They can't all be good

I had a day of bad running karma yesterday. Sometime mid-afternoon, I had some GI issues and I won't elaborate any further. I probably should have skipped the trail run. But a couple friends said they would be there, so I decided to suck it up. Well, said friends had stuff come up and couldn't make it, but a communication error meant some random person ended up with a voicemail that goes something like this: "Hey Sam, we can't make it tonight. Have fun at Rocky next week!" So we started late, I wasn't feeling well, and about 1 mile in, Bam! I took a hard digger and landed on my knee. No real damage other than scrapes and bruises. It jarred my right hip and I landed on the perfect spot which made bending my knee painful. Needless to say, we called it quits early and stopped by a restroom on our way out. I'm sporting a few nice bruises today and hoping my next run will be smoother.


Taking a Break

This morning KM and I did a cold run with 3 x 0.5 mile intervals. So after work I came home to a cold house and really wanted something to warm me up. I decided to make Shrimp & Tilapia Fra Diavlo for John and I with tilapia we had left over from this weekend. I threw in some artichoke hearts, mushrooms, dried tomatoes and put it on top of whole wheat Barilla Plus pasta, steamed fresh asparagus on the side and viola! Comfort food to warm the soul that is good for you. I just love Fra Diavlo! Even though the shrimp was a little expensive, the whole meals cost about $25, and we got 7 servings out of it!

Last night I finally download all of the Garmin software and my workout data. I haven't spent a lot of time playing with it and eventually I'd like to customize it more, but here's a few snap shots of the online training center Garmin offers. I like the calendar and being able to look at all of the workouts recorded. You can click on each day to look at the details of each workout. Well you can't, but I can.

And those are just my running workouts! I like the gratification of looking at the last month and seeing what I did. My homemade Excel training log just doesn't have that appeal. Oh sure, I could easily put all that info into Excel but my boss may notice the dip in productivity at work. This is so much easier. Who knows, if I can get the goals and activities figured out, this may replace my training spreadsheet all together! (That sound you just heard was engineers all over the world gasping in dismay) You can also add workouts manually, so I could update the calendar with all my swimming and biking workouts. Again, maybe I'll consolidate all that info someday. Right now I still record workouts with dates, distances, temp, and comments in my spreadsheet at work. Is it sad I like to start my day off with a cup of coffee and analyzing my latest training session?

Here's another Garmin feature I really like: plotting my runs to Google maps. It's like they figured out us training freaks like nothing more than to see how much ground we've covered. I suppose that is exactly the purpose of a GPS system. I'll have to see if I can dig up the Heartland map if MO still has it on his Garmin. If 12 miles looks good, 50 will be impressive!

12+ miles around town - not a problem! So far my only regret with the Garmin is that I have not been able to take it out on my bike. At least the weather gives me a little more time to try to program it and figure out the multi sport function before I'm doing bricks outside. I was a little annoyed that it could automatically download all of my workout data, but none of my user profile data. The standard profile is for a man who weighs 150 lb and was born in 1972 with a resting HR of 60. Hmm, wrong on all accounts. I corrected the profile, but you would think if it's reading workout data it could grab the profile data as well. Oh well. At least that's not the kind of thing you have to enter more than once.

Since I cooked dinner instead of swimming, I'm hitting the pool tomorrow morning. I've found I'm dreading late night workouts even more than early morning. I'll gladly trade an evening with the hubby for an early morning swim session.


They Finally Came!!

Finally! After being back-ordered twice, cancelling one order from an imaginary online store, and having actually ordered every single color available, except the color that actually showed up, my Vibram 5-Finger KSOs arrived last week! They make me think of Muppet toes for some reason. While I didn't order the gray/green, I do like the color combo. John's black ones are a little less conspicuous, but that's never been my style anyway.

I took them out on their inaugural run on Friday afternoon. I only did 1.5 miles in them since I've been told it's best to get into this Tenderfoot thing slowly. Today, John and I walked about 4 miles in them as well.

First things first. They take a little work to put on and a little time to get used to. Very interesting... But the biggest thing I noticed is that they force you to have good form. You cannot heel strike. You cannot take strides that are too long. You have to pick up your feet and you have to have a quick turnover. They are warmer than I would have expected. And they're pretty fun in squishy grass and mud.

I was planning on going out easy, like 10 min miles just to get used to them. When I looked down at my watch, I realized I was running 8:30 min/mile and it didn't feel like work. My HR was lower than normal. It felt smooth. Maybe there is something to this. I didn't have any foot issues, soreness, or tenderness but I also limited my run to less than 2 miles. After our walk today, my feet do feel tired. Not sore, but I was definitely using parts of my foot that don't usually get a work out. And that is the whole idea. I'm hoping my running in the Vibrams that I will be able to strengthen my feet and prevent the P-word from returning.

My plan is to stick to roads and parks for the time being. I'm afraid I'd break a toe if I tried them in the trails. Especially since I know I have no self-restraint on downhills and that would almost guarantee broken appendages. I want to work in 1-2 barefoot runs a week and eventually work up to 4-6 miles. These runs won't really be part of my training, just additional easy runs on days I'm otherwise swimming or spinning. If I'm feeling adventurous, I may try a short race in my Vibrams and I'm kicking around the idea of doing a sprint tri barefoot at the end of the season (shoes on the bike portion, obviously). I'm always up for a challenge.


