week starts the second build of the base phase.  In case you're just picking up on this blog, I'm following Don Fink's competitive 30-week plan.  It consists of a 10 week base phase, a 10 week build phase, and a 10 week peak/taper phase.  The entire plan follows the format of a 3 week build followed by a 1 week recovery.

- rest
Tue - swim 1:00, run 0:45
Wed - bike 0:30, brick run 0:15
Thu - swim 1:00, bike 0:45
Fri - run 1:00
Sat - bike 1:45
Sun - run 1:00
TOTAL = 8:00 (+ strength)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Training Songs

I'm constantly perusing the internets looking for new songs to add to my playlists.  So I suppose it's only fair that I make my contribution in case all the rest of you are looking for new tunes as well.  So here are some selections working their way through my current rotation.  But consider yourself warned.  My playlists have titles like "Portland Marathon Biatch", "Dance Party Cleaning Time", "Dance Party Wicked Awesome", "Hip Hop Gangsta Yo", and "Run Til My Brains Fall Out".  The genres range from hard core heavy metal to twangy country to street rap to oldies (go Neil Diamond!) to classical to bubble gum pop.  Sometimes I like a crazy fast hypno beat, and sometimes I like the slowest most depressing crap in the world.  It all depends on my mood, which can change at least 10 times during those longer runs.  You gotta be prepared.

I make no apologies for this list.  But I should note that I don't necessarily listen to these songs when I'm not running.  Or having a crazy wicked awesome dance party while cleaning.  In no particular order (except for alphabetical by artist last name and then by song, because that's how I roll)...

The Airborne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight
Apocalyptica - One
Sara Bareilles - King of Anything
Black Eyed Peas - The Time (Dirty Bit)
Eminem - Lose Yourself
Eminem (feat. Rihanna) - Love the Way You Lie
Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
Florence + The Machine - Dog Days Are Over
Billy Idol - Rebel Yell
Kamelot - Ghost Opera
The Low Life - You Are Everything
Bob Marley - Three Little Birds
Laura Marling - Blackberry Stone
Natalie Merchant - Not in This Life
The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Queen - Killer Queen
Rihanna - Only Girl In The World
Rihanna (feat. Drake) - What's My Name?
The Script - Breakeven
The Shins - New Slang
Paul Simon - Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
Nina Simone - Sinnerman
Regina Spektor - Us
Spiderbait - Black Betty
Nico Stai - One October Song
Swoon - Panic Switch
Underworld - Born Slippy
Melissa Yearsley - Playing Things By Ear

You're welcome.  Or I'm sorry.  I know my music-snob friends are cringing right now.  I'll update periodically if I find brilliant additions that need to be shared.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Come on, "Ugly Feet"?

I recently stumbled across the "stats" tab for my blog.  It tells me how many followers I have, how many hits this blog receives at any given time, and among many other bits of useless information it also tells me which google phrases take people of the interwebz to this very spot.  Don't worry, it doesn't give me any personal or identifying information.  So you can still stalk me anonymously.

Some of the funnier, and slightly insulting, search terms used to find me:
"pain rub" (what does that mean, anyway?  and why was someone searching for that?)
"ironman pain"
"ironman jog"  (okay, I know that I rarely do anything that qualifies as a "run", but "jog"?  ugh.)

and my personal favorite...
"ugly feet"

Yep, ugly feet.  First of all, who in the heck is sitting at their computer one evening googling "ugly feet"?  And why?  To make you feel better that your ugly feet aren't quite as ugly as mine?  Certainly not because you enjoy looking at ugly feet.  Right?  Second, why would somone googling that end up here?  I know, I've got some jacked up dogs, especally during marathon season.  And I've even posted photos, mostly so that you can feel sorry for me.  But I'm still puzzled as to how this particular blog turned up on the results page for that particular search phrase.

If you're curious, and have not eaten within the last several hours, go ahead and google it.  Seriously, do it.  And then click on images.  Go ahead.  Now that you're done puking and back to reading this post, I can assure you that NONE of the photos that triggered your gag reflex are my feet.  Ick.

