Sunday, May 29, 2011

Twas the Night Before the Tri

Twas the night before Heart of the Valley, when all through the house
One athlete was stirring, and bugging her spouse.
Race day supplies and clothes were laid out with care.
After a fitful night of sleep, race day soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their bed.
They would be awakened far too early and fed
before being bundled and loaded up, in the Eurovan.
In their personalized t-shirts, they are momma's biggest fans.

Long swims, quick swims, she tuned-up her stroke
Swam two or three times a week, this tri was no joke.
Bike sprints, hill climbs, swim/bike and bike/run bricks
These are all things that this girl does for kicks.

Running is still her passion but now there's room for much more.
Never a dull moment around here, always heading out that door.
Swimdorphins, biker buzz and runner's high...
These are all things that money can't buy.

The grey clouds, they hung 'round, threatening to rain
while Trail Smitten worried about every ache and pain.
Surely her ten weeks of training should help her go far.
But was it possible for her to get that coveted PR?
Hay is in the barn, weather out of our control.
It time to get out on there and rock 'n roll!
Oh, so ready to swim, bike, and run!
Who knew that triathlons could be so much fun?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tapering + PMS= FML

There aren't many things that grate on my nerves.  Mylar and helium balloons that linger around my house well after the celebratory occasion.  Reaching into the paper clip jar for a paperclip to discover a seemingly endless paperclip chain.  Attempting to wrap a gift moments before a party and discovering  there isn't any tape in the house.  Seriously, why don''t people warn you about these things before you have children?  I would've fully savored those days of having tape, batteries or operating flashlights when I needed them.  Most of the time, I deal with these little setbacks.  I grab a glue stick when I need to wrap a gift.  I plunge a pair of scissors into semi-inflated balloons that sneak up on me, deflate and bury them at the bottom of the garbage.  Pet peeves are just a part of life.  We take them in stride.  

Typically I am a "Ain't nothin' gonna break-a my stride, ain't nothing gonna hold me down, whoa, I've got to keep on movin'" type of person.  Then that week out of the month hits.  No, it's not when I've got my period.  Things calm down then.  It's the week prior, when my hormones rage and take me, and those lucky enough to be around me, on an emotional roller coaster.  I dread this week.  It's full of feelings of being wronged, overwhelmed, dumped on, inadequate, misunderstood and ignored which in turn leads to brooding, lashing out, over thinking, withdrawing, or blowing up.  Up until this week, I thought that my moodiness reached epic proportions during this time frame.  This week I discovered that this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Throw a little tapering and pre-race jitters into the mix and things get real exciting!  I've decided that this condition needs an acronym of its own: TPMS (tapering premenstrual syndrome).  PMS is hell on a good day.  TPMS is hell on a bad day.

No, dear readers.  I have no tips for coping with this unfortunate condition.  Nor are there wise words about how TPMS can make one a stronger, better performing athlete come race day.  I don't even have a witty, funny or even crude punchline to tidily wrap up this post.  The only solace I take is that this is only a temporary state of being.  Eventually the real Trail Smitten Mom will return.  Hopefully that day comes before those around me have to be treated for PTSD as result of my TPMS.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

T minus 8 days: Week in Review and Week Ahead

Highlight of the Week:  North Shore Trail Run with highly entertaining, utterly inspirational, hardcore fitness momma friends

The grey rain clouds cleared and sun came out just when I was supposed to begin my tapering.  Conditions were absolutely ideal for cycling.  Every chance I got, I hopped on Princess and hit the roads.  I declare this week not only my two week countdown but "The Week of the Bike" as well.  Here it is in a nutshell:

Monday:  45 minutes swim + 14 miles/1 hour r/t bike commute to/from work
The swim team was churning up the waters and hogging the lanes.  My running/swimming partner and I managed not to throw temper tantrums, get our swim workouts in and come out unscathed. Our reward was that we didn't have to listen to folks holler about lobster quiche and beef brisket in the hot tub.

Tuesday:  6 mile/53 minute run/ave pace 8:58
Nice solid 8:25-9:05 minute mile pace. Swear to the endurance goddess, every time I put on my sports bra to go for this afternoon run, I get sick to my stomach.  WTF?  Is it the smell of the very well-loved bra, constriction around my chest or the thought of running in the afternoon when I'm all tired? Thankfully I have a standing date to run with a fellow teacher/momma of twins friend; otherwise I may have thrown in the towel long ago.

