Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June reading recap

Wow. June's over already? Which means the year is half over? Where'd the first six months go?

I did some reading during the month. I finished four books and 1,107 pages. That brings the yearly total to 17 books and 6,209 pages. Compare that to last year when I had finished 17 books and 5,959 pages. So a few more pages were read this year. Not quite to the halfway mark of my 40-book goal for the year, but it's well within reach.

So what'd I read?

Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption by William Cope Moyers
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer

I'd say that's a bit of a variety this month: Addicts, ultramarathon runners, entertaining - but slightly reprehensible - stories from a mid-20s ladies man and vampires. Honestly I probably wouldn't have read I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, because it's really not my style of what I like to read. But a friend had loaned it to me a couple months ago and it was sitting there when I needed something mindless to read.

And Ultramarathon Man? Loved it. 'Nuff said.

For you Twilight saga fans, I recommend The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. It's quick (178 pages) and it gives insight into the life of one of the newly-created vampires in Victoria's army that fights the Cullens. I've been on the waiting list at the library to get my hands on a copy of the book, but I stumbled across a website where the book is available online to read. For free. But the deal only lasts until midnight on July 5. So go here if you want to take advantage of it. Unfortunately I realized I really don't like reading books on a computer screen, which makes me think I'm probably never going to jump on the eBook reader craze.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I finished Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes last night. A lot of you have probably already read it, but I'm a bit behind on the running-related reading material. Anyway. LOVED the book and Karnazes' writing style. Must get my hands on his 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days.

2. Chickenfest has arrived! The annual festival that I go to up by my parents' house actually started tonight with some live music, but I'm missing it. There's no question I'll be heading up for the weekend after work tomorrow. How can I pass up fireworks, a parade, music and the chicken dance - every hour on the hour?

3. When I'm not hanging out at Chickenfest there will be some biking and running happening. Hoping to get a run or two in this weekend (since I bailed on my run tonight). I actually might head over to High Cliff State Park again this weekend, tackle the cliff road and do some running on the trails. Last weekend's triathlon reminded me how much I liked running on those park trails.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Good soccer and tennis to get me through the day

It was like a sports lovers dream today. And since it all happened during the work day, let's just say I was tiny bit distracted (but shhhhh, don't tell my bosses).

For starters, the USA v. Algeria World Cup match. Now I didn't have this on TV, but I was following along with the ESPN game cast thing. The 90 minutes of regulation goes by, we're into extra time. I swear, I glanced down at my desk for like 5 seconds. The next time I look up at the computer screen I see: USA 1, Algeria 0.


Obviously I didn't see Landon Donovan's goal in real time, and because was being super pokey about posting the game-winning goal highlight, it wasn't until about a half hour after the game that I actually got to see the magic. Amazing. Great game. Looking forward to their second round game this weekend.

I guess it was a morning meant for a soccer and an afternoon for tennis.

Did anyone see the madness that was going on at Wimbledon? The first round match with John Isner and Nicholas Mahut that was was suspended for the second day after the players were deadlocked at 59-59 in the fifth set (there are no tiebreakers in the fifth set at Wimbledon). Dude. These guys have been on court for 10 hours. 10 hours people. The fifth set alone has taken over seven hours. Wow. 

I was keeping tabs on the match up until the were deadlocked at 52 games a piece. But then I had to tear myself away from my desk to go out for an appointment. As I was coming back into the office, I was looking forward to seeing who had won the epic match. Imagine my surprise when I found out they were still tied and would be coming back for day three. Needless to say I'll be checking it out tomorrow to find out how it all ends.

While I wasn't scoring game winning goals or trading backhands and forehands during an epic 10-hour match that still isn't over, I have been productive on the training front. There was an easy 3.6 mile run on the treadmill Monday, an 11.25 mile bike ride yesterday in the heat and humidity and 1,300 yards in the pool tonight. Hoping to sneak in a run tomorrow night before taking a much deserved rest day on Friday.

