Friday, September 30, 2011

the search is over

The shot you are looking for is at 2:00.  You're welcome.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

three things thursday

1. Well, I'm 9 days out from my A race, so what am I doing?  Why, I'm sitting in a physical therapist's office crying again, that's what.  My bruised foot has returned to normal but my cranky lat has exploded into a stiff neck crunchy shoulder back spasming mess.  I skipped last Friday's swim.  Saturday it was all pretty cranky but Sunday it actually started to feel better.  Monday morning I woke up and could move, so I went ahead with the swim on my schedule, although I kept the intensity very low throughout.  The rest of Monday, my lats and shoulders felt tired and sore - the way they usually do after a long swim - but nothing hurt.  Tuesday I saw my PT, and he moved lots of things around, and Tuesday night everything just exploded.  The original issue was that I had a rib out of alignment which was making my lat spasm, but now my ribs are all back where they belong and the spasm hasn't ended.  The pain is traveling up from my lat into my upper back and neck, and anything having to do with my neck just makes me nervous.  I'm taking my usual approach of throwing every resource I have at it, but I'm not happy.  I've cut down 2 swims and missed 2 swims at this point, and it looks like I'm going to miss most of the rest before race day.  The annoyance is that I could probably pull a race out on it - the pain isn't prohibitively bad - but the wait is killing me.  I have been swimming really well this cycle and I feel like I'm watching it all go out the window.  I essentially started my swimming "taper" 3 weeks before race day, and that's way too far out.  It's not a world-ending race-canceling kind of injury, and I'm trying really hard to focus on the big picture - at least I can bike and run - but I'm still pretty pissed that I can't even get through one training cycle without something catastrophic going wrong right before race day.  

2. The good news of the day is that I chose a bike last week, ordered it, and now it's here.  I'm hoping to get fit today, but the question of the hour is: do I ride it at Waterman's?  A few notes: on my roadie, I'm really comfortable and spend a lot of time in my drops, so I feel like there is less of a position-adjustment to deal with that usual.  I've got my last "long" ride this weekend, and about 4 other rides spaced out before race day.  I'm concerned that there may be a significant amount of neuromuscular relearning that needs to happen on a different bike that may affect the run, plus the last thing I need to do is crash because I'm not used to drunken aero steering yet.  However, the course is the opposite of technical - very few turns, lots of room, not a lot of climbing - and actually lends itself pretty well to a "first" aero race.  So, triathletes, boss me around.  What would you do?

3. We're now close enough to the race that I can start stalking to forecast.  Right now it looks pretty fine, and I have a lot of hope that this funky muggy humid weather will have blown through by then.  I can so clearly remember this day last year.  Last year on October 8th, I woke up, put on some bike clothes, and went out for my first ride post-knee-surgery.  It was a ridiculously gorgeous morning - sunny and breezy and cool, and I can so clearly remember how light-hearted I felt to be riding again.
Sometimes looking back is good.  A year ago, I was recovering from surgery.  I couldn't ride, I couldn't run, and I couldn't swim.  So I might be dealing with a cranky back right now, but next weekend, no matter what's going on, I will be rocking the hell out of every single one of those 70.3 miles.  That's what can happen in a year.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

wordless wednesday

I might never be fast, but I'm so happy to be able to run.
Or (possibly) to be able to punch someone in the face while running.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

on stretching and foam rolling

I used to be a devoted stretcher.  Before, sometimes during, and after all of my runs, I would stretch all my leg muscles.  When my IT band issues started popping up in 2002, I learned how to stretch those and added it to my rep.  In late 2006, a PT introduced me to a foam roller.  I pretty much only think something is working if it REALLY REALLY HURTS, so I happily bought one and rolled those suckers out daily.  I shook my little angry finger at people who told me they ran all the time without stretching.
Fast-forward to 2011.  I've now met quite a few doctors who have informed me that I'm hypermobile.  Hypermobility essentially means what it sounds like - my joints have a lot of motion around them.  No one PT actually suggested that I stop stretching so much, but one did tell me to maybe focus on foam rolling instead of stretching.  The difference, to me, is that with stretching, you are lengthening the muscles and with foam-rolling, you're just hunting for knots and using pressure to release them.

