Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back

It's hard to believe that in just a few short hours 2012 will be over.  I said to my husband a few days ago that this is the first time in a few years that I'm not hoping for a new job in 2013.  What a relief that is!  2012 was pretty good to me, and I'm hoping for more of the same in 2013.

I did a 10k in January, but by the time I was halfway done I was wishing I had only signed up for the 5k instead!

January - The Dam Run 10k

Another 10k in March was going well - on pace for a major PR - when I got to the finish line and realized I had only run 5.5 miles.  The volunteers had moved the aid station which cut the course short by .75 mile.  Oops!  It was still a fun day.

In May, I did a half marathon with about 20 other ladies that I know.  It was the pinkest event I've ever seen in my life, but I was pushed along to a 13 minute PR!  I also did a super sprint duathlon.

May - Daffodil Super Sprint Duathlon
June brought me a 5k PR.

See Jane Run 5k with my best race buddy!

But even more fun than a PR in June was the trip to Hawaii that I took with my family.

Paradise!

I convinced my brother to ride down Haleakala with me.  Awesome!
And if you're going to take one vacation in the summer, why not take two?  In July, Dan & I took Emma to Tahoe for the first time.

Dog days of summer.
In September I celebrated another birthday and started private swim lessons.  I also did another duathlon.

See Jane Run Duathlon

October was filled with golf and friends.

My favorite golf course.
November was another 5k and my first Bruce Springsteen concert in a number of years.  Bruce has still got it!

At the Mermaid 5k with Christina.
I did another 5k in December and wrapped up the year with the hardest 10k of my life just a couple of days ago.

I'm looking forward to what 2013 had to bring - my first metric century bike ride, improving my swimming so I can complete my first triathlon, more time with friends and family.

Wishing all of you the best in the coming year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Brazen New Year's Eve 10k

Brazen Racing is a local event company that puts on very well organized trail runs.  They are some of the best events I've ever participated in - extremely well organized, great aid stations, friendly organizers and crowds, just all around great races.  I was hoping to get in one more 10k before the end of the year, and this one fit my schedule perfectly.

I got there with plenty of time to spare yesterday morning - easy to do when your start time is 8:55 - and I was very happy that it wasn't raining.  I picked up my packet, stashed my extra belongings in my car, and then hung around and waited while the half marathoners took off.

All smiles before the start.
A few minutes later it was time for us to go.  I lined up towards the mid/back of the pack.  I had trained for this event, but it was going to be hilly so I expected a lot of walking.  We took off and the first 1.5 miles went just as planned.  I did my run/walk intervals, grabbed a cup of water at the first aid station (the 5k turnaround point), and that's where the best laid plans went out the window.  The first 1.5 miles were all on a paved trail.  However shortly after we passed that point, we came upon this.

The point where things changed...
We had to cross this bridge for the second portion of the 10k route - all on unpaved trails.  We've had a crazy amount of rain over the past few weeks, so all of that dirt was now mud.  The mud was so deep in some points, I felt like my shoes were going to come off!  Oh, did I also mention that after we crossed that bridge, the course was now entirely uphill?  There was a point on the course where we saw a couple of half marathoners who had decided to give up - the mud was so deep and the hills so steep, they decided to turn back.  But not me...I muscled on!

This wasn't the worst hill or mud...I wouldn't have been able to stop for a picture at that point.
By now I had figured that I was just going to make the best of the situation.  I never expected a fast race because of the hills, but I didn't realize how tough this was going to be.  So I decided to just keep pushing forward up that hill and changed my plan to hike instead of race.  I stopped when I needed to and just enjoyed the view.

Getting closer to the top.
When I finally got to the top and the aid station, it was like a party.  Like I mentioned, Brazen has the best aid stations and great volunteers.  Lots of people stopped and hung out chatting and refueling before making the trek back down.  It was the most time I've spent and the most fun I've ever had at an aid station.

My view from the top.
Down wasn't nearly as bad as up, although it was hard to run even on the downhill because it was so slippery.  I ran where I could, plodded through the mud where I had to, and was happy to get back to that bridge and across to the paved section.  I had been passing and getting passed by the same woman all through the day.  When we got back across the bridge we stuck together and talked the entire way back to the finish line.  She had the best line of the day when she said, "I didn't realize I had signed up for a Tough Mudder race!"

