Monday, January 30, 2012

Getting My Swim On I haven't swam since the tri in October. And my swim in that race was TERRIBLE! Although I don't think I'll start officially "IronMan" training until after the March marathon, I need to get some base swimming and technique going on. After getting some advice from the local masters swimming listserv I decided to try out the CycleLife masters program -- it meets 2 miles down the road from 5:30-6:30am so I can be in the car at 6:35 and home in time for Jamie's 6:45am departure.

I. was. so. tired. today.

So I've been doing running intervals -- hard ones -- every Monday morning and I'm awake and energized for the rest of the day. I don't know if was the lack of swimming for 4 months or what, but I was EGGS-AW-STED the rest of the day. I had planned originally to try to do the running intervals after work -- no way in the world. I felt like I was going to fall asleep the rest of the day. Weather was unbelievable - sunny and gorgeous at the end of January - so I did run a bit before picking up the kids from daycare. Very. slowly.

Things are going to get tight once I start swimming regularly and get the bike things going too. I'm going to have to do some double workouts, so that means before the kids get up likely after they go to sleep. That got me thinking -- maybe I can hook up the bike trainer and get some TV in evenings. I don't think I've watched TV in 4 months between going back to work, nursing Jack, trying to keep my house from being in complete disarray, and marathon training.

That got me thinking -- maybe I should watch TV right now. So I am watching Desperate Houswives and relaxing. The kitchen is not clean. The lunches are not made. And I'm not feeling guilty about it at all.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Priorities, priorities....

So Ex2 Adventures hosts an awesome 10 mile trail race series that coincides perfectly with my Ultra trail 50 miler. I'm supposed to do 10 miles every Sunday after my Saturday long runs, and the Ex2 trail runs are March 4, 12, 25 and April 1. No race the day after the marathon (March 17)... how perfect is that?

Except that the races are at 9am. And Sunday is Family Morning. We get up at 7 and make pancakes, and then at 9 we go to church. Susie starts Sunday School and Children's Choir in March when she turns 3. I can't just abandon my family for the majority of two months. And it's $150 for the series. Which is really reasonable. And also really a blow to our budget. (And I just dropped about $700 for USAT/ Ironman registration.)

But I really need to get my trail on! And I can't do the really technical trails with my jogging stroller. Ugh. Priorities. I can't do this.

So... DC Road Runners has a 12K Trail Race (free) on March 4. After much sighing I've decided to do the 12K FREE race (even though it's around Burke Lake which I have run around about a million times) and run the trails on my own. I can do 10 miles on those trails by myself earlier in the morning. Granted -- not as fun. But... free. And less draining on the family. AND I might register for the last one, since it's during my spring break. ($45... better than $150 :)

Fit Point Assessment

Yesterday I had my fitness assessment at the gym. I was stubborn and refused to have it done until after I was sure I was back in shape from the exercise layoff/ Jack pregnancy. Mostly the results were what I expected.

Cardio/ Max VO2: 42
According to my fitness assessment profile this puts me at the top of the "Good" range and in the 90th percentile. (Here is a chart for reference: ) I admit I was secretly a bit disappointed. With intervals, mid-long pace runs and 40+ miles a week I thought I might be a little above 42. Guess I can keep working at it. Runners typically have higher a V02Max average.

Strength: I was able to lift 51 lbs with my biceps. Considering I haven't gone above 20 lb weights on each arm since Jack was born, that would be about right. That puts me on the higher end of average. So there is something to work for.

Flexibility: DISCLAIMER - I have never had any. This part of the test kept me from getting the presidential fitness award in PE class all though elementary school. So really. Don't laugh. The trainer asked me to sit against the wall and put my feet on the sit and reach. I couldn't even do that. "Really?" she says. "That's terrible! You really need to improve your flexibility or you're going to get injured!" I just look at her. Then I reach as far as I can go. The "Poor" category tops off at 12.6 inches. I make it to 5. I guess that puts me in the "Pitiful" category. "You need to do Yoga" she says. Okay. I did yoga for a few years and my flexibility did not get any better. Let's move on.

