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


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


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).