This coincided with an article I had recently read by my hunky orthopedic hero, Dr. P.  It's about a very interesting study done on runners concerning the pre-run stretch, but it essentially boils down to this.  There was no difference in injury between the group of runners that stretched before a run and the group that did not.  The only point from the article is that the runners that changed their habits - started or stopped stretching for the study - had a higher risk of injury.  
Now, of course, I should have read that article and taken away the point about changing my habits.  However, over the summer I actually ran very low mileage, after taking quite a bit of time off to deal with the pain in my ass.  I've never stretched when going out for a 2- or 3-mile run, so for most of the summer, I wasn't stretching, and didn't feel like I needed to.  As I've ramped up my mileage, I haven't returned to pre-running stretching.  I still spend quite a bit of time on the foam roller as needed, but I don't stretch very much.  At some point I discussed this with my PT, and he gave me the okay to continue to leave the stretching out.  My weekly mileage has been in the 20-30 range for the past two months, without stretching, and I feel great.  My shin pain is completely gone, and actually went away once I stopped stretching my calves all the time.  Coincidence? 
So, of course I'm curious.  Do you stretch before running?  Do you just foam roll?  Are you not-so-secretly in love with your orthopedist too? 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Waterman's Half: course preview

I decided last week to do Waterman's Half instead of Poconos 70.3, and with that, planned to go down over the weekend and check out the course.  Fortunately, Lauren had already done a course recon, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.  

I headed down early Sunday morning.  The state park is about 50 minutes from my house, and I pulled up to the gate only to realize that I had left my wallet sitting on the dresser.  Fortunately, the poet was willing to drive my way with it (my hero!), so after an hour of banging my head on the steering wheel and cursing my poor packing skills, I was back at the front gate with my $3 to head in.  I unpacked and headed out...only to get 15 feet out of the parking lot and realize I had forgotten to put on any ride glide (a mistake I make fairly often).  I looped back, threw a handful of goo in my shorts, and finally - FINALLY - headed out.

The first stretch of the course is on the side of a small highway.  Traffic was sparse, but the cars that went by were flying, and it made me a little nervous.  After a few miles, the shoulder widened out.  The rest of the course was pretty quiet.  My cue sheet was easy to follow, the roads were (mostly) clearly marked, and there weren't a lot of turns to worry about anyway.  I spent the first 2:30 in zone 2, so I had a lot of time to fool look around.
The course labels itself as "rolling," and I think that's a decent description.  Lots of little rollers and some unfortunate false flat, but I only spent a few minutes grinding at 8mph in my lowest gear.  However, I've spent most of my summer working on my climbing skills in anticipation of Poconos (and CdA to follow).  Most of my long rides have been on really hilly terrain.  This means I'll spend 45 minutes grinding up an 13% incline, but then I'll get to easy spin down the back side and recover.  A course like Waterman's is different.  Small rollers and flats mean that your legs are constantly pushing, with very little recovery time.  It's hard in a different way, and it scares me quite a bit to feel unprepared for that kind of riding.  Some will say that it's "easier" riding than a very hilly course, but I disagree.  I also discovered that it's more difficult to keep my HR in the zone I want with lots of small rollers, while at Skyline it's actually pretty easy - downshift until you run out of gears, spin until you're in the right zone, and then just continue onwards until you get to the top.  I spent a lot of time yesterday shifting through (note to self: get a tune-up before the race), trying to find the right gear for my HR.  
I needed to do a 4-hour ride, so I planned to ride a lap of the course and then out-and-back the first 10-15 miles as needed.  However, I made a wrong turn about 45 miles into the ride and didn't realize it until my next labeled turn (almost 5 miles later) didn't show up.  I stopped to pee in a bush check the cue sheet, and then google maps, and shook my little fist when I realized what I had done.  Sighs all around.
However, the wrong turn meant I ended up back at the car about 5 minutes shy of 4 hours.  It started to rain pretty hard during the last 20 minutes I was riding so I figured I would skip doing 48 laps of the parking lot to get to 4 hours and just head out on the run.  As I was changing my shoes, the rain stopped, which meant I got to do my transition run in heavy, wet, steaming, muggy air.  Up a hill that felt like the side of the mountain I'm used to running up after my Skyline ride.  There isn't a map of the run course on the Waterman's Half, and I haven't done the research to track down what it is.  Bad Katie, no soup for you.  However, a T run is pretty easy - just run in one direction until I'm slightly more than halfway done, then run back.  Yesterday, this meant some pretty serious hills.
Don't give me any crap, that's tough on the run.  This was hard, and it hurt, and my little fist-shaped heart was trying to explode most of the time, and I was real pumped when it was over.
I also used yesterday as race-day practice in quite a few ways.  I bought a SOAS racing kit last week, and while I somehow managed to buy the wrong size in the top AND the bottoms (too big, too small), it works pretty well.  I rode it on Thursday for my short brick (and then to lift), and I'm kind of in love with it.  The face of CONCENTRATION:
Yesterday was the first time I've done a long ride with it, and it's the least amount of material that's ever been between my hooter and my bike seat since I started riding, and I was really surprised to not even notice.  I also switched out my nutrition yesterday, and while I under-calculated a bit and ran out at the 3:20 mark, this is the first long brick I've done since I switched to liquid-only nutrition where I haven't spent the rest of the day with a really cranky tummy (Everybody out!  No, not the way you came in, the other way!).  I had my pre-race meal an hour before I got on the bike, and when my wallet-forgetting put a crinkle in the timing of that, I just dug some old crusty chomps out of my bag and ate those while unpacking.  I think that also might have been why I ran out of nutrition on the bike, because of the time.  Still, a huge win, and a huge race-day relief, as I spent quite a bit of time on the run at Kinetic setting my bike nutrition free.  