I have to say that this was by far the toughest event I have ever done.  The steepness of the hill combined with the mud made it a brutal course.  But for some reason I couldn't get the smile off my face the entire time.  I had plenty of times when I'd think, "This is brutal," but my thoughts never ran to the negative place of "This sucks."  I really enjoyed myself - I liked that it was hard, and that I never felt like giving up.  I didn't get hung up on my time or how long it was taking me.  I was just grateful to be out there participating.

I think this was the perfect way for me to end 2012.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Weighty Issue

Happy holidays to everyone out there in blogger-land!

This time of year is full of opportunities for extra eating and drinking - more social events, big holiday dinners, that special package that my mother-in-law sends us every year, cookies and candy at work.  It's no wonder that people tend to pack on a few extra pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

But my issue seems to be that I've packed on those extra pounds from Thanksgiving 2008 through now.  Starting in early 2009, I've had a rough couple of years - I was laid off, had some health issues, found a job that I was incredibly unhappy at, lost my dog of 13 years, adopted and lost another dog after only two months.  You get the picture.  These are things that can happen to any and all of us at any time, but I felt like bad things were happening to me one after the other.

Zack - my first dog ever and the one who will always have my heart.
And so I ate...and drank.  "I lost my job, so I might as well have a few cocktails."  "I hate my new job, so I might as well go out and have something good (usually high fat/calorie) for lunch since it will be the bright spot of my day." "My dog died, so I deserve ice cream."

Things have (thankfully!) turned around for me over the past year or so.  I've got a great job at a company I love.  I have an awesome dog who is the cutest thing I've ever seen and who makes me laugh every day.  My health issues have been resolved.

Emma - the current resident Princess Pup.
The problem is, I haven't stopped with these bad eating or drinking habits.  I still enjoy a couple of cocktails or a few beers on the weekend - especially if I've worked out hard that day.  I'm still eating candy on an almost daily basis.  And it has really caught up with me.

And now, it's time for it to stop.  This is not an early New Year's Resolution.  It's simply a fact.  So I'm putting it out there in blog land in an effort to make myself more accountable.

Goodbye Swedish Fish - we will not be seeing each other so often.

I will change my eating habits. I will do strength training on a more consistent basis.  I will fit back into those smaller size jeans!  I'm not putting a deadline on this, because losing the amount of fat that I want to lose will take some time.  Yes, I want to lose fat, not necessarily weight.  I'm not going to obsess about the number on the scale - I'll pay more attention to how my clothes are fitting.  I'd be perfectly fine if the number on the scale stays the same but I fit into jeans two sizes smaller, because that would mean that I have lost fat and become stronger.

And I know I can do this.  Because it's time.  And because I really, really want it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

For the Love of Golf

When I tell people that I golf year round, they are often surprised.  Isn't it cold?  What if it rains? I'm not made of sugar and I won't melt.  I've been playing golf a lot longer than I've been running, and if it weren't for the number of rounds of golf I've played in the winter I probably wouldn't have considered running outside in the cold and rain.

So Saturday morning Dan & I set out to play at our local course.  There was a 45 minute frost delay so we stood around freezing and waiting to tee off.

Dan in his stocking cap waiting near the first tee.
We were lucky that we got to play by ourselves.  Usually if you make a tee time for two, they will pair you up with another twosome or a couple of singles. I guess not many people wanted to play in this weather.

It was a hot chocolate kind of morning.
I was playing really well considering I haven't been to the driving range to practice in months.  But we both felt like we were a little under dressed.  There was a cold breeze which is unusual for that time of day.  Brrrrr!

Notice the windshield on the cart.
Then a few holes later it started to rain.  Luckily we were prepared.  Rain gear and umbrellas - check!

12 holes in and still smiling!
Lucky for us, a few of the groups in front of us weren't quite prepared for the weather so they quit at the turn.  We breezed through the back 9 quickly.  Then I got to go home and take the hottest shower of my life.

.
A good golfer is prepared for any situation.
Looking forward to doing it all over again next weekend.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Walnut Creek 5K

A 4:00 am Saturday wake up for a race that started at 7:30.  I should have checked the start time before I signed up for this one!  But it was fine.  I had gone to sleep early enough on Friday night and was able to sleep well.  I was lucky that my friend Meredith agreed to pick up my race packet the day before, saving me two hours round trip to get it.

There was a half marathon taking place as well, so I got to the site extra early because I was concerned about finding parking.  I found Meredith and we sat in her car for about a half hour to stay warm.  We finally decided to brave the cold and head over to the start area.  We saw the half marathoners take off.  Wow, some of them were fast!