Monday, June 21, 2010

High Cliff Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Whitecaps. And headwinds. And cliffs. Oh my.

And all of them? They played a role in my second attempt at the High Cliff Sprint Triathlon on Saturday. And while I didn't have quite the race I was hoping for, I'm pretty happy with the result that I turned in.

I headed up to the race expo on Friday after I got done with work. I picked up my number, got my wave and while I did a quick walk through the expo vendors, I didn't stick around long. I drove over to my parents' house, dropped my stuff off and made quick trip out to the park to check out the water. Not too cold. Then it was time to head back to Mom and Dad's have some dinner, get my gear ready and relax.

Because the 4:45 a.m. alarm went off really early. I got up, took a really quick shower and Mom put two French braids in my hair. Then it was time to head off to the park. Driving to the park, I actually go down the last 4 miles of the bike course and part of it runs right alongside Lake Winnebago, where the swim course is. As I rounded that curve and I saw the water for the first time, I swear my stomach dropped.


And not little ones. We're talking waves 3 to 5 feet tall. Oh boy. I went into that whole denial phase. The race isn't starting for another 2 hours and my wave won't start for almost 3 hours, those waves will be gone by then. Yeah.

So I got to the park, set my transition area up and headed out for a visit to the port-a-potty. After that it was one last glance at my transition area and then I headed down to check out the water. Still whitecaps. Not good. I got wet, swam a little bit of a warm up and realized this swim was going to be tough. I went back ashore, chatted with my Mom and sister-in-law for a bit and pretty soon it was go time.

The Half Ironman waves went off first and I was in the fifth or sixth sprint wave. While standing on the beach, waiting for the course officials to tell us go, I noticed something. The people in all the waves before me? They were pretty much walking. And not just to the first buoy. Nope. Walking past the turnaround point back towards shore.

No way. That's not going to be me, I thought. Yes, I didn't get a lot of time in the pool but I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be one of those people who walked the swim leg of the triathlon. Whitecaps or not.

I was wrong.

When the gun went off, my wave took off running into the water, hoping over waves. We got to the first buoy, still running. On a calm day, the water is probably about waist deep at this point. Not on this day. With the waves, the water was almost over my head.

So I found myself doing exactly what I thought I wasn't going to do. I was doing more walking than swimming. I'd try to swim, but I'd take a few strokes and sight and I'd be totally off course. Or the waves would keep me from actually going anywhere. I ended up doing a combination of walking and attempting to swim the last half of the swim and let me tell you, I was never so glad to be done with a quarter-mile swim.

Transition went well. I threw on my shorts and a tank, exchanged some "man that swim was brutal" with other folks in my wave, grabbed the helmet and shades and I was off.

I got to the mount line, jumped on my bike and I was off. Ready to tackle the cliff road. I got to the base of the road, shifted down to a pretty low gear and started pedaling. I just got into a zone really quickly. There were folks passing me, but I wasn't worried. I just kept pedaling. And I actually did pass a few people. Which made me happy.

Pretty soon I was at the top of the cliff and out on the road. The first three-quarters of the 22-mile bike were pretty nice. I kept a pretty steady pace, around 16 or 17 miles per hour, which kind of surprised me. But all of a sudden, around mile 13, I make a right turn on to a country road to head west and BAM! The bike begins to suck.

I'm heading west, 9 miles from the end of the bike, into a steady 25mph headwind. And it was brutal. As brutal as those whitecaps I tackled during the swim. For the next 4 miles or so, I felt like I was working so hard, yet going absolutely no where. At a few points I seriously struggled to keep my speed above 9 mph. And at that point I briefly thought about throwing my bike in the ditch and crying, but I kept on pedaling.

And eventually I was at the end of the road. Let me tell you, I was never so happy to turn south and ride those last miles into the park.

