Thursday, June 30, 2011

three things thursday

1. And they are everything I imagined they would be.

2. I realized earlier this week that every since I got back from Jamaica, I essentially jumped right back into my pre-Kinetic training.  An endless rotation of lift-swim-bike-lift-run-lift-yoga-bike-run.  The intensity has been much lower (quality workouts replaced with easy workouts) but the volume per week has essentially been the same.  And I'm in my self-proclaimed off-season!  What is wrong with me?  I swore that after Kinetic I'd take some time easy and just do what I wanted, but it turns out that I'm stuck in some all-or-nothing mindset about training.  This week, I started to feel burned out.  Part of it, I'm sure, is residual exhaustion from Total 200.  Part of it is that I have several friends in the thick of IM or half marathon or some kind of training, and it's so easy to just jump in on a ride or race as a social event and get carried away.  But part of it is simply that I'm just not feeling motivated.  This morning I woke up and it was 68º outside with almost no humidity - a rare gift, this time of the year in DC - and I didn't want to go and run.  Usually this kind of day would make me pumped to get out, but I felt dead inside.

I also tend to get stuck in this rut when I'm returning from an injury.  I feel like it's so important that I continue to run every other day to maintain the level of healing I have and continue moving forward.  But you know what?  It's not.  If I only run once this week, I'm not going to end up in PT for an extra month.  I'm not going to suffer a huge setback in how well I'm progressing.  

So what am I doing about it?  Well, for starters, I'm taking an undetermined amount of time completely off.  Not "off except I'll lift" or "off but I'll just do an easy ride."  Off.  I will do nothing, all day every day, for whatever period of time it takes for me to feel energized again (erm, Emily, check your email).  It might only be a day or two, or it might be a week.  (Side note: I will continue to do the 10 minutes or so of PT stuff once a day because, come on now, let's not be stupid.)  I'm going to sleep in and eat two cupcakes for breakfast and not completely freak out if I don't reach 100 grams of protein every day and drink more than one beer if I want to.  Maybe in a few days, I might feel like going to a yoga class.  And then maybe I'll go out for a run if we get another sweet day like today.  And the day that I wake up and see someone cycling and feel jealous and want to yell at them from my car, I'll really get moving again.  But am I worried that I'm going to lose tons of fitness?  A little, but logically, no.  Am I worried that I might gain 20lbs and get sucked backwards in time?  No.  I might gain 3 or 4 or even 5 WHOLE POUNDS, and it might mean that those hill workouts are going to suck a little extra donkey schlong the first few times I go back, but I don't care.  OFF.

3. And here's why I'm choosing to do this now.  On October 2, I'm going after a stronger, better, faster (hillier, colder, sigh) half IM.
My next training cycle starts August 1.  So I guess that puts a 31-day clamp on being a lazy fatass.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

wordless wednesday

What to do when a hill workout gets cancelled due to a thunderstorm.
Yes, that is a shake weight.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

recipe for a cracked skull

Yesterday at PT it was time to add another set of awesome exercises for my butt.  Last week we added dead lifts, single leg dead lifts, box steps, and hungarian dead lifts to my strength training, on top of the squats and single leg squats I had already been doing.  Out of those, I think the single leg dead lift activates my glutes the most - at least that's where I feel the most burning - but sprinkling those things into my week has made a big difference in my butt.  I'm spending 100% of my time running focusing on my form, and being able to feel my glutes while I run is a scary new brilliant but tiring experience.
I wasn't really sure what else we could add to that, but that's the fun thing about PTs - they always surprise with new ways to make you sore.  Yesterday's addition?  Kettlebells.
I've read about kettlebell training before, but have never even picked up one of the things.  I'm not the most coordinated person in the world, and the fear of putting one through either my television or my brain has kept me far away.  

We started out with the regular swing (I know these things all have special kettle bell names, but the only one I can remember is snatch, so I am calling them my own thing).  The regular swing was okay once I figured out how to pop my hips forward - it feels much like the same movement I do in a dead lift.  The next one we did was the same swing but with only one arm at a time.  It was harder to pop my arm up high enough on this one, but I could feel my glutes working harder.

And then things got scary.
The next one we did involved swinging it up with one arm and bringing my elbow into my body and flipping the kettle bell over the back of my wrist.  My right side was okay but my left (non-dominant) side kept trying to flip the kettle bell into my nose.  I was only about to do about 5 of these on that side before my wrist got tired.

The last one we did (I think this one is called the snatch, heh heh heh) involved pushing my arm up in the air like a fist pump and flipping the kettle bell back over my wrist.  I don't think I did a single one of these correctly.  I kept fist-pumping too late which caused the bell to whack me hard on the forearm.  I've got bruises on both arms today from trying to do this one.  