How was your weekend?  Were you surprised by a comfortable crotch like I was?

Friday, September 23, 2011

random friday facts

1. I think I would have really enjoyed being a doctor because of the triage.

2. I really like Sudoku.  I do not like crossword puzzles.

3. One of my favorite things to do is read in bed with something crunchy to eat.

4. Whenever I decide to make a big purchase, I have a last-minute freak-out about spending the money.  

5. I'm having a hard time focusing on anything except how crackly and angry my back feels today.

6. I bake a lot of things, but don't eat very much of what I bake.  That's the poet's job.

7. When I was an undergrad, I started out doing technical support on the Mac side and was incredibly bored.  We got 1-2 calls per day, if any, and fought over them.  I switched to supporting the PC side and was never bored again.

8. I started wearing glasses when I was 5.  My eye doctor switched me to contacts in the third grade because of how quickly my eyesight was disintegrating.

9. I've been working from home for over 2 years now and I still really, really love it.  I feel like I get so much more work done than I ever did in an office.

10. Having the hiccups makes me absolutely lose my mind.

11. I find people's passwords really fascinating.  It's a good look at what's really important.

12. I just made beer bread.

13. I didn't start watching Grey's Anatomy until season 4 and now I'm obsessed.

14. I wish I liked more vegetables.  I'm working on it.

15. I read somewhere yesterday that DC has only had 2 days of sunshine this month.  I hope October turns that around.

16. Whenever I see a random runner, I always look at their gait.

17. I don't think I've ever had macaroni and cheese from a box.

Happy Friday, everyone!  Let me know if you RFF'd today!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

three things thursday

1. All right, so even running a half marathon as a training run is a pretty rude thing to do to your body.  Mine has been pretty cranky this week.  During my swim on Monday, my back tightened up quite a bit on one side and later in the day kind of went bizonkers.  I saw my PT on Tuesday and he made it feel about 100% better, but then I had a swim on my schedule for Wednesday, which I had to shut down about 1/3 of the way through because everything locked up and got tight again.  I spent most of yesterday rotating on and off the heating pad and it's better again today, but my Friday swim might get the hand tomorrow.

The other very scary repercussion of the half is my bruised foot.  When I saw my PT, he did the "does it hurt when I do this?  push here?  here?" test and said that he was pretty sure it wasn't a stress fracture, just a bone bruise, but of course logic took a major hit yesterday and I spent the day convincing myself that my foot bones had all collapsed and I wouldn't be able to do anything for 8 weeks and so on.  However, I'm pretty sure it doesn't hurt in the stress fracture place.  It hurts here:
And that's behind where all the metatarsals tend to break.  I had a Chinese-whisper conversation through this girl last night and I think we all agree that my cuboid bone is just a bit stiff and bruised.  Something was mentioned about whipping and throwing it but I had a hard time following it, so I'm just going to stay off of it as much as I can, except to run 3+ miles off the bike this morning, which felt fine.  A little sore when I was done, but nothing that could be described as "popping," "stabbing," "sharp," or "crunching."  