Transition went smoothly. Racked my bike, got rid of the helmet and tried to put on the visor. But the French braids weren't allowing me to wear the visor. So I threw on a head band thing, debated briefly about whether to grab the iPod (ultimately decided to go without tunes) and I was off.

I got to the base of the road and started to go up. I made it up the first uphill segment and a portion of the deceivingly flat looking chunk before taking a small walk break. Started running again just before the killer climb at the top of the cliff. In all, I'd say I ran just a little more than half of the cliff road, which was better than last year. Once I got on the trails I felt better. I took a short walk break around the Mile 1 aid station, another around the Mile 2 aid station and a third short break somewhere around Mile 2.5. In hindsight I probably could have gotten rid of one of those breaks, but oh well. Even with the breaks, I was passing people on the run, and no one was passing me. Made me feel pretty good.

After that last walk break in the quarry area, it was a right hand turn and I was going down the cliff road that I'd worked so hard to bike and then run up earlier in the day. And going down? So much easier than going up. I felt good going downhill. Strong. I had a pretty nice kick at the end through the chute into the finish line.

I was done. I'd tackled High Cliff a second time and this year I felt pretty good with how I did. In my mind at the beginning of the day I was hoping to finish in 2 hours, 15 minutes. And I just missed it this year, but given the whitecaps and headwinds, I'm OK with it. Aside from those few moments on the bike where I just wanted to curl up in the ditch and quit, I felt strong during the race. And know that if I wasn't dealing with the whitecaps and headwinds, I could have gotten that 2:15.

So let's look at numbers:
Total Time: 2 hours, 23 minutes, 48 seconds
Swim: 7 minutes, 58 seconds
T1: 3 minutes, 32 seconds
Bike: 1 hours, 33 minutes, 36 seconds
T2: 2 minutes, 13 seconds
Run: 36 minutes, 27 seconds

And for comparison's sake, here's 2009:
Total time: 2 hours, 26 minutes, 28 seconds
Swim: 8 minutes, 28 seconds
T1: 4 minutes, 52 seconds
Bike: 1 hour, 26 minutes, 33 seconds
T2: 1 minute, 59 seconds
Run: 44 minutes, 34 minutes
That's an improvement of almost 3 minutes this year. And considering my bike was 7 minutes slower this year due to the winds? I so could have had the 2:15 I was aiming for. Especially since my transitions were faster, my swim was just a little bit faster (even with the whitecaps) and I shaved almost 8 minutes off the run. Darn wind slowing me down.

Next year.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I woke up with Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" in my head. And it stayed in my head. All. Day. I could blame it on the early hour that my alarm went off. But I blame it mostly on my Dad, since that's what was blaring from his garage stereo last night when I left their house.

2. I picked up the copy of Dean Karnazes' Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner that the library told me was waiting for me. I want to read it so bad, but first I've got to finish up Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption, a memoir a cocaine addict wrote about his addiction and path to recovery. He's just had his first big relapse, so I'm thinking I'm getting close to wrapping it up. Hopefully this weekend.

3. Was going to go for a short run tonight, but the legs are feeling a tiny bit sore after last night's bike ride. So I opted to take the day off and rest up for Saturday's race. Instead I'll spend some time tonight gathering my gear and stuff I'll need for this weekend so I don't have to do it tomorrow night after work.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hello Cliff Road. Nice to see you again.

Funny how things can change in a year.

After work I headed up to my parents' house to get in one last bike ride before Saturday's triathlon. It actually worked out great since my parents live 5 miles from the park where the tri is. So my plan was to bike from their house, go through the park and loop back.

My main goal for the night wasn't to just put miles on the bike. Nope. I was set to reacquaint myself with the cliff road. It's the road I have to tackle within the first mile of the bike. And just in case that wasn't painful enough, I also get to run up it - but at least I also get to run down.

I haven't downloaded data from Gus yet, so I don't have any elevation numbers. But just trust me. You go up. A lot.

