Friday, December 30, 2011

a year in races

And it has been one hell of a year.
I kicked off the year by running a 5K with my husband of almost 12 hours.  We ran it easy with a friend and a little kid singing the Super Mario Bros theme song.
I didn't race again until I was pretty deep in half marathon training, when I was lucky enough to have Amy pace me to a 5K PR that still stands: 24:15.  I was pretty cranky about this race, but not as cranky as I'd be a month later when my back spasmed and left me in bed for almost two weeks.  I showed up at the starting line at the National Half, and ended up having a day that looked nothing like what I hoped it would be.  I'm still proud of what I did that day.
After that, I focused on healing for a while until I accidentally ran the 5K in Boston with my girls, then another 5K with another recovering-from-injury friend.  It's easy to see why I hope to not run this distance in 2012.  My next big race of the year came mid-May, when I crossed the finish line of my first 70.3 with a cycling PR that still stands at just above 3 hours.  
I ran yet another 5K the following weekend which remains the worst-executed race of my life but snagged me an AG place just before we took off on our honeymoon.
I completely despise running in the heat, but I tried to fool myself into racing a bit throughout the summer: tying my still-crappy 10K PR, attempting to PR the 4-miler on one of the hottest nights of the summer, and running a 5K on another hot night after a long brick with my IM-in-training best cycling pal.  I finally wised up and did some cycling events, including 100 miles to nowhere, the AF Cycling Classic (one of the worst organized events I've ever done), and a double metric century ride with that same IM bud.  

After signing up for IMCDA in July, I started looking for a coach and decided to start working with him in August.  He immediately laid waste to my entire schedule for the next several months, begrudgingly allowing me to still participate in the Philadelphia Half Marathon in late September as an easy training run.  I'm so glad that he did, because while I didn't even come close to my PR, I had absolutely the greatest day and spent the whole race with a huge smile on my face.  There are some things that are better than PRs.
Next up was my fall 70.3 which was an almost-unbelieveable disaster.  I crashed my bike and then fell apart mentally on the run, bringing in quite possibly my slowest 13.1 time of the year (no, I still haven't looked), but coming away with a 2+ minute PR on a rough and tangly swim.  
I followed the race a week later with my first shot at the 8K distance after a day of wine-tasting, my biggest accomplishment of the day being that I was able to stroller-check some guy and I made it over the finish line before I threw up.
I managed to squeeze in one last cycling event before buckling down and focusing on getting sick 6 days out from my fall half marathon.  I pushed my race back a weekend and my goal downwards by 10 minutes, which left me with a PR for the year and an experience I've never had before in all my years of racing - going out way too fast and blowing up.  I didn't run a step until almost a week later, when I managed to PR the 5 miler distance on an extremely rude hilly course.  
The beginning of December brought the mafia back down to take home the win at the Key West triathlon for the second year in the row.  
I started to settle into easy, HR-based running, but my coach decided to let me race my brains out one last time and I did, coming within 20 seconds of my 10K PR on a windy and boring course to wrap up racing for the year.
Tomorrow night I'll run a 4 miler with my girls, but it'll be easy and chatty and at least one of us will be carrying a "special celebration" water bottle.  And then Sunday starts my "less but more serious plus none of those stupid 5Ks" plan for 2012.  
What did your year of racing look like?  What are your big races for 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

a year in photos

I enjoyed this post so much last year when I stole it from Liz that I've decided to do it again.

It happened a few minutes before January, but it was the big event of the month.

New bicycle comes home.

I break my back into a billion pieces.

I break in my new spring crotch bike seat with 30 days of cycling.

Cross a finish line.
And then relax in Jamaica.

Puppies go swimming.

I climb a LOT of hills.

My form actually starts to improve.

I have the best - but not fastest - race of my life.


My girls come to visit.

The poet runs his first full while I blow up the half.

We decide to make our family even larger.

So long, 2011, you were pretty fabulous...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the food log results

Happy Holidays, my blog friends!  I took a few days off from the land of the internet to spend 24 hours in the car time with family and it was quite nice to have a little break.  