Body Composition: This is the real reason I didn't want to do this test soon after Jack was born. I never got back to my pre-Susanna weight before I got pregnant with him and I was bound and determined to get to where I was when I ran the Chicago marathon in 2006. It took 6 months to get the weight off but I'm back in my pre-Susanna clothing. I step on the scale. 127. This is a few pounds more than my Chicago marathon weight. The trainer takes out a strange looking contraption and starts pinching and poking me at my triceps, belly, and thigh. According to this it puts me at 11% body fat which is "ideal for athletes." I really don't think I am 11% body fat. We all carry fat in different places and mine is all in the "love handle" region. I don't have much where she measured but I can feel quite a bit right above my bum. Also I am nursing Jack and have not had any supply issues at all so again I have a hard time believing the 11% number. She said not to drop below 10%. Considering how much I eat (pretty much constantly) this will not be a problem but I do admit I wish that love handle cushion would deplete a bit -- only because I could run a little faster. I shouldn't even put that in writing because people are going to think I have a body image problem. (It isn't body image though. It's speed obsession.)

Final results: Real age 33, Body Age 28. Interesting since the last time I had this test done I WAS 28 -- but I think my body age was 25. That was my pre-baby body and the scores were very similar so all and all I'm pretty happy. The trainer said my attainable body age is 22 and I can get there by improving my strength, flexibility, and VO2. Let's just take flexibility off the table because it isn't happening. I'm going to really work on strength and obviously will continue with the cardio although I'm not sure how much more work I can do with that. I'll test again in a few months and post the results.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just Tuesday

Oh what a day -- packed to say the least and I didn't even have anything planned. You know, other than normal. It looked something like this

5 a.m. Alarm clock goes off. I hop out of bed, throw on my running clothes and a headlamp, down the coffee waiting for me in the kitchen (thank God for automatic coffee timers), and grab the dog leashes. Just as I'm about to head out the door I hear Susanna tell me she's ready to get up and have Cheerios. Aurgh. We just got her a new alarm clock that turns green at 7 a.m. when she's allowed to get out of her room. I explained to her that I was about to go for a run and Daddy was in the basement practicing guitar so she needed to go back to sleep or play with toys. But no Cheerios til the alarm turns green. She bought that and went back to sleep. I run downstairs and turn the door nob. And I hear a piercing cry, but this time it's Jack. Aurgh again! Jamie has to absolutely be out the door by 6:45 and since he can't exactly nurse the baby I'm out of luck on this one. (Sidenote: he also nursed at 9pm, 12:40am, and 3:00am. Growth spurt?) I feed him with the dogs impatiently wagging their tails and wimpering to go out. 5:26am and we are finally out the door. I want to get in three miles and still get to the gym for weights and the dogs have a tendency to make even a recovery jog painfully slow by stopping and marking their territory, doing their business, and bounding in the wrong direction to catch the paper boy/ rabbit/ cat. Last week 3 miles took almost 40 minutes; this morning I manage to do it in 33. I release them into the basement, rip off my running tights, pull on shorts and hop in the car. I'm at the gym on my first machine at 6:10. I do three sets of all the major muscle groups, run out the door at 6:40 and make it home by 6:45 deadline... just. The kids are both asleep, so I have breakfast, take a shower and relax a bit. 7:30 and they are still asleep. How come that never happens on Sunday mornings? Finally at 7:40 I wake them both up since we have to leave by 8:10 for me to get to work on time. It's a mad rush to get out the door now but we manage.

Work is good but busy, with nine classes of teaching. I pick up the kids at 4:45 and head home where I get a crockpot meal ready for tomorrow and also make tonight's dinner while Jamie runs. Jack is chilling in the Excersaucer and Susanna helps me cook -- she has been really into that lately, bringing her little stool to the counter and tossing veggies in the slow cooker or stirring the sauce for the chicken. I'm so glad I switched my workouts to the mornings for most days of the week because I love being able to do these things with her.

After I get Jack to bed I run to the grocery store and get back around 9:30 pm. Now comes my least favorite part of the day -- getting everything ready for the morning. I am just not good at it. It takes me forever. I pack the kids lunches, my lunch, Jamie's lunch, get the coffee ready, pack the daycare bag (what do I need to remember Tuesday nights? Oh yeah Susie's ballet uniform...), get Susie and Jack's clothes out for tomorrow (pretty sure the outfit I laid out for Susanna doesn't match), pack my workout bag for my run after work tomorrow, and finally sit down at 10:30 to answer some emails and relax for a short while. Wednesday is my sleep in til 6:30 day...

And NOW... it's time for bed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Finding the time...