So, not sure about the whole kettle bell thing.  When I woke up this morning, my hamstrings were sore so I know it was doing something.  I'm going to give it a chance because PT has been awesome and super effective so far, but since my gym doesn't have any (lame) I'm going to have to go buy one.  Or maybe two - one for the first three, and a tiny one made of feathers for the last one, plus a helmet.  This also means I need to find a room in my house without any glass and walls we haven't repaired yet.  Dr. P suggested doing it in the backyard but I'm not sure that's a good idea because I'd rather not be buying new windows for my neighbors.

Have you ever used kettle bells?  What did you get out of it?  Is your skull still intact?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Total 200: race report

I heard about the Total 200 - a double century in one day - way back in the winter, but didn't want to commit until I was closer and knew what my cycling was going to look like.  In late May, I heard that it was about to sell out, so I went ahead and signed up.  I love things that sound insane.  I had done quite a few rides in the 70-85 range already this spring, and I figured I'd do a few 100/50 Saturday/Sunday splits and be okay.  

Well, then I started going to a new PT, who didn't give me any actual restrictions but told me to keep it easy.  I've been really focusing on healing the past few weeks, and as such, haven't done many long rides.  I knew that spending that much time in the saddle would the the opposite of "keeping it easy," so I started shopping around my bib.  I thought I had found someone to buy it, and had even picked out a short triathlon to jump in on Saturday instead.  But then in the middle of last week, I found out that wasn't going to work out.  I couldn't find anyone else to take it at such short notice, and money is tight enough that I just couldn't wrap my head around throwing away my entry fee, so I decided to ride.  They were offering a 200K option instead of 200 miles, and I figured I could manage that without too much trouble. I did a quick 2-day taper (1 normal day, 1 complete rest day) and spent the rest of the time wondering exactly how much I was going to suffer.  

Fortunately, Emily was the one who talked me into this stupidity in the first place also doing the ride, so I knew I'd have someone to ride with for the first 40 miles or so until the 200 milers split off.  We chatted back and forth on Friday about nutrition, weather, pace, and the amount of beer we would be consuming post-ride.  I had no idea how to pack for 200K on a bike, but since the ride was supported, I wasn't nearly as concerned with nutrition as I usually am.  I stuffed my bento box with granola bars and my saddle back with electrolytes and Gus and planned to carry the rest in my back pocket.  
The night before, the poet and I went out early for our standard pre-race juju meal, which meant I was packed and in bed by 9.  My alarm was set for the ridiculous hour of 4:20am.
I was awake when it went off, and I got up and had a protein bar and made a PB&J to eat on the way.  It was a short drive to Anacostia Park, and I got my number, body marked, and started to unload my bike just as the sun came up.  I love the pre-ride atmosphere.  Everyone is eating and chatting and pumping their tires, and it's just fun. I used the bathroom once (note: most disgusting public bathroom I have ever been in, and I've been in a men's bathroom at a football stadium) before we lined up. They had pace markers on the ground, and after a short talk from one of the ride organizers that no one could hear, we were off.
I know, my sunglasses are upside down and in the wrong holes.

The ride started with a short loop around the capitol, which was actually one of the more unpleasant parts of the ride.  There were lots of turns and we were rolling pretty slowly.  We finally looped back around to Pennsylvania Ave and headed east out of town.  At the base of the last big downhill, there were several cracked steel plates across the road, and there were several deep potholes spreading the width of the road.  I braked hard and tried to go easy over it, but it was rough.  I caught up with Emily and said, "Wow, that's a ton of pinch-flats just waiting to happen!"  And less than a mile later, it happened.  I can only assume that I popped the flat going over the rough road and it started a slow leak in my tube.  Cussing my head off, I pulled off and stopped.  Emily turned around to wait with me while I changed my tire.  
I had the new tube in and was working the tire back on when the SAG vehicle pulled up.  The guy driving had a floor pump, and offered to finish putting my tire back on.  I let him - I can do it, but I'm not fast - and he had the tire pumped and back on pretty quickly.  We fitted the tire back on the bike, and I dropped the bike onto the tire and - KABOOM!  The tire exploded and took at least 10 years off of our lives, especially Patrick, who was about 2 inches away from it when it blew.

By this point, we were pretty far behind the pack.  Patrick mentioned that he could take us to the first checkpoint after we changed the tire the second time, which I was fine with (what's up, undertrained!), but Emily really wanted to hit 200 miles so I told her to take off and I'd catch up with her.  We got the second tire changed and jumped in the car to catch up.  We made a few other stops to check on riders with flats, so by the time we caught up with Emily, we were only a mile or so from the first checkpoint.  I made a quick bathroom stop there, grabbed a few Oreos, and we headed out.  I estimate that I lost about 8-10 miles off the day from this.