We hit the porta potties, checked our jackets, and were thinking about warming up when our friend Berenice found us.  So we lined up and a few minutes later we were off.  I lost Meredith in the crowd but Berenice and I stayed together for almost the entire first mile.  I started to think I was slowing her down so I told her to go ahead without me.  I was keeping a really good pace, but running the entire first mile was NOT my race plan so I switched to run/walk.  The first two miles were good (12:29 and 12:20) and I started to think I might be able to PR.

And then the weather of the previous week caught up to us.  Most of the last mile was on an unpaved fire road.  We had had record breaking rains the weekend before this and the trail was full of mud.

Not quite this bad, but you get the idea!
There was a clear lane down the middle, but that is where everyone decided to run.  I had to slow down because of other runners and so I didn't slip and wipe out.  I spent a lot of time and energy trying to get around other runners and trying not to fall, and it took its toll on me.  By time I got to the end of the mud, it was mostly uphill and my legs were not cooperating.  My pace had slowed considerably and I knew a PR was out of reach so I just went with the flow at that point.  The final approach to the finish was up then down a bridge, so I walked to the top in order to have something left for a sprint to the finish.

It was a good race - well organized and not too crowded - and I'm glad I did it even if I'm a little disappointed with my results.  Final time: 40:24.

I found Meredith and Berenice afterwards and we hung out and watched some of the half marathoners finish.  The winner was a 17 year old with a time of 1:14:38.  That is just mind boggling to me!

Next up for me is the Brazen New Years Eve 10k on 12/29.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bruce and Stormageddon

It's been a crazy weekend in the Bay Area.  The first of three storms rolled in on Thursday night, and Bruce rolled into town on Friday night.

As far as the storms, I'll just say wind and rain, wind and rain, wind and rain.

As far as the Bruce Springsteen concert, let's just say that the man never disappoints.



I saw my first Bruce concert back in 1985 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and I've been hooked ever since.  It's not just a concert - it's an experience.  I'm such a huge fan that I even named one of my dogs Rosalita in honor of one of my favorite Bruce songs.

My sweet Rosalita.  I miss you!

Friday night was an incredible experience as always.  He played for over three hours - 27 songs including many old favorites and a few newer favorites.  He went crowd surfing.  He had a moment of silence for former band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici.  The band put on Santa hats and played "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."  I had been looking forward to this concert for months and they did not disappoint.

The rest of my weekend was spent hiding from the other storms that rolled through the area.  My husband wound up working the entire weekend due to the rain, so I had a lot of time to myself.  I managed to get in a 4.5 mile walk/run this afternoon.  It was more walking than running because of the conditions.  There was so much debris on the sidewalks that I was afraid of tripping or slipping, so I took it slow.  Slow miles are better than no miles!

I started planning my workouts each week in Training Peaks and it seems to be working well for me.  I'm meeting a friend for spin tomorrow night and I've got a swim lesson on Tuesday.  And that's what's going on around here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thankfulness - Better Late Than Never

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but I think I was a little too stressed out preparing to host 10 people for dinner last week that I didn't really take the time to be thankful.  But it seems to be coming at me this week whether I'm looking for it or not.

Last night I was very thankful for my swimming breakthrough.  Tonight I was feeling very thankful for this overpass.

My overpass - picture from a bike ride last Christmas Eve.
That picture is an pedestrian/bicycle overpass that was recently built - I don't think it's even been two years since they finished it.  It is only a few blocks from my house and leads over the freeway to the Bay Trail.  And before you get to the trail, just at the bottom of the bridge you encounter this.

The baseball / soccer field
Just over the overpass is this sports complex.  The above picture is only about half of the main field.  Tonight - and most nights I've recently discovered - there were three different teams holding soccer practice.  This means the field is lit up like Broadway.

Why am I so thankful for the overpass that leads to this field?  I typically run outside after work.  And now it's dark by the time I get home from work.  But I can now run from my front door to the overpass and down to this field.  I can do laps around the field and feel safe because there are a ton of people around - coaches, kids playing soccer, the field staff, parents waiting for their kids - and it's incredibly bright.  I also only have to cross one small street to get there, so I don't have to worry about dodging cars.  I was able to get in three miles tonight from my front door with a few laps around the field.

It's the little things...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Let Me Set the Scene...

It was a cold night.  Steam was coming off the pools.  It was the first time I had gone for a swim when there was actually steam.

I wasn't in the best of moods when I arrived at the gym.  I was tired after the first day back at work after the long weekend.  I really wanted to just go home from work but I had packed my swim bag and put it in the car last night.  Apparently that strategy worked...this time.

