Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Month o’ March is Done!

I enjoyed February’s monthly recap so much, I’ve decided to make it a regular feature.  Until I get tired of it or forget to do it, that is.

March was a pretty terrific month, all things considered.  I put a new Half-Iron training schedule on the fridge and stuck to it about 99% of the time, which is pretty amazing for me lately.  I missed one bike workout because the trainer broke about ten minutes into it – booooooo! – and one swim workout because I woke up and simply could NOT make myself get into the pool that day.  I had snuck in a short unscheduled drill swim the previous week, though, so I didn’t feel much guilt about skipping it.

I love me some numbers, especially displayed in tabular form, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

  January February March
Swim 6,900 meters (for the sake of argument, I’m just going with meters from now on.  I looked it up, they’re longer.) 15,850 meters 20,300 meters
Bike 61.71 miles 27.6 miles (ouch!) 107.91 miles (not great, but at least it’s triple digits!)
Run 22.45 miles 15.21 miles 30.7 miles (oh, how I wish this was a typo and maybe missing the number “1” in front of it, but I am happy with the increase in mileage.)
Strength Training 2 hours, 45 minutes 4 hours, 50 minutes 2 hours, 45 minutes

And now for some crunching/analysis (omg, with bullets!  This post is making me happier and happier!)…

  • Apparently when I get back to biking and running, my strength training suffers.  Honestly, I can live with that, since I’d totally rather be on the roads.
  • 28.52 of the 30.7 miles I ran this month were in my VFFs.  The last time I ran with shoes (March 5th) was maybe the last time I’ll ever run in shoes because the VFFs are my new BFFs.
  • 20,300 meters = 12.61 MILES.  I swam almost 13 fricken miles This. Month.
  • The time I’ve spent swimming so far this year equals the time I’ve spent running and strength training combined.
  • In February, I swam four and sometimes five days a week.  In March, I dropped it down to three days a week and still managed to swim more distance.
  • I’ve increased the volume on biking (March’s total is more than January and February combined!), but my speed and endurance are nowhere near where I’d like them to be.  April’s focus is cadence and hill work.
  • I’m really pleased that my training is finally moving in the right direction – bigger, better, faster, more.  I’ve missed that all day *unh!* feeling in my quads that reminds me of that morning’s awesome workout and I’m super happy to have it back.

I hope you all had a wonderful month o’ March.  Cheers to an even better April!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Marathons (and a coupla 5Ks)

It was the best of weather and the worst of weather…

Last Sunday dawned with temps in the 40s, pelting rain and 20+ mph winds.  Not exactly the sort of weather a person dreams of running a marathon in, for sure, but IronHubs fought the good fight and finished strong.  Today, we’re basking in the beauty of high clouds and temps in the 50s, with only a chance of showers later this afternoon.  What a difference!  Though IronHubs is wearing the exact same outfit for both races, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble telling which one he ran today versus last week – just look for the huge smile!

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 004All bundled up to stay warm at the start of the Modesto Marathon last Sunday.

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 009It was just starting to sprinkle as they left the gate, but it turned into a downpour right about the time IronHubs hit the halfway point.

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 074For a little hint of how bad the wind was, check out that flag!

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 080He was bummed to miss his goal time or even a PR, but at least it was another BQ and good enough for 22nd place OVERALL.

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 010In the meantime, while IronHubs was out fighting through the wind and the rain, Big Boy and Little Boy ran the 5K!

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 023As Big Boy ran past me at the Starting Line, I could tell something was wrong, but didn’t know what it was.  He was sort of holding his side and I thought maybe his brother had elbowed him in the ribs or something (I know, shame on me for thinking something so awful about Little Boy!  But they are brothers and believe me, it happens).

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 028Even worse than his brother elbowing him, Big Boy got knocked down at the Starting Line!  You can sort of see how bloody his knee is in this photo.  My tough cookie still got up and ran the 5K in 25 minutes flat, coming in 33rd place OVERALL out of 600+ participants.

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 044Little Boy came screaming into the chute at 27:31, a 40-second PR and good enough for…

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 0592nd Place in his AG!!