I successfully made it to the end of the food log challenge - i.e. I logged every single thing I ate and sent it off to my coach.  But now it's time for the real fun - analysis.  Lots of items of note: I'm not concerned about overall calorie intake against burn for the day.  My weight fluctuated in a 3lb range throughout the time I logged my food, which I believe is perfectly normal.  There were some days when I ate a little too much against what I burned, and there were some days where I didn't do a great job replacing the burn, but over 10 days, it all evened out.  I thought about including my exercise for the day in the log, but since I'm not trying to manage calorie burn or lose weight, I decided not to.  This is more about figuring out what's missing and how I can eat cleaner, which is where you guys and your helpful medical degrees slash internet knowledge come in.  Some other things to note: Everything on the log was cooked in my kitchen with the exception of the burrito, the taco salad, the Wegman's pit stop, the 4 chicken wings and dinner on 12/18.  I was traveling the last three days of the log, so things got a little weird there, but I still managed to mostly avoid restaurant/fast food (although the vegetables became a bit more scarce), which is consistent with my normal eating habits.  I do about 90% of my exercise in the morning, so that's the reason for the double breakfast (usually a protein bar pre-workout and then a protein smoothie post-workout).  I don't sit around and eat Gu for fun, so you can assume those were in longer workouts.  And I think that's about it.  So please, if you're bored at work (and if you're working today, you probably are), take a look through and tell me what I'm missing and what I'm overloaded on.  Otherwise, just enjoy being horrified by my eating habits the week before Christmas and move right along.  

Tuesday 12/13
Flintstones vitamin
1 cherry Larabar
1 PB Gu on trainer
1 bottle of EfS (96 cals) on trainer
Half apple larabar I found in my car
Smoothie (frozen strawberries, yogurt, scoop of protein powder, banana)
1 cup of Cheerios
PB&J on wheat
Colby jack cheese snack stick thing
2 pieces of toffee while making dinner (130?)
Bowl of 3-bean chili, some shredded mozzarella & a few tortilla chips
Cup of hot tea w honey
Wednesday 12/14
Luna protein bar
The other half of that car Larabar
Granola, protein powder, yogurt
Chicken, eggplant, tomato, cucumber, feta in a pita
Honeycrisp apple w PB
1 serving of taco delicious - chicken, green & red peppers, onions, green chiles, salsa, cheese in a tortilla baked in a casserole dish. Some multigrain chips on the side.
A small mug of mint chocolate chip ice cream
Cup of hot tea
Thursday 12/15
Clif bar
Smoothie: 2 bananas, handful of frozen strawberries, yogurt, scoop of protein powder
Cup of tea
Flintstones vitamin
Leftover taco delicious
Honey crisp apple + PB
1 glass of wine!!
Bowl of pasta, red sauce, cheese
Cup of tea
Small mug of ice cream
Friday 12/16
Clif bar
Protein fruit yogurt smoothie
Cup of tea
2 pieces of toffee while potato cooked
Sweet potato w ketchup
A string cheese snack thing
Mint chocolate Gu on trainer
Holiday Party time!
A billion carrots & a few pita chips w cheese
A little scoop of mac & cheese casserole
more carrots and some celery
A bite of Thom's brownie
A teeny bit of ice cream
Saturday 12/17
Clif bar
Gu Roctane 10 mins before race
A gulp of hot chocolate before c/d
A giant cup of grapes
3 GF pancakes w blueberries and whipped cream
Burrito: black beans, corn, salsa, queso, steak
Apple w PB
1 Sierra Nevada porter
Some cinnamon pita chips
Cup of tea
Sunday 12/18
Clif bar
Swig of EFS liquid shot on trainer
Spoonful of PB
Some cinnamon pita chips
Wegman's pit stop: spring roll, sesame chicken, tiny bit of white rice
Sam Adams winter lager
half a spinach strawberry salad
2 pieces of bruschetta
Flintstones vitamin
Piece of toffee
Cup of tea
Monday 12/19
Clif bar
Cup of tea
1 cup of Cheerios
Cinnamon walnut bagel with honey almond spread
Cheese string stick thing
Sausage, chunky vegetable sauce, bowtie pasta
One tiny bite of a cupcake (coconut, ugh)
Some pita chips
Cup of tea
Tuesday 12/20
Luna protein bar
Bottle of EFS on trainer (96)
Gu on trainer
Protein smoothie
Cup of tea
Salami sandwich on whole grain
A couple of cinnamon pita chips
2 very old shot blocks
Honey crisp apple and PB
2 pieces of pizza w green peppers & a breadstick
Cup of tea
Wednesday 12/21
Luna protein bar
Yogurt/protein powder/granola/banana
Giant bowl of strawberries/blueberries
Clif bar
taco salad: lettuce dressing salsa corn steak cheese
3 small pieces of toffee (140)
Licked the beaters!
Baked potato
Some crumbs of a peppermint brownie
Thursday 12/22
Luna bar
Granola/yogurt/protein powder
Some honey wheat pretzels in the car
Luna protein bar
Peppermint brownie (2)
Cheese and a few cashews
Homemade pizza w butternut squash eggplant onions walnuts gorgonzola
Glass of wine
Piece of toffee
Another like ohhhh .3 glass of wine
Friday 12/23
Luna bar
Mint chocolate gu
Muscle milk light + banana
Turkey cheese lettuce tomato on wheat
Some chips
4 chicken wings
A billion baby carrots
Some jalapeƱo Mac & cheese
2 glasses of wine
Some pepperoni
Some of those peanut butter things
Oh god more wine
Saturday 12/24
Luna protein bar
2 pieces of Amy's pesto pizza
Split a small sugar cookie
Tons of green beans. Red roasted potatoes. Tiny bit of prime rib.
More green beans.
Bite of Thom's cheesecake