Last year the cliff road scared me. It was hard. But I kept pedaling and eventually made it up. The running part? During the triathlon it wasn't pretty. And since I haven't seen the hill since last summer and really haven't been doing a whole lot of hill training, I was a bit nervous to tackle it tonight.

I set out from Mom and Dad's. It's about 7 miles of relatively flat roads from their house to the park entrance. Kept it easy. Didn't push myself too hard. I got to the park and it was go time. That hill? It was going down (or I was going up). I switched into some low gears and started pedaling. I wasn't going fast, but I wasn't stopping either. And I wasn't really struggling. While it was hard, I didn't feel like it was impossible. I knew this hill wouldn't get the best of me. Kept going. Passed another biker who lost the battle with the hill and was walking her bike up the steepest portion. Got to the top and didn't even rest. So much better than last year's experiences with it when it was hard and tiring.

Kept pedaling and pretty soon I was out of the park and at the end of the first road of the bike course. That was my turn around point. I stopped. 9.5 miles in 42 minutes. Not bad considering it felt like it took 5 to 10 minutes to get from the park entrance, up the hill and onto the country road. I stopped, popped a few Sport Beans and I was on my way back.

And as slow as it seemed I was going on the way up the cliff road? Yeah, I was speedy on the way down. I believe I broke 30 mph on the way down. And let's just say the speed limit for cars on that road? It's 25 mph. Can you get a ticket for speeding on your bike? I dunno.

Ride back was uneventful. In all I felt pretty good. Finished 19 miles in 1 hour, 22 minutes. Not really tired when I pulled into my parents' driveway. Makes me feel a bit more confident about this weekend's triathlon. Especially since I know I can tackle that hill and it will seem easier than it did last year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A game of catch up

It's been a few days. I've been busy, meaning I've had no time to blog. So tonight? I'm bring you a bullet point style post that will hopefully fill you in on what's been going on.
  • For the life of me, I can't remember what happened, but I didn't run last Thursday. Oops.
  • I did run on Sunday though. My first run in a week. And it was brutal. Temps were only in the mid-60s and it wasn't even sunny. But it was wicked HUMID! I did 4 miles and that last mile, all I wanted to do was quit. By the time I got home, I was drenched. Sweat rolling off of every body part imaginable. Felt like I just stepped out of the shower. Ugh.
  • I think it's rained 13 out of 15 days so far this month. And if it isn't raining it's been gloomy. Looking like it's going to start pouring any moment. Mother Nature, could you send us some sun. And some warmer temps? 
  • Tonight's run was better. Granted it was indoors on the treadmill because - surprise - it was raining. Run felt pretty good. 4.55 miles in about 45 minutes.
  • The High Cliff Triathlon is this weekend. Planning on heading up to my parents' house (which is near the race site) tomorrow after work to get in one last, good ride. I'm determined to ride that dang cliff road at least once before race day.
  • There might be a short run or swim on Thursday. Then it's expo time on Friday and race day Saturday. Hopefully Mother Nature is in a good mood.
  • My Google Reader is going crazy with unread posts. Hopefully I'll be able to make a dent in it this weekend.
Now I've got laundry to put away, a gym bag to pack and a book to read.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Riding into the wind doesn't scare me

Last night the focus was getting back into the pool.

Tonight it was putting some decent miles on the bike.

Unlike the pool, I haven't totally been neglecting my bike the last few months. I just haven't been showing it quite as much love as I should be. As in, my longest (outdoor) ride to date this year? 11 miles. Not bad. A decent post-work ride. But not quite up to the 21 miles that I'll be riding when the High Cliff Sprint Triathlon rolls around next weekend.

So today after work I hopped on the bike, intending to get a fairly decent ride in. I wasn't completely sure how far I wanted to go, I just knew I wanted to ride until I started to feel it. So I headed south out of town along the lake. I was flying. Feeling good. Got to my turn around point and soon discovered why the first 6 miles felt so good.