We were still a bit behind the pack, so we hauled serious ass on the second leg.  We picked up another guy partway through and traded off in a pace line for most of the miles.  I would guess we averaged somewhere in the 19-21mph range in here.  Despite feeling unprepared and under-tapered, I was feeling strong and really enjoying the ride.  We got into the 7-11 which was the second checkpoint and I grabbed a soda, a granola bar, and a few other snacks and was ready to head out when some of Emily's friends rolled in.  She had introduced us at the start, as they were also doing the 200K, and I decided to hang back and ride with them.  They took their break and we rolled out in a pretty large peleton.

The first 15 or so miles were fantastic.  We were in a decent-sized group, and there were some strong guys pulling at the front.  The girls that Emily had introduced me to were really nice and we chatted for a while in a big group.  We split off from the 200 milers and headed out on some really nice country road.  We went over a gorgeous bridge, and I tried to take some pictures without stopping.
I didn't notice when the guys pulled off the front (and I wish I had), and then someone else got a flat tire, and suddenly we were dropping speed in a much smaller group.  The last 10 miles went pretty slowly and I was relieved to pull into the lunch stop.  I was hot and hungry but felt like I still had miles to give.  
There were 44 miles left after lunch, and I was hoping to get through them pretty quickly and finish strong.  We met back up with some of the guys at the rest stop and pulled out together.  This time I pulled ahead with them when they broke off the front, and had a really strong 18 miles to the next rest stop.  We did stop quite a few times to let the back of the pack catch up, which really wasn't how I wanted to spend my day, but it was nice to roll with a large group instead of riding alone.

By the time we reached the final checkpoint, we had 25 miles to go and I was tired, mostly from all the stops and starts and slow stretches of riding.  I didn't even want to stop, I didn't want to do anything except ride until I was done.  Our stops were getting longer and longer and I was starting to get pretty cranky about all of it.  We rolled out and almost immediately started to hit some decent hills - nothing steep or long, but any kind of climbing is tiring after 100 miles have gone by.  I'm a decent climber, and I never stand to climb, but I did have to drop into my small ring for one stretch in the last 20 miles.  One of the guys I was riding with started laughing every time we saw a hill coming, because he knew I'd be cussing the whole way up.
Hills after mile 100 are rude.
The last 8 miles of the ride turned out to be as annoying as the first 8.  Lots of short turns, stopping at stop lights, dealing with traffic, and weaving through some pretty un-scenic parts of SE DC.  We finally turned into Anacostia Park and I heard my crotch cheer when I pulled up to my car and hopped off.  112 miles, 6:46.  I picked up my medal and teeshirt and had some pizza before heading home.
When I walked in the front door, I had this waiting for me.
I opened one and laid on the floor until the poet got home, smelly and dirty and sore and tired.  
I can't believe I pulled this ride out of my ass and felt so good (except a bit cranky near the end) the whole time.  I had some great stretches of riding in a pace line, and I felt really powerful on the bike through it all.  It's a huge contrast to how I felt during and after the Reston Century last year, where all I could do was try and survive.  On this ride, I never got into that hurt locker where it takes every ounce of mental stamina to finish.  I spent most of Thursday and Friday preparing to really suffer, and I didn't.  

The ride itself was pretty great.  Lots of great riders to chat with (although I did not talk to a single person all day who wasn't in IM training - mostly LP and Wisconsin, but some later in the year as well), the tour itself was scenic, the volunteers were fantastic, the checkpoints had piles of delicious carbohydrates, and except for the first and last 8-10 miles, it was fast riding.  I'm not sure I'd agree with the ride organizer that called this "flat," as I ended up with about 4000 feet of climbing on the day, but it was mostly rollers, not wipeout 4mph climbing.  On a ride this long, my nutrition plan is basically, "eat everything you can find, every chance you get," and that got me through all right.  I did get to spend a lot of time in my drops and the tighter angle was putting a lot of pressure on my, erm, front crotch from the nose of my saddle, so I'm going to see if I can make an adjustment that helps that.  And on Sunday, I felt mostly fine - my body is exhausted, but I wasn't really even that sore anywhere.  My quads felt tired, and my right wrist hurt a bit, but nothing like the nuclear fallout after the Reston Century last year.  One of my goals for this summer was a sub-6 hour century, and I missed it by less than a mile.  I know that if I was riding with a strong pace line for the whole ride, I would hit that easily, and I think I'm going to revise that time seriously downwards for my next 100 miler.  And I've got a score to settle with Reston.  I've got a lot of work to do between now and then, but this makes me really motivated to go after it, to grab it with my teeth and shake it until it's dead.

Friday, June 24, 2011

random friday facts

1. I almost only buy things on sale, but I can never remember to use coupons.

2. I get mad when Facebook suggests friends for me.  Facebook, you don't know me!  Maybe I don't want to be friends with my husband's ex-wife!

3. An old Amazon gift card meant two things yesterday: a) I used up a gift card and b) hot pink shoes are on their way for only $22!

