Saturday, October 31, 2009

A late recap of Swim Class No. 7

It's hard to believe I'm halfway done with my swim class. Only seven more to go. Time flies.

This week it could be summed up in one word. Arms.

There were single-arm drills, high elbow delays, a 3/4 catchup and a moderate swim where we didn't do much kicking.

But the killer?

The set featuring 4x200 with the pull buoy. Let me tell you, 800 yards of swimming only relying on your arms? Killer. My arms were feeling it after the first 200 yards. But I swam it. And wasn't the last person to finish. Almost last. But not last.

And after all that fun was done? Let's not forget about the 6x25 sprints as fast as you can possibly god. Yeah, because I've got a lot of gas left in the tank. But I did it.

And I earned that bagel coach brought us for after our workout was done.

Trick or Treat

Friday, October 30, 2009

A good way to end the week

Two days left in the month. But realistically, only one day that I would be able to sneak in a run.

And I was 5 miles short of reaching my DailyMile challenge goal of 40 miles in October.

So after work tonight I headed over to the YMCA. I wanted to sneak in the run outside since it was in the 60s, but it was super windy and almost dark by the time I left the office. So indoors and the treadmill it was going to be.

I snagged a treadmill - amazing, there were about 3 people including myself in the cardio room, must have been the whole 5:45 on a Friday night thing - and started running. I had that magic number 5 dangling in front of me, but I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it. Earlier this week I had this nagging ache in my groin area, but tonight it wasn't there. So my thoughts were, 3 for sure, 4 probable and 5 just might be doable.

I ran.

I kept a steady pace at first. Knocked out the first mile in 11 minutes flat and notched up the speed a bit for miles 2 (10:26) and 3 (10:19). I was still essentially alone at the YMCA and still feeling good, so I notched up the speed some more and kept running. I hit mile 4 at 9:59. There was still about 2 minutes, 30 seconds left on the timer for the treadmill, so I pushed it. I think I was at a 6.5 mph speed. But you know what? It felt like a good sprint. A comfortable sprint. A sprint like I pulled out at the end of the Freaky 5K last weekend.

When the timer flipped to 45 minutes, I had gone 4.35 miles. But I still felt good. And all that was standing between me and my first 5-mile run since 2007 was a lousy 0.65 of a mile.

I hit reset. Started running again. Still kept it at a decent pace. Finished the last mile in 9:29 and the entire run in 51:03.

And when I was done? I felt good. Not like I was going to die (which is what I was worried about). But good and glad that I logged the miles.

Granted 3 hours later my legs are starting to feel a little achy and I'm a tiny bit worried what they're going to feel like in the morning - you wouldn't want super sore legs either if you had to navigate football stadium stairs like I'll be doing at Camp Randall when the Badgers take on Purdue tomorrow. But I'm happy I did it.

And while I completed the 40 miles in October challenge over at DailyMile, I technically only ran 35.7 miles in October. For some reason the kind folks at DailyMile decided to count the 4.3 miles I logged on Sept. 30 in my October challenge totals. I'm not arguing though.

But 35.7 miles. That's by far my best month so far this year. Makes me happy that I think I've found that running bug again. And tonight's run? Made me realize that I can sign up for the 5-mile Turkey Trot instead of the 2-mile option and not be worried about finishing.

I'd say it was a good Friday.
Time is running out, but swing by Tall Mom on the Run. She's got this amazing Brooks for Her Giveaway. If you like pink, this stuff's for you and it supports a good cause.

Brooks created the Brooks for Her (BFH) collection to help support the fight against breast cancer. For each BFH piece purchased from March through December 2009, Brooks will donate 6.25% of the suggested retail price to three organizations that research and support those affected by breast cancer: The Young Survival Coalition, Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, earmarked for breast cancer research. Learn more about the three selected charities, how BFH works and see the Brooks For Her collection.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Inspirational stuff

I saw this posted on Nikemom's blog and just had to share it over here.

Love it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

YMCA Freaky 5K Race Report

Eleven seconds.

We're talking about the time it took me to walk through the water stop in an attempt not to spill a glassful of water all over myself on a chilly day. Or the extra seconds I took to get up the hill without killing myself on the wet, leave covered street.

Eleven seconds is what stands between me and a sub-34 minute 5K after yesterday's YMCA Freaky 5K.

After it poured all day on Friday and was super windy, I was not looking forward to my 6:30 a.m. wake up call Saturday morning. I was almost scared to turn on the Weather Channel or peak out the windows. It was going to be chilly.

And it was. When I left my parents' house to drive over to the race site, the Weather Channel told me it was 37 degrees outside and windy. Great. Maybe the coldness will make me run faster, I thought.

I got to the park, got my race packet and headed back to my car. Because it would have been cute to watch the little kids run in their costumes, it was too cold to stand around for 45 minutes. So I went back to the car, pinned my number on my T-shirt, decided on the ear warmer over the stocking hat and tried to stay warm.

It worked. Kind of.