I was riding with the wind. And not just a gentle breeze. Nope. More like steady 20 mph winds with fairly frequent gusts around 30mph. And all of a sudden, one little turn and I was now riding into the wind.

Not as easy.

But I kept pedaling. Avoided being blown over. While my speed did drop, it never fell into single digits. And although it was hard, I didn't seem to be getting too tired. So I kept riding. Added on some extra loops around some neighborhoods. Kept turning away from my house. Because remember, I didn't have an exact route mapped out. Just wanted to see how far I could go and still feel good.

I ended up pulling into my driveway after 17.15 miles. Probably could have managed to tack on the extra 3 miles to make it an even 20, but it was starting to get late and my tummy was starting to growl. I was hungry.

So 17.15 miles in 1 hour, 13 minutes. And remember, there was wind to battle. Not bad. I'll take it. And after tonight's ride, I'm not so worried about the bike leg of the triathlon. I always knew I could do the distance, I just needed to get one longer ride under my belt before race day to reassure myself.

Tomorrow? I run.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Yup, I can still swim

The good news: I can still swim.

The bad news: Today was the first time I dipped a toe in a pool since early March. Which wouldn't be too bad. Except I've got the High Cliff Sprint Triathlon on June 19. In other words, less than two weeks away.

Yeah, I'd say I might be winging the swim portion of High Cliff a bit. At least I've only got to swim a quarter-mile. And I wish I could say the race snuck up on me. But it didn't. I remember writing on this very blog way back at the end of April that I needed to get back into the pool. But I didn't.

I did today though. Actually planned the trip to the pool out. See we're having kind of cruddy weather this week. And today? All it did was rain. Non-stop. And it was windy. And if you didn't know it was in the upper 50s (what's with the cold temps Mother Nature?), if you looked out the window, it actually kind of looked like it was snowing since the rain was coming down in sheets.

Given the weather forecast, I packed my gym bag. Complete with swimming gear. And after work? I hit the pool. I didn't have any huge plans or set in stone workout in mind. I just wanted to get in the water and make sure I still remembered how to swim. And lucky for me, I remembered.

Did a easy 400 yard warm-up, which included 200 yards with fins. And then I lost the fins and took off on a straight attempt at 400 yards, just to gauge how bad of shape my swimming is and how much I might be resting, floating or (possibly) walking during the High Cliff swim. The verdict? It wasn't awful. I took two short breathers during the 400 probably could have managed to skip them. Granted the swim? Kind of slow. I think about 10 minutes for the 400. Given how much time I've been spending in the pool lately, I'll take it though.

I'm hoping to sneak in two more swims before the triathlon. But swim No. 1 is in the books, and that's always supposed to be the hardest right?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

May reading recap

May has been over for how many days? And I still haven't posted my monthly reading recap? Shame on me. Here it goes.

I read in May. A bit. Much like running, I took a "recovery" week or two in the middle of the month. Didn't bother to pick up a book, even though I had one already started. Then I did a lot of reading over the month's last weekend just to finish the darn thing. Oh well. Maybe I needed a break from reading, just like running.

But I did manage to finish three books in May, totaling 976 pages. That brings the yearly total to 13 books and 5,102 page compared to 12 books and 5,476 pages by the end of May in 2009. Hmm. One more book but almost 400 fewer pages. I guess I'm on pace. Remember, the goal is 40 books this year.

So what did I manage to read in May? Take a look:

Soulless by Gail Carriger
The Babysitters Club: The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin
Changeless by Gail Carriger

A friend of mine Jennie recommended I give Soulless a chance. It's got vampires. And werewolves. And a preternatural - a woman who doesn't have a soul. Oh, and there are some ghosts too. But it's nothing like the Twilight series. Nope. A bit more adult, especially the parts which get quite, umm, steamy. But I liked it.

And some of you might do a double take when you read that Babysitters Club title. Yes. Those Babysitters. As in the girls that held their weekly meetings to dole out babysitting assignments and usually ended up with some good story to tell. And let me tell you, I loved them. Flew through all the books in the series (which seemed to have a new book released every month). So when I heard about a new book being published, one that told the story of the girls before the club was formed, I knew I had to read it. Even if I am 30. If anything, it was a good one-day read that didn't require a lot of thought.

Now, my To Read list is a little light right now. Anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I've got my Dropkick Murphys CD on constant repeat in my car right now. It replaced a Dave Matthews Band CD that was in the disc player for a few days. But tonight Waterfest, a weekly concert series down at the amphitheater by the river started (and I had to miss week one) and that totally reminded me that next weekend is Oshkosh's version of Irish Fest. Looking forward to listening to some Irish tunes, so I figured the Dropkick Murphys, an Irish-punk rock band, would get me in the mood.

2. Speaking of music, somewhere between a trip to California and running a half marathon I forgot to tell y'all about another event in Badgergirl's summer. I've got tickets to go see Lady Gaga. Now I didn't see the concert listing and go "OMG I NEED to go see Lady Gaga." Actually those were the words out of my Dad's mouth. OK, maybe not "OMG" but he was adamant about needing to go see her. See, my dad (who's 59 years young) LOVES Lady Gaga. And being the good daughter I am, I said I'd drive him down to see her in Milwaukee if he really wanted to go. So Dad bought the tickets (a cousin of mine is also coming along) and I've got driving duties and the following day off. Looks like Badgergirl's becoming one of Lady Gaga's "little monsters" on Sept. 2. Should be an interesting time, but one I'm actually kind of looking forward to.

3. I go into work late Friday. I'm considering squeezing in a run before I head to the office. And while I'd love to do it outside, the weatherman is calling for rain. Which means I might wuss out and head over to the YMCA and the treadmill. Hey, as long as I get in a run I'll be happy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Turning 3 days into 4

So my plans to get back on track over the holiday weekend? Didn't really happen.

But I did manage to sneak a four day weekend out of it all. So what did happen?

Well I took off the for the long weekend on Friday after work. Loaded up bike and gear and headed out to my parents' house. Took it easy on Friday night, just enjoyed some dinner and a bit of reading time.

Saturday was warm. And humid. But not too terrible. I had plans to go for a run in the late afternoon, but I got sucked into watching some awful Lifetime movie. Thinking back, I can't even tell you what it was about. It was that bad. Something makes me think it was about a journalist wanting a better life, but I could be wrong. So I missed my run, but I did get some time in on my bike. Not quite as long as I'd like, but miles were biked.

Sunday was awful. Hot. Humid. Blazing sun. And considering I did spend a good chunk of the day sitting outside, I probably should have just run. Or biked. But I didn't. By the time it was cooling off enough it was time to gather some wood and start a fire in my parents' backyard. I couldn't pass that up.

And Memorial Day? The day I had been looking forward to all weekend. Cooler temperatures and no humidity? I had it planned out in my head the night before as I sat in front of the fire. A run in the morning. Some downtime and a good bike ride in the afternoon before finishing off the day with brats on the grill and heading back home.

Yup. Didn't work out that way at all.

I woke up with a throbbing headache. The kind I haven't had in a long time. But it got worse. Let's just say the breakfast cereal I ate? It didn't taste so good the second time. Yuck. With a throbbing head and a queasy stomach, I went back to bed. Slept some more. Eventually made it out to the living room where I proceeded to watch way too many episodes of TLC's Cake Boss.

And since I still didn't feel the greatest and the head was still bothering me a bit Tuesday when I woke up for work, I decided to call in sick. I stayed pretty low key on Tuesday, mostly watching TV and putzing - Mom forbid me from running or biking - and eventually had my brat before heading back home.

So I didn't quite get back into a workout routine this weekend, but I blame it on the heat, humidity and whatever bug took up residence in my head and stomach. The time to get back on track starts now.