Archive | September, 2011

Off to Minnesota!

29 Sep

I’m so excited to be flying back to Minnesota today. The biggest reason is to see my family at my cousin’s wedding and my sister-in-law’s baby shower. But I’m also excited about the (more) real fall weather that they’re having.

It’s still warmer than I’d like, but it’s better than Denver! Yesterday, it was 90 degrees here. Blah. And although today’s high is only 68, the temperatures are supposed to get back up into the 80s again over the weekend. Quit it Mother Nature! I’ve already put away my flip flops, put our comforter back on our bed, and lit the pumpkin candles. No more harking back to those bygone summer days – it’s time to be fall for real.

This is fall. {source}

Anyway, I almost got everything done that I wanted to before leaving. Tuesday night, I made chocolate chip banana bread while Travis grilled dinner (both turned out delicious!). Then I did the dishes, finished the laundry and got out the outfits I knew I was bringing to Minnesota for the wedding, the groom’s dinner and the baby shower. I came home from my book study to find that Travis had read my blog and cleaned the bathrooms for me. What a sweet husband! I LOVE it when he does things like that for me. Such a load off. So with that, I was able to go to bed and finish reading Managing God’s Money (thoughts to come later). The only thing I didn’t get done was go to Walmart to buy cards, coffee and face lotion. But no biggie. (For me, at least. Travis will probably go berserk when he discovers the coffee is gone.)

Yesterday morning, I got up early again to go run repeats on the track at the gym. Besides one other time when I ran half-mile repeats, this was my first real track workout. The other times that I’ve done speedwork, I’ve either done tempo runs, done .1 mile sprints, or ran fartleks outside using trees as my measurements. It was a great workout – very challenging. I ran 8 x 400 – 400 was 2.5 laps around the track. I did the first 400 in 1:55 but I knew that I couldn’t do another 7 at that pace. So I slowed it down a bit and ran the others anywhere from 2:05 to 2:15. Based on the McMillan Running Calculator using my most recent 10K time, I should be running 400s in 2:05. So I was right on pace!

Since my speed work usually consists of me going as fast as I possibly can for only 1 lap around the track, I found it a little bit of a challenge to gauge how fast I could go for 2.5 laps without either slowing down at the end of the repeat or getting so tired during the first repeats that I couldn’t do the last repeats. I think I did ok for my first time but there is definitely room for improvement.

I also made sure to stretch really well before heading home.

This morning, I went swimming. The pool was abnormally busy for the early morning but I was able to have my own lane for the majority of my workout. I swam my good ole trusty pyramid – 100, 200, 300, 200, 200 (I added an extra 100 on to the last one because I couldn’t stand swimming 900 and not 1,000). I swam about 65% front crawl and 35% breaststroke. I think I’m going to try to learn to breathe every other stroke during the front crawl – maybe that will help me swim faster? Even if it doesn’t, it will keep me distracted during my swims and get my heart rate elevated higher than just a normal swim.

Since we’ll be staying at a hotel in the Cities this weekend, I’m hoping to get a few workouts in but we’ll see. I’m not a workout nazi and would rather spend time with my family so if it doesn’t fit in our schedules, it doesn’t fit. Plus, I had planned on these days being rest days so if I do exercise, I get bonus points.

I’m very proud of my packing job for this trip – I fit 2 outfits per day + running clothes + running shoes + 2 pairs of dressy boots + hairdryer + straightener in my carry-on suitcase. I was apprehensive if I could make it work but I did! I always show my suitcase to Travis like a little kid – look at what I did! – because he always makes fun of me for bringing back our ginormous suitcase (with only my stuff in it) for Christmas vacation. I tell him that it’s because I bring my winter sweaters along and they take up a lot of space. I’m not sure he buys it.

Are you a light packer or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink packer? Do you carry on or check your bags when you fly? 

Back on the Workout Wagon.

27 Sep

{source}

I run across this bridge almost every run I go on (they do allow bikes on the bridge, just not in the river).

Last night, I had been planning on doing yoga when I got home from work but since it was my only free night this week (tonight I have book study, tomorrow is care group and Thursday I fly to MN), I decided to do my “long run” of 5 miles.

It was low 80s and sunny but since it’s not humid out here in CO, it actually felt really nice outside. I took the pooches out for the first 1.5 miles, then dropped them at home, and ran another 3.5 (crossing the bridge above). My legs felt great – strong, stable. I felt like I was cruising! My first mile of the last 3.5 was at a 10:50 pace and I swear there was another 10:30 mile in there somewhere (according to my math-while-running) but my pace came out at 11:23/mile for the whole run (58:39 for 5.15 miles).

I have to admit, I was more than slightly disappointed. I think even shooting for an 11:00/mile pace for this half marathon relay is going to be a stretch. Has my 10:00/mile pace vanished forever? What once seemed slow now seems so fast that it’s out of reach. Hmph. I am not a fan of getting older. Hopefully once I start doing speed work again, my pace will pick back up.

But anyway, with the exception of my disappointing pace, it was actually an excellent run. So there’s that.

I think one of the reason I was so slow last year (consistently running 12:30-12:45 pace) was that I didn’t engage many of my leg muscles when running – like I wasn’t using muscle to propel myself forward but just inertia. Sometimes it seriously felt like I was running in place. Last night, I concentrated on using my muscles to push me forward, even when my legs got tired. It’s kind of hard to explain but you know how when you sprint, you kind of sink down into your legs and don’t do as much vertical movement? It’s like that, only not as intense. Anyway, it makes my legs feel stronger and less achy. My injury last year has made me very distrustful of my legs and knee joints. I just keep thinking that any run, the pain could return. I’m going to try really hard to not let that happen this year!

After my run, I vacuumed, washed laundry (still have to put it away), and did the dishes. We ate the Zesty Black Bean Chili from the crockpot for dinner. While the soup was delicious and I really liked the consistency of the wheat berries, man, that soup was spicy! The recipe called for a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – they definitely cranked up the heat. It was borderline too spicy for me but Travis really enjoyed it. I froze the rest of the soup, so that Travis will have something to eat over the weekend while I’m gone. (Because even though he can cook and grocery shop, he refuses to.)

This morning, I finally got up when my alarm went off at 5:30, instead of hitting the snooze or resetting it for a later time. I did 60 minutes of Yoga X (the video that made me so sore last week) and was pleasantly surprised that after 45 minutes of pretty intense Vinyasa yoga, they go into doing balance poses – which although still challenging, don’t make me sweat like a man. I think I could do all 90 minutes if I ever have the time. But don’t worry – I still got my butt kicked today. I am so pathetically inflexible right now! In future triathlon seasons, I must find a way to fit yoga into my routine. It sucks having to gain back all the flexibility I lost since April.

I was nervous about being incredibly sore again tomorrow, so after I showered, I put Biofreeze on the parts that had been sore before – my hamstrings and biceps. I got several free samples from races this summer but had yet to try it. Holy cow that stuff is intense! It felt like I had sat in the snow for 10 minutes, then gone into a hot tub. Not painful, just…well, for lack of a better word, freezing. I put my clothes on and it felt like the back of my pants and sleeves were wet. So weird. Luckily, the feeling went away after 25 minutes or so. We’ll see if it was worth it tomorrow morning!

On the docket for tonight:

  • Finish laundry
  • Make banana bread while Travis grills dinner (brats, potatoes, and zucchini)
  • Book study
  • Pack for MN
  • Clean bathrooms (if I have time/energy)

It’s amazing what you can accomplish…

26 Sep

…when you don’t workout!

My weekend was lovely and productive. But I didn’t do a single workout – unless you count walking my pooches and watching them smear their poop all over Wheat Ridge sidewalks.

Friday night, I finally repainted my toenails while watching Parenthood – love that show! I went to bed around 9:30 (I don’t even feel the need to justify that) and read for a while while Travis played hockey.

Saturday, we got up bright and early for coffee with Cathy (me) and The Forge at church (Travis). Then we went home and while Travis watched football, I made my grocery list and went grocery shopping.

On the menu for this week:

The Zesty Chili is cooking in my crock pot right now.
With my refrigerator and shelves fully stocked, I set to making zucchini bread and muffins with one of our last zucchinis (single tear! not really – we’re kind of burned out on zucchini) and this gooey deliciousness for our care group BBQ on Sunday.

While my bread and muffins baked, I did the massive quantity of dishes that baking always produces, walked the pooches, and got ready for our date night: Yogurtland + Cheap Seats. Woohoo! The date literally cost us $13.

I got Mango Pineapple + Coconut + Peach and topped with a little bit of: kiwi, raspberries, pineapple, gummy bears, and cheesecake squares. Mmmmm… Travis had never been to Yogurtland before. As he was eating his delicious concoction, he said, “I understand what all the rage is about now.”

{Apologies for the bad pic.}

After Yogurtland, we saw Captain America for $7 total. It blows my mind that two people can see a movie at the discount theater for less than the price of one ticket at the main theater. Yay for discount theaters! (If this one ever goes out of business, I will be seriously sad.) The movie was great. As much as my sophisticated taste thought I would hate all of the Marvel Comic movies, I have to admit that I have loved each of them (I have seen Thor, both Iron Man 1 and 2 and now Captain America). The only one I haven’t seen is The Hulk – which I guess I’ll have to remedy before The Avengers comes out next May.

Sunday, we went to church and then bought a baby gift for my nephew, due in January! I bought 3 items from their registry, plus one fun thing (that I will mention later in case my sister-in-law happens to read this). Still very hard to believe that I am going to be an aunt. (I guess technically, I already am an aunt since Travis has a nephew but it feels weird to call myself his aunt…)

Then I finally tackled our messy office. It went from this:

To this:

Organization – welcome back.

I also downloaded all of our pictures from our camera onto our computer and deleted them off our camera, printed out our confirmation emails for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Relay, and sent pictures of Charlie to the vet who rescued her.

By 3:30, it was time to leave for our care group BBQ. I didn’t take any pics (stupid!) but a fun time (and LOTS of good food!) was had by all. I ended up feeling a little sick to my stomach by the end of the party so when I got home, I changed clothes and spent the rest of the evening on the couch (instead of cleaning and baking like I had hoped). Oh well. I watched the season finale of Drop Dead Diva (my #2 favorite show ever, after Bones) and the season premiere of Desperate Housewives – which was “eh.”

Things I wanted to get done that I didn’t (and need to before leaving for MN on Thursday night!!):

1. Vacuum. Dog hair is everywhere!

2. Laundry. Overflowing.

3. More baking. Specifically chocolate chip banana bread and pumpkin bread. Mmmm…

I also need to work out every day this week (since I will probably be taking off 4 days back in MN). I’m thinking a couple of runs, some yoga, and some time on the bike. We’ll see…

Sickness + Sore Muscles = Suck

23 Sep

Yesterday, after typing up my marathon training plan, I was all gung-ho to get back on the exercise horse. So I ran to the Rec (3.15 miles round trip) and did 30 minutes of intervals on the elliptical while I was there. I kept an eye on my heart rate but I was so tired and sluggish that my problem wasn’t keeping my heart rate low enough, but getting it high enough. My run was at a 11:50/mile pace but it felt a lot slower.

I did the first 30 minutes of Yoga X (from P90X) on Tuesday morning and I am just now getting over the soreness. And it was weird soreness – the front of my biceps and my hamstrings. Weird. My arms were still so sore yesterday that they hurt while I was running. It always amazes me how the human body adapts to exercises. I can do an Olympic triathlon and hardly be sore at all but I do 30 measly minutes of yoga and I can barely walk. What’s up with that? Anyway, I also had high aspirations to do strength training last night but after 15 lunges on each leg, discovered that my legs were completely shot.

Then during the night, Charlie woke up at 3 am and started whining and banging around in her crate. I either have the world’s best hearing or have a mother’s sixth sense because I can hear Charlie over a fan and through a closed door. Grrrrr… I got up once and told her to stop whining. She kept doing it. Travis was moving around a little then so I asked him if he thought she had to poop and if I should let her out. He said “Maybe” and “Probably” and then very chivalrously offered to let her out himself. As he stumbled over to the closet to find some shorts and rummaged around for 30 seconds, I told him I might as well do it since I was already wide awake and was fully clothed. So he went back to bed.

Charlie did have to go. As I put her back in her crate and went back to bed, I thought about how our relationship with Katy is so different from ours with Charlie. Katy is very predictable and always has been. So if she pooped or puked inside the house, you knew there was something wrong – it was so out of character for her. But Charlie has seriously been (to use Winston Churchill’s description of Christopher Columbus that I learned in college) “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” We have not been able to figure her out. There is no predicting what she will or will not do.

But I feel like we’re making very slow progress with this. This morning, when I sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast, Charlie went over and sniffed at the laundry room door (the way they get outside). I let her out and she went and did her thing. Yay! She didn’t poop inside! Progress!

The downside of getting up to let her out was that I couldn’t get back to sleep for the life of me. I think I finally fell back asleep around 4:30. I don’t know why but when I go to bed, I don’t have any trouble falling asleep. But when I try to fall back asleep in the wee hours of the morning, I always have tons of thoughts running through my head – about work, what I’m going to wear, what I’m going to have for breakfast, if I should work out in the morning or wait until after work, what I’m going to bring for lunch, etc. This stuff does NOT need to be decided at 4 am!

"Yeah, I'm a lot of work."

Needless to say, working out this morning did not happen. I actually didn’t get up until 7:30! Katy started doing her low groaning thing in our bedroom around 6:30 because she wanted to be fed. So I got up, fed them, put Charlie back in her crate and went back to bed. But I just laid there, psyching myself out, paranoid that they were whining. Bah! So I got back up at 7, put them in the backyard (with Charlie on a cable so she couldn’t jump over the fence like she does all the time now), and went back to bed for another 30 minutes. Again, no sleep. Just too lazy to actually stay out of bed. I think I’m understanding my husband more these days…

And on top of everything, I woke up feeling more sick than I did yesterday. This cold is tougher to kick than I thought! So I guess I should ease off and do some more yoga and easy cardio.

I’m feeling very relieved that I only have to run 5 miles in the half marathon relay! And that today is Friday! Our weekend is pretty open so far – I’m having coffee with my friend Cathy tomorrow and then we’re having a “last of the summer” care group BBQ on Sunday afternoon. My only goal is to get our office cleaned up. That has been my dumping ground for the last 4 months and it shows!

Do you have any plans for the weekend?

Marathon in 2012

22 Sep

Marathon Training Plan

So remember when I said I was excited to not have a training plan since triathlon season is over?

Well, that’s not really going to happen.

You see, I want to run this little thing they call a marathon in May 2012 (I’m eyeing the Stillwater Marathon in MN, which should be the last weekend of May). While I had been {stupidly} thinking that I could sit on my butt until January rolled around and then start a training plan, almost every website and person I’ve talked to has said that I need to be running 15-25 miles per week before I even start the training program. And since I’m not the world’s smartest runner, I guess I’ll trust them…

Since I’ve been training for triathlons and not concentrating on running, my weekly mileage has been somewhere in the single digits. Paltry. All of this means that to avoid injury, my marathon base building starts right after the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Relay. Real marathon training starts on January 23.

To be honest, I’m kind of excited. Marathon, here I come! You will not evade me in 2012!

But since I have really missed doing yoga, pilates, the elliptical, and yes, even weight-lifting, my base-building plan includes 2 days of cross-training and strength training, 3 days of running (1 regular, 1 speed, 1 long), and 2 days of rest.

Base Training Plan

I think I can handle that.

For my marathon training plan, I used Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Plan but I might sub out the runs on Monday for the same amount of cross-training, depending on how I feel. I think coming up with training plans is so stressful. I’m wary of running 4 days a week because I got injured last year from over-training. But if I don’t add in that extra day, my mileage won’t be that high. I decided to put the run on the schedule and will play it by ear whether that day should be an easy run or cross-training.

Like I have mentioned before, I am going to do things differently this year for marathon training. Last year, I signed up for the full Malibu marathon but ended up running the half because my IT band flared up. So as you will note on my training plan this time around, I will strength train. I will do speed work. I will stretch. I will cross-train (mostly on the bike and in the pool).

I posted these plans on my new marathon page for future reference.

I have discovered one more thing that I think will help me a lot:

Heart rate training.

I bought a heart rate monitor back in 2009 when I was training for my first triathlon. But I don’t use it like you’re supposed to. I only wear it to time my workouts and know how many calories I burned. And sometimes I like to look at my heart rate for fun.

Well, since things have slowed down at work and I just read the SELF cover story featuring Lauren Graham, I’ve been doing a little research about why staying in your aerobic zone is so beneficial. Here’s what I found:

The more work you perform aerobically, or in the presence of oxygen, the more efficient you are. Prolonged aerobic training produces muscular adaptations that improves oxygen transport to the muscles, reduces the rate of lactate formation, improves the rate of lactate removal, and increases energy production and utilization. These adaptations occur slowly over time.

So why haven’t I been doing this? I asked myself.

The hard part of base training is having the discipline to train at these low intensities. It may mean running very slowly or even walking. It may mean separating from your training group in order to pursue your individual goals. It also means avoiding the contest of egos that group training often turns into. If you can find a training partner with similar goals and fitness level you may be able to train with them, but more often than not what I see is a base work gone awry. Even spending short amounts of time above your aerobic zone degrades the work out.

The area between the top of the aerobic threshold and anaerobic threshold is somewhat of a no mans land of fitness. It is a mix of aerobic and anaerobic states. For the amount of effort the athlete puts forth, not a whole lot of fitness is produced. It does not train the aerobic or anaerobic energy system to a high degree. This area does have its place in training; it is just not in base season. Unfortunately this area is where I find a lot of athletes spending the majority of their seasons, which retards aerobic development. The athletes heart rate shoots up to this zone with little power or speed being produced when it gets there. {source}

Hmmmm… so you’re saying that I’m such a slow runner because I’ve been refusing to say in my aerobic zone? You mean I have to slow down to get faster? I can do that.

Based on a few different calculators I found for Maximum Heart Rate (MHR), mine seems to be somewhere around 195. That means my Aerobic Zone is somewhere around 157 – 171. My heart rate is usually around 160-165 during a regular run, so that’s good.  Easy recovery runs are supposed to be done in the Fat Burning Zone: 143 – 157 beats per minute. I hardly ever do runs that slow.

I hope this knowledge impacts the way I train – so that I can make sure to not overdo things and see the benefits promised by aerobic training. And if it doesn’t, oh well. I’m just doomed to be slow.

I would, however, like to keep up the pace I have been running (11 min/mile) and possibly even improve that. I think the strength and cross training are going to be key.

Now I just need to find the motivation to finish my training plan for this blasted half marathon relay! We found out that it’s not split into two 10Ks – the first leg is 7.8 miles, the second is 5.3. So Travis decided to do the first leg. I can’t lie – I’m relieved. It’s not that I’m sick of training – it’s that I’m sick of trying to balance everything and constantly strategize about when to fit workouts in. I have so much other stuff that I want to (and have to) be doing! (What really should go is this job thing. 😉 ) But I’ve been thinking – working out is not only important because of my athletic aspirations, it’s also important because it keeps me healthy and enables me to keep up with the other areas of my life. So behind God, my husband and church (oh and work), exercising has to be a priority. No matter what else doesn’t get done.   

Any advice for me on my marathon training?

Do you pay attention to your heart rate during training?

No excuses.

20 Sep

I’ve been noticing something lately: I hold Travis to the ridiculous, unrealistic standards that I hold myself to.

This isn’t exactly a news flash.

But it is something that I’ve been seeing with new eyes.

I’ve noticed it mainly in regards to the triathlon Travis just did. Over the months leading up to it, I was tempted to (and honestly, sometimes did) nag Travis about training. In my head, you just follow the plan. Not brain science.

I chalked Travis not following the plan up to his being lazy. Or indifferent. Or silently wishing he hadn’t been talked into doing a race.

Surely he doesn’t have a good excuse.

Now, I am reminded that he is working full-time and getting his Master’s. Oh and his job shipped him out to Timbuktu Utah to do God-knows-what (which they’re talking about again, if you can believe that!) for a couple weeks. Then there’s that little thing called a house, the yard I look at through my window, the car I drive to work every day, those things happening at church, and that thing called hockey that always happens after I’m in bed. Oh and bills.

He might be a tad busy.

You see, Travis did get distracted from training. He did allow other things to get in the way. But they were things like fixing our car himself to save us $600. And shooting us two antelope so we won’t starve during the long, cold winter. And refinancing our mortgage to save us money.

I want to say, “There’s no excuse. You didn’t follow the training plan and that’s all there is to it.”

But I really should say, “You were busy. You have a lot going on. It’s totally understandable. And you did a fantastic job anyway!”

Here’s what I actually said: “You should go disqualify yourself from the results.”

Let me explain: Minutes after I crossed the finish line on Saturday, Travis informed me that he “had run the entire run course on the road.” Since the run course was mostly on a sidewalk or trail, I assumed Travis had run the wrong course. How would he know if the course he ran was 3.1 miles? He wouldn’t. Ergo, he should disqualify himself.

What he really meant was that instead of going back up on the trail at the end of the run, he accidentally just stayed on the road until it met up with that trail. It was pretty much the same distance either way. Oh.

Needless to say, Travis’ enthusiasm was completely deflated with my no-nonsense response. Poor guy. Here he is, just completed his first triathlon and I tell him to go disqualify himself. It was a misunderstanding, I swear!!

Anyway, that whole situation has shown me that I hold Travis to unrealistic standards. Like when he gets sick and wants to just lay on the couch. My natural inclination is to say, “Oh quit being a whiny baby. You’re not that sick.”

Or when Travis remarks to me that 3 minutes is pretty good for his first transition and I reply, “Well, a good T1 is actually only 2 minutes.”

Men aren’t the only ones who say stupid things without thinking.

Because I expect too much of Travis, I hardly ever encourage him – I’m too busy fixating on what he hasn’t done or hasn’t done well enough.

In reality, he does a lot of most things right. He deserves more credit than I give him.

So I’m going to try to let go of my expectations, have faith in Travis’ abilities, and look for the things he does right. I think he’d appreciate that.

 

 

Finding God in a cold

19 Sep

{source}

Being sick makes me whiny. Self-pitying. Lazy. Indulgent. Compromising.

I sleep in instead of reading the Bible – because “only sleep will help me get better.”

I don’t pray because if I don’t have the energy for a “real” prayer, it doesn’t actually count.

I hunker down in my own little world, waiting for the sickness to blow over.

“Once I’m better, I’ll get back to normal life.”

Then this verse hit me this morning:

“And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your  bones strong…” (Isaiah 58:11).

Being sick makes me feel like I’m in a scorched place. A place where I don’t enjoy being awake. A place where I really dislike having to go to work.

God can satisfy me even here.

I had categorized sickness apart from trials. But in reality, sickness is a trial. And if I let all the little trials of this life drive me from God, I won’t be near God very much.

Once again, God is showing me that I need to draw near to Him in times of need, based solely on my Savior’s blood. I don’t need to earn His blessing through my prayers. I can’t earn His blessing.

The question isn’t whether I’m spending time in the Word instead of sleeping, or reading Christian books instead of watching TV, or praying for others instead of for myself while I’m sick. The question is: am I still pursuing God?

Most of the time, the answer is no.

Pursuing God feels like work. It feels like something I need energy for. Something that needs to be done all-or-nothing style. I’d rather just lay on the couch and not think.

“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

God does not set unrealistic standards for me, like I do for myself. I’m the one giving the guilt trip. I’m the one saying that it’s all or nothing.

God says that whatever I have to give is enough. He wants my constant affection, not my perfectionism.

Anytime my perfectionism keeps me from going to God, a red flag should go up. There are no obstacles to God in Christ.

None. Not sickness. Not death. Not failure. Not sin.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Race Recap: Crescent Moon Sprint Tri

18 Sep

Well, I ended up doing the triathlon. Travis convinced me that it would be more fun if I did it with him than if I just watched. And I went on a short run Friday after work and felt almost normal, although a little bit more tired. So I went for it.

We got up around 5 and left the house by 5:30. We arrived at the race site a little after 6 and rode our bikes from the parking area down to the transition area, where packet pickup was. After we racked our bikes and put our stuff down, we picked up our packets and got body-marked.

The morning started off very pretty.

But by the time the swim started, it clouded over. It was upper 50s and cloudy/rainy all day.

Travis and I had plenty of time before the race to get our stuff set up, go to the bathroom several times, survey the swim course, note all of the transition exits (there was a different chute for each entrance/exit!), and run a decent warmup (me feeling very tired and sluggish!). I loved the feeling of not being rushed. I also had purposefully drank hardly anything that morning so that I would not have a repeat of Steamboat (in having to pee a lot). I had hydrated well the week before the race and figured the distance was short enough that I’d be fine.

Right after we got back from our last bathroom break, we took off our sweatshirts and sweatpants and headed down to the swim. Travis was in the first wave so he got in the water to warm up and pretty soon, he was off. I tried to keep track of him but lost him pretty quickly in the sea of yellow caps. I prayed for him to have a good swim, since I knew how nervous/unsure he had been about it.

After two more waves took off, I got in the water to warm up. I didn’t wear my wetsuit again but wished I had. Man, the water was cold! They said it was 69 degrees, 1 degree warmer than Steamboat. Well, someone measured wrong either at Cherry Creek or Steamboat because there is no way that Steamboat was colder than Cherry Creek. It probably didn’t help that it was only in the mid-5os outside. But I forced myself to put my head in and swim around a bit. It wasn’t enjoyable but I’d live.

As soon as the wave before mine left, I got out of the water and stood in line. Brrrr! I tried to control my flailing limbs while counting the seconds down until I could get back into the water and get moving.

Finally, it was time to go. It was a beach start and they had positioned a small buoy about 40 feet from shore that you had to keep on your right, to prevent people from running down the beach instead of actually swimming. The gung-ho swimmers in the front did the whole Baywatch thing into the water. I ran a bit, then walked to give the women ahead of me a chance to move out a bit before I started swimming. I’ was in no rush.

I made sure to settle into my swim pace right off the bat and breathe calmly – and it worked. The 750 meter swim was very uneventful. But I was glad to see the finish flags and finally be out of the water.

My feet were like ice cubes as I ran the long stretch up to transition. But I was pleasantly surprised that I had energy. When Travis and I had walked that section earlier in the morning, it had felt very hard to breathe. I had decided that I didn’t have to run up to transition. But after the swim, running up that part didn’t feel too hard.

Official Swim Time (including run to TA): 24:59

Unofficial Swim Time (not including run): 22:30 

Once in transition, I noticed Travis’ bike was gone. He had survived the swim! I rinsed off my feet, got my socks and shoes on and then took a little extra time to dry off and put on a long sleeve shirt. With the clouds, cool weather and being wet, I didn’t want to be cold on the bike. I grabbed my helmet, sunglasses and bike and off I went.

Official T1 Time: 2:56

I had been expecting my legs to feel weird like they had at Steamboat but they didn’t. I started off the bike feeling good. Around mile 1.5, I took a drink of my water and missed the bottle cage as I was attempting to replace it. So I had to get off my bike and go back to get my water bottle. There were no aid stations on the bike and I wanted my water bottle. Bah.

Back on the bike, I passed some people, a lot of people passed me. I pushed it up the biggest hill and decided that from there on out, I would take it easy. I didn’t want to ruin my legs for the run, like I have a habit of doing. So I took it easy. And it definitely showed in my time!

Right at the turnaround, I decided to eat my Shotbloks. I had eaten 2 and was going for my third when I dropped them on the ground. What was wrong with me? I was dropping things like it was my job! I looked around for a USAT official who would ping me for abandoned equipment. All I saw was a dude on a motorcycle and he was not USAT so I left my Shotbloks, feeling stupid and bummed.

The road through Cherry Creek that we biked on is so ridiculously bumpy that I will never do a triathlon there again (unless they repave it). It was just not fun to be on it so by the time I got back to the transition area, I was so ready to be done.

I glanced at my bike computer as I was re-racking my bike and it read 12.2 miles, instead 11.5 miles, like the race officials said.

Official Bike Time: 46:12 (14.9 mph) 

By this time, the sun had started peeking out of the clouds and warming things up nicely so I ditched my long sleeve shirt, grabbed my hat and sunglasses, and left.

Official T2 Time: 1:06

Since the first triathlon I ever did was at this same venue, I was familiar with the run course – it was almost exactly the same one. The first .5 mile is all uphill, then it flattens out for .5 mile, then the last 2 miles are rolling hills. My legs actually felt great for the first mile. I pushed up the hill and when I reached the first mile marker, I calculated a 10:00/mile pace. Sweet!

The 2nd mile was at a 11:00/mile pace but then the bottom fell out in the 3rd mile. I like to think it’s because I was sick and wasn’t at 100% capacity but I stopped and walked a few times because my legs just felt tired. Finally, I was almost to the finish line. I saw Travis watching for me and encouraged him to run with me a little, which he did.

Official Run Time: 34:18 (11:04/mile) 

Official Overall Time: 1:49:30

My goal going in to the race was to hit 1:45, but really I would have been satisfied with anything under 2 hours. So I made it. Woohoo! Since the bike was longer and made this race closer to being the same distance as the Oktoberfest tri I back in 2009, I was interested to compare my 2 times. My times from before were:

Swim: 19:57

T1: 2:14

Bike: 46:34

T2: 1:09

Run: 34:07

I finished that race in 1:43:59. Ah well. I don’t really care all that much.

Travis, of course, beat me (I knew he would). It’s funny though – I did the swim and transitions faster, he did the bike (on a mountain bike!) and run faster. He creamed me on the run. Here are his splits:

Swim: 26:28 

T1: 3:08

Bike: 44:09 (15.6 mph)

T2: 1:23

Run: 24:58 (8:03/mile)

Total: 1:40:05

So he did great! I think he had a very positive experience and even talked about doing another triathlon next year. I am very proud of him and had a lot fun doing a race with him. It’s kind of funny – we both placed 180th in our sex! (There were a total of 470 finishers – 233 male and 242 females).

And with that, Triathlon Season 2011 is in the books. I did 3 Sprints and 1 Oly this year. I am satisfied and ready to not ride my bike again until I get it professionally fitted. Our half marathon relay is in 3 weeks and then Race Season 2011 is over. Have I mentioned how ready I am? 

As far as the race itself went, this event was put on by Racing Underground – a pretty well-known group in Denver. I’ve done several races that they’ve timed but this was the first I had done that they’ve put on. I think they did a lot of things well – their website is informative with course maps, they sent out a pre-race email, their packet pickup was very organized and the goodie bags were stuffed. They also had plenty of porta-potties and their music/microphones were loud enough to hear.

Some things they can improve on: when I heard that we would get sweatshirts instead of t-shirts, I was excited. But while I will wear the navy blue sweatshirt sans hood and enjoy it, I can’t see Travis – or really any other guy – wearing it. I mean, guys don’t really wear sweatshirts without hoods, unless they’re playing basketball or over 40. So that’s a bummer.

Plus, it looked like they spent more money on the sweatshirts and got rid of the finishers medals. I know there’s some debate about whether finishers medals are cool or just unnecessary. Those who do oodles of races (and win!) don’t really care. Well, I care. And my husband who just did his first race cares. I want a medal because I will never win an award!

The last thing I was bummed about was that they didn’t have any finish line food like bagels, bananas, etc. The only food they offered was the post-race meal – BBQ – and while I was pumped that it was something that sounded good and that I could probably eat without getting sick after the race (my stomach won’t tolerate anything too sweet), the line was 200 people long. It stretched across the parking lot. Granted, it was a pleasant day and the food looked good but we just didn’t feel like waiting in line. I wished I could have just grabbed a bagel and been done with it.

So Travis and I went home, showered and went to BWW instead. Mmmm… I tried the new Soft Pretzels. AMAZING! I will definitely get those again. They just hit the spot. I also got 8 Honey BBQ boneless wings but only ate 4 because I ate too much of the pretzels. Then we rented Thor (great movie – looking forward to the sequel!) and Your Highness (would NOT recommend because of all the dirty, disgusting humor) and laid on the couch for the rest of the day. Glorious.

I’m glad that I did the race but my body is not. I felt increasingly sick yesterday and today, my whole head is congested, I have a runny nose and am coughing/sneezing a lot. So I’m forced again today to take things easy and relax. I guess this is good – I always like the idea of resting in theory but when it comes down to actually doing it, being productive always sounds more appealing. So I am going to take the dogs on a walk, go buy some tomato soup to go with grilled cheese for dinner, and then I’m going to plop my rump on the sofa for the rest of the evening.

The only bummer about being sick while relaxing is that I feel too tired/groggy to read so I end up watching copious amounts of TV. (There’s me trying to sneak in productivity again!) Oh well – I’ll enjoy being a bum!

How was your weekend?

Have you ever done a race while sick/not feeling your best?

Hiking is Humbling.

16 Sep

It’s no secret that I’m not a fast swimmer, biker or runner. When I tell people that I do triathlons, I always mention that I do them “for fun” and not for “breaking any records.” When people ask if I did well in a particular race, I usually say, “Yes… for me,” I guess to avoid the misrepresentation that I won an award or something.

And for the most part, I’ve come to accept the fact that I will never be “fast” relative to other triathletes. I mean, the female winners from these races do the swim in less than 1/2 the time it takes me (I’m too lazy to figure out what their speed is), their average bike pace is usually somewhere around 20 mph, and their average run pace is somewhere around 6-7 minutes/mile. Yeah, I can’t compete with that.

So what’s an athlete like me to do?

It all comes down to the PRs – Personal Records. Trying to better your time for a certain distance. This presents a problem with the sprint triathlon distance, as hardly any race is the same as the next (though the most official distance is exactly half of an Olympic).

Yeah, I haven’t been good at that either. My half marathon times have progressively gotten slower and my triathlon times are pretty much in that boat as well.

Ok, I can deal with that. I’m still getting out there, having a good time. Plus, I’m willing to sacrifice the PRs in order to maintain my sanity and balance.

But then there are situations that just steam me. Like hiking on the Eaglesmere Trail. Or hiking Pancake Rocks. Or hiking in North Carolina.

Ok, hiking in general.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll keep saying it – I can be in the best shape of my life and still cough, wheeze, and drag up a hill on a hike.

And it pisses me off.

It’d be one thing if the hike was challenging and everyone else was coughing, wheezing and dragging up right with me. But no, they’re just floating up the hill, without a single bead of sweat staining their brow or even so much as a slight increased need for oxygen.

Ok, maybe that’s just Travis.

But seriously, whenever I go hiking, it seems like everyone else is in better shape than I am. 

Which also would be fine if I knew that they were. If they were out there running marathons and doing Ironmans, and busting out 10 hours of intense exercise a week, I’d hand it to them. I’d applaud them.

But usually they’re not.

Usually they’re like Travis – they do intentional exercise 2-3 times a week, but usually only for about 30-45 minutes.

Sometimes they don’t exercise regularly at all.

And then here I come, all puffed up with my “I just did an Olympic triathlon” and “I ran 7 miles 3 weeks ago” attitude, and wilt like a frickin’ popsicle on pavement walking up the hill.

These were my thoughts during our NC Labor Day hike:

Wait, isn’t this a lower elevation than Denver? Doesn’t that mean I should be able to sprint all the way to the top?

Wait, isn’t Sarah pregnant? Didn’t she just say that she hasn’t worked out in 4 months due to nausea? How then is she beating me up this hill?

I did not handle that situation well in the moment. Instead, I got huffy as I puffed slowly up the mountain. I eventually got over it at the top but I’d like to eventually get over it before it starts.

I mean, this is a ridiculous problem. But such is the nature of pride. You try to squelch it in one form, and it pops up in another. Just as soon as I came to grips with being a slow triathlete, I became enraged at being a slow hiker.

My mentally unstable way of thinking is that I’ve put so much effort and time into getting to where I am today that it is totally unfair that other people (like my husband) are so naturally athletic. Travis could sit on the couch for a month and go out and run faster than I could if I did intense speed work for 6 months. (Ok, this is just a conjecture because Travis couldn’t sit still that long and I will never do intense speed work for 6 months. But still, I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

But in the end, my hiking handicap is really a blessing in disguise. If it hadn’t been for my completely unnecessary anger outburst in North Carolina, I wouldn’t have come to the realization (yet again) that my identity is wrapped up in how “athletic” and “in shape” I am. I want people’s praise for doing triathlons. I want people to think I’m a mean, lean, triathloning machine. I don’t want them to see that I still struggle up the side of a hill or that I’m not invincible. I don’t want to show weakness.

God knows that I constantly go to things other than Him to try to prove that I’m worth something, that I’m someone special (try being the operative word). But that way of life will leave me constantly dissatisfied and jealous of other people. Instead of being able to appreciate the talents God has given other people, I end up scheming in the corner about how to make myself just as good (or drowning my sorrows over not being just as good).

I’m like this with a number of things: clothes, success, body size. Measuring myself against others. Feeling good if I measure up. Feeling horrible if I don’t.

Our women’s book study just started at church for the fall and I chose to go through Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I’m really praying that this study will help free me from these struggles (because regardless of the specific struggle, it all comes from the same source of dissatisfaction) and release me into the freedom of embracing who God created me to be – body shape, quirks, slowness and all – in order that I might appreciate and love others for who they are. God has made each of us unique masterpieces (like snowflakes!) and I am missing out if I can’t appreciate another woman without competing with her.

Hopefully I’ll have some updates later on.

As for the triathlon tomorrow, I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do it. You’ll have to stay tuned!

Running on full tilt

15 Sep

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These little gals are in our freezer right now.

Which is the reason why my weekend of relaxation didn’t quite turn out how I had hoped. I started Saturday off nice and slow with time in the Word and a cup of coffee. Around 10, I went shopping with my full list of things to buy and plan of attack. After stopping at the pet store, the fabric store, Walmart and the mall, I finally made it home around 3:30. Guess who else made it home then too? Travis.

While I was excited to see him, I was not excited about the reason why he was home so early: he had shot 2 antelope that morning. TWO. Bah!

Luckily, he was exhausted from dragging and butchering them so instead of working on the meat Saturday night, we went out to eat at El Tapatio (where I had the world’s most unappealing taco salad) and then watched Iron Man 2. I had gotten up at 6 am so I fell asleep about halfway through.

Sunday morning, I got up around 7 and got the housewarming present for our friends together (to give to them after church). Then we went to church, came home and ate lunch, and got started on the meat.

Ah, the meat. Travis suggested that I help him cut it up. I told him that cutting it up would make me really not want to eat it. (I’m not a huge fan of antelope meat – which is why I’m not excited about him shooting two of them!) So I stuck to my usual job: vacuum sealing, which is gross enough. Except our vacuum sealer wasn’t working right. After much frustration over not being able to get the bag to seal before stuffing it, and going to Target and Walmart in search of new bags, I then read the directions and discovered I was using the machine wrong. Whoops.

But even after I learned the right way, the machine was struggling. It took forever to suck the air out and then once it sealed the bag, all the air somehow seeped back in so it was sealed, just not vacuum sealed. We weren’t too worried about it because we’re going to thaw it again in a month to grind it up when Travis and his family hopefully shoot an elk (I am a HUGE fan of elk meat).

Anyway, by the time we finished the meat, Travis had to leave for his work trip. I vacuumed the house, then went on a fabulous 6-mile run (running the last 3 miles at a 10:00/mile pace!). By the time I got back and did some strength training, it was 8:30. Time for bed.

So, weekend of relaxation – not so much. It was still good, just not what I had envisioned.

Then this week has been crazy busy – I had dinner with my aunt-in-law on Monday night, had Women’s Book Study Tuesday night, and then last night, I was supposed to go to care group. Except that I got a flu-ish type sickness and had to leave work at 1 pm. So I didn’t go to care group. I laid on the couch from 1:30 on, only getting up to eat the pizza I ordered and trying to sleep in my bed (one of the very few times I couldn’t get to sleep in the middle of the day).

I’m feeling better today but I’m still not 100%. If I didn’t have a crap ton of work to do at work (a blessing and a curse right now), I totally would’ve stayed home. Although I got ridiculously bored yesterday doing nothing. Travis took our laptop with him on his trip and I don’t have the muse to muscle through using our antique desktop. So that’s why I haven’t blogged this week.

The Crescent Moon Sprint Tri is this Saturday. I don’t know right now if I’m going to do it or not. I can’t imagine doing a triathlon while sick is enjoyable. Plus, I get the race sweatshirt either way. 😉

Anyway, life = crazy busy right now. SO READY FOR IT TO SLOW DOWN. Obviously, my body is saying that as well. Bah.