2. I'm getting very close to a bike decision, mostly due to the incredible kindness of lots of complete strangers who are helping me out in a variety of ways.  I'm going out to Bonzai for one last test ride tonight, but I'm pretty confident that I've already decided what I'll be bringing home with me.  Well, ordering to bring home with me in a few weeks.  

3. I got a ton of responses to my post last week about Poconos, and I really appreciated it.  It solidified what I already thought in my mind - that I shouldn't be doing that race.  It looks like I'm not going to get my race registration refunded, which basically sucks.  I think it's pretty important for me mentally to have a really well-executed 70.3 race this fall, and I feel as though Poconos is not going to be set up very well for that to occur.  I am pretty disappointed in the way things have turned out, especially in the single response I received, but I've decided that it's more important to move forward and find a place where I can have a great race.  After lots of research and discussion, it looks like I'll be racing a 70.3 which coincidentally falls on my birthday: Waterman's Half at General Smallwood State Park in Maryland.  It doesn't have nearly the same amount of climbing on the bike course as what I've been preparing for, but all other factors should be about equal.  I'll be heading down there this weekend to ride and run some of the course.  

Lots of big decisions going on over here.  Happy Thursday, all!  Where are you running, riding, or racing this weekend?  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

the bike quest

(Super duper boring yammering about bikes.  Runners, you've been warned).

After I signed up for CdA, I made a giant list of all the things I would need, but I knew that the single biggest purchase would be a triathlon/TT bike.  I have a sweet road bike and I absolutely love it, but after lots of thinking and researching, I decided to start saving my pennies for a TT bike.  I don't think everyone has to have a TT bike to complete an Ironman, it's just what I decided is right for me.  So I started looking at bikes.  We're at the end of the triathlon season right now, which makes it a weird time to look for a bike.  Most 2011 models are sold out, and there aren't a lot of 2012 models showing up in stores yet.  I started by stalking everyone who went to dealer camp and saw the previews of what was coming in 2012.  Spoiler: lots of REAL shiny bikes.  I wanted to bring them all home with me and snuggle them under my pillow.

I headed out to Bonzai - the first of many, many trips to test ride - and was able to test out a Felt B16 and a Lightspeed.  I was not a fan of the Lightspeed but I did enjoy the B16.  After that trip, I started looking at the 2012 Felt's, and quickly learned that they had redesigned their line for 2012.  I fell in love with the DA4, and then fell right back out of love with it after a conversation with my coach.  A 2011 B10 or B12 fit what I was looking for pretty well, but with the line redesign, neither of those bikes are available/the same in 2012, and no one ANYWHERE had a 2011 version in my size.

A month or so went by and I kept putting pennies in the piggy bank.  I decided to try and track down a Cervelo P3 - arguably the most popular TT bike sold - for a test ride.  I was secretly hoping to fall in love with it, as that would make my Felt conundrum much easier.  But after a test ride, I was sad and surprised to not like it at all.  I couldn't really put my finger on why, I just wasn't a big fan.  Gratuitous ass shot pretending to be a picture of me trying the bike:
Actual shot of me trying the bike:
Side note - in ALL of these pictures, my fit & angles look like hell, and I'm aware of that.  The only thing we adjusted for the test ride was the seat height.  

After trying the P3, I did a lot of thinking.  I decided that I would order a 2012 B12, because I liked how the B series rode in 2011 and I was tired of dickering about bikes.  I headed back over to Bonzai to drive Darrin insane do one last test ride and put in the order.  I thought it would be smart to have tried everything, so then I could say without a doubt that I had chosen the bike that was best for me (this is called foreshadowing).

When I got to Bonzai, I pulled out the (one size too big) B10 to ride again and asked if there was a Quintana Roo CD.01 that I could try.  I've been a bit prejudiced against QR, because I have a few friends who ride them who have had a REALLY difficult time getting a good fit on the bike, and it spooked me.  Similarly, I have a few friends on Felts who adore them.  The only CD.01 Bonzai had (also a size too big) was this one:
I KNOW.  I have some good friends who are stellar triathletes who love rocking the pink, but I don't think I can pull it off.  Also, yes, they put commuter pedals on it for me to try, I have no idea why but it was VERY strange.  So I took it out for a test ride.
I was a little shocked.  It kind of felt awesome.  But then I tried the B10 again (more ass shots):
And that kind of felt awesome as well.  So now I'm really in a pickle, because these are both great bikes, but I know nothing about the QR bike because I hadn't been stalking info about it like I had with the Felt (although I've been reading my brains out the past 2 days).  Plus, that Felt B10 is dead sexy.  Slap some race wheels on there and I'm drooling, but no one can find it anywhere.  The 2012 B12 is sorta kinda close enough, and the 2012 CD.01 is nearly identical to the 2011, but I'm just so hesitant.  And when I sit down and compare the B12 and CD.01, neither on paper is a "better" bike, they are just different.  So.  Anyone out there ride any of these bikes and have a free opinion for me?  I love free opinions, please stick your fingers in my pie.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Philadephia Half Marathon: race report

