Saturday, January 28, 2012

Join My Mutual Weirdness Love Fest

by Anonymous Guest blogger

I was running the other day and had one random musing after another.  Mind you, they weren't profound, serious, spiritual thoughts.  Rather, they were silly, odd, embarrassing things that pinballed around in my ADD running brain.  I will forewarn you, some of these are TMI or too socially taboo to share in mixed company.  In fact, some of my regular running buddies would never look at me the same if they knew this crazy shit.  To protect myself and family's privacy, I asked Trail Smitten Mom not to reveal my identity.

I couldn't just keep these thoughts to myself.  As a public service, I felt compelled to put them out in the blogosphere.  As the wise, Dr. Seuss said, “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” I am sure I am not alone in my weirdness.  I welcome personal stories or perhaps even validation that you too, dear readers have had similar thoughts or experiences.

Without further ado, I present my random, most intimate string of thoughts:
  • Is it just me or do other people get sick to their stomachs when they put on their sports bra for afternoon runs? 
    • Is it just me or do other people brush their teeth before early morning workouts only when they're meeting friends?
    • Is it just me, or do other people have the secret desire to pass anyone who has a larger ass then they?
    • Is it just me or have other people gone to a track workout with the intention of burning rubber and instead ended up with skid marks in their tights? 
    • Is it just me or have other people gotten a hemorrhoid after taking shit in the woods on a trail run?
      • Is it just me or do other people sneak peeks and admire the bodies of those who are physically fit? If you get caught, tell them your stud muffin partner's birthday is coming up and ask them where they got their swim suit, bike shorts or running tights so you know where to shop for your honey.
        • Is it just me or have other women checked their "Period Tracker" app before registering for a race?
        • Is it just me or do other people have the inability to say/hear fartlek without cracking a smile?
          •  Is it just me or have other people taken advantage of construction site portapotty? 
            • Is it just me or do other people think that ice baths are the perfect mixture of pleasure and pain?
            • Is it just me or have other people squeezed Gu on top of a bowl of ice cream when they were out of chocolate syrup? 

                So lovelies, this is your chance to share your mutual weirdness. Let's fill up the comments with additional "Is it just me or..." statements.  C'mon, don't leave me hanging.  Let's share some mutual weirdness, and call it love!

                Tuesday, January 24, 2012

                70.3 Training Plan in a Nutshell

                I read, researched and tried out several plans before settling on "Super Simple Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Training Plan"  by Matt Fitzgerald.  As a full-time (then some!) working mom, I don't have a whole lot of time or flexibility when it comes to my schedule.  I needed something easy to remember and follow that didn't require countless pages to sift through each of the six days of the week that I would be training.

                What I love about this plan is that my week follows a predicable schedule. I have set days, rather than rotating days to swim, bike and run. An added bonus is that my plan has short and sweet descriptions of my swim, bike and run routines. The whole plan fits on three pages and doesn't require that I look at multiple pages at the same time to determine what I'm supposed to do for the day or even the week.  This drove me CRAZY with a couple other plans I tried on for size.  All the codes, charts, text, etc. that made up "the plan" was too confusing for this gal.  C'mon folks, I have have two different teaching positions that make up my professional life, I serve 82 students, I have a pair of twins to love and nurture, a household to run, and countless other things already on my plate.  I need a KISS (keep it simple stupid) plan.  According to Fitzgerald, I can get away with this for my half Iron.  He better be right!

                This plan gradually builds up over three weeks then provides a recovery week before gearing back up again.

                Monday:  6 to 9 mile RUN with speed focus + SWIM (starting at 800 yards and building to 2000 yards, include sprints)

                Tuesday: weight training and core work + 45 to 60 minute SPIN class

                Wednesday: rest

                Thursday: 3 to 6 mile RUN on the track or  doing hill work + SWIM (starting at 800 and building to 1600 yards, partially at race pace)

                Friday: 40 minute BIKE or SPIN + weight training and core work

                Saturday: long RUN (8 to 17 miles, usually progression run and/or running at half/marathon pace) + long swim (starting at 800 yards and building to 2400 yards, partially at race pace)

                Sunday: long BIKE (20 to 50 miles) + transition run every other week

                Sunday, January 22, 2012

                Training Plan, Sweet Training Plan

                Training plans... I peruse them like magazines fresh from the mail box or well-loved books.  All of my workouts fit neatly into the boxes of my calendars and spreadsheets.  I love order and structure!  A training plan is just that.  Each day leading up to my culminating event is mapped.  I find great comfort in that.  I study my training plan with rapt attention. I go over it with a fine toothed comb. What kind of modifications might need to be made? Where might there be room for flexibility?  Am I capable of carrying out the plans with my already full mothering and working schedule? How might my social life and housekeeping be squeezed in? Are my goals too easy, just right or overly ambitious?