I did a little warm up - a few 25s, 50 with a kickboard.  It was at this point while I was catching my breath at the wall that the man in the next lane pointed out the moon.  It was almost full - just a little sliver missing - and it was such a clear night that we had a spectacular view of it from up on the hill.

It looked something like this.














I set off for another 25.  I got to the wall and instead of stopping, I turned around and kept going.  Usually about halfway back I run out breath and need to stop or switch to a different stroke.  But tonight it was like magic.  I just kept going.  Before I knew it, I was at the wall.  I had done 50 yards of freestyle without stopping.

I must have had a look of shock on my face.  As I hung there catching my breath, I decided I would try it again to see if it was a fluke.  It wasn't.  So I thought I'd go again, just to be absolutely sure.  I am now absolutely sure.

I did 50 yards of freestyle without stopping tonight...not once, not twice, but three times!!!  I guess that means I can really do this!

It is so nice to finally have some measurable progress in my swimming.  I know 50 yards doesn't seem like much, but for someone who couldn't really swim just a few months ago 50 yards is huge.  HUGE!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Where have I been?

I've been a bad blogger...missing in action.  I wish I could say I was off having incredibly fun adventures, but the truth is that I just haven't had much to blog about for a bit, and then when I did have a race report to write I didn't have time.

So let's just say the last couple of weeks have gone something like this...battle a cold, do a 5k, work, take dog to vet, workout.

I guess the only thing you probably want to hear about is the 5k so here it is.  The Mermaid 5k was in San Francisco this past Saturday.  I've done the 5k a few times and the 10k once.  The Mermaid Series is an all women's group of triathlons, duathlons, and running events.  (I'm sure you could participate if you were a man, but I've never seen a man compete there.)  They also sponsor a "Mini Mermaids" program which introduces young girls to running.  The girls (ages 6-12) train with a volunteer coach and work their way up to running a 5k.  Pretty cool!

I had a couple of friends who were going to be there and it's a nice flat course with beautiful scenery so I decided to sign up again.  Sorry, no pictures of the scenery.  I can't run with a camera.  I texted Christina when I got there and she was just arriving, too.  I easily found Meredith.  She was coaching a group of Mini Mermaids, so I just looked for the little girls and she was among them.

Me and Christina "before"
Since Meredith had her hands full, Christina and I decided to check out gear and head out for a little warm up.  It started off freezing but by the time we warmed up it had turned into a beautiful day - sunny and not hot, perfect running weather.

Christina & I lined up in the middle of the pack and off we went.  It was a pretty uneventful run for me.  I stuck with my 3:1 run/walk intervals.  I felt good the entire time and even had a little left in the tank to sprint to the finish - as much as sprinting was possible.  The finish chute goes in a U-shape over grass, so it's tough to get a good sprint going.  I finished with a time of 38:39 - not a PR but more than a minute faster than this event last year.  I was happy with my time considering I had spent the week battling a cold.

Christina, me, and Meredith "after"
I've got another swim lesson next week, and another 5k on the calendar next month.  And I'm still considering jumping into a Turkey Trot 5k.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Best Place on Earth

I've heard it said that as far as weather is concerned, the Bay Area is the best place on earth.  This weekend, I would find it hard to argue with that statement.  It's been in the 70s all weekend.  Hello?  Is it not November?  I'm glad this beautiful weather wasn't wasted on weekdays!

Here are a couple of shots from my bike ride yesterday to prove my point.

The path I rode yesterday.

This was my view for the ride.  You can almost see all the way across the bay.

San Mateo Bridge
Today was no different.  Dan & I played golf and we both wore shorts - in November!  Not a bad weekend.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Magic

Tonight I set out for a short run.  I did my typical five minute warm up walk, and then started running - very slowly.  I had my interval timer set for 3:1 run/walk intervals.  But when my first three minutes was up, I didn't feel like walking.  I decided to see how far I could go before I felt like I needed to stop.  And it never happened.  I never felt like I wanted to or had to walk.  For the first time in my life, I ran two miles without stopping!  I won't bore you with the details - like how slow I was or how long it took.  It's still two miles no matter how you map out the distance.

Was it Halloween magic?  I'm not sure but I'll take it, whatever it was.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In the Moment

It was a typical October weekend in the Bay Area - temperatures in the mid 70s, the Giants in the World Series.  You know, this happens all the time.