Moving along...
Most of the readers obviously live in the United States, but it appears that I'm building quite the "fan" base in Germany and Russia.  They must sense my fondness for good beers and vodka.  Prost!  Budem!

And apparently this blog has become quite the go-to place for those searching for reviews on Cobb Saddles.  Still loving mine, by the way!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Week 3 Recap: Almost

Training wise, I **almost** nailed it.  Almost.  Nutrition wise, it was another fail.  I know from past experience that I can train hours and hours and hours a week, but if I don't get the nutrition part nailed down, the weight loss will never happen.

The highlight reel:
A few too many happy hours.  French fries and vodka crans.  Tall.  Which means "vodka vodka with extra vodka with a splash of juice" when you know the bartender.  I'm surprised that I'm not sweating vodka these days.  Or spontaneously speaking Russian.  I ate 6 cookies in one sitting during a late night spreadsheet marathon at work.  Or maybe it was 8.  Followed by a few servings of butterscotch fudge.  Take out food for lunches and dinners.  And leftover take out for breakfasts.  Sodium.  Bloat.  Yuck.  Bonbons and multiple tropical drinks at an Ironman party.  Followed by cookies and treats throughout the day.  Even while on the trainer.  But I remembered to take my iron supplements and multi-vitamins.  So that's good.

Memorable training moments
- Another killer TRX workout with Jenn.  We mixed it up with some kettle bells.  Kettle balls?  Bells?  I think it's bells.
- Catching the last bit of daylight during a mid-week run.  And then getting to watch the sunset along the waterfront.  It was super cold and windy, but the fresh air felt good to breathe in.
- Ironman Party!!!  Okay, so this wasn't really training, but it sorta counts because we geeked out about triathlon for like 4 hours straight.  Macca!  On the Wheaties box!
- Almost 2 hours on the trainer.  Wearing running compression shorts instead of tri shorts.  Do you know the difference?  Running shorts have a vertical seam down the center.  You can imagine the horror.
- I had to work all day on Sunday, so I missed my planned long run/swim/TRX.  But I still managed to get out the door to salvage the last part of the day.  I was met with sideways rain, sleet, snow, and hail.  I made it about 4 miles before ducking into a local bar for peppermint patties and Neil Diamond sing-alongs.  I *heart* Neil Diamond.
Plan vs. Actual

Swim: 1500 meters
Bike: 42.75 miles
Run:  13.52 miles
Strength: 0.75 hours
Total = 6.76 hours

Weight Loss
Big whoppin surprise...
1 pound gain for the week.
4.4 total loss.
20.6 pounds to go!

Week 4 Plan
My first recovery week after a 3 week build.  Which coincides nicely with Christmas week.  Now if only I can stay away from all of the treats.
Mon - rest
Tue - swim 1:00, run 0:30
Wed - bike 0:30, brick run 0:15
Thu - swim 1:00, bike 0:30
Fri - run 0:45
Sat - bike 1:30
Sun - run 1:00
TOTAL = 7:00 (+ strength)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tis The Season

Dear germs,
Please go away.  I have played host to you once already this season.  I have things to do, workouts to check off, and deadlines to meet.  I have called in the Theraflu task force to serve your eviction notice.  But if you insist on sticking around a bit longer, you could at least kill my appetite for Christmas cookies, mmmkay?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Week 2 Recap: Better Than Last Week

It would be difficult to do worse than last week, but I really made a decent effort this week to fit in the training and make some better choices.  So, I'm giving myself a solid B+ for effort.  Execution, however, is more in the C+ range.   Lots of room for improvement.

Memorable training moments
- Ridiculous amounts of laundry full of spandex.  Showering 3 times a day (morning, after lunch workout, after evening workout).  Consuming embarrassing quantities of food (y'all, I ate half of my boss' boss' lunch one day...and am still catching hell for it).  Twitchy legs when I'm trying to sleep.  These are the training memories that you suppress and forget about.  But there's something familiar and comforting about it all.