4. I'm really bad about replying to personal email sometimes.  And then I'll get motivated and wipe out my inbox.

5. I hold a grudge.

6. I've been running about 10-15 miles a week.  

7. I'm not sure what I spent money on before triathlon and owning a house.  

8. I have a pair of black running shorts that I bought in 1999 when I started running.  They didn't fit for about 6 years but I kept them anyway.  Now, I wear them almost every day.

9. I have no idea what to do with my basement.  Right now it's an office and the place where old furniture goes to die.

10. I was on the summer swim team for one year (age 7).  I was afraid to dive into the pool so I jumped, and I would hold my nose with one hand and swim with the other.

11. I have an addictive personality.

12. Pilates scares me.  What are all those weird machines?

13. This year, we will let the professionals do the summer haircuts.

14. I hate the noise the metal scrape-y thing makes on my teeth when I'm at the dentist.

15. Last night I ruined dinner and ended up sitting on the steps drinking beer and sucking frosting directly out of the tube.   Stressed and overwhelmed, much?

16. I still wish my thighs were smaller.

17. I really appreciate appropriate use of the word "Bitchin'."

18. There is no possible way the punctuation at the end of that last one is correct.

19. My favorite video game of all time was called, "Pikmin" for the GameCube.  Probably because I got to be the boss of 100 little men.

20. I've cut back to only two breakfasts.

21. My favorite month to be a cyclist is October.

22. Molly thinks a puppy lives inside her water bowl.  Sometimes we walk in the kitchen and she's got both paws and her face in the bowl, trying to get to the puppy.

23. I have never owned a chainsaw.

Leave me a random fact, and have a great weekend!  Pray for my massively underprepared crotch.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

three things thursday

1. I am almost positive that I was able to feel something happening in my glutes this morning while I was running.  It might have been due to yesterday's dead lift party, or a week of kicking the crap out of them with strength training, but something was definitely going on.  I call this progress.  I also am ashamed to admit that I ran on a treadmill this morning.  Which turned out to be a bad idea anyway, because it is just as warm and possibly more humid inside my gym than outside.  But after spending 90 minutes whining about the dew point this morning, it was treadmill or nothing at all.  I know this means my soul just got sucked out through the bottom of my running shoes, I'm sorry.  However, it did give me yet another good opportunity to focus on form and count my strides-per-minute and concentrate on keeping my hips under me and not over-striding as I got faster, all of which probably would have gone out the window if I had been suffering outside.  But the treadmill got me back for hating when something scary happened in "Silence of the Lambs" and I screamed and almost fell off the back.  This is my actual life, people.  

2. I still haven't made a decision about shoes.  Several people who have looked at my gait have confirmed that my current shoes aren't actually hurting me, which takes the pressure off.  I still think I'm going to buy a pair of the Kinvaras because a) they are hot pink and b) see item a.  I'll probably just wear them to walk around in the gym while I lift and maybe do some strides in every once in a while as long as I'm still in PT and working on the hot mess that is my gait.  And I'm not sure why I feel so terribly guilty about buying a pair of running shoes because of the color and not because of their classification that I am not intending to actually do much running in, but I do.  I want the hot pink shoes!  

I have no shame.  I'm also thinking about switching from my 2150s back to the Adrenalines, but my current pair only have about 150 miles on them so I've got some time to decide.  I'm really interested to see if all this strength training and PT and focusing on good form has an actual effect on my gait.  I know that it's a slow and incremental process so I'm not looking for an immediate change, but I just wonder what I'll look like, say, in September.  Will I still have my unicorn collapsing hip and Frankenstein foot stomp?  Stay tuned. 

3. I've been having a really stressful week, and I'm completely wiped out.  That combined with not putting things on my calendar and plans changing at the last minute means my weekend is going to be an exhausting mess of trying to cram everything in, and next week is actually looking like it's going to be worse than this one was.  Sigh.  What are your weekend plans?  Are you racing or giving up on the ridiculous weather to hide inside with cold beer (I wish I was doing this)?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

house projects: downstairs bathroom

Taking another day off from blathering about can check out my first and second house projects posts if you'd like, but essentially, my house is falling down around me and I am working hard to slow that process down.  As always, you can click on any of these pictures to see a much larger version of the mess.

