Thursday, November 29, 2012

three things thursday

1. One of the great things about moving to Boulder is that suddenly I live in the same town as two other Sonja ponies.  Great for us, hair-pully-outy for her, I am sure.  Both of them had a MAF test on the schedule for this morning.  I knew that my first week back would definitely include one, so I decided to get one up on Sonja and crash theirs to see exactly how much fitness I've lost in the past several months.  This is the moon, by the way, along with Mikki breaking into the track.
I believe that I have found the recipe for the worst MAF test in the history of my training.  Two weeks coughing up little pieces of lungs and laying in bed.  Add in suddenly living at 5400' instead of 0' and stir briskly.  I'm not even sure it could be called running, more of a bouncy walk.  And I'm not stressed about it at all.  I've actually been in a bit of a funk this week, missing my family and being sad about being apart from them at my favorite time of the year (Christmas season).  A chatty warm-up and 4 incredibly slow miles was exactly what I needed.
No, I don't think I'll ever figure out how to keep my hat on straight but at least my hair was brushed under there.

2. This fall was rough, I've talked about it before and I'm not going to blather on about it again, but my training hasn't really been executed consistently since June.  I'm not sure I "needed" several months of stress and change but I am FINALLY excited to get back on a strict training schedule again.  The MAF test this morning was horrendous, yes, but also incredibly motivating.  I know that the only way my fitness will go from here is up, and I'm actually looking forward to being a slave to my HR monitor again.  I've been in the pool twice this week, which is twice more than I've been swimming in any week since B2B, and I feel rested and slow.  I threw in some roughly half-IM-paced hundreds and was pleased to see that they were not quite as sluggish I expected, although significantly slower than I was swimming a few months ago.  But none of it makes me cranky, which is weird in itself.  It actually makes me happy, it's proof that I let my body chill out and rest and get fat during my off-season.  Hopefully I can remind myself this in two weeks when I get a buttload of hard intervals in the pool and can't make any of them.

3. All that said, I'm finally ready to start thinking about 2013.  I signed up for IMLP, as you will recall, and have planned nothing else.  Running an open marathon is something I am interested in tackling, and I have one in mind, but I'm not sure about the timing so it's still a maybe.  I'm going to spend some time tonight and tomorrow investigating races, and then will take my list to Sonja who will probably cross half of it out.  I'm also considering not racing much at all this year - a marathon and an ironman might be enough.  I'm a little worried about not having those tune-up races in there that I am used to as fitness tests, but in general I enjoy training so much more than I enjoy racing.  I'd also certainly love to save the big pile of money that it takes to race and travel.  My 2013 plan when I signed up for IMLP was "no races where I have to get on a plane," which is obviously not happening now that I've moved 1800 miles away.  But we'll see.  I feel this way now, but I might get the itch come March to start jumping in a few things, or I might not.  I've raced a lot the past few years, and I'm curious about what a season of little racing at all would feel like.   

So that's my Thursday with some numbers thrown in, friends.  Tell me about your race planning.  Are tune-up races important, or would you consider a season that only includes two big ones?

Monday, November 26, 2012

deep rest repeat

After the show that was B2B, I took a week of deep rest.  I had a week of physical peace, even though I was traveling and worrying and calculating and then we decided to move most of the way across the country.  But it appears that wasn't enough, because the first morning I woke up in Boulder, I had a bit of a scratchy throat.  Over the day, that blossomed into a deep-in-my-chest sickness that sent me home from work early my first three days in the office (am model employee right off the bat) and had me in bed for a solid week.
I canceled my Thanksgiving plans with my girlfriends and instead laid around reading library books and hanging out with the friend I am staying with in Boulder and her awesome family (lucky them).  And for the first time since I've been active, I did not worry one little second about taking the days off, or resting, or missing any fitness.  Not even a little, secretly, underneath.  Instead I just gave in to what my body wanted.  I ate things that sounded good, I slept as much as I could, I drank gallons of tea, I looked at dozens of house listings online and waited it out.
And on the ninth day (ugh), I woke up and felt a little better.  Enough to take my seriously inadequate bloodstream for a 20-minute jog (and spend 6 hours with my British-accented realtor) and that was all.  Oh, and make vanilla cupcakes with lemon filling and raspberry frosting.  There was that, that did happen.  They weren't pretty but they were delicious (burp).  
Yesterday I felt even less boogery and full of phlegm, healed enough to do a "5 songs out 5 songs back" walk slash jog, which felt great except for being completely unable to get enough oxygen into my body at any given moment.  But I'm running again, and that's good.  30 runs in 30 days is out the window because I'm not planning on running 13 times over the next four days, but I did have a solid 15 runs in 15 days to start the month.  And beyond that, I embraced my off-season.  I haven't been on my bike since October 20th and I haven't been in the pool since almost that long, and it was exactly what I needed.  I started to feel motivated to swim again over the weekend (hello, year-round outdoor pool) and I'm planning on getting back in the water today...or maybe tomorrow.  We'll see.  I have a few more days where I'm allowing myself to be a sloth and sleep until December 1, and then it's time to get the train moving again.  Very slowly and gently and nothing crazy, but moving again.  Creaking track by track up the side of the roller-coaster.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

so, I live here now

So, I live here now.
My body is still on east coast time and probably will be for a while.  I wake up in the dark and get tired at 3pm, plus I've caught a cold - surprise - after the events of the past week, so I'm sleeping twice as much as normal anyway.  My car is here, which is weird, because it's here because we drove it here, and I still kind of can't believe that we drove it here.  If that makes any sense at all, which I know it does not.  
We made it through Kansas and into Colorado, unloaded the U-Haul into my storage unit and here I am, sitting on my friend's couch with my laptop after my first day of work.  My friends have all boarded planes back east, but I am so happy they made the drive out with me.  Friends like this are good for my soul.
I started work, which I've only done in the office for one day but I already adore it, the people are fantastic and the culture is exactly what I was looking for.  My to-do list is miles long and I'm adding to it far more quickly than I'm crossing things off, but it will all get done.  Eventually.  In the meantime, I'm scoping out where everything is, starting with the most important.
I know I haven't talked swim bike run in a while.  Mostly because all I've been doing is run.  I've had some minor shoe drama lately, mostly a pair of slightly pissed off shins due to some late-stage ankle pronation that I seem to have developed.  I think it's possibly due to the fact that I haven't done any strength training in a really REALLY long time, but it's so far at the bottom of the list of things I have to deal with out right now that I don't even notice.  I'm trying out a couple of new pairs and hoping to settle into a pair that I love before marathon - oh yes, I did say marathon - training starts to ramp up next month.   
But in general, my training is taking a major backseat to everything else in life right now.  This town is crawling with cyclists, which is starting to stir up the embers of my desire to get back on the bike.  I haven't found a local pool or gym yet, but I did go out Friday morning before work with a twitter-friend-turned-new-coworker for a short run to shake off the cobwebs of driving.  I'm experiencing a bit of culture shock, magnified when the short jog we do near the office takes us within six inches of a herd of cows roaming around, and people point out coyotes and talk about mountain lions.  I've never really considered myself a city girl, but I can see that turning into a country girl is going to take some work.
I miss my family.  I knew I would, and I'm trying to not turn into a whiner because it's not even for all that long, but I miss them.  A lot.  FaceTime helps, pictures help, emails and texts help, but I can't wait until I can walk in the door after work to a pile of barking puppy again.  Our house was on the market for FAR less time than we anticipated before we got an offer (5 days), countered, and accepted a contract.  It all means that our move out here can be complete and permanent very soon, and that time can't pass quickly enough for me.  
I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday looking at houses here, and I say with no small amount of disbelief that I think I've found one that is a perfect fit for us.  Our dream house, the Colorado version of the puppy cupcake poetry palace, the place where my hoodies can grow old.  It's going to take a few more days of letting all the banks talk to each other and still needs quite a bit of luck, but if everything works out, my entire family will be here and in our new house by the end of the year.  That sounds like a ridiculous fairytale.  I can't believe how much my life - our lives - have changed over the past three weeks, and it's not over yet.  But in my quest to remain in the present, I am trying to not fret about all the things I can't control.  
Walking out the door every day and driving around against the backdrop of a postcard helps.  Knowing that I will only be in this crazy limbo for a month or two makes it easier to just breathe and let things unroll.  I think I am discovering that I need a lot less to be happy.  My husband, my puppies, my family, my friends, all of these are important pieces of my life.  And the rest can just fall away.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

in motion

At a meeting a few weeks ago, one of the things we discussed was clearing your mind of all the other things in life that are distracting and concentrating on being present.  It was a moment of clarity, a balancing, a reminder to not get caught up in the future but to focus on only the things that are within my control, and I’ve been trying really hard to stay true to that.  Be present.
When I got offered my new job, our life was thrown into a tailspin of questions, of to-do lists, of realtors and moving trucks and driver’s licenses and road trips and selling furniture on Craig’s List and packing boxes labeled "BOOKS (SCARY)" in hopes that when I pull them out of storage in a few months, I have even a remote chance of recalling what is inside them.  We cleaned out our house, we put it on the market, and I started to pack.
That doesn’t mean that I have lived every moment in perfection and boy oh boy, is talking about your life on the internet the best way to be constantly reminded of your mistakes, your imperfections, your failures.  I’ve been caught up by the speed that everything is happening, how rapidly we've had to make decisions about our new life, time management as the days ticked down.  On Monday night, after a long and frustrating day, I sat on a curb in Chinatown and cried like a baby because I couldn’t make the application that pays for parking work and the credit card machine was broken.  I know I’m not actually losing my mind, it’s just that the emotion of everything I’m going through is building up and releasing and building up and releasing and I’m handling it in the best way I know how.  Certainly not in the best way possible, but I've never been one to be graceful.  I drop wine glasses and get huge bruises on my shin that I can't recall the source of and accidentally offend people with my big mouth, especially when I am pissed off and drunk.  
The plan that we have worked out is that I am going to Colorado, now, alone.  I am not moving alone, I have three of my best friends with me and we are having a grand old time hauling half of my house in a U-Haul trailer (FINALLY) at 55mph across the many wide states of the midwest.  
But my family, my loves, they are home in DC, working and waiting for our house to sell.  I got sent off the front to start my new job and find our next nest, the place where I will make eggplant pizza and set up my trainer and paint the walls blue, where we will be happy for the next many many years of our life.  And we are hoping that all of this lines up by January, because I’m not sure how much I like my life without my superstar husband and my sweet doggies that step on my stomach and chew on my arm and push their heads into my lap and sleep peacefully.  I have lovely friends that live in Boulder and I am sure I will make many more, but for right now I am dreading the moment that these girls board their planes back to the east coast, because they are the last thread that connects me to the life I had there.
The next few days, weeks, months, they are all full of uncertainty.  There are times when I am going to be sad, there are times when I am going to be angry, there are times where I am going to make poor choices and let my hotheaded emotions get the best of me.  But when I hugged my husband in the driveway before we almost crashed trying to back out left, he whispered in my ear, "Don't forget that you are doing this so we can have a better life."  A better life, not just rocking back and forth in the comfortable rut that we have created, but growing uncomfortably in hopes of searching for more joy.  We are being selfish, we are chasing our dreams, and it will be a bumpy road.  
Another one of my dear friends recently posted something about strength, vulnerability, and grace.  She teaches yoga so her thought process differs than mine, but I recently returned to the mat myself and felt a stronger connection than I expected to that part of my life.  When I was in class, I felt some emotions that I usually push away threaten to overwhelm me, and instead I embraced them.  This week I have embraced the sadness, the tears, but also the excitement, the thrill of change.  I am torn about how to feel about the twists in the road I am heading down, but as she explains, I need a strong connection to the earth, an engaged core, and an open heart.  The community I am leaving is one that has both created powerful friendships and been a source of bitterness, pettiness, and anger.  And as the miles unwound in front of me as I traveled west, surrounded by friends snorting with laughter, I could feel so much of the past just drop away.  My head is clear, I laugh easily.
There is peace here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day 10K: race report

So far, my very loose plan of doing lots of easy jogging and not much else this month has been going well.  It's making me happy.  I feel really chill about it, like it's okay to just let loose and not worry right now.  I've done one double run day and taken a few days off completely, and none of it is bothering my OCD (or my body) in the slightest.  Since this was going to be my last weekend in DC, Sarah and I decided late in the week to sign up and run a 10K.  A chance to visit with Hains Point one more time before I left.  I had absolutely zero interest in running hard, and just wanted to spend the morning around runners for (probably) the last time in this city (please pretend you can't see how fat I've gotten since the wheels fell off my training okay thanks).
We parked far enough away to get in a good walk/jog warm-up to the start.  After a few clothing changes and a kiss from Graham, we were off.
I realized in the car that I completely didn't even think about bringing music.  I haven't listened to music while running for a long time now, and I don't miss it, but I thought I might get a little bored and want some stimulation during the race.  However, no music device and no headphones meant no sounds.  And actually, that was just fine.  I think I've gotten to the point where music actually is too distracting for most runs, but I was worried that without my race crutch I wouldn't have fun.  Stupid, yes, but that's fine.
I told the poet before we left for the race that I wanted to run at a comfortable but slightly brisk pace, and estimated that I'd run a 56 (in my head, a 56 was 9:30 pace, whoops).  However, I decided not to wear a watch or Garmin, so I also told him that I might far underestimate how slow I was running and coming in at 1:14, but that there was no chance I would "accidentally" PR because I just didn't want to hurt.  Since I didn't wear a watch and there were no split mats, I'm going to make up mile splits based on how I was feeling.  Please note NONE OF THESE TIMES ARE REAL, it is all CRAP FROM INSIDE MY OWN HEAD.

Mile 1: 10:58
I placed myself much further back in the start corral than I usually do, mostly because I didn't want to get swept out at 8:15 pace and then blow up and be cranky all day.  I started behind a girl wearing loose fleece sweatpants, several layers on top including a wind-blocking jacket, a full scarf, knit ear warmers, gloves, and an iPod armband, no watch.  She seemed like a good person to run with so I decided that I'd stay behind her for a while and not try and dodge around people like a maniac.  The first mile was quite crowded and lots of people were chatting, and it was nice to just bounce along with the stomp-stomp-stomp of running feet.

Mile 2: 10:08
After we went past the mile 1 sign, I took a little mental overview of my effort and decided that I was probably running around 140 HR (long run style).  It seemed reasonable to start chugging a little faster.  I sped up until I felt like I was somewhere near MAF, and figured I would hang out there until the turn-around.

Mile 3: 9:38
After going through the water stop at mile 2 (no, I did not drink any water), we hit a tiny gust of wind heading around the end of the point, but it went away pretty quickly.  The lead men passed us going the opposite direction (rude).  Right before we hit the loop to turn around, a couple of guys came up behind me, laughing at the back of my shirt (puppies shitting rainbows).

Mile 4: 8:52
When I turned to chat with the guys, I saw that they were wearing IMKY finishers hats.  I obviously was wearing my IMCdA hat because I refuse to go out in public without some display of my ironman finish, so we started yammering about our races.  They were running just a hair faster than I was comfortable running while talking - if we hadn't been yapping, it probably would have been perfect, exactly how hard I felt like running.

Mile 5: 8:43
We continued chatting all the way back down Ohio Drive.  I noticed that the people around us were huffing and snorting and working hard, and I felt like a bit of an asshole chattering merrily away about races, but that's life in the fast lane, my friends.  

Mile 6: 8:31
After we went through the water stop on the back side, I felt us speed up just a hair (more rude).  It was nice to have the sun on our backs but I was boiling hot and more than a little horrified by all the fleece-wearing racers around me - I was in shorts and a tee-shirt and wished I was wearing less (the eyeballs of the world are thankful I was not).  Right before we hit the mile 6 mark, I caved and asked one of my new friends what time was on his watch.  "51 and change" he told me, and I VERY VERY MISTAKENLY believed him, said, "fuck," and took off for the finish line to try and get under my 53ish 10K PR.
.2: 0:38 (3:10 pace, obviously this is real)
I charged down Ohio Drive but as soon as I could see the clock, realized that a) those guys had come running up behind me at mile 3 which meant they had started WAY back in the corral and b) there was no possible way I had unknowingly been running sub-8:30 pace since I departed an hour ago.  Complete and total failure to do proper math, as usual.  (I know I'm in the blurry background but CHECK OUT MY GORGEOUS FORM!!) (Sorry, number 1924).
Official time based on the guys with the mats: 55:58, 9:01 pace 

After running less than a quarter-mile all out, I was pretty pleased to have run the first 6 at an easy peppy pace and not been racing.  Sarah and I had a nice chatty jog-walk back to the car, and then did a Superman-quick-change and headed directly to stuffing ourselves with brunch.
There is only one piece of data I will note from this, and then I will go back to being blissfully ignorant about clocks and watches and hearts for the rest of the month.  Last year around this time, I ran a STORM THE CASTLE 10K.  It was impossibly hard and painful and resulted in one of the greatest finishing pictures of all time.  Time?  54:54.
Two years ago, I PRd my 10K with Liz by a ridiculous amount of time, also incredibly painful, also brilliant finishing shot.  Time?  53:18.
I know that a minute is a lot of time in a 10K, but to run only a minute off of last year's time and suffering for only about 30 seconds because I'm bad at math after chattering along for half an hour?  That's okay.  I will take it.  And maybe one day, perhaps soon, I'll be interested in running hard again.  Or maybe not.  (I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on in this picture but had to post it).
How was your weekend?  Did you run moderately for almost an hour like me?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

wordless wednesday

Our house officially goes on the market today.
It's real, and it's good, but it's also very sad.  We got married here.  Graham peed on the Christmas tree skirt here the first day we brought him home.  
We've had millions of parties: poker, BBQs, or even just dragging people in the front door and forcing them to eat things.  I became a triathlete here, an ironman; my husband, a marathoner.  Every inch of this house has been painted, I know the sounds of the heat roaring on and the neighbors fighting in the driveway yet again.  I know every step of the 3.1 mile loop, the 4 mile loop, the 8 mile loop, how many times I have to go around Hains Point to hit 20 miles, I can turn off my alarm clock and be in the pool six minutes later exactly.  And now we are moving on.