When I signed up for this race back in..............April?, I had hoped that it would be my next shot at the sub-1:50 I was gunning for at the National Half (in case you're new here, debilitating back injury 2 weeks out, very very cranky about it).  But then it took me much longer to get my butt straightened out than I had hoped, and that plus a few other minor twinges had me deciding in late July that this would simply be a training run for the 70.3 that came two weeks later.  When I started working with a coach, he laid waste to my race schedule, but (very reluctantly) allowed me to keep this race, with the provision that I run it exactly as he laid out - i.e. a very slow training run.  Early last week, I got an extremely detailed race plan for the race, but it essentially boiled down to walking 30 seconds at every mile marker.  I had to hold it way back until mile 6, and then I was allowed to slightly increase my effort until mile 10, where, if I was feeling VERY strong, I was allowed to increase my effort again.  I wasn't given HR zones to follow, but to me that said: Z2/low Z3, Z3/low Z4, Z4 up to my LT (lactate threshold).  I'm not sure I understand all of this HR business yet, but I would guess that if I wanted to PR the crap out of my half marathon, I'd spend most of my time in Z4 and up.  Just a guess.

Amy and I drove up Saturday afternoon.  We headed to the expo for packet pickup and happened to bump into Kara, who begged us to take a photo with her.  All right, Kara, since you asked.
I do not have the ability to screen anything that comes out of my mouth, especially when around uber-girl-crushes, and I'm pretty sure that I told her that she should make a scary face because she was probably tired of smiling.  Sigh.  We wandered around the expo for a bit and then headed to dinner with CAR, which was both fabulous and over really early so we could bust it out to the suburbs to get to bed.  Despite taking the long way home, we were at my parent's house and tucked up in bed by 9pm.  

Race morning was pleasantly not a 4am wake-up call.  We woke and dressed and ate and got on the road before 6:30am.  There was a tiny bit of traffic and trouble finding an open parking garage, and I turned into a slight stressball, but we ended up at the start line with plenty of time to spare - I even managed to squeeze in another porta-potty stop.  The corrals were packed, so I just waited on the outside of the fence while the first few took off.  And then we were on our way.

I had been debating all morning about whether or not to carry music, and I ended up stuffing my shuffle in my pocket when we left the car.  While we were waiting for the corrals to clear, I turned it on to listen to Al Pacino's speech from "Any Given Sunday."  I listened to this when I was crossing the start line at the National Half back in the spring, and it was exactly what I needed that morning.  Listening to it Sunday morning made me realize how far I've come from then.  I've managed to get up and over the top of this ridiculous cycle of injury, and while I'm not 100% healed yet, this may be the healthiest I've ever stepped up to a starting line of a race in my life.  And when I crossed that start line yesterday, I was listening to Al say, "the inches we need are everywhere" and you know what, Al?  I didn't need inches yesterday, I didn't need to claw with my fingernails for that inch.  I had everything I need, and knowing that put a huge smile on my face, one stayed on my face for over 2 hours of running.
I had set up my Garmin to show time of day (so I could see the seconds clicking by for the 30-second walk breaks) and my HR zone and that was it.  I didn't want to see splits, I didn't want to see elapsed time, I didn't want to do anything except watch my HR.  This wasn't a race, it was a training run, and it didn't matter what time I finished.  I started out very easy, and most of my corral left me pretty quickly.  I had set my watch to auto-lap, so when it buzzed for the first time, I reached down and cleared the split without looking at it and started to walk.  When 30 seconds had passed, I started to run again, and this is what I did for the rest of the race.  I didn't have a good grip on how far behind gun time I was when I crossed the starting line, and I deliberately ignored all of the race clocks on the course (except for the 10M clock, which I caught by accident).  Run, buzz, click, walk, run.  That was my race.  I took a look at my HR every once in a while to make sure that I was staying in the correct zone, and I made sure to NOT look at the time of day because I didn't want to start calculating.  When I got to the 5K mat, I knew that my crossing would send a split back to the poet, who was tracking me at home (along with the tracking pro, Elizabeth!). I didn't have any idea what the split was, but I tried to send a message along with the split to the poet, "I FEEL AMAZING!"  I threw a little dance party right there in the street, because I was so happy to be running and to be feeling so good.  And then I glanced down and saw that my HR was in high Z4, so I quit that shit and went back to running easy.
A few times after the 5K mat, I looked down and realized I was taking it a bit too easy, which is an awesome thing to see in a training run.  I ended up with two walk breaks in mile 5 - my slowest split of the day - one scheduled and one through the water stop, where I accidentally grabbed Cytomax and had to spit it out and find water instead.  When I got to the mile 6 marker, I couldn't believe that I was already there.  I decided that I was indeed feeling strong and upped the effort just a tad.  My HR had been in high Z2 for most of the first hour, with a little bit of low Z3.  I decided I would ride in high Z3 for a while and see how I felt.