People always ask me where I find the time to exercise when I've got a full time job and two kids. The answer is I make the time because I have to. If I don't exercise -- AND if I don't spend time outdoors -- I get depressed. I had a difficult winter last year because during my pregnancy I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hemmhorage which left me on restricted activity. I wasn't allowed to even lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk, let alone run. I was grouchy, antsy, and cried all the time during the 12 weeks I was stuck indoors, and very surprised Jamie did not sell me on Ebay. (I did, however, use my newly found free time to become a much better cook, which is what probably convinced him not to put me up for sale.)

I probably average 7-10 hours of exercise a week. The average person watches 2 hours of TV per day. I don't. So really I don't think my habit is that time consuming. It just takes some coordination since someone needs to be with the kids. (Other key ingredients are a really good double jogging stroller and a gym with fantastic kids programming and childcare.) I like to exercise in the morning and Jamie likes to do in the afternoon/ evening so we've worked out a pretty good schedule for this winter:

Mondays we both get up at 5 -- he practices music while I run at the gym. He has to be out the door by 6:45 so if I need a longer workout I just have to get up earlier. I make dinner in the evening while Jamie runs.
Tuesdays are the same thing except I run with the dogs and then hit the gym.
Wednesdays are my mid-long run day after work. So he leaves the house at 5 while I get to sleep in. Susie has ballet lessons at the gym at 4 so he gets in a gym workout while she has her lesson and then goes to the childcare for a little bit (Jack is at the childcare the whole 90 minutes or so -- he's a bit young for ballet lessons.) I do crockpot meals on Wednesdays so it's ready when we get home around 6:30.
Thursdays are family gym night. I still get up at 5 and run the dogs and am back by 6 so Jamie can get to work a little early. After work we meet at the gym and he runs outside while I do weights from about 4:30 - 5:30. Then we take the kids swimming for about half an hour and finish off with dinner at the cafe. (I love my gym. They actually have reasonably priced healthy meals -- which means Thursday is also no cook night.)
Friday is rest day. I hate rest days but I'm usually so exhausted by Friday that I can deal with it. Though I still feel like a sloth by the time I go to bed.
Saturday is my long run day. I usually run with DC Road Runners around 8 a.m. while he chills out with them and then takes Susie to her swimming lesson (at the gym.) Then he takes the kids to lunch and puts them in the gym daycare at noon so he can do a workout. I usually meet him there and soak in the hot tub for awhile. (Saturdays can get tricky though depending on what else is going on. For example last weekend I had something for work all day and had to be there by 8:15 so I ended up getting up at 4am for my long run.)
Sunday I give Jamie a break and take the kids out in the jogging stroller after lunch. If I run for an hour with them they will usually sleep most of the way, and they like being outside.

So that is just what we're doing now during tri off-season -- I'm training for a marathon until March and he's working on his 5K time. We'll have to get in another groove once the swimming and biking come into play in the spring. The bike time especially will take some coordination, but I'm thinking the bike trainer in the basement can get some use in the mornings, and swimming may well be happening at 5am. We originally were going to train for the IronMan together but the long rides and runs are too difficult to coordinate for two people so I think we're going to alternate seasons -- that is what we did for marathons this year (he did Marine Corps in October and I am doing National in March.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Race Report - Snowball Series JFK 20K

This was a last minute decision -- since I've decided to do the Bull Run 50 miler in April (assuming I get in...) I think I need to do some trail racing. This was a good introduction -- the C&O Towpath that runs along the Potomac River. So no roots and branches to trip over (and I need to register for one of those knottier races now.) Anyhow I'm in between mega-long-run weekends right now so it seemed like a good time, and the race was free to DC Road Runners members... so why the heck not?

I didn't do a taper or anything this past week but I did make my Wednesday mid-long run a slower pace than normal and did lighter weights on Thursday. Of course, work decides to have their first Happy Hour of the year, at On The Border where Sam Adams are $2. I love me some Sam Adams. But I was a good not-wanting-to-be-dehydrated girl and only drank half of it. I gorged myself on chips and chicken at the free taco bar and followed that up with an AMAZING homemade veal pasta dinner, compliments of my husband. I got the kids in bed, crashed out around 10:30 p.m. and slept all the way until 7 a.m. (granted there were a couple feeding sessions somewhere in the middle of the night but I think I fell asleep in the rocker both times) so I felt very rested in the morning.

Did I mention we also got our first real snowfall? Enough to cancel all Fairfax County Public School events for Saturday ...which doesn't mean much. I'm a midwest girl and they are defintely weather wimps around here in the DC metro. I was worried they would cancel the race, but at 8 a.m. they posted on the website that it was a go. I grabbed my YakTrax -- strap on traction for ice and snow that got me through my 2009-2010 Snowmageddon marathon training season - and headed out the door.