- Googly goggle eyes even several hours after getting out of the pool.  I just love looking like I've aged 10 years.
- Doing my Sunday morning run in a running skirt and t-shirt.  In December.  It poured on me most of the time, but it stayed around 60 degrees.  I'm thankful that I didn't run on Saturday with almost an inch of rain and howling winds.
Plan vs. Actual
Swim: 2600 meters - weak sauce, but things are improving.
Bike: 28.75 miles - way too much trainer time.  I might just have to brave the weather this coming week.
Run: 11.46 miles - I only skipped one run this week and still ended up with really low mileage.  After coming off a marathon schedule, it's weird to have numbers like this.  I should enjoy it while it lasts.
Strength: 0.75 hours
Total = 6.07 hours

Weight Loss
4 pound loss for the week.  Woohoo!!!
5.4 total loss.
19.6 pounds to go!

Week 3 Plan
Mon - rest
Tue - swim 1:00, run 0:45
Wed - bike 0:30, brick run 0:15
Thu - swim 1:00, bike 0:45
Fri - run 1:00
Sat - bike 1:45
Sun - run 1:00
Plus strength
TOTAL = 8:00 (+ strength)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Training For An Ironman

Hilarious and very true.  Embarrassing.  But true.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 1 Recap: Can I get a do-over?

Last week I did a total cannon-ball off the wagon.  It was full of missed workouts, late nights at work, take-out for lunches and dinners, more missed workouts, and a few more unhealthy choices.  This isn't the way that I envisioned my training kicking off.  All I can do is put it behind me and try harder this week.

Memorable training moments
There were a couple of gems this week in spite of the training/nutrition disaster.

- I went back to barefoot running.  Although it's too cold for skin-to-pavement contact, I strapped on my Luna sandals and went for an easy jog.  No music, no heart rate monitor, just me and the purple/red sunset with Mt. Hood fading into the darkness.  And I came across another barefoot runner while I was out there.  I think there are like 3 of us in Vancouver.  We chatted for a little while and went on our way.  Maybe a future running partner!
- On Sunday I braved the blustery weather for my long run.  Cold!  Wind!  The plan was to do the 5.25 mile loop through Officers Row, Fort Vancouver, and the waterfront.  But once the sun peaked out and warmed things up a bit, I had no interest in stopping.  So I kept going and ended up with about 10 miles for the day.

Plan vs. Actual

Swim: 0 meters - some things never change...
Bike: 27.5 miles - all on the trainer, and on par with previous weeks
Run: 12.32 miles - I skipped 2 entire days of scheduled running
Strength: 0.67 hours
Total = 4.88 hours

Weight loss: 1.2 GAIN for the week (GRRRR!!!!  But brew fest, you were totally worth it.), 1.6 total, 23.4 to go

Week 2 Plan:
Mon - rest
Tue - swim 1:00, run 0:30
Wed - bike 0:30, brick run 0:15 (+ strength)
Thu - swim 1:00, bike 0:30
Fri - run 0:45 (+ strength)
Sat - bike 1:00
Sun - run 1:00
TOTAL = 7:00

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekly Recap: All Smiles

This wasn't my best week from a nutrition standpoint.  But sometimes the day just calls for bloodies and fried bar food with a girlfriend.  Throw in an overfilled Thanksgiving dinner plate(s) and a few pints of oatmeal chocolate stout.  I now feel like a puffy, over salted ham.  Let the obsessive water drinking commence.

Memorable training moments (there are lots this week!)
- Watching the sunrise three mornings in a row while running.  One in the first snowfall this winter.  I even got to bust out my "Will Run for Cupcakes" hat for the first time.
- My first spin class since being back at the gym.  It was nice to see a room full of familiar, smiling faces.
- The Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.  I have not laughed like that since college.  So good for the soul!