                If the layperson looked at my pile of papers, they would see a nothing more than a mess of jargon, acronyms and cryptic formulas.  I find this information irresistible.  It reads like poetry.  Ladder: w/u 3mi; 400, 800, 1600, 800, 400, 200. 10K pace up and 5K pace down. Surges, progressions, fartleks, intervals, pull buoys, cadence, RPMs, 30 sec recovery, HM pace, M pace, at 90% of HR.  Once my kiddos are tucked into bed, I reach for my training file.  I sift through, read, reread and try to make my training plans mesh with my life plans.  My stack of fiction and pile of magazines collect dust during training season. My movie queue sits dormant. Depending on the event I'm training for, these papers map out my life for the next 18 to 30 weeks.

                Each week my partner, an ultra-runner/budding triathlete and I meet for negotiations. I am ridiculously lucky to have a partner with whom to share household and parenting duties. The happiness and well-being of our family requires an equitable distribution of labor and on-going communication.  We support and encourage each other, but at the same time hold firm on our individual needs.  If I want to trade workout days with Steve, I better come up with a tempting option to make it worth his while.  "Hey, babe. I really want to run with this group, but they happen to be running on Sunday morning. I know that Sunday mornings are yours, but would you be willing to trade Sunday for Saturday?" I carefully watch his face to see if he's willing to be flexible. If it looks like he's having to chew on the offer, I'll offer a bonus, "And, I'll also give you Friday morning to spin and lift at the gym." Such conversations are not unlike a competitive game of poker. "I'll see you your Sunday morning and raise you Friday."  For the most part, we are both able to get what we want and need. Sometimes one little tweak; a sick child, an appointment or travel plans, sends the whole house of cards flying. Then it's back to the drawing board.

                My latest training plan includes a 25K trail run, a sprint triathlon, a half marathon, an Olympic triathlon and a half Ironman.  It's the most ambitious, complicated, time-consuming training plan I've ever had. I love it!  I can't stop looking at it, thinking about it and fine-tuning it. It's both exciting and daunting. As if the variables of work, kids, hubby-in-training and my multi-sport training aren't enough to muddy the waters, toss in hours of operation of my gym, lap swim schedule, limited daylight hours and fair weather for cycling, days and times of coach-led track workouts, availability of friends with whom to share workouts! It's quite the feat to come up with let alone carry out such a complicated plan.

                So what is it about this challenge that appeals to me?  I enjoy making sense of nonsense, organizing things that seem destined for chaos, teaching children whom others have given up hope.  Reaching for athletic goals that seem much larger than I seems to fall right into this mix.  Perhaps Walt Disney said it best, "It is kind of fun to do the impossible." 

                Best wishes to you readers as you go about your training plan and pursue your goals.

                Monday, January 16, 2012

                Ice, Ice, Baby

                I seriously suffered from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) while training for my first marathon. Remember the old Tums commercial where they sing, Tums, Tums, Tums, Tums, TUMS!?  My husband and I like to sing DOMS, DOMS, DOMS, DOMS, DOMS! We're athletically nerdy that way.  I smartened up while training for my second marathon.  Anytime I ran longer than 12 miles, I took an ice bath.  I was pleased to discover that it kept the soreness at bay.  Over the last couple years, I've refined my technique so that this experience is as pleasant as possible. By golly, I actually enjoy them now.

                You'll need:
                • 24 pounds of ice
                • a down jacket
                • a warm fuzzy hat
                • a mug filled with your favorite piping hot beverage
                • reading material to distract you 
                • a bathtub
                • a timer
                1. Fill your tub with enough tepid water to fully cover your legs, butt and hips.
                2. Pull on your hat and jacket. Set your hot drink, reading material and timer on the tub ledge. Have your bags of ice next to the tub.
                3. Sit in the tub, relax and let the water cool down. Adding the ice will be less of a shock if your body slowly adjusts to the temperature change.
                4. Pull a bag of ice in the tub with you, undo the twist tie and gently empty the first bag at your feet. Repeat with second bag but this time empty it onto your legs. Finally add the last bag to your glute region. You can also have a loved one dump the ice on top of you. I like to do it myself. I enjoy pouring the ice on my husband. He has the greatest facial expressions and says kooky things like "My boys! My boys!" In a voice a few octives higher than his normal voice.
                5. Set the timer for 15-20 minutes. Trust me, you don't want to be in there any longer than necessary. They say that time range is perfect. Any less, it's not effective. Any more, is overkill.
                6. Sit back, sip your hot drink and read your book or magazine until the timer goes off.
                The stuff

                My upper body

                Lower body
                 How are ice baths healing?