Yesterday I got up and went for a run first thing.  I love running in the morning - I always feel at my best.  It was perfect running weather - sunny, no breeze, but not hot.  I decided on four miles.  It was the first time I had done four miles since my half marathon in May so I planned to take it slow.  It was such a beautiful morning - tons of runners and bikers out on the trail.  I was completely in the moment - enjoying where I was and what I was doing.

I wanted to go for a bike ride this morning, but I also wanted to sleep in.  I told myself that if I woke up in time, I'd go do the Melo Velo ride.  Turns out I was awake in plenty of time so off I went.  There was a big group this week - probably 10 or 11 of us.  We got our pre-ride instructions and some tips from the leader and off we went.

I must be getting more comfortable on the bike if I dare to take pictures while riding.

I really love this route and should try to go more often - but sleep usually wins out.  Today again I tried to stay in the moment and just enjoy being out on my bike and the gorgeous weather we were having.  

They close this rode for bike riders 10 months of the year on Sunday mornings.
Before I knew it we were at the turnaround and heading back.

Not a bad view!

Overall it was a really good 15 mile ride.  Today's ride leader was fantastic - lots of tips and regular regroups.  And when it was over I felt like I could have gone further, so that is progress.

So I managed a decent length run and a good ride this weekend, and finished both before 11 am.  I feel pretty good about that.  And now to watch the Giants (hopefully) clinch the World Series.  Go Giants! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Progress

Last night I went to the pool for a swim session.  When I say session, I mean swimming back and forth across the pool in between hanging on the wall catching my breath - no fancy sets or drills for me yet.  I'm still trying to get the hang of this whole being in water thing.

My attitude wasn't the best when I got there - it was cold, I was tired, and I really just wanted to be home watching the Giants game.  My goal was to be able to swim 50 yards of freestyle without stopping.  I can do 50 yards, but it's typically something like 35 freestyle and then 15 jungle crawl because I feel like I need more air.  Last night was no different and I left the pool feeling incredibly frustrated and defeated.

But something happened on the way home.  I don't know why, but my thinking shifted from, "I am the worst swimmer in the world.  I'm never going to be able to do a triathlon," to "I think I've made some pretty decent progress in a month.  I can't wait to see how far I can go by the end of the year."

See, here's the thing.  I took a group swimming class in the spring but didn't get the one-on-one attention I needed.  Then I didn't swim for most of the summer because I was training for my duathlon.  So I would say that I really didn't start swimming until my first private lesson on September 26.  That was only one month ago, and I've only taken two lessons total.  Since then, I've been making an effort to get to the pool twice a week.  And now I can comfortably swim freestyle 25 yards - one length of the pool.  And I used to have to rest for a minute in between each 25.  Now I only rest 15-30 seconds.  It may not sound like much, but considering I have absolutely no background in swimming, I'll take it!

I'm making progress, not just with my swimming but with my way of thinking, too.







Monday, October 22, 2012

Rain, rain, go away!

Looks like winter - or at least fall - has arrived in the Bay Area.  Being from the east coast, I'm still amazed at the fact that it doesn't rain at all in the summer - not one single drop.  You can plan a BBQ, a wedding, a triathlon and never have to worry about being rained out from May through October.  

But this morning it's coming down in buckets.  And today I am thankful for spin class.  If it weren't for spin, I would probably be starting from ground zero (again!) with my bike fitness next spring.

Things are going to get interesting when I have to swim in the rain.  Considering my limited (*cough*non-existent*cough*) swim background, it's no surprise I've never swum in the rain before.  But my gym only has outdoor pools.  At least in this area I won't have to worry about them closing for lightning.

And I can't get out of here without a shout out to the San Francisco Giants who are going to play in game 7 of the NLCS tonight - if the rain stops.  Go Giants!

Monday, October 15, 2012

What am I thinking?

I have spent the better part of today with thoughts of signing up for a half marathon running through my head.  Not just some random half marathon, but one that would take place at the end of December and require me to start training yesterday.

Clearly I need something to focus on until I get my first shot at a triathlon next spring.  I'm so impatient.  Hopefully tonight's spin class will wipe some of this half marathon madness out of my brain!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Struggling

I'm having a little trouble with my workout consistency lately.  I think it's partially because I'm not really training for anything, and partially because I'm trying to do so many things - swim, bike, run, golf, strength training.  Where do I find the time to do it all?

Tonight I'm going to write out a schedule for the upcoming week, and it might actually include some morning workouts.  *gulp* Now I'm not opposed to morning workouts.  In fact, I prefer them.  But ever since I started working at a job where I have to be at work at 7:30 am, workouts have been officially pushed to the evenings.  But in order to fit in everything I want to do, I think I'm going to need to have a couple of double workout days each week.  I can get up a little early twice a week, right?  Right???