Wednesday:  75 minute/22 mile bike ride
My previous blog entry is about this fabulous dusk to sunset ride. Mostly flat, easy paced ride with one Skinner Butte climb for kicks.  Have I mentioned how much I love cycling?

Thursday:  rested
As much as I wanted to run in the good company of my Run Momma Run group, I needed a day off. 

Friday:  34 mile/2:32 bike ride
Hour and a half(ish) morning ride on the river with friend, and fellow Heart of the Valley Sprint Triathlon participant.  Included two Skinner Butte climbs.  Rode additional hour or 14 miles to/from work.  I am LOVING bike commuting! It's fun, energizes me and puts me in a good mood for my workday.  It's a very quick and easy way to squeeze in a workout with someone with as busy of a schedule as me.

Saturday:  8 mile/ 1:45 minutes/13:11 pace trail run
I was eagerly anticipating this run with three of my BRFFs (best running friends forever).  We had a wonderful time out chatting it up and running on the beautiful North Shore trails. 
My Super Cute BRFFs

I just love these people!
(Even the one who ruined my post-run guilty pleasure of Lay's Potato Chips by saying they smelled like farts.)
Sunday:  Strength and core + 1/2 mile/20 minute swim
Getting to the gym has been difficult lately. I'd much rather workout outdoors.  This means that if I want to get my S & C, *in my whiniest voice* I need to make a separate trip to the gym which is 6-7 miles/15 minutes away from my house or have the self-discipline to do it at home.  I have been lucky to get in at least one session for the last few months.  I'm just not feeling it, am so busy and not to toot my own horn or anything, am feeling and looking pretty buff with my swimming, cycling and running.  Really, next time you see me, ask me to flex for you.  I'm packing some guns!

On my way to the hot tub, my reward from pumping iron and crunching, I discovered a completely empty pool!  It was too beautiful to pass up on and it would save me an extra trip and sleep time.  I did a little race simulation for my swim portion.  I still can't get over how hard swimming, especially the first 7 laps still feels for me.

2 swim sessions:  1-1/2 miles/65 minutes
3 bike sessions:  68 miles/4hrs45mins
2 run sessions:  14 miles/2.63hrs
1: Strength and core session: 45 mins

This Week's Training Plan:
8 more days until my second sprint triathlon!  I might have gotten a little carried away last week.  My goal for this week is to lay low, get lots of sleep, think through race day details and get my race kit together.

Monday:  rest + take bike into shop for quick check over random squeak

Tuesday:  30-40 minute cycle + pack race kit

Wednesday:  swim: 4 to 5 100m at race tempo with 20 seconds recovery in between)

Thursday:  easy paced 4 mile run (include w/u, 1 mile at race pace and c/d)

Friday:  rest

Saturday:  10-15 minute run with 3X30 seconds at race pace on a soft track surface

Sunday:  very short/light swim and/or bike ride

Monday:  RACE DAY!

I'm feeling much more prepared mentally and physically for this triathlon than my first.  I am ready to have fun and "throw down" to see just what I'm capable out there when I give it my all.  This will most likely be my last triathlon of the season.  Bring it!  I'm ready!

TMI Afterward:
Only thing I'm obsessing about it Aunt Flo's arrival date, which according to PTracker is five days.  Urg, what's a woman to do?  At least the tri-suit will keep the string well hidden.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cycling: Twice the Fun, Half the Effort?

Just wrapped up an absolutely breathtaking hour plus ride along the river.  The setting sun created an ever changing hue in the sky.  Heron fished in a pond then swooped up right above my head towards their nests where their chicks awaited their dinner.  Purple lupine swayed in the gentle breeze and added a vibrant splash of color to the landscape.  I didn't want to be anywhere else, doing anything else.  Right then, right there on my solo ride was where I was meant to be.  I climbed Skinner's Butte to catch a glimpse of what I thought would be the best vantage point for the sunset.  Admired it from atop then decided to fly down the hill and chase the setting sun around the river.  As I did, I stopped at many places along the path to see what the sky, my beloved town and the bright sun had on display for me.  It was exquisite.