                According to an article in Runner's World:
                Cryotherapy ("cold therapy") constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. "Ice baths don't only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles," says David Terry, M.D., an ultrarunner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times.

                If you haven't yet tried one, I encourage you to give it a go! 15 minutes of slight discomfort will prevent days of muscle soreness and may prevent injury. Cold rivers and lakes are excellent substitutes for ice baths when you're out on the trails.  Enjoy your ice, ice baby!

                Sunday, January 15, 2012

                First half of January Recap

                My fancy new Garmin 310XT tells me that so far this year, I've logged:
                • 14 activities
                • covered 94.73 miles
                • spent 13hrs 16 mins 35 secs swimming, biking and running
                • Have an average speed of 7.1 mph (yay for biking speeding up my average!) and HR of 147 bpm (is that good?)
                • and have burned 4,401 calories (How many Christmas cookies and glasses of wine is that?)
                January 1: Say hello to my little friend, Pablo
                Bike/Run Brick: 10 mile/40 minute spin with my cyber buddy Pablo. He has a great Latin accent. I love the way he says "maintain". He scolds at me through my laptop, "Man-tain your speed! Man-tain your cadence! Don't give up!" I wasn't! Sheesh, Pablo, give me a little credit! He also sings along to Lady Gaga and Beyonce which is kind of cute. Pablo wears coordinating yellow cycling shorts, jersey, cycling hat. This always leads me to ask the question, does one really need to wear a cycling jersey while on a trainer or spin bike? It's not like you need to pack a pump or patch kit. Wouldn't a tank top suffice? Just sayin'.

                Once Pablo was done with me, I ran from my house to the pool to remember what it feels like to run after riding and to determine distance and time. One mile round trip. My first brick of the year! My hope was to splurge and treat myself once a week to a swim at my bigger, more luxurious neighborhood pool for my long swims. My gym pool is claustrophobic and overrun by swimmers who flail about and make me feel sorry not only for myself, but for the water they are molesting.

                January 2: Taking advantage of a sunny day
                Bike! It was a beautiful sunny day. These are rare in the Pacific Northwest, so my new biking schedule is to bike outside any time I possibly could. Do not cross go, do not collect $200, just get the heck out there and ride! I had a magnificent 14 mile/1hr 5 min ride. I am feeling pretty comfy on my bike these days. I just mind my own business, stay along the median strip or my bike lane. I have nothing more than a helmet protecting my head. I'm taking it all in and feeling one with nature. Then a big ass truck farting noxious fumes, guns his engine, honks and passes me as close as he can get without hitting me. This leaves me in a panic. I could have died! I am a mom of two children! Was that really necessary? My heart pounding, I pedaled on a little shaken and a lot pissed off.  I was ready to hunt down the a-hole and shove my bike pump up his aforementioned a-hole.  It took me a while to calm down. The rest of the vehicles, most of whom were quiet, economical cars, went out of their way to slow down and steer into the other lane as they cautiously passed me. THANK YOU drivers who see and look out for us vulnerable cyclists! We love you for it!

                Get a load outta that sky! How I love wide open spaces.

                January 3: Back to the salt mines
                5 am wake up call, begrudingly suited up, headed out into the darkness for my 6 mile tempo run. According to McMillan I should be running these at a pace that seemed ridiculously quick (7:48-8:20). I warmed up for a mile and half before kicking it up to 8:20 pace for the next three miles. I hung on for dear life. If it weren't for my Garmin spying on me, I would have totally cheated and cut it short or slowed down to a more humane speed. "You're STRONG!" I told myself between gasps for air. Didn't feel so good while doing it, but I felt like a million bucks afterwards when I was all hot and sweaty. YEAH! I reported to work for a fun, informative teacher in-service and got to show off my hula hoop and cup stacking skills at the PE portion. Yee haw!

                January 4: "To teach is to learn twice over." Josephy Joubert
                Resume my teaching job after 18 days of winter vacation bliss, daily naps, no clocks or schedules. Took a rest day to help ease the transition back into the real world.

                January 5: MILE PR!
                I worked out at the track with the speed group. I was stepping outside my comfort zone again. This was not only a new group to me, but tonight would be a timed mile.  I hadn't run a timed mile since I was 16! I ran it in 7:15 and was dang proud of my non-runner self who usually opted to walk the mile to prove a passive aggressive point. How fast could I go? I had no idea, but I wanted my 40 year old self to kick my 16 year old self's ass!  

                I was surprised to find myself closer to the front of the pack than the back of the pack. WTF? Me?! Slow, short legged me? Surely I had gone out to fast. I was going to DIE! Coach called out our times. What?! That's WAY too fast! Three more laps? Are you kidding me?! With a wing and a prayer, I put every ounce of strength, mostly mental and finished up my mile. 6:45! Sub 7 minute mile! I almost cried I was so proud of myself. I have always said that I'm a slow runner. I would need to work this out of my mind and speech. I'm as fast as I want to be. Yippy!