On a happier topic, yesterday was a golf day.  It was perfect weather and great company.

Our weapons

We played at one of my favorite courses.  Don't ask me about my score.  It was not my best round.  But a bad round of golf is still good.

That Bloody Mary was purely medicinal.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up

It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend in the Bay Area - sunny and warm both days.  Perfect workout weather.  And it was one of those weekends were I didn't have too many plans.  I love these kind of weekends!

Saturday I managed to get in a short run.  I love running earlier in the day so much more than after work, but I just can't seem to drag myself out of bed before work during the week.  I just did a few miles around the neighborhood - nothing exciting.  Still loving my new iPod and my new shoes.

Yesterday I did the Melo Velo ride with the Velo Girls.  Velo Girls is a local women's cycling club.  Every Sunday they host a 15 mile ride that is geared towards beginners - an out and back route with some rollers.  I've done this ride with them about a half dozen times over the past couple of years.  Up until recently my cycling had been so inconsistent that every time I would do this route, it felt like I was starting from scratch.  But thanks to my recent like affair with my bike - I can't quite call it love yet - yesterday's ride felt really good.

I can't say enough about what a great leader we had for the ride.  There were a few really new riders, and Amy took a great deal of time to assess everyone's level.  She gave great pointers about shifting, and would alternate between leading the group and dropping back to make sure everyone was doing OK out there.

We all regrouped at the turnaround and I wound up riding with another woman almost the entire way back.  We were talking the entire time, the weather was perfect, the scenery was beautiful.  It was just one of those days where I really felt grateful to be able to get out and ride.  I wish I had remembered to take some pictures, but I'm not too confident I could ride and photograph at the same time.  I'm finally comfortable with riding and drinking/eating at the same time.  Let's not push it with adding photography to the mix!

So aside from a short run and a nice ride, it was a very uneventful weekend.  Swim lesson #2 is on Wednesday.  Can't wait to see what Samantha has in store for me this week.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Out with the old...

I have not run a single step since the duathlon.  I wanted to run on Monday and I wanted to run last night.  But we've been in a bit of a heat wave.  Here's how it looked when I got home from work yesterday.

Really, really hot - especially for October!

So no...I wasn't going to run in that.  But today it cooled off and I was so excited to get home from work and get out there.  I've got a few new things that I've been waiting to try out.

So today was out with the old.

Notice the size of the iPod.

That is my iPod classic that I bought when I started running about five years ago.  I loved it at the time, but it  is so big and heavy and hot.  And those shoes have quite a few miles on them.

And in with the new.

New kicks and a new iPod.
My parents got me an iPod Shuffle for my birthday.  Wow, is it small!  The new running shoes I bought myself but hadn't even taken them out of the box until today.

New shoes on and ready to head out.
I never realize how much I need new running shoes until I actually put them on - like little pillows for my feet.

So did having a smaller, lighter iPod and new running shoes make me run faster tonight.  You bet they did!






Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bubble...Bubble...Breathe


I had my first private swimming lesson last night.  I had taken a group class in the spring, but I just didn’t feel like I got enough out of it.  Mainly, I don’t know how to turn my head to breathe while doing freestyle.  I either lift my head completely up – causing me to come almost to a complete stop – or I would turn my head but wind up with a mouthful of water. 

This is where I hope the magic will happen!

I got to the pool for my lesson and the instructors were finishing up with the preschoolers.  That was a bit humbling, but hey, I’ve got to learn from someone.  And if they can keep the attention of four year olds and prevent them from drowning, then they should be able to teach me!

Samantha asked me a little about my swimming background and what I was looking for.  Then she had me swim a few strokes.  She told me a have pretty good from, long and straight.  At least we aren’t starting from zero!

And then it was time to teach me how to breathe.  She started to say something about how when she teaches the kids to swim, and then stopped like she didn’t want to insult me.  I told her to go ahead and teach me like I’m four years old if that’s what’s going to make it easy for me to learn!

And that’s where I learned “bubble…bubble…breathe.”  I want to be able to breathe on either side, so Samantha had me hang on the wall and do three strokes with my arms.  On the first two strokes I’m blowing bubbles out.  On the third stroke I turn my head and breathe.  Sounds simple enough, right? 

Wrong!  For some reason, I would wind up almost flipping completely over onto my back when I would try to breathe.  It turns out my problem is not just with my head, but also with my arms.  So we made a few tweaks, and what do you know…I’m actually getting air!