Davey B Runs the Modesto Marathon 053Big Boy, on the other hand, got to visit the Medical Tent for the first time and *just* missed the podium.  Not to sound like sour grapes, but the AGs weren’t arranged very fairly:  10 and under, then 11 – 15.  That puts 6th graders competing with high-schoolers!  No matter.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you end up with bandages on your knees that make all the girls on your track team think you’re hardcore.

River City Marathon! 001Fast forward to this morning, when it was chilly but not too cold, the wind was calm and there was nary a raindrop in sight.  IronHubs’ goal for these back-to-back marathons was to beat his combined time of 6:40 from last year’s Boston-to-Big Sur challenge.  Spoiler alert:  it was a piece of cake!

River City Marathon! 008The Starting Line.  This was a no-frills race, with just a few hundred participants and run on the beautiful bike trail I’ve written about before.  The race directors really put their money where it counts the most, though:  a big ol’ finisher’s medal and excellent post-race food!

River City Marathon! 015Heading out for a little 26.2 mile “fun run.”

River City Marathon! 034While we were waiting for IronHubs to finish, Big Boy ‘n Little Boy played in a park by the river and within seconds found the biggest stick in the entire field.  Gotta love boys.

River City Marathon! 038Big Boy and Little Boy tried to chase him into the Finish, but even at the end of his second marathon in seven days, IronHubs is a speed demon!

River City Marathon! 042Yep, he finished this week’s marathon even FASTER than last week’s!  3:12:11, his second fastest time and good enough for 9th Place OVERALL as well as…

River City Marathon! 060FIRST PLACE IN HIS AGE GROUP!!!

River City Marathon! 053It’s true, they were handing out awards from the back of a U-Haul truck, but like I said, they put their money into the good stuff:  a post-race BBQ lunch with brisket, beans, coleslaw and biscuits!

Needless to say, I’m ridiculously proud of all three of my boys for their fantastic racing!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back at It

No, I didn’t actually fall off the face of the earth, it just totally seemed like it!  I certainly didn’t intend to spend almost two weeks away from Bloggyville, but life, work and some computer troubles have kept me away.  The poor computer made a loud *POP* then a puff of smoke and then…nothing.  We’re hoping the hard drive escaped unharmed and are expecting parts whose names and functions I don’t understand to come in the mail in a few days.  In the meantime, I’m scribbling away on my tiny netbook.  Have you ever typed up a blog post on one of these itty bitty keyboards?  Geez Louise!

Things here in the P household are good.  Really good, in fact.  I put a highly-revised, lowered-standards, just-happy-to-cross-the-finish-line Half Iron training schedule on the refrigerator last week and so far I’ve hit every workout as planned – yay!  My new plan basically started me from scratch on the bike and run since I’ve taken so much time off the last three months.  My speed is definitely not there, but my endurance actually seems just about right, so that’s a bonus.  I’m guessing that all the swimming I’ve been doing has kept my fitness (but certainly not my weight – yikes! – that’s a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish) at an acceptable level.

In Running-in-Vibrams news, I couldn’t be happier with the way my runs have been going!  I’ve really taken my time getting used to them and I’m just now, after a month of running in them, starting to add some distance.  I progressed very slowly from about half a mile to a mile, then to a mile and a half and then up to two glorious miles.  I kept my speed sort of intentionally slow at first, too, so I could really focus on keeping my form.  I say “sort of intentionally” because at first I really couldn’t go any faster.  Gradually, though, this running style has started to feel easier and I’ve started to pick up the pace a little.  This morning was my longest and fastest run to date at three miles with an 8’17” pace and it felt absolutely wonderful!!  When I walked back in the door afterward, I finally, finally felt like I had gone for a “real” run.  It’s been months since I’ve felt like that.  Ahhhhhh, endorphins.

So, what of the sciatic pain that’s been plaguing me for months, you ask??  It’s gone.  G-O-N-E.  Between the Tempurpedic bed, doing the pillow-between-your-knees sleeping thing, the Vibrams and about two weeks of regular ibuprofen I think I finally gave that ol’ pain-in-the-back the boot.  Thank goodness!