Friday, December 23, 2011

happy holidays!

We did a virtual Christmas card this year.  I can claim that I care about the environment and wanted to save money, but in reality I'm just way too freakin' lazy to deal with envelopes and addresses cards and all that garbage.  And yes, it is already out of date, but we've made a habit of scheduling huge life events at the end of the year so this will probably always be the case.
Happy Holidays, my blog friends!  May whatever holiday you celebrate be full of all things delicious, relaxing, and stress-free, and may you be spending less time in the car schlepping all over the eastern part of the country than we will be.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

three things thursday

1. It been at least 3 weeks since I've been outside on the bike, and I've actually only ridden my sick fast once.  I've spent the last three weeks doing everything on the trainer, but this morning's temps looked nice enough to manage outside, so I convinced Emily to join me for yet another sunrise ride.  The nice thing about being on the trainer for the past few weeks is that it's given my lower half a chance to acclimate to the crotch scenery.  The bad thing is that I have no idea how to steer.  I spent at least the first two loops staggering back and forth across the road.  Things got a little better the longer I rode, and by the last loop I had things under control enough to take a few pictures (the mark of excellent bike control), but there's no way I'd want to ride on an actual road like this for a while.  
I'm hoping that the weather stays mild in January (it could happen) so I can start to get some handling skills.  112 miles is a long time to be weaving around like a drunk.  However, it was amazing to be back outside on the bike, despite the fact that it was just cool and damp and windy enough to produce 843 buckets of snot.  
2. Yesterday I was walking down the stairs when I felt a weird twinge on the outside of my shin.  I ignored it (duh), but after running a few miles it was still twanging.  I massaged the crap out of it before I went to bed, but it's still bothering me today and it's making me cranky.  It's not on the bone, it's in the muscley part of the lower shin on the outside of the leg.  I feel it when I'm pushing off my foot to walk, as well.  Hrrrmph.  I'm kind of hoping that I just bumped into the coffee table and forgot about it, but I'll be icing and wearing the compression socks and scouring the internet for a while to see what kind of special tumor I could have.  Any ideas, Dr. Bloggers?