It has started

With NOLA now about 14 weeks away, I'm getting into some 2-a-day workouts and work outs that are 2 hours or more. Right now, I do my long swim and a long spin on Sundays, and then on Tuesdays I double up as well. I do morning speed work with KT and I spun (is that the right word?) last night, too. Soon I'll be doing long bricks on Saturdays and adding a short barefoot run on Sundays instead of spinning, along with adding another shorter spin session during the week. I've been trying to do yoga at least twice a week, too. So far no foot problem, knock on wood.

All this training means two things:
1. I need to sleep more. Last night I went to sleep a little after 9 and I slept like a rock! I'm such an old lady. I hope by going to bed at 9 once or twice a week I can hold off training-induced fatigue. It also means limiting the alcohol I drink before bed. But I've been pretty good with that since I decided to try to lose 5 lb. Ah, the sacrifices we make!

2. I'm hungry. All the time. The training munchies are back already. I've never had to deal with the hunger issue in the winter and it poses a problem. Besides the problem of always having food in my mouth when a co-worker stops by my desk during the day. If they didn't know me, they'd probably think I have some type of food addiction or oral fixation. Luckily, they've gotten used to that. The problem is usually I stock up on fresh fruits and veggies and snack on those throughout the day. But nothing is in season and fresh produce is so expensive in the winter! Right now carrots, cucumbers, apples, and clementines are staples in my lunch bag but I'm starting to get bored. I might have to start using cereal, nuts, and dried fruit to make my own snack mix. Is there some kind of healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe out there? That's what I'm really jonesing for.

One of these days I'm going to actually upload my run data from the Garmin. I want to try to program the custom workout for a brick and see how that goes. So far I love it. I haven't been paying much attention to it while running, other than to check my HR. The paces I've been running with all the slushy snow are pretty depressing when compared to where I was this fall. I've also been told my Vibram's are supposed to (finally!) arrive this week, possibly even today! If they do show up, I'm taking them out for a run this weekend! Toys and gadgets help me stay focused and motivated when the weather is crap and one workout generates enough dirty laundry for a full load. Embrace the suck. It will be April before I know it.

Now, I think I saw an M&M laying on the kitchen floor. Maybe it's still there...


Busy Week!

So far, it's been a pretty good training cycle for me. I've gotten three 10-12 mile runs in just the last week. Yesterday, MO and I averaged sub-9 min/mile for a 12 mile run. I'm looking forward to 20 at Rocky with Jenn. If I can do 12 at less than 9 min/mile, a run/walk combo and average pace of 12 min/mile should not be a problem. I'm really looking forward to the warmer temps, too. Everything is finally starting to melt, so I'm hoping the trail will be clear enough that KM and I can put in some "fast" miles. Although at this point, anything faster than 9 feels like I'm flying. Ouch.

I put another 3000yd day in the pool this morning and I've got a 2 hour spin planned for this afternoon. The spin will be interesting since I was already exhausted from the pool. But I'm looking forward to trying out my new bike fit. If all goes well, I'll do a detailed post about my fitting. It was a great experience and probably the best $75 I've invested into this sport. Fingers crossed my tushy is as impressed as I was...

Rocky is fast approaching and NOLA is 16-17 weeks out. After Rocky, I plan on starting brick workout on the weekend and I'll keep my long runs at 12 miles or 2 hours. Still no racing plans for after NOLA. If it goes well, I may try Kansas 70.3. If I'm slower than expected, I may wait until Sept for another 70.3. Even though I'm not 28 yet, I feel like the clock is ticking. I think if I ever want to try to be really fast, this year and next year is the time to do it.


Right place at the right time

It was another 3 day weekend for me since Friday was my office's holiday party and they graciously gave us the day off. I took advantage of being home during daylight hours to go for a 10 mile run. Saturday I rode for 90 minutes and Sunday I did 3000 yd at the pool and another 10 mile run. That's my kind of 3-day weekend!

After my 90 min ride, I was a little saddle sore. This winter, it seems the more I ride, the more uncomfortable I become. I dropped my aero bars and I really like the lower riding position. I'm nowhere near as aero as the pros, but it's a more aggressive position than I had been riding. Ever since then, I have no been able to get my seat dialed in. Which is really disappointing since at the end of the season, I felt it was. So today I decided to go looking for a new saddle. I thought that maybe that will help.

I get to the Trek store and the guy helping me didn't know much about tri bikes and when I asked for a women-specific tri saddle, he gave me a blank stare. Followed by "Let me go get someone." Another guy showed up and introduced himself as Ben. Somewhere in the middle of the conversation he said he didn't actually work there. Huh? Turns out he was Ben Schlogel, local professional triathlete working out some deals since he is sponsored by Trek.