The basement seems to be particularly bad, and it wasn't a priority when I first moved in for two reasons - it was being rented to a friend, and I wanted to get through some projects on the first floor before coming downstairs.  When we moved in, the basement bathroom looked like this:
Yeah.  A good scrubbing took care of most of it, and it got painted the same brown (NOT a good idea, but we had extra paint) as the living room on one of our painting spree weekends, so it was fully functional for a while.  Then, one evening last fall, I smelled mold and this happened.
What we kind of figured out happened was two things - first, the tub needed to be recaulked because water had been seeping into the walls.  But the tub itself was cracked and leaking, and that made the bathroom pretty much unusable.  So I ripped out all the drywall that had been affected with mold, sprayed all the studs with a water/bleach mix (and then was surprised when this ruined the carpet, sigh) and set up a dehumidifier to dry everything out.  And it stayed like that for about 8 months until I could put together the money to have it worked on.  We decided that since we needed to replace the tub and the wall tile, to go ahead and replace the floor tile at the same time since that was in really bad condition as well.  And we decided to rip out some of the carpet by the basement entrance that had been ruined by a water leak and tile that entryway as well.  Here's that entryway when we moved in.
After doing a lot of research, we decided to NOT try and DIY the tub and tile job.  I did take some shots as they worked, though.  Here's the bathroom all ripped out (sorry about the bad pictures, it's pretty tough to take good shots of a small space).
And here's the new wall tile:
The new floor tile:
And the new entryway tile:
(Thanks to Elizabeth for the awesome recommendation, by the way!)  We decided that since we were going to have to paint to touch up the bathroom anyway, to go ahead and repaint the same color as the rest of the basement (lots of leftover paint from that project).  I did several rounds of spackle-wait-sand-spackle-wait-sand before painting - our walls are all in awful shape and I could probably spend a solid month doing nothing but repairing them.
We (and by "we" I mean the poet) replaced the light fixture, the TP holder and the door knob.
The last thing we did was hang up a large picture to cover some of the wall that we couldn't repair (without replacing drywall, anyway) and a new shower curtain. I spent about three days buying and returning mirrors before finally finding one I loved at Home Goods.

So here's the before again...
And the after (yes, I did eventually clean that big smudge off the mirror).
I love how great it looks, but it's made the rest of the basement look completely awful, so that's up next...

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  I'm obsessed with home renovation, so drop me some links if you'd like!

Monday, June 20, 2011

mixy monday mashup

Last year I found a pair of bike shoes on a clearance table somewhere for $15.  The reason they were on the clearance table?  They were the previous year's shoes.  So I bought them and have beat the crap out of them over the past year.  There's nothing wrong with them, but I don't like them because they don't match my bike (I know).  And every time I go into the bike shop, I wander over to the shoes and drool until one of my bike guys says sternly, "Your shoes are fine!"

Well, this weekend I went on a loonnnng ride, and when I got back, I noticed one of my shoes was wiggling around on the cleat quite a bit.  It turned out that I had lost 2 of my cleat screws.  So I toddled off to the shop to see if they had any spares.  After an exhaustive screw man-hunt, I decided to just buy new cleats.  "They" say that you should replace them every 5000 miles anyway, and I'm pretty sure I blew past that in April.  But the other screws were pretty stripped, and it was looking like it was going to be tough to get them out, and it really wasn't that hard at all to talk me into...
Beautiful new bike shoes!  They also don't match my bike, but they are much closer than my last pair.  And do I think I got $15 of wear out of those shoes?  Absolutely.  So long, faithful soldiers.
Speaking of that long ride...I think we discovered this weekend that lasagna is the perfect pre-long ride fuel, and Coke is the perfect mid-ride drink.  Emily and I stuffed ourselves with carbs on Friday night and headed out at 5:30am Saturday morning, hoping to beat the heat.

She just needed to hit a time goal, and I'm not training for anything right now, so we headed to Purcellville on the W&OD.  It was fortunately not very hot, although humid as crap, and the bugs were out in full force.  When I came home and blew my nose, 2 dead ones came out.  We stopped once on the way out, for a few minutes at the turn-around, and once on the way back.  My fingers were swollen from the humidity and I decided that a Coke would be a great way to refuel: cold + bubbles + sodium + sugar, sounds like everything this girl needs!  I never drink caffeine and I almost never drink soda, and it cracked me right out.  After about a minute of standing there, I made Emily get back on her bike because I was jittery and shaky.  It powered me HARD through the last 20 miles of our 80+ mile ride, and I was still pretty buzzed even after getting off the bike (I tried to convince Emily to go out for an extra 16 to hit 100 on the day, but she wasn't all strung out on Coke and turned me down.  Lame.).  

And, running.  I decided at the beginning of last week to just do one speed workout a week, and later downgraded that to zero.  Right now, in PT, I can see - and feel, holy glutes! - great progress on a daily basis.  This morning's session was particularly good, in which I learned how to do three different kinds of dead lifts (normal, Romanian, and single leg) as well as another box step-up exercise, all of which are making my booter sore in a way no one ever has (sorry, the poet).  So I've kind of decided that while all this is going on, I'm just going to run easy.  I do think it's important that I do keep running, so that everything I am doing in PT is immediately translating over into my gait.  But for the immediate future, no training plans, no tempo, no intervals, no hills, and no ridiculous long runs.  A mid-distance run with maybe a gentle negative split every other day seems like it'll treat me just fine, and it goes along very well with my "not training to race do whatever I want to" summer plans.