We then moved this exercise from the wall to the kickboard.  And eventually I ditched the kickboard and did my version of swimming.  There is still much work to be done, but for a few brief moments I’d take a few strokes, turn my head, and get air instead of water…all while continuing to move forward.  In those few moments, I felt like I was really swimming!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bruuuuce! Oh, and a little race report, too


Let’s get to the most important business first.  On Friday, I managed to get two lower level tickets to the Bruce concert in Oakland in November.  I haven’t been to a Bruce show in at least five years (because I can’t stay up that late anymore!), but this one is on a Friday night so there was no way I wasn’t at least going to try to get tickets.  Lower level, left side of stage.  I’m excited!

And now for my first race report of this blog – the See Jane Run Duathlon on Saturday.  I laid out all of my gear on Friday night and got a good night’s sleep.  The alarm went off at 4:00 am, and once again the thoughts of “what am I doing?” entered my head.  But I paid for it, I trained for it, I’m doing it! 

I got there just after 6:00 am – or dark o’clock – and couldn’t even see where transition was.  My friends Meredith and Molly were there.  They were doing the triathlon.  In fact, Meredith was doing her first ever triathlon!  We managed to get a great spot in transition and got everything set up, made the required 14 trips to the bathroom, and then it was time to wait…and wait we did. 

I wasn't kidding - it really was dark out!
At 5 minutes before the first wave was set to go off, there was an announcement.  Apparently there was some road work along part of the bike route the night before, and the construction crew eliminated the entire bike lane.  So the race directors were trying to come up with an alternative.  And so we waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally they decided that the best and safest thing to do was to just eliminate that part of the course, shortening the bike portion of the race from 12 to 10 miles.  No big deal, but it was an hour and ten minute delay from the scheduled start time.  I have to admit, while standing around all that time I started to lose interest.  My legs were getting annoyed with standing, I was thirsty, and my breakfast was long gone by that point!


Molly showing off her giant tub of Aquaphor.  Prevents chafing!

Finally it came time to get this show on the road.  The duathlete wave was last, so I got to watch a number of the swim waves head out, including the wave that Meredith and Molly were in.  Then it was time to head to my start line.

There were a lot more duathletes than I expected, but I was happy to see that.  When you’re heading out in the last wave, it’s nice to have some company!  They counted down from 10, and off we went…straight uphill!  Um…I wasn’t quite ready for that, but I made it to the top where it leveled out.  One mile goes by pretty quickly, so before I knew it I was heading into transition. 

And uneventful transition – change my shoes, toss my visor, grab my bike helmet, and off I went.  And the bike start…also uphill.  But I knew this ahead of time so I was in a good gear and made it to the top where again it flattened out, then I took off.  Now on the flats, I was able to drink regularly and eat shot blocks every few minutes.  I probably ate more than I needed to, but since we had that hour delay I figured it was better to eat too much versus too little so I wouldn't bonk on the run.  I started passing people regularly and felt really good about my pace.  There was one steep hill towards the end, but it was short.  My biggest issue on this hill was getting past the people who either decided to walk it or were swerving trying to keep their bikes moving forward.  Just a few short minutes after this uphill, I was heading back downhill and into transition.  Bike over already?  I was a little disappointed – the bike portion is fun! 

T2 – rack the bike, take off the helmet, change shoes, grab my water bottle and GO!  At this point I was glad I had done the duathlon because I knew to expect the hill at the start of the run course.  I decided to walk up the hill to get my legs back under me after the bike, and I wasn’t alone in this strategy.  This run was really hard for me.  I expected it to be warm, but with the delayed start it was really HOT by this point of the day.  I did a lot of walking – more than I planned to or wanted to – but every time I started to run, my HR would shoot up and I had to slow down.  This was definitely not the run I wanted for this race, but I stayed positive and tried to enjoy myself.  And the miles actually flew by.  Before I knew it I was down the hill and heading across the grass to the finish.  Meredith and Molly were there to cheer me in, and that gave me a little boost.

Sprinting to the finish


Overall I had a great day.  I smashed the goal I had set for myself.  Even if the bike course hadn’t been shortened, I would have still beaten my goal time.  So it was a great day!

Run 1 - 11:42 (a fast pace for me)
T1 – 1:56
Bike – 36:36 (average 15 mph – fast for me!)
T2 – 1:15
Run2 – 44:35 (hot and slow!)