- Running through the Winter Wonderland of Lights at Portland International Raceway...while dressed up in a random Christmas costume.  Macey, Julie, and I all ran at my pace and we acted out the 12 days of Christmas on each lap.
 - Getting up the next morning to run in the Hot Buttered Run 5k.  In costume again.  Macey stuck with me (again) and helped me FINALLY break through the 30 minute barrier that has eluded me for 4 years.  I'm slow.  I know.  Get over it.  A PR is such a sweet ending to the week.  AND I got to see Bill.  You know, Bill, of hill climbing fame.

Swim: 1000 meters - don't laugh
Bike: 28.75 miles - equal to last week
Run: 14.78 miles - slowly ramping back up
Strength, etc.: 1.42 hours
Total = 6.43 hours

Weight loss: 0.8 pounds for the week, 2.6 total, 22.4 to go
Measurements:  Not yet.

It's time!!! I will be following Don Fink's 30-week competitive plan again for Ironman Coeur d'Alene. The best part, of course, is that it starts with a rest day.

On tap for Week 1:
Mon - rest
Tue - swim 1:00, run 0:30
Wed - bike 0:30, brick run 0:15 (+ strength)
Thu - swim 1:00, bike 0:30
Fri - run 0:30 (+ strength)
Sat - bike 1:00
Sun - run 0:45
Total - 6:00 (+ 2 strength workouts)

With a run-heavy race schedule in the first part of 2011, my Sunday run volume will slowly become higher than the plan. And since I will mostly be fitting in the swim workouts during lunch time...and my swimming muscles are just coming out of hibernation...I'm going to play around with how to make this work. Maybe 0:45 sessions on Tue and Thu, and then a longer Sat morning session. Also, I'm not a huge fan of the swim workouts in Fink's book, so recommendations for pool routines are welcomed!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ironman #3

Ironman Arizona sign-ups were this morning.  Oh yes, I did.

Dear Sarah,
Congratulations! You are now registered for 2011 Ford Ironman Arizona. Please check the event's official website for updates:
The race barely made it to online registration, and then sold out in 31 minutes.  It took me over 5 minutes of reloading the page over and over again before I was able to get through.  Based on informal polling of the interwebs, some people kept getting error messages and never got in.  Just another thing to be thankful for this week!

I'm racing Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June for the American Cancer Society.  Donations can be made here.  I will also be fundraising for Ironman Arizona, but for a different cause.  Last week a family member was diagnosed with ALS.  I thought of Jon Blais at the 2005 Ironman World Championships.  He completed the race that year.  In 2006 he came back, but this time as a spectator in a wheelchair.  In 2007 he was gone.  As soon as I get registered with Team Blazeman, I'll post details here.

"Live, more than your neighbors.  Unleash yourself upon the world and go places.  Go now.  Giggle.  No.  Laugh.  And bark at the moon like the wild dog that you are.  Understand that this is not a dress rehearsal.  This is it.  Your life.  Face your fears and live your dreams and take it all in.  Yes, every chance you get.  Come close.  And by all means, whatever you do, get it on film."  ~ Jon Blais

Weekly Update

A year ago last night, I became an Ironman.  A lot of people look at it as another race.  Just a day where you are exercising and moving your body for a really long time.  But it's a whole lot more than that.  I will be forever changed, not only because I crossed that finish line, but because of what it took to get there.  And I can't wait to do it all over again!

Memorable training moments from the past week
- An early morning track workout in icy sideways rain.  Not fun, but it meets the "memorable" criteria.
- The most brutal TRX session I've experienced so far.  There were tears, grunts, and cries of agony involved.  I'm sure it wasn't pretty.
- Getting in the pool again.  Only once, but it's a start.


I took 2 mental health days off from training this week.  An overbooked schedule and a string of bad news/bad days warranted some extra sleep and sloth-like activities.  Which means that my weekly volume is short by about 2 hours.  I don't even feel guilty about it, which means I truly needed the time off.

Swim: 1300 meters
Bike: 28.75 miles
Run: 4.71 miles
Strength, etc.: 1.75 hours
TOTAL = 5.12 hours

Body Numbers
Weight loss: 2 lb gain, thanks mostly to those 2 days of couch sitting, napping, and binge eating.  Ugh.  Hopefully it's mostly sodium related and will be back to normal in a day or two.  I'm down 1.2 pounds total.  23.2 to go!
Measurements: Nope, still haven't taken any...