It was finally time to line up for the start. I walked over, dodged the puddles left over from the rain the day before and waited. My mom had come with me, so the plan was I'd keep my jacket on until just before the horn sounded in an attempt to stay a bit warmer. I was wearing my running pants, a long-sleeve tech shirt and a T-shirt layered over the top along with my ear warmer and gloves. I was cold just standing there, but I was pretty sure I'd be warm enough once I started running.

The gun sounded and I was off.

The course immediately started with a downhill towards the river. Still a little crowded so I didn't go super fast. Ran along the river for a bit and then the uphill climb was staring me in the face. An uphill climb covered with wet slippery leaves, which weren't too bad at the beginning but really stunk near the top of the climb. I took them a bit slow, just crossing my fingers I wouldn't slip and do a face plant into the cement.

I didn't. Made it to the top of the hill and kept running. Passed the first mile marker in 10 minutes, 49 seconds. Not bad I thought.

I kept running. Somewhere around 1.5 miles, this little black dog wearing a pumpkin sweater passes me. He was on a leash, but it was one of those retractable leashes, so the owner was behind me. And that little dog? He didn't like to run in a straight line and wanted to go visit the guy running next to me. And he didn't care that as he moved towards the other runner he nearly tripped me with his leash. Not happy. I gave the dog owner a nasty glare as she ran past me. Next year? Leave your dog at home.

I slowed down to a fast walk when I went through the water station. Didn't want to spill cold water on my already cold self. Drank, tossed the cup and started running again. Hit the second mile marker in 11:13.

Last mile was uneventful. My fingers and toes were starting to get a little cold, but that was the extent of my uncomfortableness. Passed the third mile marker in 11:06, rounded one last corner and the finish line was in sight. I kicked it into a new gear and sprinted towards the finish.

I was hoping to break the 34 minute mark, but realized the hills and weather might play a factor, so I wasn't getting overly optimistic. Finished in 34 minutes, 11 seconds. Another new PR for me this season, but that still leaves me struggling to break 34 minutes.

Since April, when I logged my slowest, stand alone 5K ever, I've managed to whittle away the seconds. Take a look at my 5K times this year:

Oshkosh 5K (April 18) - 37:05
Fox Firecracker 5K (July 4) - 35:36
Scheel's Sunset 5K (July17) - 35:03
Run for the Paws (Sept. 7) - 34:14
YMCA Freaky 5K ( Oct. 24) - 34:11

So yes, I'm glad I've shaved almost three minutes off my time so far this year. But still, I'd love to get past that 34 minute mark. So I think I'm adding an additional 5K on Thanksgiving last shot at breaking 34 minutes this year.

Be afraid 34 minutes. Be very afraid.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Running away from the work week

I kind of hinted at it yesterday, but it's been a very, very long week at work.

Laptop in hand, I temporarily moved my office into the courthouse this week for a couple of big court cases. Unfortunately that meant long days spent on really uncomfortable courtroom benches. And those long days meant I was usually drained by the time they were over, meaning I had no energy to make it out for a run.


But today the courthouse madness came to an end and my three-day weekend began. And even though it was another long day, I dragged myself over to the YMCA after work (it was raining out) to get in a run. I needed it that bad.

I stepped on the treadmill not really knowing how far I was going to go. Or how far I'd be able to given the fact I barely ate all day and my last run was a week ago. But I put one foot in front of the other and started running. The first half mile? It was hard. But I kept plugging away. I did what I've been doing the last few weeks, playing around with the speed, gradually getting faster. The first mile passed. I kept going. Mile 2. Then I was at Mile 3. Was starting to get a bit tired, but I felt OK. So I kept going and at this point was running a sub-10 minute mile.

Finished up with 4 miles and it felt good. Nice way to get the legs moving a little bit, especially since I've got the YMCA Freaky 5K on Saturday morning (with the weatherman saying there's a chance of snow/rain). I think the race gets its name from the hills I'll be running. They'll freak me out a bit since the city I live in is as flat as a pancake!

And tonight I started mulling a race possibility at the end of March that would require travel. Hmmm. Never to early to start thinking about 2010.


And it's getting cold outside so check out Tall Mom on the Run for a sweet giveaway!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Running failure

My plan to run tonight after work? Big fail. But blame it on a jury needing to take 5 hours to come to a verdict in a homicide case.

Although if I had known it was going to take them 5 hours, I would have snuck the run in anyways - because my gym bag was sitting packed in the backseat of my car. Instead I sat. And waited. Run fail.

Tomorrow it will get done. Because after the week I've had? I need it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Swim class No. 6

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No-one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper lives in a world full of wonder,
Lying there under, under the sea!

OK, so maybe I'm nowhere near the 1960s TV show dolphin, but I sure felt like it for a moment this morning. Or at least enough to make the theme song to the TV show Flipper run through my head. All. Day.

I went to swim class this morning, 15 minutes earlier than usual. Yes, 15 minutes isn't much. But when we're talking about jumping in the pool at 5:15 a.m., that's a lot of extra minutes I could have spent sleeping.