                January 6: Accidental rest day
                Oops. I'm human. I will not beat myself up, but dangit!

                January 7th: Sunny day, chasing the clouds away
                1600 meter morning swim at the "good" pool. Found my form and fell into a rhythm again. I love me a good swim! Followed that up with some family time. When I discovered it was sunny and dry out I suited up and headed out for a bike ride.  Running speed is coming along nicely. Now it's time to build up my cycling speed. I seem stuck in the 14-15 mph zone regardless of where/when I bike. Must work on that. Picked up my RPMs and set off for an 18 mile tempo bike ride.

                January 8:  No road is long with good company.  ~Turkish Proverb
                Met a group of local runners, carpooled out to one of my favorite trails in Lane County. Ran 11 glorious, quickish miles with four or five fellow trail junkies.  This was great training for February's 25K. Thoroughly enjoyed the company and seeing fellow runner out on the same trail. It was a marvelously chilly, sunny day on the trails. I look forward to doing some open water swim/run bricks out there in the spring and summer
                Halfway point. Time to turn around. Where's the damn dam?

                I adore the water crossings at this trail along Lookout Point Reservoir
                Artsy Hipstamatic picture of the venue

                January 9th: Slacker alert
                Stayed up too late working the night before that I blew off my morning pre-work swim/lift session. I had the best of intentions to squeeze in a run after work but talked myself out of it. My training season hadn't officially kicked off. Why knock myself out if I didn't have to?!

                January 10th: Put the pedal to the metal
                Met up with a new running buddy. Muscled my way through a 6 mile 8:15 min/mi average tempo run.  Next week I'll try to do 8 miles.

                January 11th: How do you spell "rain free day"? B-I-K-E!
                1 hr/14 mile ride around the river in arctic conditions. I will need better cycling gear if I am to cycle outdoors year round.

                January 12: Another brick in the wall
                1600 meter swim in the wee hours of the morning. Workout was cut short by the stinkin' swim team who took over all the lanes.

                Hill sprints with speed group. I was dreading this workout. Hills in the cold darkness was one thing but SPRINTING up them at 5K speed?! She's gotta be kidding! Was pleased as punch to find a few friends in the dark with their headlamps aglow. Misery loves company. Suddenly I was jazzed about tackling up those hills. It was fun having folks to cheer on and to encourage me. Three miles worth of 12 quarter mile ups and downs made me feel tough! 
                Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. My training shake-ups were proving that perhaps I wasn't insane after all. I was turning my old comfy habits and routines on their ear!

                January 13: Friday the 13th
                Again, I had the best of intentions of working out. Fridays are technically my half days at work. I had carefully packed my swim stuff, gym stuff and cold weather running stuff. Did I use any? NO! I opted to spend five hours in my classroom working my tail feathers off. Working out on Friday the 13th is bad luck, right? Might be dangerous. Besides my buttocks were sore from the previous night's workouts. Coach said I shouldn't rely on my little leg muscles but my big butt muscle. Excuse me?! I was to image my butt cheeks squeezing a piece of paper. Alrighty, then. Managed to avoid mental paper cuts to my ass with my imaginary paper thong, but yowsers could I feel the effects of that hill workout the next day.

                January 14: Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming
                Dang, I was digging this pool thing. Went to my gym and was thrilled to have the entire lap section of the pool to myself for the first 1200 meters. I totally got into my swimming groove and felt at one with the water. Swam a mile before toweling off and heading to the gym for a quick run on the treadmill and weight lifting session. Chafed myself with my swim suit for the first time but LOVE my new Moving Comfort sports bras!

                January 15: SNOWY DAY
                I took a leap of faith that I'd be able to safely drive to my favorite local Ridgeline Trail and get in a 12-14 miler in the snow. It was well worth my effort and initial fretting before getting out the door.  I had an amazing 13 mile run along the gorgeous snow dusted trails. It deserves a post all of it's own. What a gift! I love the trails! Two more weeks and it'll all be roads, speed and distance practice as I do all my runs with the Performance Half Marathon group.  Miss those trails already but looking forward to new opportunities.
                One of my favorite sections of the trail. I refer to it as "The Chapel" This magical place never fails to move me.
                My own private winter wonderland
                Even with those unplanned rest days, it was a pretty darn good two weeks of training. I'm hoping to keep that momentum and energy. I now have a speed/cadence sensor for my Garmin. I'm hoping that will help me build more cycling strength, speed and endurance.  Other reflections and wishes after these two weeks: get to the weight room at least twice a week and do yoga at least once a week.