3. I've been in the pool a TON this month and I actually love it.  I've already surpassed the yardage I set for myself as my December goal and I've got 9 whole days left in the month.  I'll be ringing in the new year with several dozen of my closest swimming friends, as some raging psychopath has set up a workout for New Year's Eve that is 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5x2012 yards.  I'm hoping to be able to complete at least 3x or 4x, but if I'm feeling fine nearing the end of 4 I'm definitely going to go for the golden insanity ring of 5.  From someone who used to hold her nose and swim with one arm.  I'm going places, people, watch out.  I don't feel like I'm necessarily getting much faster in the pool right now, but it's becoming easier to swim at certain paces for longer distances (which actually might be the definition of getting faster, but whatever).  I'm pleased with the way my training is going right now and that, I think, is about all I have to say about that.

Happy Thursday, friends!  Please diagnose my leg, okay thanks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

wordless wednesday

I finally figured out why I kept slashing myself with my paddles.
Apparently Strokemaker makes two different sizes of "the green ones" and I ordered the giant-male-Olympian-complete-with-rippling-abs size, instead of the 5'6"-still-kind-of-new-at-swimming size.  Who knew size mattered so much?  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

three puppy tuesday

After we discovered Molly's sister was up for adoption, the poet and I had a lot of Very Serious Conversations about whether or not to bring her home.  2 puppies seems manageable, but 3 is on the verge of completely ridiculous.  The internet people all voted to bring her home, of course, but none of you guys are going to come and pick up her poop or fix the chair she chews up, so that went in with a grain of salt.  We decided that the best thing to do was go and meet her, and let our dogs meet her, and see if it was a good fit.

We all drove down one afternoon this weekend.  When we got there, we left the puppies in the car and went in to meet her ourselves first.  As soon as Sofie came out from the back, I think it was a pretty done deal.  
She was so sweet.  Her personality seems a bit more tempered than Molly, although who knows what will happen when they have time together to plot against us.  Her face looks just like Molly, but she's a little more stout where Molly is longer and leaner.  We brought our two inside after a few minutes to let them all hang out, and they seemed fine, although they were far more interested in the 34832 new smells that exist in a dog grooming location.
The poet and I did the secret eye look thing that married people do (there's a class on it) and decided that yes, it absolutely was the right thing to do to bring her home.  She's getting spayed this week and will stay down there until she has healed, but as of the beginning of January, we're a family of 5.
Molly was completely worn out.  Meeting new family members is an exhausting business.
So, yes, we are completely nuts, and yes, life here will be even more busy, but no, no one is surprised that we decided to bring her home.  Like I said last week, we're lucky.  We have the time and the energy and the space and the love to keep making our four-legged-family larger (although we probably don't have the space to add anymore after this one), and I hope to never take that for granted.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Caper 10K: race report

I signed up for this 10K a few weeks ago in my post-half-marathon frenzy.  It was only $8 and it was on Hains Point, a place simply guaranteed to be flat.  But then I took 2 weeks almost completely off and then I rededicated myself towards making my house really really fat and then I basically completely forgot about it until Emily reminded me early last week.  I kind of thought that my coach would pull it or have me run it easy, but according to her June is still pretty far away and I could have one last brain damaging race before settling in for the winter.  So, done.  I had an all-in-caps mandatory warm-up and cool-down to do, but other than that, no plan or strategy going in.  I sorta kinda thought that maybe I could PR, but I haven't done any speed work in weeks, so probably not, but my PR is from when I was coming back from injury, so maybe, but I was kind of tired, so maybe not.  Complete dedication to racing, that's me!