 While I was riding alone, I never felt alone.  There were couples arm in arm strolling along the path or at an embrace on the bridge.  There were smiling, waving fellow cyclists.  Pedestrians took the time to watch the ducks, geese, heron, turtles, birds and even an odd looking bug.  A few commented as I passed or snapped pictures on what a spectacular night it was.  I wholeheartedly agreed and felt a deep sense of appreciation that I wasn't the only one to bear witness to it.  I was alone in my thoughts though.

My mind marveled at the glorious sights and how I nearly missed them.  It was a long day, I haven't been feeling well, the kids were finally asleep and the couch seemed like a much easier place to be than on a bike ride.  I thought about my upcoming triathlon.  I also thought about how I entered the world of cycling as result of an injury that prevented me from running, my preferred form of exercise.  I thought I was going to die when I wasn't able to run.  Then Princess came along.  I begrudgingly started riding and much to my surprise fell in love with cycling! Bring on the bike touring, metric centuries, heck, bring on the century!

Runner turned biker chick

Tonight I had a revelation.  I almost feel guilty writing it and like a two-timer for thinking it.  Well, here it is.  I have come to the conclusion that compared to running, cycling is twice the fun and half the effort.  No, no, wait a minute.  That's not true.  I love running!  Really I do!  It's work though and I tend to get a little nutty about it.  Thinking back I realize that I drove myself right into running-burn-out.  A couple silly races, a coveted sub 4 hr marathon PR and a 50K trail race sucked all the joy out of running.  I was driven.  I was determined.  I was training and I was training hard.  So hard in fact that it sucked the joy out of running and drove me straight into injury.  I don't want to do that again.  Ever.  No coveted time, PR,  or race registration is worth that.  I needed the distance and time away from the sport to recognize this.
What do I love about running?  Why is it that I'm feeling like I like cycling better?  Why do I feel compelled to compare the two?  These thoughts ran through my mind on the last portion of my blissful ride.  I thought back to the many times I used to escape from my crazy-busy life full of wifely, motherly, teacherly, homeownerly, housekeeping, cooking, book clubbing responsibilities and disappear for hours on serene trails.  I'd lose myself out there.  When I returned, I was a calmer, more centered person ready to be with her family.  The trails were my sanctuary, my therapists' couch and my playground.  They were places to tell or listen to secrets, share hopes, plans,  random thoughts, and off-color jokes.  They were a place to connect with nature, play in the mud, jump over streams, breathe in the smells of the forest, take in the colors and sights.  That's what I love about running.  That's where I want to be again.  No Garmin.  No dictated speed work out.  No training plan, race registration, coveted BQ or sub 4 marathon training, mileage, speed or time requirement.  Just me, the trails and maybe a friend or two and a bag of Lays potato chips waiting for me at the finish.


How interesting it is that a city ride on my bike would remind me how much undue pressure I put on my running and how I much prefer trail running just for the joy of it.  So don't tell running what I told you about cycling being twice the fun and half the effort just yet.  It might not be true.  I'll let you know after my trail run this weekend.

My happy place

Trail Bliss

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two Weeks to Go! This week's training plan

Heart of the Valley Sprint Triathlon is in two weeks!  I am excited!!! I had such a blast during my first tri, could the second one possibly live up to that one?  I had hopes of setting a new PR but after looking more closely into the bike portion of this event, I've questioned that possibility.  Albany was super flat and HOV supposedly has course with rolling hills and two challenging hills.  I have so much energy, my body feels great and I just want to do it all!  This is where I have gotten in trouble in the past.  I need to continue to pull back on the reins.  No going gung ho and doing something stupid because I'm enjoying my fabulous workout company or feeling the swimdorphins, biker buzz or runner's high.  Be smart. Stick with the plan.  Listen to my body.  Sleep well.  Eat well.  Recovery well.  Have fun and don't get too serious.