The bad news about this decision is that it means no San Francisco Half Marathon, which makes me incredibly sad for a lot of reasons.  I was really looking forward to a great girl's weekend out there, because SO many of my (real and blog) friends are running the race.  I started looking for a plane ticket about 3 weeks ago, and I just haven't been able to justify spending that much money on a race that I will not be in shape to truly race.  And I don't want to fly to SF to do an easy but hilly run that may or may not set back everything I'm doing to heal.  It's the smart but very very sad decision.  I really want to have a solid fall racing season this year, so I have to take care of these lingering problems now.  

So that's the Monday mashup.  How was your weekend?

Friday, June 17, 2011

random friday facts

1. I can pee REALLY fast.  

2. I hate it when people write "tough" instead of "touch."  It happens a lot and now you ALSO will be haunted by it.

3. When we do poses in yoga that put my nose 2 inches from my feet, I pick at the calluses and blisters and toenail polish.

4. Graham barks if you say, "Who's here?" (I kind of expected him to bark from me writing it just now).  One of my favorite games is to wait until he is sound asleep and then yell "WHO'S HERE?" and then when he runs over to me, barking his crazy head off, say, "Did you hear something?"

5. After hearing a song once, I have about 95% of the lyrics memorized.

6. Sometimes I dance while I'm swimming.  

7. This has happened several times: I try a running shoe, fall in love with a running shoe, find it online at 50% off and buy 3 pairs, then decide I hate it and have 2 brand-new pairs left in my closet.

8. I broke my ankle in fifth grade and it was the itchiest thing that had ever happened to me.

9. I am obsessed with scented candles.  I have SO many.

10. I like silver better than gold.

11. I have a Dyson vacuum cleaner.  Totally worth it.

12. I never keep anything in my computer trash can.

13. I almost never wear deodorant (see #9).

14. Sometimes I wish I could be Jodie Foster in "Silence of the Lambs."  I love her.

15. I've been wearing the same perfume for almost 10 years.

16. I will never be comfortable running in just a sports bra.

17. I get really mad at a lot of things that I can't control: traffic, wind, heat, dropping things.  I know it's useless but I still get pretty mad.

18. I can burp decently on command.

19. I sleep on my belly.

20. I can tell my dogs apart by the smell of their farts.

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Leave me a random fact about you in the comments!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

three things thursday

1. I have terrible metro karma.  Something annoying and delaying happened on every train I got on yesterday.  I had to metro up to the Zoo from work for my PT appointment, and we got as far as Dupont when they made everyone unload and said they didn't know when the next train would be headed north.  And my appointment was in 11 minutes.  So what's a girl to do?  Why, haul serious ass 1.8 miles in dress clothes, laptop in backpack and not a single hair tie to be found.  Thank goodness I had a (very old & worn out) pair of running shoes with me.
Oh, and Connecticut Ave has only a tiny hill.  But fortunately it was only 81º out, not 104º like last Wednesday.  So after my PT appointment, I needed this to continue cooling down after my less-than-2-mile-run.
There's raspberry yogurt under there somewhere.  And I usually only get one gummy worm, but I went crazy and doubled up.  Hold me back, I'm losing control.  

2. Speaking of PT, I'm actually surprised that it (plus taking it easy on the running) seems to be going well.  My psoas has loosened up noticeably, although the immediate result of this after Monday's session was that my SI joint fell out of alignment FIVE times in 48 hours.  Turns out my tight psoas was holding it in place and now that it's relaxed, isn't doing it anymore.  I wonder what is actually supposed to be holding my SI joint in place?  Maybe I was just born without one of those?  But now that I know how to do squats correctly, I can actually feel my glutes every once in a while and the other night they were even tired!  Ridiculous.  Next week we're going to start working on drills to address my magical collapsing trick hip and Frankenstein foot stomp.  Color me excited.
3. On the subject of gait...last night the poet and I took a wander over to the sporting goods store, and while we were there, I decided to try on some of these happy pillow minimalist (even typing the word makes me cringe) shoes that many of you are preaching about.  I pulled a pair of Nike Frees and Sacucony Kinvaras off the shelf JUST TO TRY.  Calm down for a second, I'm not switching shoes, I'm just experimenting.  