I committed to wear shorts and a long sleeve when I left the house by not bringing any other clothing with me (other than sweats).  It wasn't that cold out but it was WINDY.  I always forget that Hains Point is a peninsula surrounded by a giant vacuum and is never ever NOT windy.  So I did my warm-up, cutting it short when I heard the call to line up, but then realized that they were yelling for the 5K folks so I just hopped and shivered for a little while.
The 5K lined up and left, and then I stood around at the start line for a while with my friend Kayte, wondering where all the 10K people were, and then we noticed that the official 10K starting line was about 50 feet behind the flag.
I pretended like I was going to run a 32 minute 10K and stood here for a few minutes, but then dropped back before the race started.  It was nice to feel fast for just a little while.
Someone yelled "go" and we were off.  I've completely lost the ability to run by feel, so I had lap pace showing on my Garmin.  There was a 1K spray-painted on the road, and I looked down at that point to see 8:11 pace.  I slammed on the brakes, hard, but it felt so easy.  So nice!  So bouncy and I love running!  And then we went around the corner of the point and straight into headwind hell.  The 10K course was an out-and-back you did twice, so we were only running into the headwind for a few minutes before we turned around to head back to the start, but that included turning back around the point and back into over a mile of headwind hell.  And the extra fun thing about a 5K/10K loop is that all the 5K people got to crank up the gas and bullet into the finish and the 10K people had to turn around in the middle of the road and do it all over again.  The biggest of sighs.
I decided rather ambiguously somewhere in my first headwind that as long as I was running in the 8s, I'd be happy.  I hit the 5K mark at 26:26 and knew that a PR wasn't happening, so I stopped to help myself to a cup of water (shut up, I know I don't need water in a 10K) and then headed back out for loop 2.  I tried to run a little smarter on the second loop, running hard when the wind was as my back and not fighting so much when it was in my face.  My 4th mile looks slow, but once I subtract the 20 or so seconds of walking I did to drink, it was actually fine.  Mile 5 was into the wind and then at my back, and mile 6 was hard into the wind all the way home.  
I could list the enormous amount of reasons why I'm not unhappy with this but I think it's simpler to say just that.  I will note the huge breakthrough of being able to race in loose shorts for the first time in my life without chafing, which speaks strongly to how much my form is improving (except for the last .2, see below).  But this was a good hard honest effort, it's what I can do right now based on where my fitness is and now I don't have to run fast again for about 5 months.  And hopefully by the time I do, I won't look like this 10 steps before the finish.
I don't even want to talk about all the things wrong with this picture.  Also, Emily is whining about running a 20:04 5K with perfect form in hot pink shoes, you can go slap her here.

How was your weekend?  Did your form fall apart at the end of a race or is it just me?

Friday, December 16, 2011

the 2012 race schedule

So, it looks from the blog world like this was the week to post my 2012 race schedule and I almost missed it.  
Obviously, I decided last July what my big A race would be for the year: Ironman Coeur D'Alene.  I was a little terrified right away about what I had decided to do, but the more planning I do, the less worried I feel. The only real goal I'm setting for myself is to have a really excellent day.  I'm sure that I will have rough ideas about what I think I can do as I get closer to the race, but those are secondary.  Right now I feeling calm and centered about this distance.  I'm finally starting to wrap my hard head around what this training cycle is all about, and I'm excited to execute, execute, execute - even if executing means taking it easy and not setting fire to the track.  I've only been with my coach for a couple of weeks, but I've been stalking her racing for a long time and I feel confident that she can get me there in one piece (hopefully she feels the same).  So here's how I built my 2012 race schedule around that.  I've also decided not to sign up for any races after CDA until it has come and gone, so (lame cop-out ahead) this is really just my race schedule for the first 6 months of the year.  

Over the last 2 years, I think I've calculated that I've run 21 5Ks.  21!  That's a lot of times at that distance.  But I've raced it less than 5 times.  The 5K has always been my coming-back-from-injury race, the first time that I get back out there after being sidelined by something devastating, and I'm tired of it.  I also really despise the distance, because when done properly, it sucks balls. Race schedule ingredient #1: I will run no 5Ks in 2012.
I've also done a lot of races just as training runs.  I've run several distances this way, and I'm a little tired of having so many 10-minute-mile races to my name.  In the giant pile of running races I did in 2011, I think I only tried to race the living crap out of 2 or 3.  I want to have a different attitude towards 2012.  I want to race less often, and I want to prepare, taper, and then empty the tank every time I do.  Race schedule ingredient #2: I will run less (or no) races as training runs in 2012.
I think it's fair to say that I still haven't gotten on top of the 70.3 distance yet on the run.  On the swim and bike legs, I've been able to put up halfway decent times, but the run leg still evades me.  However, if I examine my training cycles leading up to the 70.3 and the conditions of race day, I find that I haven't done a great job at planning well for either of those things.  Race schedule ingredient #3: I will be smart about choosing a 70.3 and I will not let it eat me alive.
And finally, the distance I moan about not having a PR the most: the 10 miler.  For some reason I just haven't run one of these suckers in about 6 years, and I've only run one in my life.  My "official" PR is 1:53 and I've beaten that on the way to every 13.1 I ran this year, as well as on dozens of training runs.  Race schedule ingredient #4: I will race the balls off a 10 miler.
That said, here's how 2012 is laid out as of right now (i.e. races I am registered for currently).