This week's plan is as follows:

  • 45 minute swim working on base endurance and staying relaxed.  Long reps over race distance at easy pace. 
  • 50 minute fartlek run. Start easy. Alternate between tempo and steady pace every 60 seconds.  Easy cool down.
  • Strength and core
  • Steady 14 mile/60 min ride to/from work.  Include technique work: smooth pedaling, high cadence
  • rest
  • tempo/sprint swim: Mix of 300-400 of tempo 100m reps and 100-200m of max 25m reps with 50% recovery-to-exercise ratio. Wear tri suit.
  • strength and core
  • 8 mile easy paced run. Trails? (Love the extra cycling and bricks, but I sure miss my LSD runs)
  • Bike/run brick, 50 mins. 40 mins building intensity every 10mins from recovery to tempo pace. 10 minutes run off bike-  begin first 5mins at target race pace and finish last 5mins at easy pace.

    Week in Review

    It felt like a real solid week of training.  It's my last fitness building week so I wanted to get it all in but still be safe and smart about it.

    Monday: 60 min swim + 70 min bike
    Had a nice swim where I focused on technique as I swam laps for an hour.  It seems like I've reached a speed plateau.  I'd like to get a session with a swim coach to see how I'm doing, get help improving my form, efficiency and swimming as well as some swim drills. 

    Rode my bike seven miles into work at a sprint.  Felt great until a pedestrian and her dog stepped into my path and caused me to lose control of my bike and crash.  I fell hard.  I was really worried that I jacked up my knee.  It was skinned, bruised, swollen and sore.  It was hard to walk that day and standing after sitting was especially painful.   On my way home, I decided to tackle a short steep hill as practice for my upcoming triathlon that boosts a course with rolling hills and two challenging hills.  Spyglass hill proved to be a nice addition to my commute but was too short and too steep of a hill to suit the bill for hill repeats.

    Tuesday:  4 mile/35 minute run
    Initially had 50-60 minutes slated, but my girls had a soccer game.  I opted for a short and quick run.  Afternoon runs are mentally really tough for me.  I am a much happier, capable, early morning runner.  

    Wednesday:  50 minute/1 mile swim
    I have learned to just push through the first several laps until I  find a rhythm and loosen up.  Twenty or so minutes in, much like my running, I start to enjoy the swim.  I had to share the lanes with lots of swimmers and got kicked several times by a breast stroker.  I chalked the dodging and getting hit as part of the training.

    Thursday:  58 minute/5 mile
    Met with my running group for a mixed road and trail run.  It was hillier, especially at first than I've been running lately.  It was a gorgeous new trail for me.  The Ribbon Trail is a section of my favorite Ridgeline Trail system.  Super pretty lush forested area.  Very runnable and fun.  I can't wait to do this route again.  Sore butt afterwards but legs and feet still feeling good.

    Friday:  135 minutes/23 mile ride
    Met a friend and rode a leisurely-paced loop around the river.  On my way back home, I hit Skinner's Butte for hill repeats.  I remember attempting this hill just weeks after getting my bike and riding a few times.  It was brutal!  I messed up on my gear shifting and dropped my chain.  I continued huffing my way up the butte but halfway up it got so steep and hard that I decided to throw in the towel.  Today I climbed that baby three times!  Climbs lasted around 5 minutes and were rewarded with a fabulous view of my city from the top.  I would have kept going but I ran out of time.  It was work, but it was fun.  I met a fellow cycler and got some tips on how to deal with the gate that blocked the road halfway up until 7:30 AM.  My legs and butt certainly felt that hill workout.  Amazing how much more fun hill repeats are on a bike compared to on foot.

    Saturday:  rest day
    I had a ton of energy and was itching to workout.  I channeled that energy into having fun with my girls and getting things done around the house.  I am happy to report that I went through all of my and my daughters' closets and drawers, thinned them out, refolded clothes, vacuumed out the drawers and closets and returned clothes to their homes or donated them to charity.  I bought new running socks at the running store, fought off the urge to register for a local 5K, took my kids to the library, watched their soccer game and ate and played at the park with their team before retiring on the coach to blog and watch a movie.

    Sunday:  1:50 minute/23 mile bike + 16:55 minute/2 mile run
    Finally got to ride Fox Hollow and surrounding area hills! There were some long steep climbs at the beginning of the ride.  It felt good to be able to muscle and spin my way through.  My legs didn't burn at all on the inclines.  Knowing that I had a long ride and a run to follow, I didn't kill myself speed wise.  I tried to be conservative without being wimpy.