We talked for a while, and he convinced me a bike fitting would be more worthwhile than a new saddle. With a good fit, a new saddle might not be necessary. He gave me the name of his fitter and also his website. If I can go sub-5:30 and decide I want to try to qualify for Clearwater, I may look into his coaching services.

Like any tri-geek, I really enjoyed talking to Ben. (It didn't hurt that he's also easy on the eyes) He is a fire fighter in real life, so life balance is important. He also said part of the philosophy of the Endurance Management Group is no ego, no attitude. Some of the other multisport groups in the area could easily be described exactly by those words. That is just one of the reasons I have stayed away from any group training. But I'm starting to realize that if I really want to become fast, I may have to find a group and coach. So far, from talking with Ben and looking at their website, Endurance Management Group seems like it'd be a good fit for me. At least if NOLA goes well, I now have a good place to turn.


Winter Weight

I'm not talking about the post-holidays turkey, gravy, and cocktail weight gain, either. After an early morning run with KM this week, I was curious how much extra weight I had in all of my layers. I was wearing: smart wool socks, thermal tights, sweatpants, a t-shirt, long sleeved thermal shirt with a hood, running jacket, sweatshirt, thin gloves, thermal mittens, balaclava, and hat. When I got home, I found out I was wearing 4 lb of clothes, not including my Garmin or shoes.

With that much weight, the powdery snow on the trail, and the restricted of movement that many clothes can cause, I felt like I was working three times as hard as I should have! I think the 4 mile jaunt was closer to resistance training than speedwork. While it's great for getting the HR up and burning some calories, there is no realistic expectation of improving speed under conditions like these.

It got me to thinking. If the extra weight of winter clothing (and effort to move because of the weight) was that noticeable, wouldn't 5 extra pounds of body weight be similar? The weight difference between an aluminum frame bike and a carbon bike is about that much, too. Since I have declared 2010 my year to go faster, I am going to make an honest effort to lose those pesky "last five pounds" that have been hanging on. If I can run even 5 sec/mile faster or ride 0.5 mph faster, it will definitely be worth it. That means I need to watch sweets and splurges, and eat more vegetables. KM has a similar goal, so we're going to use each other as motivation. When it is finally warm enough to go frolick through the woods in nothing but a sports bra and running skirt, it will feel like flying!


What will 2010 bring? New goodies!

I decided to take part of my hard-earned Christmas bonus from work and do a little shopping, trail runner/triathlete style. I've had a few things on my wish list for a while and with NOLA coming up and temps going down it was the perfect time to do a little shopping.

I picked up a Japanese Juniper bonsai, which is completely unrelated. I killed my last one in about 8 months and hadn't replaced it. I will not kill my bonsai. I will not kill my bonsai. I will not kill my bonsai. Back to the point.

I made several phone calls to find out if anyone in town had the Garmin 310XT (with HR monitor) in stock. There are only 2 stores that carry it, the Trek Bicycle Store, and Gary Gribbles. I found one at GG in Independence and had it transferred to the store in KC. Sweet! I have been drooling over these for months now and just never bought one. I borrowed MO's for Heartland, so I've already had the chance to play around with it. I'm really excited to be able to do mile intervals on my own and have better numbers as far as actual mileage instead of guesstimating based on pace. I am horrible at estimating my pace. I already put my information in and linked up the HR monitor. This afternoon I'm doing my first run outside with it.

I also bought a second running hat since mine seems to be dirty most of the time and regular stocking hats make my head itch. In pink, no less. How girly of me.

My last purchase wasn't planned. I'm even a little ashamed to admit that I bought it. I just don't know what came over me. I was minding my own business, perusing the sale rack in the running store, when BAM! It jumped into my hands and said "Take me home Sam!" I had no choice.

I swore, I swore I would never, EVER run in a running skirt. And what did I buy today - a running skirt. A very cute, very short running skirt. Before you even ask, no, it is not pink. But it does have a zipper pocket that is big enough for my car key and 1 or 2 GU. I'm going to blame the incredibly cold weather and clearance rack sales on this purchase. Why else would I daydream about running around in a short skirt?? Too bad it will be months before I can wear it.



I feel a little like a Samsicle after finishing a 10 mile run in 12 degree and windy weather. My hands and face were quite cold, but it was actually a very enjoyable run. I screwed my shoes before I left and put my gaiters on. I'm glad I did both! It was crunchy snow on top of ice and I'm sure I would have fallen on my keister if I hadn't screwed my shoes. Gaiters are great to keep snow from getting in your shoes.

I love running in the winter. It's so quiet and peaceful. I saw a handful of people out with their dogs, but other than that, I had the entire trail to myself. It was slow going, but on New Year's Day, I think 10 slow miles is pretty darn good!
I recently bought some Smart Wool socks, and I absolutely love them. They are the perfect winter running socks. I wore them on Thursday when the trails were wet and sloppy. Even when wet, my feet were warm. They didn't get soggy like cotton socks either. I wore them again today and my feet were completely fine. And no blisters to boot. I may have to pick up a few more pair for the winter running season. The boot dryer we bought at Thanksgiving has come in handy, too. All this snow is making me feel like I'm back in WI.