I managed to get lost on the way to the race. Packet pickup was at 9:30 a.m. and I left my house at 9:15... all I had to do was cross the bridge into Maryland and take the first exit. I started daydreaming and ended up on the GW Parkway (still in Virginia), which has no place possible for a U-turn. If you know me well, this will not suprise you. So rather than arriving with time to spare I rushed to grab my chronotag, get my Nike+ GPS set up, and ran to the start line just before the gun went off (or someone yelled "start" -- I'm not really sure.)

The path was a gradual decline in elevation following the Potomac downstream. It was beautiful -- snow covered branches framing the river -- and the trail's surface was no challenge with my YakTrax. My Nike+ shouted out my splits every half mile. At 2 I was still under an 8 minute pace per mile, which I knew was probably starting out too fast but I was feeling good. I had no idea what pace I should shoot for. I averaged 8:31 at my December half marathon, but my pace at last week's Wednesday mid-long run (8 miles) was 8:21 and that was just me and my thoughts -- no finish line to fuel the adreneline. Sadly I couldn't keep up the sub-8s and my third mile was a good 30 second slower.

Then the phone rang. I checked the caller ID and saw it was Jamie, who knew I was racing, so I figured I better answer it.

"Yes? You know I'm running a race, right?" -Me
"I think Susanna needs stitches." -Jamie
"Okay... did you take her to the doctor?" -Me
"Should I?" -Jamie
"YES! I have to go!" -Me

I put the phone back in my front pocket and tried to settle back into a pace. I was starting to feel tired -- boo. Where was that water stop?? I was ready for my double caffeine power mocha Clif shot. Yeah, this was only a 20K but due to my history of serious instestinal issues during marathons, I want to test out the race nutrition in these shorter races. When I got there I sucked down the gooey mess and downed my dixie cup of water, walking through it and hoping to gain a little more energy as I was slowing down a bit.

About a half mile past the hydration station my phone rang again. Seriously??

"WHAT?!?!?" -Me
"Good news! We're at the Urgent Care and Susanna doesn't need stitches!" -Jamie
"Great. I'm running a race. Can you please call me later?" -Me

Okay, maybe I was being a terrible wife and mother, but what am I supposed to do about my daughter needing stitches when I'm close to the turn around of an out and back race on a trail? Just sayin'...

A few minutes later I saw the fasties start to head the other direction. The halfway point was at least now in the forseeable future. I managed to pick up the pace by about ten seconds for the next couple miles, knowing that once I headed back the other direction is was all uphill, which was going to make negative splits difficult.

When I got to the 10K, I hadn't seen anyone behind me for quite some time, but I noticed a couple of girls in the distance as I turned around. There were a couple of guys I'd been following for a few miles that I couldn't seem to catch so I made it my goal to pass them. The course was pretty flat from the 10K to the water stop and I managed to pull off an 8:10 pace for the 8th mile. I hadn't quite caught up to them, and then those girls "in the distance" pulled ahead of me. I started to feel like I was running out of gas. I walked through the water stop sucked down another Clif Shot. When I hit mile 10 my Nike+ kindly let me know that I was back to an 8:23 pace.

Remember those sub-8 miles at the beginning? I think they were sub-8 because of the nice steep elevation drop... because the last couple miles seemed like they were straight UPhill. Right then I got a serious sidestitch that wouldn't quit. Ugh. I started thinking about the hot tub. Less than 20 minutes and I could hop in the car, head to the gym where I'd be meeting my husband and kids, and soak in the hot tub. Hot tub, hot tub, hot tub. I just kept chanting that until my Nike+ told me I had reached mile 11. And that my pace was 8:58, my slowest so far.

So now my thoughts turned to "Why am I training for a marathon? How can I break four hours if I'm this exhausted now and I'm only doing 12.4? People who do marathons are crazy. I'm dropping out -- I can't run for 26.2 miles. What was I thinking?" and "Where is the finish line? Come on. It has to be coming up soon" and "Well at least this is a beautiful run. I mean, the sun is out, it's not too cold, and the river is really picturesque." Those girls who passed me were long gone. The guys I tried to pass were still in front of me. The sidestitch was intensifying. I decided to walk for ten seconds, hoping it would give me some newfound energy. I started running again and then I saw it -- the FINISH! My Nike+ dictated to me that I had gotten a bit faster (though not much) in the 12th mile. Time to pick up the pace. I started booking it -- only .4 to go!