Thursday, November 18, 2010


This week I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Ultramarathon Man, Dean Karnazes.  I picked up his book awhile back after I had a breakthrough with running and suddenly I couldn't get enough of it.  I wasn't all that interested in going faster, but I had the overwhelming desire to keep running more and further.  I had this huge curiosity for endurance and Ironmans and ultrarunning.  Curiosity.  That's really where most of this all started for me.  What has kept me going is a little harder to explain.

Anyway, back to Dean.  Once we got past the embarrassing first impressions where I made a complete ass of myself**, I got to listen to him speak about running.  First, to a smaller audience at the local running store during small conversations, and then to about 500 people at Montgomery Park.  This guy has done some incredible achievements in his lifetime (huge understatement), but he touched on some things that I was able to connect with even though I'll never come close to his accomplishments.  He said that he gets asked three main questions by people:
1) How do you do it?
2) Why?
3) What do you eat?

In my mind, numbers 1 and 3 seem easy enough to figure out...if you have number 2 figured out.  These are the reasons he does what he does -- because he can, to see if he can, because he's driven, to feel alive!, because he enjoys it, because he's curious.  He didn't mention to stay in shape, become famous, to get attention, for the glory, or to impress anyone.  He runs just because.

When I was training for Ironman last year, I commonly heard that you need to remember the reasons WHY you want to be an Ironman.  Because when it all sucks and you don't think you can do it anymore, those reasons will keep you going.  The problem for me was that I didn't really have any good reasons.  At least none that I could verbalize while making any sort of sense.  And sometimes, those reasons kept evolving.  I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly why I was changing everything about my life to do this, I just knew that deep down that I wanted it badly enough to keep going.

If I close my eyes and try to visualize my favorite place, somewhere I feel the most peaceful and excited and content and motivated, all at the same time.  It's not sleeping in on a cozy morning, or lounging on a quiet warm beach, or curled up with a book in the tub, or drinking a glass of wine while watching a summer sun go down.  I love all of those things, but I envision myself simply running.  Landing on crunchy fall leaves, breathing in cold air, listening to the pat pat pat pat of my feet falling into a perfect rhythm.  My subconscious will work through the accumulated worries until things become clearer.  And then my mind will go silent and I get a sort of peace that I can't get in any other part of my life.

Of course it's not always that serene and pleasant.  Sometimes I have to force myself out the door.  And sometimes I never even get out the door at all.  But each time I go for a run, I gain something from it.  Even if it sucks, I often learn about myself along the way.  And I have this awesome vault of memories of running along the river at sunrise or sunset, heading down old back roads and smelling the blackberries ripening, watching the leaves fall down and blanket the ground, and making first footprints in a snowstorm.  And those memories are enough to keep pushing through the low parts to get to more of the good parts.

So even though I still have a hard time answering the question of "why?", I think Dean was able to explain it as good as it can be explained.  To feel alive.  Because I can.  To find inner peace.  Because I'm curious.  Passion.

**Embarrassing moment 1: I was the first person to greet Dean when he walked into the store.  Exactly 2 seconds after stuffing my face with a dinner roll.  I smiled as he came up to me and shook my hand, while I was frantically trying to chew and swallow a mouth full of dry bread.  "I'm Dean!"  All I could do was nod my head and give him the signal to hold on a sec.  He waited until I was able to sort of talk and introduce myself with bits of food stuck to my teeth.  Nice.