    I had anticipated the climbs to be tough, but it turned out the descents were tougher.  The roads were wet from recent rains, they were rutty and even littered with gravel in some places.  I hung on for dear life as I flew down the hills on a wing and a prayer at speeds up to 29 MPH on this gently winding road.  I rode my brakes a lot more that I had expected as I felt so precarious on sections of the road.  I have never felt so vulnerable on a bike before.  One little mishap and I could seriously hurt myself.  I appreciated the flats and climbs more than ever after those technical declines.

    Still amazed at how my cycling leg turn-over affects my running.  I run much quicker than it feels like I'm running.  I didn't have the rubber-leg or dead-leg syndrome that used to plague me after bike/run bricks. It's still work but it feel really good to have that strength and endurance.

    Swim X 2: 1-3/4 miles
    Run X 3:  11 miles
    Bike X 3:  60 miles

    It was a really good week of training.  I had my highest bike mileage and longest time in saddle ever.  I had a low running mileage week but got in two bricks.  Time to settle down into the final phase of my triathlon training.  Time to maintain my current fitness level, stay healthy, get lots of rest and start my anal-retentive checklists and planning.

      Function or Fashion? Must I chose?

      I am afraid that the socks take attention away from my super cute Run Momma Run skirt and Asics racers
      I have been simultaneously intrigued and mortified as I watch runners with knee high socks out on the trails and roads.  These aren't the elite athletes mind you.  These are the everyday plodders, just like me logging training-miles in their own backyards.  There has to be something to be said for this compression-sock-fever that's spreading like wildfire.  Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, folks are wearing them.  There must be a good reason.  When I asked around and read up on them, I discovered that there indeed is a good reason for their growing popularity.  It turns out that these, albeit hideous-looking, socks are actually GOOD for you!

      After struggling with foot and leg issues since I got into distance running three years ago, I was intrigued with the fact that a pair of socks, (SOCKS people!), could "increase circulation to move old blood out and new, oxygenated blood into the region to reduce muscle fatigue, minimize swelling and speed recovery."  (Saucony package) That's a lofty promise Saucony, but I'm willing to give it a try.  I want to keep my feet and legs healthy and happy.  If it takes a silly high-priced sock to do it, so be it.  What do I have to lose?

      My latest running geek purchases: Saucony Elite Compression Sock and Asics Trabuco Wool elite performance sock

      Well, that brings me to the mortification part of my story.  No, it's not the price tag for the Elite Compression Socks with Graduated Compression Technology that I purchased today.  Nor is it the wordless laundering instructions that comes with these socks.  Okay, I understand that the iron symbol with the X through it means no ironing my socks.  But really, who irons their socks?  Nevermind, I don't want to know.  The 30 degree Celsius symbol means wash in cold.  That leaves three of the five listed symbols on the package that I don't understand.  What does the striped triangle mean?  How about the the box with the circle and dot in the middle?  What's up with the circle with the angry X through it?  Okay, enough with the stupid laundering instructions already!  This piece is about socks.

      Washing instructions. I don't get 'em. Do you?
      What is it about these socks that I find so mortifying, you ask?  Wearing them in PUBLIC!  They aren't cute and when it comes to clothes, I like cute. I know, I live in Eugene where us down-to-earth folks are supposed to be above fashion.  It's all about function, right?  Well, I tried. I really did.  Peasant skirts, podiatrist-endorsed clogs and sandals, batik, tie dye, world-beat patterned clothing, hair where it naturally belongs on one's body and face, in it's natural color and natural state of curl or degree of straightness.  Been there, done that and am done with that.  Don't get me wrong; it's fine on other people.  In fact, I admire people who opt for function, frugality and political statement over fashion statement.  I just can't do it anymore.  It's not me.  I like cute.  There, I said it.  I like cute dang-it!  I like cute AND I'm a feminist!  I can be both; so there!  Wow, I don't know where that came from.  This piece is about socks.  Let's get back to socks.  I'm coming to realize that socks might be worthy of more attention than I've previously given. 