Total: 1:36:06

Even better, this location is the site of the first triathlon with an open water swim that I’m planning on for next year, so it was good to get a preview of the lake and the entire area.  The swim looks totally manageable, even now with my limited ability.

Next up…private swim lessons starting on Wednesday, and a couple of 5Ks to finish out the year.




Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Gift of Taper


Yesterday was my birthday and with my race coming up this Saturday, taper is one of the greatest gifts I could have received!  I have been so consistent with following my training plan – more so than for any previous race I’ve done – and by Sunday afternoon this weekend I felt like I had hit.the.wall.
 
It probably didn’t help that I threw in a round of golf – walking in 90 degree heat – this weekend on top of the training.  But it was my birthday weekend.  You bet I was going to play golf.  (Note to self:  next time it’s 90 degrees and you have a big training weekend, get a cart!)
 
But I muddled through it all.  I even drove up to San Francisco on Sunday to pick up my race packet since it was the most convenient pickup location for me.

So now, I am officially into taper week.  Today is a rest day, and all I had on the schedule last night was a 20 minute run – which I did, even though I came home from work and found this sitting on my doorstep.

My friends picked the perfect gift!
I'll admit, I did have one when I got back from my run - how could I not after my friends went through so much trouble to deliver this gift to me?

So now, only two more workouts stand between me and my duathlon on Saturday.  I'm getting excited and nervous all at the same time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Because I'm easily influenced...

I signed up for another 5K today, the Mermaid 5K in November.  I've done this event for the past three or four years.  In fact in 2010, I did the 10K as a training run for my first half marathon.  It's a totally flat course so it's fast - even though I'm not.  I've been looking for a 5K to do in either October or November and two of my friends are doing this one.  It's always more fun to have someone to hang out with at the starting line.  But my friend Meredith used the argument of how cute the shirts are going to be to push me to register.  Yes, I'm easily influenced by fun race swag!

Enjoying a rest day today.  My legs are very thankful.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Holy legs, Batman!

I've been going strong with my duathlon training this week, and today my legs are feeling it.  I had a bike/run brick on Friday, a bike workout yesterday, and a run/bike/run brick today.

It's been quite some time since I felt the need for an ice bath, but today it was absolutely necessary.  Luckily it's pretty warm out, so I didn't feel the need to curse as I dumped two bags of ice into the tub with me.  It was actually refreshing and thankfully the ice melted pretty quickly due to the heat.


I'm hoping for cooler weather on race day but the extended Accuweather forecast doesn't look promising - sunny and a high of 88.  At least I don't have to worry about rain!

Another week of training in the books.  Now I get to relax on the sofa with my compression socks (and an adult beverage) while I watch some football.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Here we go!


My first foray into blogland…where to begin?  I guess I just figured this would be a good place to keep track of my thoughts, my crazy ideas, and my progress..my online journal of sorts.

So…a little about me.  I’ve been playing golf for about a dozen years or so.  Compared to the pros, I’m a hack.  Compared to a lot of weekend golfers, I like to think I’m not half bad.  I don’t hit the ball long, but I’m consistent.  I shot a 101 at Metropolitan yesterday and I was pretty happy with that score since I haven’t played in a few weeks.  31 putts – pretty good!

I started running about 5 years ago.  I started by following the Couch to 5k program, and have since completed numerous 5ks and 10k, plus three half marathons.  The problem is, my hip gets a bit cranky when I up the mileage to longer distances.  Because of my cranky hip, I’ve taken to the run/walk method of running.  That seems to help, too.

About three years ago I bought a bike and ventured into the world of duathlon.  I’m participating in the See Jane Run Duathlon in a few weeks, so these days I’m focusing most of my training efforts on getting ready for that.  I’ve had an on and off relationship with my bike for the past three years, but I joined a gym in January and have gotten hooked on spinning classes.  All of that spinning has really helped my cycling, so my relationship with my bike is definitely in the “on” stage these days.



Since I’ve already got a pretty good handle on the biking and running, why not throw in a little swimming, too, and go for a triathlon?  The idea of a triathlon interests me because I get really bored if I have to do the same workout every day.  Triathlon kind of appeals to my exercise ADD.  The only problem is, I am a horrible swimmer.  I mean, if you push me into the pool I’m not going to drown.  But I can barely do one lap of freestyle without feeling totally gassed.  But I’m working on it.  My goal is to do my first triathlon next spring/summer so I’ve got some time.

So here is where I’m going to rant (hopefully not too often) and rave (hopefully regularly) about my training and progress.  If anyone is reading, I hope you enjoy my ramblings!