**Embarrassing moment 2: Later on I asked him to sign my book.  Even though it was warped and mildewy and not very well taken care of.  Hey, I like to read when I'm in the tub, remember?  The problem was that I had purchased the book used and he had already signed it to the previous owner.  I was hoping that he would turn to a different page and not even notice.  No such luck.  Thankfully it resulted in a lot of laughter while I tried to explain my way out of it.  And then he signed it "Sarah, You're a nut!  I love it!"  Except that he mis-spelled my name, which made things even funnier.  In any case, I was honored to be called a nut by one of the nuttiest people on the planet.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekly Update

I'm digging having a schedule again.  It's so much easier to get out of bed in the morning knowing that the planned workout has a specific purpose in the grand plan.  I'm even welcoming the aches and soreness that comes with the building training load.  I've been aimlessly and half-assed  "training" all summer with no motivation, but I'm finally getting my mojo back.  Just in time.

Memorable training moments from the past week
- Swimming!!!
- Doing a bike/run/bike/run workout on Saturday to mix it up.  Surprisingly fun!
- Bagging a workout because I needed the extra rest.  I'm learning...

Swim: 1200 meters
Bike: 35 miles -
all trainer miles again
Run: 10.8 miles - pathetic, but same as last week.  At least I'm consistent.
Strength, etc.: 1.5 hours
TOTAL = 6.03 hours

The stuff I hate putting out in public
Weight loss: only 0.2 pounds down this week...3.8 pounds total...21.2 to go
Measurements: I keep forgetting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Didn't Drown

I got in the pool today!  It was the first time I have swam since the half ironman in July.  It was a "Win!" for several reasons.  1) I didn't drown AND I actually remembered how to swim somewhat competently.  2) I didn't inadvertently (or even purposely) flash the lifeguard a boobie.  And 3) Said lifeguard still came and chatted me up in the hot tub after the workout.  No matter that he was like 19 and just being nice.
So, yeah, it wasn't the most admirable swim workout ever.  And I only did 1000 meters.  But it's a start.

WU: 200 swim, 50 kick, 200 pull, 50 kick
DR: 8 x 50 (high elbow recovery, head tap, fist, hand entry)
100 swim, 100 pull, 50 swim, 50 pull

Oh, heyyyyy, that's 1200 meters!  Go me!

Monday, November 8, 2010

After a really long "off season", I'm finally ready to start logging workouts and weight loss again.  I have four weeks until Ironman training officially starts.  Less than 30 days to turn my habits around.  Start waking up at 4:30am (and actually getting out of bed too!), deciding to drive to the gym after work instead of home to the couch, donning my suit/cap/goggles at lunch hour instead of heading to pizza with friends (actually taking a lunch hour), and generally taking better care of myself.

Week 1 of IM training begins with 6 hours of swimming, biking, and running, plus a couple of TRX sessions.  Based on previous experience, I need to head into that week thinking "this is easy!"  Ten weeks later the first real build phase starts.  Also based on previous experience, I need to have a good chunk of my weight loss taken care of by then or it just isn't gonna happen.  15+ hour training weeks combined with dieting always ends up with a sobbing monster puddled up on the locker room floor.  (Girlfriends who have witnessed such instances - you are still sworn to silence.)

Memorable training moments from the past week
- Beating my annual run mileage from last year!
- Running with Jenn again, even though she made me do speed work.  :-)
- Doing a handstand in TRX.

Swim: 0 meters - but to be fair, I've had a horrible head cold and just rejoined the gym a few days ago
Bike: 27.5 miles - all trainer miles
Run: 10.82 miles - lowest running miles in awhile...I'm recovering from 3 big races in a row
Strength: 0.83 hours
TOTAL = 4.8 hours

The stuff I hate putting out in public
Weight loss: 3.6 pounds down...21.4 to go
Measurements: I forgot to take any...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday Morning Solitude

The End of a Season

This past weekend I wrapped up my last official race of the year - Autumn Leaves 10k put on by the ORRC at Champoeg Park.  I had originally signed up for the 50 miler, but after much internal (and external) debate, I opted for the shorter distance and a morning of volunteering.  After this event, the rest of 2010 is all fun (Hot Buttered Run!) and the beginnings of another round of Ironman training.  It's time to focus on a bit of recovery, nailing down a healthy nutrition plan, and gearing up for an already overbooked 2011.
Here's the race report from Autumn Leaves:

I arrived at 5:30am to a misty fog and pitch black darkness.  Headlamps dotted the horizon as the early-starters for the 50 miler were milling around nervously chatting, filling water bottles, organizing drop bags, and trying to keep warm.  I studied their actions, hoping to glean insider information into the ultramarathon world.
I spent the next 4 hours helping hand out packets and running miscellaneous errands.  The regular start for the 50mi/50k went off, and some of the early starters were finishing up their first laps.  Just as the sun started to peek out and the fog lifted, the 10k-ers began arriving.  There was a bit of warming up, a quick pre-race briefing, and then the race directer yelled "GO".

The first part of the course was on a smooth multi-use path and wound through the forest, along the Willamette River, and up over a (very slippery) wooden bridge.  Leaves covered the ground, but the trees were still brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow.  Everything smelled like fresh rain.  It was one of the most peaceful races I can remember.
The second part of the course was single-track trail.  Despite the now constant rain, it was only mildly muddy.  And surprisingly not crowded.  Like my last trail race, I found my earphones to be an annoyance and quickly stuffed them away.  I remember asking myself why it had been so long since my last trail run.  And being amused that I could feel so much pain and so much peace at the same time.

Moments before the start, I decided to turn the run into a max heart race test.  The plan was to use the first 3 miles as warmup, go hard for 2 miles, and then cool down for the last mile.  About 1.25 miles into the "hard" part, my vision blurred, my ears started buzzing, and there was nothing I could do to get enough oxygen RIGHT NOW.  So I started my cooldown a bit early...but that was far preferable than an embarrassing visit with the paramedics.
The 10k course proved to be a bit longer than 6.2 miles (admitted long by the race director, and logged as 6.72 miles by my Garmin).  Even so, it was a decent PR and a satisfying way to end the season.  Garmin data:
Distance - 6.72 miles
Time - 1:07:13 (pace = 9:59/mile)
Fastest single mile - 7:39

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Public Poll

People of the interwebs, I need your help!  Here is my problem.  I am signed up for a wee little run at the end of the month.  A 50 miler.  I can't recall quite what I was thinking when I hit "submit", but it was likely that I had either just finished a good run and was feeling full of myself, or I had just polished off a strong mug of homebrew.  And it's also likely that my free time was a bit larger in volume than it has been these last couple of months.  Given my average running pace and minimal training this summer, I'm pretty sure that I can't run the entire 50 miles within the 11 hour cutoff (barely over 13 min miles). However, I just knocked out a marathon and half marathon on back-to-back weekends with no injuries, almost as fast as my PRs, and feeling pretty fresh a couple days later. So internet, what should I do?  Don't be shy...

1) Stay with the 50 miler and see what I can do in 11 hours. Stop if I feel an injury. If by some miracle I can finish, I get a really awesome belt buckle and big bragging rights.

2) Stay with the 50 miler, but drop at 50k if it truly truly sucks. I will get a DNF, but I would still know that I did 50k.

3) Switch to the 50k, assuming they let me. No belt buckle, but still an awesome accomplishment.

4) Switch to the 10k.

5) Go pumpkin hunting. Consider my season officially over as of Sunday and get rested up for Ironman training, which starts Nov 29.

Girlfriends Half Marathon

This past weekend I did the coolest thing ever -- I ran a half marathon with my Mom!  The same Mom who just a year ago:
- weighed 45 pounds more than she does now.
- had never EVER ran more than a mile.
- called me to proudly announce that she had ran "5 WHOLE STRAIGHT MINUTES ON THE TREADMILL!!!"

Race Info:
All women, all proceeds go towards a cure for breast cancer, and there are hot fireman/policemen handing out necklaces at the finish line.

Our final time?  2:28:14 for an 11:19 pace!  Seriously!  My 53 year old mother ran just 4 minutes shy of my PR.  I'm slow.  I know.  Get over it.