      Here's my news breaking report on my spiffy new socks.  I've been wearing them (around the house or under my long fleece pants mind you!) for the last four hours and must confess that they feel absolutely delicious.  My legs are all warm and fuzzy.  As if they've returned to the womb for some loving.  I thought they would feel super tight but the compression is just perfect.  Not in the least bit constricting but rather rendering a constant gentle squeeze from my toes to my knee caps.  I like the feeling quite a bit.  I can feel the compression technology's healing properties on my legs.  I'm thinking my whole body should be encased in it!  Bring in the oxygenated blood!  I need oxygenated blood!  Okay, this is what a rest day does to me.  It makes me CRAZY!  It's getting close to bedtime and I really don't want to take my new socks off.  I love them.  I have the sinking suspicion that the function of these socks will override the fashion-faux pas element,  much like my Dirty Girl Gaiters, arm panties, ginormous Garmin 405 watch and bright blue lock laces. 

      Ready or not, here my compression socks and I come!

      Monday, May 9, 2011

      Three Weeks to Go! This Week's Training Plan

      Heart of the Valley Sprint Triathlon is in three weeks!  This week is my last fitness-building week.  I've been training hard and still managing to stay healthy.  This is a novel concept for me as I am so prone to overuse injuries.  With triathlon, I am feeling stronger than I ever.  This week's plan is as follows:

      Monday:  Swim/bike brick
      • 60 minute swim (technique focus)
      • 70 minute/14 mile ride to/from work. Added two hill climbs on Spyglass. This hill is a little too short for hill repeats but plenty steep to make for a nice challenge.  Love screaming down the hill at 25-30 MPH!  Thanks a million to my honey for my awesome new bike computer that clocks my speed/mileage/pace.  I love it!
      • 50-60 minute tempo run
      • 60-90 minute bike ride
      • Strength and core work
      • 40 minute run
      • 60 minute swim 
      • Strength and core work

      •  rest/stretch
      Sunday:  Bike/run brick date morning with Steve <3
      • 2 hour Fox Hollow ride
      • 3 mile run

      Week in Review: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

      I had a great week of training!  Last week I had missed three workouts due to illness and marathon weekend.  I was chomping at the bit to get back at it. 

      Cut my 75-90 minute swim short, but managed to get in 60 good minutes.  Wondered if I eating or at least drinking coffee might help my AM swim sessions.  Perhaps they would result in multiple trips to the restroom during my swim routine.  I just don't know.  After the guilt of cutting my swim short set in, I decided that I needed to redeem myself.  I added an impromptu cycle session and turned the day from the planned long swim to a medium swim/short bike brick.  Since I was running late for work, I sprinted on my bike 7 miles to work.  I managed to get there in 20 minutes! YES!  I was so proud of myself that I rewarded myself with a slow, leisurely 7 mile/30 minute ride home.  See how I roll? Punish, reward, punish, reward. I think it all comes out balanced in the end.

      52 minutes/6 miles with average pace of 9:02. Felt good but I had to consciously push myself to maintain speed.  If you are working on speed, find someone who is slightly faster than you to run with.  You'll push yourself and get stronger.  Your buddy will appreciate an easy day.  I practice my sandbagging just before these runs. I should record my excuses I throw out before runs just in case I can't keep up.  Please, I beg you, go easy on me because...  I ate too big of a lunch... I've got my period... My feet hurt... Who knows what my excuse will be next time.

      It's SO much more fun swimming with a buddy than swimming solo.  Even if you can't chat much while swimming, it's just reassuring that there's someone you know in the water suffering, I mean training, right along with you.  My running partner has joined me once a week for swimming.  It's great  having the poolside company.  My favorite part is when we get to chat and soak in the hot tub after our swim.  I tried out a new 6o minute swim routine and loved it.  The time went by so quickly having this as my focus.  I liked not taking as many breaks as I've gotten used to taking and being able to do some speed work without dying out there.
      • warm up 300m
      • 500m followed by 50 second rest
      • 400m followed by 40 second rest
      • 300m followed by 30 second rest
      • 200m followed by 20 second rest
      • 100m
      Total:  36 laps or just over a mile .
      After all that, the friggin' hot tub was out of order.  Bastards!  I was bitter for the rest of the day.  I had saved my best stories and juiciest gossip for the hot tub and my friend and I didn't even get to soak.  Now I feel compelled to call ahead of time to confirm that at least one of the two hot tubs will be open.

      1 hr 2 mins/6.6 miles with average pace of 9:30.  This was with a group of mommas in town who run together on a weekly basis.  Time/miles go by so quickly with the steady, often times funny conversations.  The pace is lovely after my speedier Tuesday runs.  My running partner and I tacked on some extra and quicker miles after the rest of the group went home.