And right before the finish I PASSED ONE OF THE GUYS I'D BEEN TRYING TO PASS FOR THE PAST 12.2 OR SO MILES! That was enough to get me to sprint to the finish line.

I'm still waiting on race results -- I didn't even look at the clock I was so tired. I didn't turn off the Nike+ immediately and it said 1:44:41 so somewhere around there... I'll update this when they get the results on the website.

And yes... after enjoying the post race food (DCRR always has a nice spread! Even Starbucks coffee!) I headed straight to the gym where I had lunch with Jamie (kids were in the daycare) and hit the HOT TUB while he ran on the 'mill. (Sidenote --poor Susie had missed her swimming lesson after running headfirst into a concrete block right at the gym's entrance -- her front tooth had gone through her lip -- sounds like Jamie had a rough morning. We took them both swimming at 2 p.m.... all in all a great day minus the face bang up for Susie.)

UPDATE: In my haste to get to the starting line I apparently put my chronotag on wrong and it didn't register. I figured out where I crossed the finish line from the Nike+ website and it was 1:44:06 - an 8:22 pace. Looking at the results I think I would have been 4th in my Age Group. If I would have been 3rd I'd be more annoyed.

Click here for splits, elevation and route:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The decision to go long... which one?

I've wanted to do an Ironman (or the distance at least - I don't care about who organizes the race) since completing my first sprint triathlon a few years ago, but between being pregnant and having a baby who nursed every two hours it just hasn't been possible. Since Jack hit six months and has been sleeping through the night (sometimes!) and much less dependent, I've found the time to really start putting in mileage (I've averaged 40 running miles/ week since Christmas) and I think now is the time.
So the first question is, which one? Since I'd like much of my peak training to be in the summer (I am a teacher so I have my summers off) the best option would be anywhere from late August to October. That leaves Ironman Louisville, Rev3 Cedar Point (Sandusky OH), ChesapeakeMan(Cambridge MD), and Bridge2Battleship (Wilmington NC.)
Ironman Louisville looks like a good race but like all WTC series races the fee is very steep -- about $650. Definitely won't be wetsuit legal. And the weather could be sweltering. Granted I'll be training in DC all summer so will be used to sweltering, but it still makes me nervous. It's also the furthest away. The good news is I wouldn't need to miss any teaching days, and I could do my heaviest training in July when I'll be off work. Travel costs would be considerably low since we'd probably just overlap it with our trip out to Indy -- we have to go there to drop off Susanna for her week with my parents anyhow. The other good news is that it would give me time to recover for fall marathon season, and I was planning on running the Indianpolis Monumental Marathon in November.
Rev3 Cedar Point will be a good race as well I am sure. I did the half their inagural year and it was fantastic. The cost is about $550 and there is also a sprint on Saturday that Jamie could do. The biggest con is the date -- it is the Sunday after we start teaching. Which means I'd have to miss the following Monday and possible the Friday (although last time I just drive down Friday night right after school -- arrived about 11pm.) Susie and Jack could enjoy the amusement park with us when we are not racing. Training-wise, though, it's a good date -- once again the majority of the training could take place in July.
ChesapeakeMan is the last week of September -- perfect timing as the peak training month would be August. It is the closest race to me -- less than a two hour drive -- and did get good reviews. My fears are the actual race course. I've heard that the jellyfish can be bad, the bike is windy enough to make up for the lack of hills, and the run is very lonely. It's a very small race compared to the other three I'm looking at. It also has the lowest race entry fee. Quite honestly, though, it's the race that excites me the least.
Finally Bridge 2 Battleship in North Carolina is towards the end of October. The date presents a few problems. It involves peak training month to be in September right when I've returned to teaching. I'm not sure I can handle 17+ hour workout weeks at that time. Secondly my brother is getting married sometime in the fall and hasn't chosen a date. If he chooses somewhere around that weekend it could mean a lot of missed work and travel costs. Also the weather is iffy -- apparently last year the course was freezing. I don't mind cold runs but I'm not really into the freezing swims or bikes. On the positive side, it's a nice midsize race that has gotten great reviews and the registration cost is reasonable at $450. The course is supposed to be flat and it it is point to point rather than loops. And the drive is only about 6-7 hours.
These are all races I might like to do someday, but for my first 140.6 I'd like to choose the race that will be the most rewarding all around. I need to make a decision soon as some of the races are getting close to capacity. All comments welcome!