It was, however, an incredibly revealing experience.  In the Nike Frees, I actually could not run with my normal gait, because the three steps I took with my fabulous heel strike sent massive shockwaves of pain up my leg and into my hips.  My body kind of naturally started doing something else that I can't even really describe, but it felt a lot lighter and smoother that what I usually do, which until the moment I put these unicorn shoes on, I would have described as not NOT light and smooth (didja follow that?  Sorry, grammar police).  The Kinvaras were different as well - they still kind of forced me not to heel-strike, but it felt like more of a natural compromise between my regular disaster of a gait and the Frees.  In the Frees, I felt almost like I had to run on my forefoot, in the Kinvaras I felt like I had to think about it less.  The poet actually videoed me taking a test jog in each shoe (and then in my own shoes, boy, did that look like hell) and to my extremely uneducated eye, it looks pretty different.  Here's the Kinvaras.
So, just a whole lot of food for thought.  When we got home, the poet asked me if I liked either shoe, and my honest answer was, I don't know.  I'm not sure how I feel about a shoe that changes my gait the way it did.  I mean, my gait is a mess but I'm trying to address that through PT, not with some kind of band-aid in the form of a hot pink fairy dust shoe (although BOY OH BOY do I want a pair of those hot pink shoes).  But if the strengthening I'm doing in PT combined with a slightly different shoe (not barefoot or VFF, just a different shoe) can make me a cleaner, healthier runner, then why wouldn't I do it?  I am SO against the minimalist shoe as a concept, but I'm trying to keep an open mind right now about my body and my running, especially while I'm working really hard in PT to get this injury straightened out.  And to his credit, the poet isn't prancing around in his VFFs/Kinvaras saying, "I TOLD YOU SO."
Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

wordless wednesday

Someone almost ended up riding the orphan train earlier this week.
Little brat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Air Force Cycling Challenge Crystal Ride: race report

I stumbled on this ride earlier in the week while looking for an organized ride to jump in on Sunday morning.  It started less than 2 miles from my house, and I remember watched some of it happen last year and it looked like a blast.  Not a race, but a huge ride that does a 12.5K crit loop, so you get some race-like pack riding experience without having to come in 435th (or worse).  I didn't know how I would feel after the 4 miler, so I didn't pre-register, figuring that I would wake up Sunday morning and decide if I wanted to go or not.

My alarm went off at 6am and I moaned and groaned about going, but eventually got up and out the door, my bike and jersey packed with 60ish miles of fuel.  The way the ride worked: you could do as many laps as you wanted, but you got a bronze medal for 2 (25K), a silver medal for 4 (50K) and a gold medal for 8 (100K).  Based on the price, I decided I was only going to do the ride if I was planning on doing 100K.  The other item of note?  The course was only open for 3.5 hours.  I did the kilometers to miles conversion in my head and roughly estimated that I should be in decent enough shape to get it done.  Welp (yes, I did just say welp, I'm one of THOSE people now, the unfollow button is above you to your left), I probably should have used a calculator on that one.  I haven't ridden much since my half-IM, and it's mostly been easy-paced fun miles.  Last week I only rode one time, so I figured my legs would be nice and fresh!  And laying in bed that morning, I decided that since I really wasn't tired from my 4 miler (walking will do that for you), getting out and riding would take care of it.

So I rolled up to Crystal City.  It was a crack house of cyclists.  All kinds of cyclists.
I found the registration table and was unpleasantly surprised to discover that the registration fee was more than what was listed on the website.  I asked one of the volunteers about it and - I mean, I'm crabby at 6:45am too - she rudely informed me, "That's what it is.  Do you want to ride or not?"  Yikes.  So I wrote my check and signed my waiver and got my number.  (Side note: when I got home, I looked at the website and discovered that the registration fee was listed at two different prices in two different places, but somehow both - including the listed late fee for on-site registration - were less than what I paid on Sunday.  +1 for organization.)  I had trouble getting my number to stay put on my helmet because of how humid it was, and I had to pin a number on the front and back on my jersey.  
This kept me pretty busy until we got the "20 minutes to go" call from the joker with the bullhorn.  I slid into the corral, already kind of worried about how tightly the cyclists were packed and how many wheels I had to dodge to not wipe out while pedal/one foot walking my bike.
I saw some NCVC "friends" up near the front and tried to get close to them to say hi but unfortunately it was too crowded.  I figured I would (HAHAHA) just catch up with them after we started.  

So the bullhorn guy talks for a while and finally we start to roll.  The first mile or so was really packed, and since this was a ride, not a race, there were a lot of recreational/new riders who maybe didn't know to look around before jerking their wheel across the road.  Now I understood why I should have tried harder to get up close to the front.  The first group of cyclists were off and a mile ahead while I was still dodging a little kid on a pink bicycle.  It started to thin out after about a mile, but leaving Crystal City involved going over a stretch of really awful, cracked, poorly paved, pothole-ridden road.  Then we climbed a tiny hill and had a tight hairpin turn using only one side of the road, so another huge slowdown.  And every time something like this happened, I was thinking, "I have to do this eight times."

After the hairpin turn there was a great whooshing downhill on some nicely paved road, then another tiny climb to another hairpin turn.  I heard some people complaining that these tight turns weren't here last year, and I was worried the course would be full of them, but those were actually the only two (SIXTEEN times).  There was some nice down and flat and up and around, and then I noticed we were looking WAY up at the Air Force Memorial....and climbing the hill up to it.  It really wasn't a bad climb - about 120 feet over maybe 1/2 a mile - but it was steep enough that I jumped into my small ring and slowed down to about 10-12mph to avoid pedal-mashing my way up and trashing my knees right away, since we were going to make that climb EIGHT times.  

After the climb we turn around in the loop in front of the memorial (where there was a photographer, who I started making idiot faces at after the first loop - I mean - EIGHT TIMES!!!) and got to fly back down the hill, which was nice.  A tiny uphill, some looping around, and we were dumped back into Crystal City via the horrible deathtrap road we hit on the way out.  

The first two laps were really crowded, although I did manage to hook onto the back of some decent pace lines, but it was almost too crowded to stick with a group.  There were a lot of crashes in this loop, from the idiot guy who tried to jump a curb to pass a group and toppled over into the grass to a woman who was lying very still on the road - someone said she hit a bad pothole and went over her handlebars.  Scary stuff.  So the crowds plus the turns and bad roads and ups and downs made it tough to grab on and stay with a pace line for more than a few miles, but I was having a great time.  My legs were pretty fresh for the 90 minutes or so.  And then the sun was fully up and there was almost no shade on the course and as it got hotter things started to go downhill (snort. get it?) a bit.  

There was a bottle grab right before we looped around the block to the start/finish line, although for some reason, I wasn't able to grab a bottle because they kept being handed to people in Air Force jerseys instead.  Odd.  At the end of my fifth lap, I stopped there and walked over and got bottles out of the crate to refill my bottles instead of trying for another grab, because I couldn't afford to do another lap in the heat without fluid.  I refill both of my bottles and put another one in my jersey.  That was the only stop I made.  I had packed a few packages of chomps and shot bloks, plus some Gu, plus a granola bar, a banana and a PB&J.  I had two large water bottles, starting out with ice water in one, nuun in the other.  My kilometers to miles conversion obviously sucks, so I planned to eat roughly every lap and drink on the easy flats.  I ate a package of shot bloks on the first lap, the banana on the second lap (thanks to the guy that rode by and made an obscene gesture, I hope you saw the one I shared with you!), the granola bar on the third lap, Gu on the fourth lap, and it gets kind of fuzzy after that.  I know I ate another pack of shot bloks and most of a package of chomps, and I know that I decided I couldn't manipulate a PB&J out of my jersey pocket and into my tummy without stopping.  

I don't really remember loop splits, but I do remember that when I started my sixth loop it was a bit after 10am, and I was beat.  I knew I was going to have to crank hard to get through 25K in 50 minutes, and by then it was over 90º so I was going through water fast.  After the fourth lap, the packs thinned out a lot because by then most of the 25K recreational cyclists and the fast 50K cyclists were done.  I did the front half of the sixth lap completely alone, and when I caught up to another woman on the climb to the Air Force Memorial, I forced her to talk to me just to have something to do other than squint against the glare on the road.  She had started at the Air Force Memorial but was a lap behind, and we were both pretty wiped.  We rode and chatted until the next time we hit the memorial and she called it a day.  From there, I hunkered down and rode it in hard.
66.38 miles, 3:39.  (Yeah, I don't think 100K = 66.38 miles either).

I rode under the finish line and immediately stopped.  There were a bunch of volunteers standing there pointing at a barrel to show you where to put your timing chip (helpful, thanks), but bending over to undo something at your ankle actually feels really amazing after being in the saddle that long.  When I asked for water, they told me that they were out - someone said that they ran out while the 50K riders were finishing.  HUGE problem.  They were also out of food, gatorade, etc.  I asked someone where to pick up my medal, and he pointed to a long line which turned out to be the 25K and 50K line, and then someone sent me over to another huge line because they had to individually verify that everyone had done 100K on the computer before giving them a medal (is this really necessary?  I don't know.) and I was tired and cranky and dehydrated and just wanted to get out of the sun and sit down.
There was a woman working the LaraBar table that heard me discover there was no food or water, and she gave me a triple-fistful of granola bars (thanks, LaraBar, I loved you already but wow!), and Chipotle was letting people come in and fill up their water bottles.  So I sat and ate and drank for a few minutes and then slowed rolled on home.  When I got home I took the time to stretch and foam roll and do my PT exercises before I shoved a giant baked potato down my throat and took a nap, which was hopefully part of the reason why I really wasn't sore later in the day, just a bit zapped from being in the sun and riding hard.  

This was a pretty decent ride - it was obviously very different from the touring rides I've done, where you roll at your own pace and stop every 20 miles to eat bread and drink coke.  I'm not sure that I'll do it again next year unless I bring my own posse along and have someone (the poet?) staff our own bottle grab.  Oh, and have water and food at the finish.  Oh, and maybe repave the shitty roads in Crystal City where people kept wiping out.  Okay, maybe I won't do it again next year.  But I got a good hard ride into my legs so that was pretty sweet.

Have you ever had a frustrating experience at a race?