      Bailed on my workout. Sleeping in sounded better that morning.  I had a busy, tiring day.  Once evening rolled around for my last-chance-workout, I decided that I'd rather make my family a decent home-cooked meal, enjoy dinner with them and go to a track meet.  So I had an unscheduled rest day but that's okay, especially since it was the first of my week.  Balance, balance, balance! 

      My running partner and I headed out of town for a trail run somewhere new.  We were pleased to run a nice flat easy 11.13 miles on pretty trails.  It felt awesome and was so much fun! It was my longest run since my torn PF last June and subsequent foot tendinitis after being in a cast for a few weeks.  I am happy to report that I had no unpleasant repercussions as result of this run.  While my legs were tired, there was no pain in my feet or anywhere else.  YAY!  This was a huge confidence boost.  Maybe I don't have to give up distance running altogether.  California International Marathon 2011, here I come!  I just printed out my 30 week training plan.

      I had a 2 hour ride scheduled but the weather didn't cooperate.  I was forced to ride on my spin bike indoors.  I rode a solid hour while watching a swim technique video.  I felt like an amphibian living a duel life.  Then I lifted weights and did core work.  Why do I put that off all the time?  I actually like it!  In the evening, I rode another hour while watching a movie on TV.  I threw in some sprints, climbs and jumps to keep things lively. 

      I am proud of my consistency this week.  I really need to figure out how to get my strength and core work in.  I still tend to skip those workouts.  I missed a biking session and/or brick.  Not too shabby though, especially since I'm following the Olympic Triathlon plan while training for a sprint triathlon.  Bring it!

      Saturday, May 7, 2011

      Trail Review: Elijah Bristow State Park

      (Photo Courtesy of Discover Eugene)
      Elijah Bristow State Park proved itself to be a lovely place for a short trail run.  Well-maintained flat single track trails wind their way through pretty meadows, woodlands and wetlands near or along the middle fork of the Willamette River.  These trails are shared by equestrians, mountain bikers and hikers.  My running partner and I weren't sure who'd be on the trails and in what condition we'd find them.  Reports from fellow local runners warned us that trails would be rutted and muddy from the horse traffic and recent rains.  We decided to be adventurous and explore this new area anyway.

      Perhaps it was the time of the year, but we were nearly the only ones out there today.  It was quiet, peaceful, overcast and drizzly at times. We shared the park with two hikers and their respective dogs and a lone runner.  It was quiet and peaceful on this overcast Saturday morning in early May.  There were a few puddles, muddy spots and piles of horse poop that we had to skirt around or leap over but other than that, the trails were a delight to run on.  My running partner set out to run between six and eight miles, but it felt so good and easy that we ended up running eleven miles.  They were without a doubt the easiest trail miles that either of us has run. 

      38263 Wheeler Road, Dexter Oregon.  Take I-5 South out of Eugene.  Take exit 188A for OR-58/Willamette Hwy toward Oakridge.  Approx. 9.4 miles turn LEFT at Wheeler Road. Turn left into Elijah Bristow State Park. 

      Why it's worth the trip:
      There are 847 acres of pretty woodland, wetland and meadows to explore on foot, mountain bike or horse back via 10 miles of maintained trails.  This area is home to deer, elk, Western Pond turtle, Heron, Osprey and Bald Eagle.  Not only did we enjoy some nice, easy, highly-runnable trails, but scouted the area as a potential day trip with our families.  We agreed that our children would love hiking and picnicking in this area too.

      Here are some more reasons you should check out Elijah Bristow State Park:
      • There are picnic tables and BBQ grills for enjoying lunch before or after your hike. 
      • Clean, fully stocked and equipped restrooms
      • A friend tells me that this is her favorite place for blackberry picking. She says that the bushes are neatly trimmed and the berries aren't sprayed.
      • It's nearly impossible to get lost out here.  There are trail signs, a river flanking one side of the park and all the trails loop back to the main parking lot.
      • Several little ponds to view turtles, salamanders and birds
      • Dog poop station complete with the humorous diagram and explanation of proper scooping
      • It's free! No day use or parking fees.
      What to wear and bring:
      Your normal running clothes will do.  Layers work well as temperatures fluctuate as you come in and out of tree cover.  I wore my light-weight trail shoes, capris, a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt over top and a hat and was quite comfy.  We brought our own water, but there is piped water in the park.  Since we ran a series of little one to five miles loops near our centrally located car, we didn't need to carry water.  I love hands-free trail running!