The plan from here is to continue building endurance before May 22nd.  I’m doing three swims, three bikes, three runs and one bike-run brick per week, with very gradually increasing volume that doesn’t even approach race distance except for the swim (I’m already way over swim distance, can you believe it??).  But given the choice between leaping back into full volume training which would likely lead to re-injury or showing up on race day and basically gritting my teeth and hoping to make it through, I chose the underprepared but injury-free option.

How’ve you been??  Healthy and happy, I hope.  I’ll be spending some time this weekend getting caught up on blogs.  I’m also going to spectate at IronHubs’ sixth marathon (plus a 5K for Big Boy and Little Boy) tomorrow.  The weather is being uncooperative (100% chance of rain and winds over 20 mph), but his training cycle went exceptionally well and I have a good feeling about a new PR for all three of them!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Little Weekend Fun

We woke up on Saturday morning and everybody went for a run, because that’s what we do for fun around here!  Big Boy and Little Boy each went for a mile, I winced my way through two and IronHubs cranked out 12 (he’s tapering for two back-to-back marathons later this month).  Later in the afternoon, we took a fun family bike ride.

Misc 025This is something I love about central California – I live in the city, but I’m less than fifteen minutes from open fields and farmland.

Misc 027I didn’t notice it until I was uploading these pics: all three of us still have the helmet stickers from our last triathlon!

We rode on a bike trail I somehow haven’t ridden before, but I will definitely be returning to.  It’s off the street, so there’s no car traffic to worry about and there was almost no bicycle traffic either.  In spite of the grey clouds, the weather was a perfect 60+ degrees and we had a nice little tailwind coming back.  The boys completely rocked their ride and we ended up with a little over 13 miles at a 15 mph average speed.

Misc 035All done with our ride!

We rounded out the weekend with a nice swim at IronHubs’ work pool.  The boys both swam 200 yards and IronHubs and I popped out 1000 each (my fastest to date, but I’m pretty sure that’s because of the whole meters vs. yards thing).  Big Boy and Little Boy were so excited that they completed an entire kids-distance triathlon this weekend!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Deep Thoughts from the Shallow End of the Pool

I mentioned before that it’s been many, many years since I’ve belonged to a gym, but I don’t think I told you that I’ve never (as in never, EVER) been in a gym lap pool before.  In fact, I can probably count the number of times I’ve ever been in a public pool in my lifetime on one hand.  I’m not really a swim-in-front-of-other-people sort of girl.  Until now, of course, what with me getting my booty to the pool four days a week for the last five weeks.

So, I was sort of unprepared for the…oh, let’s call them “interesting”… folks who hang out at my gym pool:

There’s the guy who appears to be sleeping on one of the benches every time I’m there.

Or the guy who swims just two laps every morning.  One freestyle, one backstroke and then he’s out of the pool.  That hardly seems worth putting on a swimsuit.

There are the two old ladies – Fat Old Lady and Skinny Old Lady – who outlast me in the pool every time I see them. (And before you yell at me for their monikers, let me explain that they appear to be the same age, they have the same color swimsuit, the same sort of goggles and they both wear Crocs in the pool.  How else can I tell them apart??)  Man, those old girls put in some serious lane time.  I’ve never seen them out of the water.

Crocodile Lady wears a floatation belt and skims through the pool with just her nose and eyes above water.  Does that really count as exercise?

Slappy Man probably weighs in the neighborhood of 400 pounds and swims with a T-shirt and shorts on.  He swims even slower than me and his left hand glides into the water nicely, but his right hand hits the pool like he’s swatting a fly.  *whap*……..…*whap*………..*whap*  It’s like the world’s slowest helicopter.

There’s the guy who looks really fit but spends 90% of his pool time standing at the end of his lane and fiddling with his goggles.  He’ll swim a lap really fast (usually starting at the exact same time I’m starting a lap in the lane next to him – I can’t tell if he’s being competitive or what.  Congratulations, dude, you beat the slow girl!), stand around for four or five minutes, then swim another lap really fast…then stand around…  He probably only swims about 100 yards total, but he’s in the pool for 20 minutes or more.