These miles head out along the river, and I was able to look across the river and see red-shirted people flying back down the other side, and I was hoping that they were my CAR friends crushing PRs left and right (spoiler: over 20 PRs set yesterday!).  Especially this girl, who took her PR out back and shot it in the head:
Before I knew it, I was on the bridge crossing the river myself.  I didn't even feel tired yet, at all, and while my HR was starting to creep into low Z4, I felt like I was holding form and effort very consistently.  I did happen to see the race clock at mile 10, and it was about 5 minutes faster than my (admittedly very old and extremely horrible) 10M PR.  But I had no idea what I was really doing because I didn't know how far back I was from the clock.  Per instructions, I started to increase my effort level again.  I decided I would try and hold right underneath my LT until I got to the mile 12 mark, and then I could zip in if I had any gas left.  The race route was very cool and well-shaded until right about mile 11.5, and then we baked in the direct sunlight for the rest of the race.  My mom came out to cheer me on, which I loved - this is only the second time she's come to a race and I was so happy to have her there!  I love having someone to look for in the later miles - it makes the race go so much faster. She took some awesome photos, and she snapped this engaged-glute prize-winning gait shot right before I hit the 12M mark:
LOOK AT THAT SWEET SWEET ASS.  12 miles in and I'm still rocking some pretty brilliant form and a very Liz-esque race smile.  I was still thrilled to pieces with how good I felt, how far I had run, and how well my HR was behaving.  When I saw the 13M mark took off for the finish (up a giant hill, RUDE).
And that's basically how my longest training run of this cycle went down.  From the 1-mile mark onwards, I took a 30-second walk break every time the watch beeped.  In miles 5, 9, and 11 I took an extra walk break to grab some water (I grabbed water at all the stations, but those are the times I had to slow to navigate the water stations).  When I was working through these splits on my watch post-race, I was pretty pleased, but when I came home and started working through the detailed data, I realized how strong of a run this was.  If I subtract the walk breaks, I was running in the mid-9s for the first hour.  The next hour brought mid-to-low-8s, dropping steadily, and the last .9 of the race, minus the quick walk break, I was running around a 7:44 pace.  (Obviously this is all Garmin-based unicorn math so it's just an approximation of pace).  
And in all of this, I only spent 12 minutes over my lactate threshold.  I'll freaking take it.  I'm so happy.  Both about how well I executed this and how well the rest of my team did.
Once I found everyone and heard about all the sweet PRs set, it was time to rob the finish line before getting in the car to head home.
When I finally arrived home, the puppies immediately started assisting with recovery.
And today?  Today I feel like a million bucks.  I'm slightly more tired than I was after last weekend (1:45 run, 4:00 ride plus :40 T run) but not wiped out.  The outside of my right foot feels a bit bruised after beating it on the pavement for 2+ hours, and my swim this morning was decidedly creaky, but that's the extent of the carnage.  I ran a tough training run after no taper to wrap up two solid weeks of peak training, and I can't stop wittering about how I feel about racing a 70.3 in a few weeks.  I'm itchy and twitchy and can't WAIT to see what happens when I actually taper and then can really let those race demons loose.  Yeah.  You'd better run.

Friday, September 16, 2011

random friday facts: autumn edition

1. I do not like pumpkin.  Although I had pumpkin ravioli once that was excellent.

2. Halloween costumes that I remember from being a kid: a witch, a clown, Frankenstein.

3. My toes got cold on my ride yesterday.  It's shoe-cover weather!

4. The fall-themed scented candles are some of my favorites.

5. I've been drinking porter all summer, but now some of the great ones are starting to dribble into the beer cave.  Hello, pumpkin porter, my lover, won't you come and lay down by my side?

6. This time last year I had a total meltdown and scheduled surgery.  A year later, I'm about to run a half marathon, my favorite distance, in my city, in perfect weather.  I'm not racing it and I don't care.  I feel blessed to have the strength and ability to cover the distance.

7. The red delicious apples used to be my favorite, but the honey crisp apples are making a strong play.

8. I really want to take the puppies hiking somewhere.

9. I love having windows open during the day, but I could never sleep with them open.

10. I don't like wearing hats.  I run all winter in an ear warmer instead of a hat.

11. I really hate it when a loud noise scares the crap out of me. 

12. Most of my favorite things about fall have to do with food.

13. Football is hands-down my favorite sport to watch.

14. When I woke up this morning, for the first time in months, the house was colder than the "set" temperature.

15. Decaf Earl Gray is my autumn morning hot tea of choice.

16. People are talking about gloves and arm-warmers and capris for the race this weekend.  Are you crazy?  I'd run naked if they would let me, just for the chance to feel cold again while running.

17. I like the idea of apple cider better than the taste.

I'll add RFF links as I get them throughout the day...drop me a line if I missed you!
Fat Biscuit
The Run Around
Twice as Hard
Dash's Bites
Welcome to Boston

Thursday, September 15, 2011

three things thursday

1. Yes, yes, the very exciting news was that we removed the puppy gates.  We have crate-trained both of our dogs, so most of the time while we are not here, Molly is crated, but when we're home, they are now allowed to go everywhere!  Terrifying.

2. I keep forgetting that I'm running the Philadelphia Half Marathon this weekend.  It is the lone survivor of my race schedule massacre, and I'm really looking forward to it.  That said, I'm using it as a training run so I'm not setting a time goal.  I'll be practicing the walk/run schedule I plan to use at Poconos to stay out of the death marching pain cave.  I'm not expecting to PR because I have to keep it on the easy side, but I'm also not counting it out completely.  Most of CAR is heading up to run this race as well, and I'm excited to spend some time with my teammates, especially cheering for them as they fade away into the distance.  Hopefully they will hang around for an hour or so at the finish line to wave as I chug in.

3. That said, I've been fretting over Poconos for the past few weeks.  There has been a lot of negative chatter all summer about this race.  Until June, there was no official bike course.  Once the bike course was posted, several local cyclists went out to ride the course and were surprised to discover that the vast majority of the course was on roads that needed repair to the point of being dangerous to ride.  One road in particular is not even paved, but is instead a gravel road that requires walking your bike.  The race organizers have been quiet except to pipe up every once in a while and promise that the roads will be re-paved by race day, but we're now two weeks out and updates from riders that were on the course last weekend report that the roads continue to be very unsafe.  I've been trying to ignore all of this chatter and have faith that it would all be done by race day, but every day that goes by provides more unsatisfactory reports of the course.  On top of all that, with all the rain that the area has had over the past two weeks, the swim course is currently closed due to extremely high water levels, high speed of the water, and debris in the river.  According to pictures posted from last weekend, the dock and parking lot are completely under water.  And several other roads on the bike course have been damaged and are currently closed from the recent hurricanes/tropical storms.
I emailed the race director late last week, and again yesterday to ask about contingency plans based on the current conditions of the swim and bike course, and have currently received no response.  The reason I chose this race was because it's fairly close to my parents, and I had planned on spending several weekends up there riding and running the course. I don't always have the chance to train on the course I am planning on racing, but in this case I did - or I should have.  I'm pretty disappointed to have missed that opportunity due to poor planning on the race organizers - this is the first year for this event, and I know the area well enough to know that there are a lot of options as far as bike course is concerned, and to choose a course that needs this much repair in such a short amount of time, I think, was foolish.  But now I'm more concerned about safety on race day.  I've been training my ass off the past two months, and if the swim is canceled and/or the bike course is re-routed into a 4-mile loop that we ride 14 times, I'm going to feel like it's all gone to waste.  And if I spend the entire bike course clamped down on my brakes because of the unsafe conditions of the road, I'm definitely going to be pretty pissed that I spent all the time out at Skyline for nothing.  I don't blame the race organizers for what the weather has done to the course, but I'm disappointed to have received no response to my inquiry.  

My coach has already picked out a back-up 70.3 in case portions of or the entire race is canceled on race day, but having that un-certainity in my training plan is making me nuts.  So these are my questions.  Do I still do the race?  Do I pull out now and just eat the registration ($225 is worth keeping my collarbones intact)?  Do I bag it on race day if they cancel the swim and do my backup race the next weekend?  What would you do?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

wordless wednesday

Very exciting news in our house this week.  Can you guess?
Here's another hint.
It has to do with this girl....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

two puppy tuesday

This edition: when they were small.  (Side note: I know it's been all ass and puppy around here lately.  Someone invite me to do something interesting so I have other shit to talk about.)

Graham came home at the incredibly young age of 7 weeks.
The first thing he did when we brought him home was pee on the Christmas tree skirt.  His bladder wasn't done forming, so we had to take him outside every 5 minutes.  
I had made a big list of names before we picked him up, and none were right.  When we were driving home with him, I said, "oh, you smell just like a box of graham crackers!" and the poet said, "Graham?"
About a week after we brought him home, a huge blizzard hit DC.  He was not a fan.
My parents lost our dog the day before Christmas, so we brought Graham up to try and make them feel a bit better over Christmas.
He was a good helper.

Another snow storm hit DC, but this time he was ready for it.
He tried as hard as he could to find out where the grass went.
When we brought Molly home, she was 14 weeks old, so we thought she'd be a little easier to train.
We were wrong.
But still, Graham was pretty cute when he was small.
At least we lucked out with one?

Monday, September 12, 2011

progress is

A few weeks ago, I did my long run as a few laps of a local 5K course that the poet and a good friend were running.  Before you flame me for banditing, I attempted to complete my laps before the race began (and was registered anyway, although I let the poet run with my chip).  I didn't quite make it, and the photographer grabbed some pictures of me.  I ate my breakfast several hours before running (mistake) and didn't carry any fuel with me (mistake), so I look pretty miserable.  However, I had no idea these photos were being taken, and I was at least an hour into a long, slow run.  Perfect for analysis.

First, the bad stuff.  One of these photos revealed a heel-strike.  
It's still not as bad as it used to be, but I had thought it was gone.  My knee is slightly bent, which is okay, but my foot is also crossing the midline just a bit.  The next click of that stride looks like this:
Ouch.  Knees aren't quite knocking, but that's the magical hip collapse.  I have no idea what I was looking at.  And another step...
I think what's going on is I wasn't springing off the ground, which is why my left leg looks so stagnant, and that's definitely a post-pronation step.  However, I wasn't a heel-striking mess the entire day.  Here's just a moment later.
That's a midfoot plant, baby!  I shouldn't be looking at the ground, because that makes me hunch over, but from the belly button down, this looks hot.  My back leg is twisted just a bit, which I think is in part due to my still-tight right adductor.

More good stuff:
My feet are probably still landing a bit too close together, side-to-side, but I don't think they are crossing the midline here.  My landing knee is bent and my hip isn't collapsing forward, which is a great sign of functioning glutes (even if they are lazy and only working intermittently).  I'm not hunching forward and my shoulders are down and back, which means I'm doing what I can to send my hips forward so my glutes can activate.  My dorsiflexion is perfect.  And the best one yet?
This might just be the best shot I've ever seen of myself running.  Not because I look dead sexy (although I do), but because I look like an actual runner, not some Frankenstein-hunchback sleeping-glutes mess.  I'm not bent at the waist, my leg is forward and my knee is slightly bent, I'm about to land on my mid-foot, and my left arm is exactly right.  My right arm should not be crossing in front of me and I shouldn't be looking at the stupid ground, but I'm still calling this a huge success.  And it wasn't just a singular moment in time.  Here I am, fuzzy in someone else's picture, but about to land perfectly on the ground.
So, still quite a bit of work to do to make this show up all the time, but some serious progress.  

But the best part of the whole day was a LOT better than more analysis of my ass.  It was when my friend crossed the finish line of her first 5K.  She's only been running for a few months, and she had a fantastic day on the course.
Like the poet says: what is the theme of your life?  Mine: you have no idea what you can do.