      Word of warning: 
      There was a sign indicating that there had been a cougar sighting in this area last fall.  It gave very specific steps on what to do should one encounter a cougar.  Supposedly there is stinging nettle and blackberry in these parts so be sure to stay on the marked trails and be on the lookout.  With the nearby river and all the ponds, I imagine you'd find lots of pesky mosquitoes during the early summer months.  We didn't see or experience any of those potential hazards today.

      Take a Peek!
      Western Pond Turtle (photo courtesy of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department)
      Park namesake, Elijah Bristow was the first white settler in this area of Lane County.
      Banks of the middle fork of the Willamette River (Photo courtesy of University of Oregon Environmental Leadership Program)
      Invasive vegetation has been a problem since this area was clear cut in the 1960s.  Riparian Restoration Stewardship has been trying to rid the area of invasives and plant natives.  Here's a meadow where  plants are encased in blue tubes to protect them from munching elk and deer. (Photo courtesy of U of O Environmental Leadership Program)
      Flat runnable short trails in a pretty setting? Elijah Bristow's your place!

      Here's some more information on this charming state park.

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      What does a busy mom do when her life is spinning out of control? Why micro-manage her workouts, of course!

      My next triathlon is four short weeks away.  I only have two more weeks to build fitness before winding down into race prep and tapering.  These two weeks are REALLY important and need to have structured high-quality workouts.  I didn't realize it until now, but marathon training was so simple!  Four runs a week. Each run has a specific speed, strength or endurance purpose.  Then there's a recovery or easy run or two to keep mileage/minutes base.  With triathlon, I have to think almost all those elements in THREE different sports!

      Fortunately I love and thrive on organization, structure and systems.  A detailed training schedule keeps me sane and prevents me from slacking on my workouts.  It's written down, I am more likely to do it.  I find the more specific, the better.  This doesn't mean that I stick to my plans to a T by any stretch of the imagination, but it gives me a nice framework from which to work.

      Last week I had three rest days rather than my typical one rest day.  So this week, I'm working out each day of the week to try to make up for those missed workouts.  If it happens, great. If not, oh well.  Here's this week's plan:

      Monday:  swim/bike brick
      • 70 minute swim √
      • 8 mile/20 minute bike to work √
      • 8 mile/30 minute bike home from work √

      Tuesday:  run + S & C
      • 50-60 minute run: warm up, find pace, increase speed every 12-15 minutes until reaching tempo intensity, cool down [√ 52:14 mins w/ ave pace of 9:01. 1st @ 9:27 2nd @ 9:01 3rd @ 8:39 4th @  8:51 5th @ 8:54 6th @ 9:13]
      • Strength and core work at the gym [Skipped. :( Too tired, not feeling well.)
      Wednesday: swim
      • 60 minute steady swim: 300-400m w/u (6 laps), main set of 500m (10 laps)- 400m (8 laps)- 300m (6 laps)-  200m (4 laps)- 100m (2 laps) all at steady pace with 50- 40- 30- 20 sec recovery in between √

      Thursday:  run
      • Strength and core work at home
      • 60-75 minute run, easy pace, build pace through run √

      Friday:  bike
      • 75-90 minutes bike: w/u ride from home to Spyglass,  4-6 hill repeats on 4-6 minute long hill, c/d ride back home

      Saturday:  run
      • easy (4-6 mile?) trail run
      • Strength and core work at gym

      Sunday:  bike
      • 2 hours
      Now if I could be as organized and dedicated about the rest of my life!  My house would be immaculate, meals would be planned, the house would be stocked with food, birthday cards and gifts would arrive on time, Mt. Fold Me wouldn't grow to be any higher than my knees, paper clutter wouldn't accumulate...  It's all just too much at times to maintain a household, hold down a job and raise a family.  I am so glad that I can take solace in my workouts, enjoy a sense of control in at least one small area of my life and reap the rewards that come from taking care of my physical and mental health through exercise.