The Bouncing Betties are two really big girls who do a combination walking/bouncing/swimming-with-the-floaty-dumbbells thing.  I end up sharing a lane with one or the other of them quite a lot and they’re both pretty friendly.

Where I’m going with the mental picture I’m painting for you is that on any given day I am significantly younger and waaaaaaaaaaaay faster than almost anybody else in the pool.  Yep, I just said I’m faster than other swimmers.  And since I average a high two minutes per hundred pace, it’s fair to imagine that everybody else is pretty much standing still in the water.

All that changed today.  It was busy this morning at the pool – all of us 5 AMers were there at once, so it was Lane Sharing City.  I started off with one of the Bouncing Betties, but she left me when I was a little over halfway done.  I swam a few more laps and then noticed a kid (it’s true – I’m so old that anybody in their 20s is now referred to as a “kid”) sort of hanging out on one of the benches.  He was obviously waiting for a lane, but too polite to just bust in on someone, so I told him I was almost done and he could share with me.  I was at the other end of the lane by the time he got his goggles on and got in the water, so we started from opposite ends at just about the same time.

Holy crap, I kid you not, I was maybe three strokes into my lap when he swam past me.  All I could think was, “Jon???  Is that you??”  This kid was FLYING through the water!  I’ve never had an underwater view of a fast swimmer like that, and I just couldn’t help but admire his form (and totally not in a Mary Kay Latourneau way!)  His feet kicked like hummingbird wings, his hips were rotating like a fricken corkscrew, and his pull was just a thing of beauty.  I was more than a little embarrassed at what he must have been thinking about my huge, splashing, lumbering pass through the water.  *sigh*

No matter.  I finished up with a pretty decent time (for me) and 5000 “mards” for the week, so I’m feeling mighty happy.  On tap for the weekend is an OUTSIDE bike ride – yay! – and hopefully another good mile on my feet.  Good stuff, my friends.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Miracle Mile

I ran a mile today!  A whole mile!  In fact, if you want to get technical (and I pretty much always do) I ran 1.02 miles today.  I was wearing my Vibrams and it took me 9 minutes and 34 seconds.  That doesn’t strike you as particularly miraculous yet?  Did I mention that this mile was

gloriously PAIN FREE??????

Yeah, like I said, miracle mile!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Re-Cap

I don’t usually do a “monthly numbers” post, probably because my normal training volume isn’t really post-worthy.  In fact, February’s running and cycling numbers are only post-worthy in the “If you can’t be a good example, at least you can serve as a horrible warning” way.  Ouch.  But my swimming?  Oh, yeah, baby!  For comparison’s sake, here are January’s and February’s numbers:

  January February
Swim 6,900 meters (or possibly yards, I don’t actually know) 15,850 “mards”
Bike 61.71 miles 27.6 miles
Run 22.45 miles 15.21 miles
Strength Training 2 hours, 45 minutes 4 hours, 50 minutes

As you can see, I’m not quite following the doctor’s “Don’t bike or run at all” advice.  But with numbers like these, I suppose I might as well be.  I’m really, really happy with the strength training volume increase over last month, and of course I’m stoked about more than doubling last month’s swim volume!  (This isn’t sarcastic.  I’ve become a swimming enthusiast, sort of in spite of myself.)

As of this morning’s jaunt in the pool, I have already hit last year’s swim volume.  Obviously, that just means I didn’t swim much in 2010, in spite of training for and racing three triathlons, but I’m still pretty stinkin’ happy about it!

Looking ahead to the month of March and beyond, I’m starting to feel some pressure to get back in the saddle and on my feet.  My back still hurts, and my sciatica doesn’t seem to be finding any relief, but my internal countdown clock to the WTH? is starting to tick a little louder.  83 days.  Yikes!  Well at least I know I’ve got the swim portion in the bag.