National Half Marathon - 3/17/12
Parkway Classic 10M - 4/22/12
Monticelloman 70.3 - 5/6/12
Ironman Coeur d'Alene - 6/24/12

After all that build-up, what a letdown, huh?  I've decided to not plan anything for January/February so I can just have solid training without interruption for racing and recovery (unless my coach decides otherwise).  I have a pretty serious score to settle with the National Half, and that will hopefully be the day I finally get that sub-1:50 I've been yammering on about all year.  The 10 miler will fall about 2 weeks out from my 70.3, but the fabulous thing about my current PR is that I can race it fairly conservatively and still PR the living daylights out of it.  I spent a lot of time with Emily searching for the perfect spring 70.3 even though she backed out to run a stupid marathon and I think Monticelloman is the one.  There's a 2 mile lake swim the last weekend of May that I might add, and I might jump in some other small races along the way, but I also might....not.  
I'm really not sure what I'll feel like doing after CDA.  I hate running in the heat, so I'll probably want to just dust off my road bike and rack up a billion miles for a while.  Depending on how the summer shakes out, I will probably choose a fall A race that's either a 13.1 or a 70.3 or a 26.2 (yeah, I said it) if I'm feeling really sassy.  I should also do an entire olympic-distance triathlon at some point instead of just doing one leg once a year.  Or maybe a sprint, I haven't done a sprint since my first triathlon ever.  But I don't know how I'll feel after ironman, so maybe I'll do none of those things.  The good thing is, I don't have to decide that until June.

What does your race schedule look like for 2012?  How do you build it?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

three things thursday

1. Completely ignore what I said yesterday about 2 dogs being a bad idea.  We recently discovered that Molly's sister is up for adoption.
At first it sounded completely insane, but now we're seriously considering this.  Her name is Sofie.  My cranky little three-sizes-too-small heart just breaks at the thought of her needing some love, and the honesty of it is, we're lucky.  We have a home to live in and cars to drive and a basement full of bicycles and while we're pretty focused on paying off those darn student loans right now, we don't want for much and we have love to spare.  And I am grateful every day for all of these things.  So why not?

2. I'm only a couple of weeks into what I would describe as base building/training, but my body is starting to adapt.  I spent all of last week being ridiculously sore, but that has quieted down and now I've moved into the phase where I'm just extra exhausted all the time.  I'm almost too tired to eat, which is the most ridiculous statement that has ever been posted on this blog.  But it's true.  I read somewhere that IM base training is some of the more "boring" training you will ever do in your life, and while I'm not bored at all right now, most of my training is just easy volume, especially on the run.  And it's good.

3. I'm starting to understand why logging your food is a bad idea long-term.  Last night I wanted a (small) bowl of ice cream before bed, and I felt incredibly guilty putting it on my log.  But in reviewing my day, I had a ton of fruits and veggies, enough protein, and had done some calorie-burning TTs in the pool that morning, so there was no reason not to eat it.  It was the definition of "treats in moderation" and I don't think that there was anything wrong with it.  But I still felt guilty about it, which is why I will track my food for this week or so and then stop - I don't want to slide into any obsessive behaviors that have to do with food, especially heading down the road towards ironman where I can't afford to end up in a calorie hole at the end of the day.  

Happy Thursday, everyone!  If you have 3 dogs, please leave a quick note explaining why I am insane, thanks!