It was a gorgeous fall morning - cold, crisp, and sunny.  Red and orange leaves starting to cover the sidewalks.  Steam rising from the Columbia River and the tip of Mt. Hood peeking out above the clouds.  Perfect running weather.  A sea of pink ladies, with husbands/brothers/children lined up along the streets to cheer.  I love this event!

Some photos from the day:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Portland Marathon - Race Report

Portland Marathon
Time = 5:17:38 (pace - 12:07/mile)

If you were anywhere near the Portland/Vancouver area this weekend, then you know how very un-dry it was on marathon day.  Of course now, a day later, it is sunny and crisp and wonderful outside.  Of course.  The weather really didn't get anyone down too much, but it did provide a bit of discomfort.  Soggy socks/shoes + 26.2 miles = fugly ugly feet.
I'll spare you the details of what happens when the rains removes all traces of Body Glide and you swish around with wet clothes for 5 hours.  I'll just say that a running skirt was not my wisest choice of the day.  Another poor choice -- the 16oz starbucks energy drink that I consumed about 15 minutes prior to the start.  It got things moving a little too nicely, and an emergency evacuation at a mile 5 porta-potty ended up costing me a PR.  At least I was well caffeinated for the first half of the race.

Here is the very soggy starting line.  Photo courtesy of Julie Unruly.
Rather than write a full boring race report, I'll list the highlights:
  • The new corral system worked well...with the not-so-minor exception of actually getting into your designated corral.  Seriously, Portland Marathon, would it kill you to place a few signs at the entrances?  Despite having a map in hand, we still couldn't figure it out.  In the rainy darkness, we had to ask almost every volunteer that we saw (which was like 2) how to get where we needed to go.  I hope they figure this out for next year.
  • The Syncopated Drummers at the starting line kicked ass.  I wish they could have followed me along the course.  I first saw them a few years ago at a roller derby bout.  And then again at a cyclocross race.  And then again at the 2008 Portland Marathon.  Every time I hear them I become insanely happy and want to just dance around.  What a great way to start a marathon!
  • The first few miles always feel soooooo easy.  This marathon was no exception.  Although my HR tells another story.  My average HR for the whole event was 171 bpm.  I'm normally in the low 160 range while running.  This may be a very simple explanation for why my stomach shut down.  Again.  I took in all of 400 calories over the 5+ hours of running.  I need to figure this out.
  • Ken kept popping up in random places all over the course.  It was fun to see him when I wasn't expecting it.  Thanks honey!  Here's a photo that he took of me around mile 12:

And one from around mile 14 heading out towards Hwy 30:

  • Portland residents are superior spectators.  Hundreds of people were out there cheering in the rain, keeping us all going.  The volunteers rock too!
  • My phone got drenched and completely malfunctioned.  I'm sorry to anyone who received random texts and phone calls.  It totally died at mile 15, so I ran the rest without music.  Thankfully there were so many awesome entertainment groups and spectators, that I really didn't miss the tunes.
  • The hill leading up to St. Johns bridge didn't seem that bad this year.  Thank you, TRX.  Also, I was able to appreciate the views this time.  Spectacular course!  Here is me crossing over the bridge:
  • My no-slip headband didn't slip at all!  Yay!
  • Why didn't I train for this thing?!?  Ouch!  The wheels completely fell off around mile 20.  Really, I'm impressed that I hung on for that long.  But my oh my, this was a painful lesson.  My post-race pain was much increased compared to my past races.  Even the Ironman didn't hurt this much.  Seriously.  I'm very thankful for ice baths. (This one was brutal core body temp was already pretty low.  I gutted this one out for 20 minutes, much to the amusement of the hubby.)
  • Congrats to all the people who rocked the marathon -- Jenn, Julie, Lisa, Chris, Tabetha, Kevin, both Rachels, and anyone else I forgot.
  • The finishers shirts don't say 10-10-10!  Are you kidding me???  It's the only reason I did the damn thing!
I'm aware that I have a flare for the melodramatic sometimes.  At a minimum, I am animated when the mood strikes.  Apparently, the mood struck yesterday.  Some embarrassing evidence: