Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back and Looking Forward

2010 was a mighty fine year for me, athletically speaking.  Here's a look at the year in numbers:

9 = races I competed in
5 = PRs (more than half my races, I'm happy with that)
2 = virtual races I competed in
2 = virtual race PRs (w00t!)
1 = virtual races I hosted
1 = triathlon AG wins (and yes, there were other people in my AG competing)
0 = other AG podium placements (maintaining my Queen of 4th Place status is tough, but somebody has to do it)
3 = marathons run
2 =  marathons that I walked most of, due to vomitting
13 = times I threw up during those two marathons
14 = races that I spectated/supported/cheered for other members of my family
0 = training plans I completed exactly as planned
4 = pairs of running shoes I wore out
2 = breaks I've taken from running due to minor injury
1 = running blogs started
131 = new friends made from running blog  :-)
120 = times I've blathered on about myself in a blog post
945 = approximate miles run
920 = approximate miles biked (I think it's pretty funny that I apparently ran more miles than I biked)
15 = approximate miles swum

Wow, what a great year I had!  Until I did the math today, I had no idea I was so close to hitting 1000 miles for the year.  Looking at the stats like this really makes me look forward to 2011.  The final numbers for total miles run, biked, and swum are approximate because I keep lousy records, which I plan on changing for 2011.  I'm in the process of setting up a spreadsheet to track my swimming, biking, running and strength training hours.
So.  What are my goals for 2011?  I'm so glad you asked, because I'm super excited about them!  I don't have any specific mileage goals (though I'm thinking I should try a little harder to hit 1000 miles next year since I was so close this year), but I do have some racing goals in mind:
  • Compete in one race of (almost) every distance:  5K, 10K, Half-Marathon, Marathon, Sprint, Oly and Half-Iron.  No full Iron for me this year, but it's on my radar for 2012.
  • Ideally, of course, I'd like to PR for all distances.  The Oly and the Half-Iron are gimmes because they're new, but I feel like I've got a better race in me for the other distances, too.  Well, to be honest, the 5K is iffy.  I kicked a** at my last 5K.
  • Train smarter, including *ahem* taking time off.  My ideal goal is NO INJURIES in 2011.
Here's to a happy and healthy New Year for us all!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It’s the Middle of Swim-ter!

I’m not running right now.  Note how carefully worded that sentence is.  It does not say, “I can’t run right now.”  Because if I wanted to injure myself and spend the first half of 2011 recuperating, I could totally go for a run right now.  By choosing not to run and belatedly proactively take care of a little pain I’m having, I maintain my control over my training and my fitness.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Here’s the scoop:  my knee hurts and I’m taking a short break from running and riding because I should have taken more time off after the marathon.  Doncha like how I say “more time” like I took any?  Yeah, I think I’ve noodled out the problem.  Honestly, I’m not injured, but I am definitely experiencing muscle fatigue and tightness like I’ve never felt before.  It presents like knee pain, but I can bend and flex just fine.  The real problem seems to be coming from my piriformis and hamstring, which are so tight they’re pulling everything out of whack (that’s a medical term, you can go look it up if you need to).  Besides resting, I’m stretching and foam-rollering frequently.  Yesterday, I even went and got a real live professional massage, a first for me.  I abandoned the 10K race I was considering and I am now on official runnbattical for the next week or so.

This all sounds so rational and fixable while I’m writing it, but you know how you feel when you don’t exercise for a few days?  Yeah, I’ve been going nuts.  This afternoon I was about five minutes away from wiping “Good Mom” off my resume, and I knew I needed to get some endorphins flowing, stat (again with the medical jargon).  Unfortunately, my options were pretty limited.  Really, my only choice for a workout was to get in the pool.  In my backyard.  In the 55 degree weather.  Well, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Swimming in Winter 003Really?  49 degrees in the water?

Swimming in Winter 004Doesn’t that look inviting?

Swimming in Winter 006Ensconced in neoprene.

Swimming in Winter 007“Take the picture quick!  I’m freezin’ my booty off!”

I didn’t get any “after” pics because my hands were so numb they felt like they were on fire.  I ended up swimming 500 meters in a wicked fast 11 minutes and 10 seconds (2:14/100).  By “wicked fast” of course what I mean is “painfully and embarrassingly slow for normal people, but still under an Ironman cutoff pace.”  I stayed in a hot shower longer than I was in the pool and then all was right in my world again. 

I’m hoping to buy some sort of neoprene booties to keep my feet warm the next time I do this, because yes, there will be a next time.  Probably this weekend.  I’ve got big plans for 2011 – I’m doing a Half-Iron distance in May!! - and swim training starts…uhhh…now.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Gift Review–BOSU Ball

I’ve been running for about four and a half years now, but I didn’t crosstrain at all for the first year or so.  When I gave myself a stress fracture from running too much, I discovered how much I liked riding a bike and swimming.  (Okay, I don’t actually like swimming, but it is a useful exercise.)  About a year ago, I finally started doing core work.  IronHubs had been doing planks and crunches sort of regularly for a few months and really encouraged me to add core exercises to my routine, but I was a reluctant convert.  It wasn’t until I read an article with a ten minute routine in Runner’s World that didn’t include any crunches – my least favorite exercise – that I decided to give it a try.  I kept it super simple at first:  ten pushups, one 30-second plank, ten tricep dips and ten trunk rotations – DONE!  Even with only that minimal amount of work, I saw results in a few months’ time.  My speed improved, my endurance improved, my recovery time shortened, and damn if my shoulders didn’t look good in a tank top!  Gradually, I added more exercises and more reps and in about six months, core work became an integral part of my normal routine.  I do a handful of exercises on my bike ride days and a good twenty or thirty minutes of core work on my “rest” days.  I have a balance ball and a five-lb. medicine ball already, but, well, you can never have too much gear, right?

I know I’ve mentioned before how awesome it is to be married to a fellow endurance athlete, and here’s another perk:  if you want some sort of equipment for yourself, you just give it to your spouse as a gift!  (This works best in a community property state like California.)  I’ve had my eye on the BOSU Ball for awhile now, so guess who got one for Christmas??

Christmas Day 038Merry Christmas, sweetie!  I hope you like my your new BOSU!

I was a good wife and let IronHubs use it first, but I was very, very excited to give it a go this morning for myself.  The training system I bought includes the BOSU Ball, a small foot pump, the illustrated owner’s manual (which showed about ten exercises) and a DVD with four complete (approximately 30 minutes each) workouts.  I paid full retail, about $100, at my local sporting goods store.  I had some reservations about spending that much money, but the packaging totally sold me – there are pics of a girl coming out of an open water swim and two girls riding bicycles.  They might as well have printed “P, this is going to make you a better triathlete!” on the box.  Here are my thoughts:

THE BALL

The set-up directions were very simple and the ball was super easy to pump up.  The base is very sturdy, but not too heavy and really doesn’t move around while on a hard surface (this was one of my concerns, as the surface where it will get the most use is tile).  The rubber of the ball is also sturdy and non-slip.  I used the trainer on both sides (fun fact:  the word BOSU is an acronym for “BOth Sides Utilized”) on my tile floor and it didn’t move at all.  I sat, stood and kneeled on the ball side during my workout and never felt like I was sinking to the bottom of the ball.  The surface of the ball is a design of concentric rings, which was useful when checking your foot or hand symmetry, or centering yourself on the ball.

THE WORKOUT DVD

The inclusion of four full-length workouts was what sealed the deal for my purchasing decision.  I have a pretty good repertoire of core exercises that I do regularly, but I admit that my execution can be dawdling.  I’ll do some back work, then lay on the balance ball for a minute or two…I’ll do my pushups, then lay on the floor for a bit…IronHubs teases me when he finds me prone in the middle of my workout:  “Ooooooh, that’s my favorite core exercise!”  The four workouts are “Calorie Combustion,” “Absolutely Abs,” “Long and Lean,” and “Total Body Workout.”  Today I did the complete “Long and Lean” workout and the main set and cooldown of “Absolutely Abs.”

Bosu Workout 015Screen shot from “Long and Lean.”

My initial reaction toward the fake-blonde-and-fake-boobs instructor – I called her “Betty” - was less than thrilled (of course I’m jealous!  Hello, you’ve seen enough pictures of me to know that I shop for bras in the Junior department!), but she was pleasant without being overly perky and she moved the workout along at a nice, quick pace.  The workout itself was mostly yoga, which I enjoyed.  It included lots of stretching and balancing poses, but at a lively pace, rather than a relaxing one.

Bosu Workout 006Intense concentration.

Bosu Workout 005The easy modification for one of the Warrior Poses.

After completing “Long and Lean” I wasn’t wiped out, so I moved on to “Absolutely Abs.”  I like the fact that you have the option to start the workout at the warm-up or at the beginning of the main set, so you can do more than one workout without having to “warm up” each time.  Mr. Muscles from the background of “Long and Lean” was the instructor for this workout and he was awesome, too.

Bosu Workout 028

Screen shot from “Absolutely Abs.”

This workout kicked my a**.  Mr. Muscles moved at the same brisk pace, but since we were focusing only on the abs, I could feel the burn almost immediately.

Bosu Workout 021Challenging crunches.

Bosu Workout 025I’m either falling off the ball or swearing at the screen because my abs are burning.  Maybe both.

Here’s what I loved about the DVD: 

  • Both workouts were over before I knew it – thirty minutes has never flown by so fast while doing core work. 
  • The pace was fast enough to be challenging, but not so fast that I couldn’t keep up.
  • Both instructors were really encouraging without being condescending.  “Betty” kept telling me I was doing great (even though I wasn’t) and Mr. Muscles mentioned several times that falling off or feeling unsteady is totally okay.  He even wobbled a bit himself, which I suspect was all for show, but still made me feel good.
  • Both instructors showed the easy modifications themselves.  I really appreciated this.  On other workout videos, when the instructor relegates the easy modification to a background person, the implication is that you’re a loser if you can’t follow along.
  • It really was a workout.  “Long and Lean” didn’t make me sweat very much, but I definitely felt it.  “Absolutely Abs” was worthy of turning on the fan and grabbing a towel.  Honestly, I chose these two workouts first because I thought they might be easier, so I can’t wait to give the other two a try.  No, they’re not going to replace a run or a ride, but these workouts are going to be a great addition to my routine.

My only complaint:

  • The verbal instructions could be clearer.  I really had to keep my eyes glued to the screen or know the names of the poses to follow the movements.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I give the BOSU Ball six out of a six-pack of abs!  I’m thrilled with this new addition to my gear closet - I definitely feel like the BOSU workout will take my core work to a whole new level.

I bought the BOSU with my own hard-earned cash, these opinions are mine.

What new and exciting gear did you get for Christmas???

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three (Wonderful) Things Thursday

It is still Thursday, right??  My days are all mixed up this week, but no matter.  I have three wonderful things to tell you about!

1.  My Secret Santa Bloggy Gift came in the mail today!!!!  So, I’ve totally spent this week Charlie Brown-ing by the mailbox.  Waiting, waiting, waiting (which is pretty silly since the bloggy gift I sent out probably just made it to its recipient today, too).  But I really love a good Secret Santa surprise and I just couldn’t wait for it to arrive and surprise me!  Oooooh, and it was a good one, too.  In fact, it’s three gifts in one:  it was a package in the mail (omg, I love it when packages come in the mail!), it’s a BOOK (which means it’s a present I get to open again and again!), and it was from a blogger I didn’t already know (yay for new bloggy friends!)  Thank you so much to Laura from Laura’s Boise-full Life (and a big thank you to Jill for organizing this whole thing – what a wonderful holiday treat)!!

Bloggy Awesomeness 002Laura’s message:  This is my favorite book and I hope it inspires you on your journey.  I’m so excited to read this!

2.  There was another surprise in the mail today!!  I got not one, but TWO packages in the mail today, thereby making it pretty much the best mail day ever.  A while back, I won an Honorable Mention prize from Marcia’s virtual Race to End Lupus, but it didn’t come in the mail.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t really think anything of it – people get busy and life happens, so I didn’t think it was a big deal until I got an email from Marcia asking if I’d received my prize.  Oh, bummer!  It must’ve gotten lost in the mail.  So, most people would have left it at that, but not my girl Marcia.  She went and replaced the missing prize and it wasn’t some token Honorable Mention, it is FULL ON FABULOUSNESS!  Thank you so much Marcia!!!!  Check out this amazing Lift Your Sole necklace (accompanied by a sweet note):

Bloggy Awesomeness 004I’ve “window-shopped” at liftyoursole.com lots of times and absolutely love this necklace:  A marathon doesn’t build character, it reveals it.

3.  I’m a winner, too!!  Laurie announced the winners of her Holiday Cheer giveaway today and I was one of them!!  All because I admitted in public that I rarely clean my shower…

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was whining about the blahs???  Wow, well they are gone, gone, gone-ity GONE today!  A girl could really get used to all this lucky/happy/awesomeness!  OH, but wait!  There’s more:

4.  Speedwork is the answer.  And it doesn’t really matter what your question or problem was!  I love speedwork.  It is quantifiable proof that you are even more bada** than you thought.  When selecting my speedwork paces, I usually choose something that I think will be challenging, but within my reach.  For today’s 4 x 800 repeats, I was aiming for a 7:20 pace.  I felt reasonably confident about hitting that goal and thought I might even have a little wiggle room if I was feeling really good.  I haven’t run 800s in a really, really long time (like almost two years) and I was so pleasantly surprised at how fast they went!  As soon as I was thinking, “I can’t hold this pace any longer” it was over.  I felt amazing as soon as I got going and knew I had hit my splits, but maybe you can imagine my surprise and delight when I loaded up my Garmin stats to find these paces:  6:55, 6:54, 7:01 and 7:06.  HOLY CROW, I ran a pace that started with a 6?!?!?!?  I’m pretty sure this qualifies as a Christmas miracle.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy holiday!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blah Blah Blah

Okay, I need to confess something:  I’ve got the blahs.  The Winter Blahs, the Bah Humbug Blahs, the Work Sucks Blahs, the Can’t Stop Eating Christmas Cookies Blahs, and – worst of all – the Post-Marathon Blahs.  *whew*  It feels good to finally admit that.  I’ve been fighting it and denying there’s a problem, but it’s so obvious (to me, at least) that I’m having trouble mustering up any enthusiasm lately.  My list of things that are bugging me includes, but is not limited to:

  • I need a haircut (and a little color would be nice, too)
  • Mother Nature has rotten timing
  • I have no willpower in the face of cookies
  • I’m not quite done getting ready for Christmas
  • I’m giving myself loads of guilt about Christmas (you know the drill – “Have I done enough?”)
  • I feel fat (hey, think that could be related to all the cookies?)
  • I am woefully behind on blogs
  • The blahs are such a downward spiral – I don’t feel like doing anything because I feel blah, but doing nothing is making me feel even more blah…  UGH!  Blah, rinse, repeat.

The good news is that just talking about it out loud (ummm, writing out loud?) is already helping me put the blahs in perspective.  I’ve felt this way before after big races and/or near big holidays and I know the feeling will pass.  In the meantime, here’s my plan of attack to beat the blahs:

  • Eat a good dinner with some yummy colorful vegetables
  • Stop with the cookies, already
  • Speedwork!  I love me some speedwork and I’ve got a great workout on tap for tomorrow with 800 repeats.  I haven’t done 800s in so long (I’ve concentrated on mile repeats), I’m almost giddy with excitement!

How do you beat your post-race/mid-winter/cookie-eating blahs??

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Soggy Sunday

I don’t usually struggle with motivation.  I love to run, I love to ride my bike.  Sometimes I’ll dawdle before getting in the pool, but - most of the time - if something’s written on the plan it’s gonna get done.  Even on a day like today.

We’ve been pretty rainy the last few days, so it wasn’t like I thought it was going to be dry this morning.  Waking up like I do numerous times in the night (let the dog out, go to the bathroom, yell at the cat for eating the plants, etc.), I could hear the rain and wind all night long.  Yikes.  I hoped I could sneak out in between the cloudbursts for my 8-miler this morning, but there was no break in this storm.

Soggy Sunday 009Raindrops in the pool

I checked weather.com just enough to know that it wasn’t going to get any drier by waiting around (plus I had someplace to be this morning by 9 am), so out the door I went at 6:45 in my tank top and skirt plus arm warmers and gloves.  It was pretty warm in spite of the rain, somewhere in the low 50s.

Soggy Sunday 008I procrastinated as long as I could by taking pics, but eventually I had to get out and run

I think the hardest part about running in the rain is stepping out of your front door into it.  Those first few drops on your bare skin are always the chilliest, but then once you’re wet it’s really not that bad.  I usually enjoy running in the rain and today was no exception, even though it was a lot rainier and definitely windier than normal (the wind was blowing at just about the speeds I normally ride my bike).  By the time I hit the end of my driveway there wasn’t a dry spot on me.  At the corner of my street and the main road I stepped in the first of many ankle-deep puddles and got that over with.  Within the first mile or so, I got splashed up to my elbows in dirty street water by a passing motorist, so now I was pretty much as wet as I was gonna get, you know?  The upside to all this is that I think I’ve finally washed all the blood out of my poor battle-scarred Newtons.

The first few miles it was just a light rain and I was enjoying a nice cross-tail wind on the “out” portion of my out-and-back.  When I turned around to face the wind, the rain started to pick up, too.  My skirt got heavier and heavier as it got waterlogged and eventually I had to hold it up at the waistband with my left hand.  Around Mile 6, when the rain was coming down in sheets and my ponytail was whipping the back of my neck, I was ready to be done.  Nothing to do but run it home, though, so that’s what I did.  8 miles done.  I earned my “hardcore” points for this workout, for sure.

Soggy Sunday 012These post-rainy run pics never do the sogginess justice

I hope you enjoyed your weekend run, too!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Three (Million) Things Thursday

Holiday madness is in full swing in the P household, friends.  I have so many things on my to-do list swirling around in my head, but I still wanted to pop in to Bloggyville and let you know what’s going on with me:

1.  Winter is here!  I braved a six-miler this morning (assemble Dad’s package…get to the post office…buy stamps while I’m there) in the coldest temps so far this year:  34 degrees and foggy as all get-out.  I’m a stubborn little monkey, so I still wore a skirt, but I broke down and wore a shirt with sleeves today.  Short sleeves.  I had arm warmers, too, (make/choose something appetizer-y for tomorrow’s get-together…vacuum/dust/scrub toilets…get to BevMo for wine…are we exchanging gifts this year??) but I pulled those down to wrap around my hands by the halfway point.  My arms and legs were fine, and even though my nose got pretty chilly I could live with it, but my hands are still in pain from the cold!  Next time (do laundry so Little Boy has a clean shirt for his band performance tonight…charge the camera batteries)I’m going to toss some of those hand-warmer thingies into my gloves.

2.  I started a new training plan on Monday.  I’ve got a 10K PR in my sights (decide on dinner…when are we going to eat if we have to be at the school by 5:30?…get to the grocery store for milk, bananas and butter…there’s probably other things we’re out of, too) and there’s a perfect race coming up in a few weeks.  The plan is neither high-mileage nor too aggressively speedy.  It’s more like a maintenance program, but I like it (wrap Mom’s gift…wrap my sister’s gift…I still need to buy something or send money to the nieces and nephews…money sounds easier) because I’m a big fan of being on-plan.  I’ve got three runs per week – a short, easy day, a tempo or speedwork day, and a long run day.  Since it’s a distance I feel confident about running, I’m excited (whip up a batch of Alma’s cookies…buy cookie tins for the people who are getting cookies…make sure Little Boy takes his teacher her gift tomorrow) about switching up my cross-training a little bit by adding some yoga and a little more strength training.

3.  My racing plans for 2011 are shaping up nicely.  Beyond that January 10K (better get a few bottles of wine while I’m at BevMo…don’t forget to go to WORK today!…those Christmas cards aren’t going to address themselves, P…get that last thing on IronHubs’ list while it’s still on sale) I have some pretty exciting things in the hopper for next year and I can’t wait to share them with you!!  Soon, I promise.  I just have to focus on getting through the end of 2010 first.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Back to “Normal”

I spent this week recovering, but not entirely resting.  I’m not a big fan of total rest, so I kept busy without knocking myself out:  an easy spin on Wednesday, a slow and relaxed two-miler on Thursday, another spin on Friday and then I took yesterday off.  By this morning, I was ready to go for a little longer run.  The weather was fantastic and I took Big Boy and Little Boy out with me for the first two miles.

Sunday Run 004Ready to rock ‘n roll.  Yes, it’s the middle of December and I’m still wearing a tank top – it was a perfect 55 degrees this morning with just a little fog.  The boys regretted their choice of long sleeves within the first half mile, but I’m a nice mom and refrained from saying, “I told you so!”

Sunday Run 007This is the nature trail next to the creek near my house.  It was a little after 7 am and still sort of dark.  I can’t wait for the Winter Solstice to pass!

Sunday Run 009It wasn’t long before Big Boy asked if he could run his own pace (faster than Little Boy’s and, therefore, mine).  I snapped this pic of him on his way back after the turnaround.

Sunday Run 011Sweaty and happy after two quick miles!

Back at my house, I dropped off the boys, my camera and gloves and headed out on my own.  I wasn’t sure how far I’d feel like going, but had the possibility of my favorite 6-mile route in mind (actually, this route is almost exactly 6.2 miles – my own personal 10K).  Being off-plan this week has meant that I could pretty much do whatever I felt like whenever I wanted.  Not quite a runnbattical, but not the rigors of marathon training, either.  Nice.

As soon as I started running, I could feel my whole body relax.  You know that feeling, where your feet start moving and you think, “Oh, yes, this is exactly what I needed!”  My stride opened up and even though I knew I was running “too fast,” I simply didn’t care.  I wasn’t aiming to hit a certain split time and I had zero interest in holding myself back.  If I conked out halfway, I could slow down or cut it short – who would care? 

My legs found a happy, comfortable pace and I felt like I was floating.  My mind was both meandering – working through the stress of daily life and the holidays – and strangely focused – ticking off the pace, keeping my elbows in and my landings soft.  My breathing never got labored, my heart never felt like it was pounding too hard.  Everything about this run felt glorious.  In the end, I chose the 6-mile route and closed the morning with 8.2 miles.  The first two miles were at Little Boy’s pace  -9’05” - and the last 10K?  Um, yeah, I ran that at an astonishing 7’43” min/mi, which is over twenty seconds per mile faster than my current 10K PR pace.  That PR is going down in 2011!

Running, like everything in life, has its peaks and valleys.  I’ve seen my share of disappointments in this sport - I’ve worked hard to see minimal gains, been crushed by mediocre race results, and moped my way through injuries.  And in the four-plus years I’ve been running, I’ve probably only had a handful of runs like the one this morning, where the stars aligned and angels sang and the running gods declared, “Today is your day, P!”  But I’ll take that handful.  They sure do make everything else worthwhile.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wrap it Up

Okay, I promise this will be the last CIM post (at least this week – HA!)  No really, as thrilled, excited and hyper as I still am, it’s time to move on to other topics.  Soon, I promise.  But before I move on, I need to reiterate how friggen HAPPY this race made me!  You know how I can prove it?  Race photos, baby!  Check these out:

SportPhoto Pics 001Early on - I don’t remember the exact mileage, but you can see how perky all the other runners still are.

SportPhoto Pics 002Somewhere later in the day.  I remember noticing the photographers and smiling, but I’m not sure where they were on the course.

SportPhoto Pics 003That chicken wing look really works for me, no?  The other runners around me are starting to look a little droopy.

SportPhoto Pics 005My favorite part of this picture is how completely trashed the other two girls look.

SportPhoto Pics 004Best. Day. Ever.

I don’t usually purchase race photos because I’m not a big fan of forking out twenty bucks for a single 3.5x5 photo, but I honestly considered buying the lot of these (at close to $100, I refrained).  Of the seven or eight pics taken, there’s only one where I’ve got that awkward landing-foot thing going on and  I’ve got a huge smile in all of them.  My only real complaint is that the finish line photo doesn’t include the clock.  I ended up purchasing the finish photo anyway, and yes, I’m paying extra to have the CIM logo and my finish time printed on it (and I cropped out those other girls).  I’m such a sucker.

I hope your weekend finds you smiling, friends!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday WINNER!

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Congratulations ERG!!! 

Please email me at PahlaB2@gmail.com to claim your new necklace!!!  Thank you so much to {anne franklin designs} for this awesome giveaway!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don't Forget...

... to enter my {anne franklin designs} giveaway!! Entries must be received by 5 am California time Wednesday. Click the link on my sidebar and enter now. The winner will be chosen and announced tomorrow afternoon. Good luck!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Of Course I Have More to Say About the Marathon

But you saw that coming, didn’t you?  I sure do love me a bulleted list, so here it is:

  • I didn’t mention the CIM before I ran it because I really couldn’t face posting about it if things didn’t go well.  I knew you would all say super nice, supportive and sympathetic things because you ROCK, but I didn’t want to have to type up another race report that included miles of walking, crying and feeling defeated – UGH!
  • In fact, I told myself that if the CIM didn’t go well, I was never going to run another marathon again.  No pressure there, huh?  Check out the subtitle of my training plan.

CIM Training Schedule 001

  • It’s true – I really am a smiley faces and exclamation points sort of girl!  Smile
  • While I was in the hotel lobby waiting for the bus to the Start, a friendly-looking man sat down next to me.  We said “Good morning” to each other and that was all.  We walked out to the busses at the same time and chatted very briefly in the line.  He ended up sitting next to me on the bus because – in his words – he knew I wouldn’t talk his ear off!  Ha, ha!  We talked almost the whole bus ride.
  • I made friends with the girls in front of me at the port-o-potty lines, too.
  • Not wearing my iPod for this race was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – I LOVED listening to all of the different sounds of race day and thankfully never ran near a groaner.
  • One woman answered her phone during the race and it was a wrong number!
  • I admit it, I used my phone briefly during the race, too.  I called IronHubs when I made it to Mile 21 because I was sort of afraid he wouldn’t even be looking for me yet at the Finish Line when I got there.
  • One girl who was wearing a tutu missed about half of the spectator’s compliments because she was wearing an iPod.  Bummer for her.  I heard ALL of the people (and there were a lot!) who complimented my skirt.
  • A guy who was running just about my pace had a huge support team that leapfrogged down the course to cheer for him.  They were hollering and blowing horns – it was awesome!  No matter that they weren’t cheering for me, I still soaked up their energy.
  • I love running a race I’ve done before.  Knowing what was coming and what to look forward to definitely helped my “mental game.”
  • I had a hard time watching people struggle on the course.  I’ve been that girl and I know exactly how much it sucks. 
  • When I got to the bridge at Mile 22, the guy right in front of me slowed down to walk.  I shouted at him, “This is the last hill, you can do it!”  He replied, “Really?  The last one?” and picked it back up to a run.  He thanked me when we got to the top.  Good thing I wasn’t lying about it being the last hill!
  • I’m pretty sure the CIM has the best spectator support of any race I’ve done.  Sure, there were some people who were only cheering for their runner and there were some stretches with no spectators at all, but most of the people I saw on the course were loud and energetic.  What a difference that makes!
  • My favorite spectator comment came about Mile 23 from a guy who shouted at me, “You’re in First Place in the argyle skirt division!!”  Woo hoo!
  • I saw a spectator wearing a green sweatshirt with a big yellow “O” on it, so I hollered “Go DUCKS!” at him.  I knew Laurie would be proud of me for that!
  • I passed more people in the last three miles than I did the rest of the race, just because I was still running.
  • Somewhere around Mile 24 I saw a girl ahead of me wearing a checkered skirt.  It wasn’t exactly like mine, but it was similar.  All I could think was that if she came into the finish area ahead of me, my kids would get all excited like, “Here comes Mom!” and then be disappointed when it wasn’t me.  I focused everything I had on reeling her in.  I NEEDED to pass her because I simply couldn’t bear letting my kids down.  It seemed to take forever, but it was probably only about a half a mile or so, but I caught her!  First Place in the “Here comes Mom” division! 
  • When I got into the “big miles” I was really digging deep to keep running, but at the same time I felt completely elated that I was still running.  I had a huge smile on my face and heard so many surprised comments from the spectators – “Wow!  You look great, keep it up!”  The more they cheered, the more I smiled, and the more I smiled, the more they cheered.  It was awesome!
  • I am so sore today it is unreal.  Anything that requires me to sit, stand or bend in any manner is accompanied by grunting and a muttered, “mthrfckr!”
  • The celebratory pie is long gone, as is everything else in my house that was even remotely edible.
  • You better believe I am running this race again next year!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Victory and Redemption–CIM Race Report

I ran a marathon this morning.  No, I hadn’t mentioned it on here.  I talked about going for long runs, but not a peep about training plans or taper madness.  And let me be really honest here, if today had been a barf-a-palooza like Long Beach, there still wouldn’t be any mention of this race on the blog!  Lucky me, today was the marathon I’ve been dreaming about!  Let’s start at the very beginning… (a very good place to start)

Driving home from Long Beach, I was in a pretty deep funk.  Training had gone reasonably well and I really felt like I had my nutrition locked down, but the day still fell apart.  Blech!  With a local race just seven weeks away, I was hungry for redemption, so I signed up for the California International Marathon the very next day and plunged head-first back into marathon training.  Even though it was short and sweet, this training cycle went really, really well.  My IT band behaved itself, my stomach behaved itself and my long runs went off without a hitch.  I came across an article in Triathlete magazine (link is not to the article – I couldn’t find it online – but to the magazine’s home page) that seemed to describe my GI troubles perfectly.  I can train with food and feel great, but come race day, I’m living in Puke City.  According to the article, race nerves create a “fight or flight” reaction that causes your (or rather, MY) body to shut down extraneous systems like digestion in preparation to fight or flee.  The article suggested taking in nothing but simple sugars on race day because that’s all the body can absorb.  In deciding to give this a try, my entire thought process went something like this:  “Well, it can’t suck worse.”  For a hint how this worked out for me, check the title of this post again.

I worked pretty hard this past week to keep my mind off the race and keep my nerves in check and, for the most part, that strategy worked.  By the time I went to the expo yesterday, though, I was starting to feel a little excited and nervous.  Sadly, I barely had any time at all to explore the expo and the race schwag was almost non-existent.  Oh well, the CIM more than makes up for a so-so expo with a beautiful course and lots of spectator support.

CIM 003The race bag had a boring shirt, a mini Clif Bar, Corn Thins, sample bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a bunch of informational flyers.  L A M E.

Race day dawned at 3 am, as race days tend to do, and I woke up feeling really good and sort of surprisingly confident.  It had rained most of yesterday and all night last night, but the forecast was looking good:  46 degrees at the start, cool and cloudy all day with the rain holding off ‘til this afternoon.  I outfitted myself in my new RunningSkirts argyle and my comfiest tank top, Nathan reflective sleeves, Zensah calf sleeves and Injinji socks (no more bloody toes!), filled my fuel belt with Gatorade and I was ready to go.  IronHubs dropped me off at the host hotel around 5 o’clock to catch the bus to the start.

Pahla Race Day 003Race Strategy #1:  You gotta look cute to have a good race!

By the time we arrived at the start and I braved the port-o-potty lines, it was 6:58 – just two minutes ‘til go time!  My one and only goal for the day was to not throw up, so I started at a nice easy pace and really never moved it up a gear.  The CIM is a point-to-point race, which I absolutely love because every single step you take gets you closer to the finish line.  The first five miles literally flew by.  I was just enjoying the atmosphere of the race and all the cowbell-ringing spectators, and before I knew it I was at the first Relay point.  While I don’t love the fact that a relay option sort of “waters down” the marathon experience, I am a big fan of the guaranteed energy-boosting crowds of spectators at three points along the course.  I knew I was going to see IronHubs around Mile 8, and I really felt like I had barely gotten started and Whoomp, there he was!  Now I just had to make it to the halfway point and I would be done with the worst of the hills.  They refer to this course as “net downhill” but there are plenty of uphill portions, too, believe me!  The first half is full of good-sized rolling hills, followed by another five + miles of small rollers and then the last few miles are blissfully flat.

My mental strategy for the race was to break the course into small, manageable pieces and stay on top of my hydration at the same time.  I made sure I was done with an entire flask of Gatorade every six miles.  I never looked at the Total Time section on my Garmin.  In fact, I didn’t look at my Garmin at all!  I reminded myself frequently that I simply didn’t care about my time or pace as long as my stomach was cooperating.  I looked forward to each Relay point and seeing IronHubs at Mile 8.  I knew that if I could make it to the halfway point with my stomach underneath me, things were looking good.  When I made it to Mile 18 and I still felt good, I finally let myself hope for a good day.  At Mile 18, I thought about making it to Mile 20.  At Mile 20, I promised myself that if I could make it to the bridge (the last cruel uphill section of the race) at Mile 22 that I could coast to the finish.  At Mile 22, I was so giddy from my success so far that I started high-fiving the spectators and I’m pretty sure I had a smile on my face all the way to the finish.  At Mile 23, the streets are numbered, so I started counting down the blocks until the finish – “Just run one more block, P.  Oh, look, just one more block.  You can do one more block.”  At Mile 25, the crowds are so thick you can practically smell the finish line and really, anybody can run a mile.

I won’t lie – I struggled to keep going.  Around Mile 10, Creeping Doubt came and visited me and reminded me of all the races that have fallen apart by Mile 13.  Even though I never threw up, I spent plenty of miles wondering if it was coming.  By Mile 18, when it seemed like everyone around me was walking, it took every ounce of determination I had to keep running.  By Mile 24, I think I was actually telling myself out loud to keep running.  But I did it – I ran every single step of the way, from the starting mat to the finishing mat.  I didn’t walk up the hills or through the water stops.  I RAN a marathon today.  I didn’t BQ - not even close!  I didn’t go sub-4 hours like I was sort of hoping, even though the 4-hour pace group was within spitting distance for a really long time.  I did, however, shave 34 minutes off of my PR and honestly, I couldn’t be happier!  Official finish time 4:10:07 – w00t!

CIM 004Sprinting (not really) to the Finish Line.  I hope the Newton people don’t revoke my shoes for that heel strike.

CIM 033Checking my watch at the finish – I think that smile says it all.

CIM 037Post-race with my awesome support crew.  I smell a Christmas card picture!

CIM 044Pretty sweet bling.

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, too.  I would stay and chat more, but there’s a celebratory pie calling my name!

Friday, December 3, 2010

{anne franklin designs} GIVEAWAY!

I already told you how much I lovey love love my {anne franklin designs} necklace, so you can imagine my squeal of delight when anne offered to let me give one away to YOU, my dear bloggy friends!  (You might think I’m joking or at least exaggerating, but no.  I actually squealed when I got the email.)

Entering is easy (details below), the hard part is going to be choosing just one necklace.  Pick one for yourself or give it away as a beautiful and unique gift.  Guys, you can’t go wrong on these necklaces, they’re ALL cute!  All images borrowed from the {anne franklin designs} website. 

Maybe you’ll want the festive Christmas Dots:

dots for christmas

Or the adorable apple:

an apple a day

Or the cute owl:

who o o loves you

Or something to celebrate your awesome accomplishments:

endurance sports

No matter which necklace you choose, I know you’re going to love it.  Made from Scrabble tiles, there are lots of fun designs to choose from.  They’re lightweight and hung on a gorgeous cord-and-ribbon combo. 

Here’s how you can win (up to six entries per person – wow! – please post a separate comment for each entry, so my cat can choose the winner.  Ha, ha, I’m kidding.  I think this time I’ll let my dog do the honors):

  • Be or become a follower of my blog (one entry)
  • Go to the {anne franklin designs} website and tell me which necklace you want to win (one entry)
  • “Like” {anne franklin designs} on Facebook (one entry)
  • Post about this giveaway on your blog, FB or Twitter (one entry for each post – up to three entries total)

I’m going to keep this giveaway short and sweet – hopefully you’ll be wearing your new necklace for the holidays!  All entries must be received by 5 am (California time) Wednesday, December 8, 2010.  Winner will be announced Wednesday afternoon!

Good Luck!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Final Winner and Adventure Wrap-Up!

Before I announce the final random winner, I wanted to take a quick second to say THANK YOU to everyone who participated in my “Not Your Average Adventure” virtual race!  I had a total blast hosting this race and I am already cooking up ideas for another one!  Many thanks also to the wonderful companies who donated the fabulous prizes:  Ryders Eyewear, Spinervals, CafePress and Road ID.

Since my cat Rosy had been *ahem* enthusiastically involved in the drawing process so far, I thought it only fair that she be allowed to choose the final random winner:

Final Adventure Winner 008

The traditional wearing of the hat.  I’m pretty sure this was her favorite part.

Final Adventure Winner 004

“You want me to do…what??”

Final Adventure Winner 002

Sniffing out a winner.

Final Adventure Winner 006

“I choose this one!”

Congratulations Tortuga Runner @ Tales of an Ambitious Slacker!!!

Rosy and I are very happy for you!  Please email me at PahlaB2@gmail.com and I will get your prize to you as quickly as possible.  Happy Adventuring, Friends!