So I jumped in, did my 200 yard warm up. As I put on my pair of fins I looked at the workout sheet:

6x25 w/ fins - dolphin kick under water

Huh? I'm becoming a dolphin this morning? Because I was up so early I thought I was seeing things. I called the coach over.

"What's this about the dolphin kick?"

Yup. Dolphin kicks. Efficient kick to use, especially at the beginning of a triathlon swim, he says.

I watched as he demonstrated while standing on the pool deck. Well, I thought to myself, I've already got my fins on, mind as well try out this dolphin kick and really feel like a sea creature.

So I did. And it was kind of fun and not that difficult. Granted I'm no Michael Phelps when it comes to dolphin kicking, but give me some time.

Only after I finished my 150 yards worth of dolphin kicking did the coach tell me I only had to do it until I came up to the top of the waster the first time. Then I could swim the rest of the length of the pool with a normal freestyle. Me? I'd hit the top of the water, grab some air and head back under for more kicking. I was only following what the folks in front of me were doing. Oh well. It was fun.

So if I felt like a TV star dolphin during the first part of the class, I almost felt like a beached whale during the last 500 yards of the workout when I grabbed the hand paddles and pull buoy - my first experience with either piece of equipment.

Let's just say I didn't feel like I had any control over the bottom half of my body. Towards the end of the swim, maybe the last 100 yards, I felt a little bit more in control, but I think I preferred feeling like flipper.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Running and what are these heavy things called weights?

Another cold, rainy, windy day. Another trip to the YMCA and the treadmill.

Legs felt a little heavy after yesterday's run, but I still wanted to squeeze in 2 or 3 miles. I ended up logging three miles, each mile getting faster.

Mile 1 - 10:45
Mile 2 - 10:21
Mile 3 - 9:27 - was seriously pushing the speed the last half mile or so.

Run felt good. Afterwards I headed over into the land of the weights. An area I haven't stepped foot in in over 6 months. Gulp. But I need to get used to it. So I did some strength exercises and stretches. Some crunches. And then ended my visit to the YMCA with a quick 4-mile cool down on the bike.

Overall, not a bad night. I think I'm going to give myself the day off on Friday. I think I've earned it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I felt kind of speedy

Haven't had time to sneak in a run all week, but I made a point to head over to the YMCA tonight after work.

Walking from the locker room to the treadmill, I was only planning on pounding out 3 miles. But I got upstairs and there was a treadmill sitting there unused. And it one of the ones that was in a time slot that was already in progress. So I could sign up for the next slot, hop on right away and it would be all mine for 45 minutes.

I uncapped that dry erase marker and penciled in my name.

So my planned 3 miles turned into 4.35 miles. I'm sensing a habit forming. Hmm.

Anyway. I started out slow and gradually worked my way up to a nice pace that I felt comfortable at. And tonight? I even managed to use the splits on my watch. So instead of generalities, I've got numbers for you guys! Aren't you excited?

Mile 1 - Finished in 10:51. Took it nice and slow, included the one minute walking warm up while I untangled my iPod headphones.
Mile 2 - Finished in 10:26. Notched up the speed a little bit. Still felt comfortable.
Mile 3 - Finished in 10:12. Faster yet. Still comfortable.
Mile 4.35 - Yes, unable to hit the split button on my watch at the 4-mile mark. Deal with it. :) Anyway finished the last 1.35 miles in 13:33. I think I had the speed set at 5.9mph until I hit the 3.5 mark, then I upped it to 6mph and upped it again when I hit the 3.75. Did a nice sprint for the next quarter mile, hitting a high of 6.5mph. Hard. But felt good. Finished with a nice cool down for the last 3 minutes and change.

Overall, the run felt good. One of these days I'm going to either have to bundle up and brave the cold temps (seriously it's been like 42 degrees out for the last two weeks) or snag a treadmill for an entire hour. Because I think it's time to try out that 5-mile run pretty soon. And honestly, I'd rather do it outdoors. Maybe this weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Swim Class No. 5

My fifth swim class meant my first session where I did the entire workout that the coach sent out.

The past few weeks I've been doing about half of the workout before the class breaks into two groups - one finishing up the workout and the rest of us who wanted to work on breathing stuff. But yesterday? All workout.

We started out with a nice, easy warm up and then dove right into the drills. During one drill - side swimming, taking three strokes and switching to our other side, it helps with bilateral breathing - I came into the wall and was waiting for the person in front of me to go and Coach Greg (yes, it took me four weeks but I finally remember his name) came up to me, told me it looked good and I should have demonstrated for the group. Umm, thanks. I guess that means what he's been teaching me the last four weeks has caught on.

Anyway, did some more drills and ditched the fins with 800 yards to go. 800 yards that alternated between an easy swim and a fast swim. I pushed myself. I didn't feel super fast, but I felt like there was a difference between my "easy" and my "fast."

I finished the workout off with a trip to the hot tub. Because when the coach orders a 5-minute trip to the hot tub, you don't skip that vital piece. And yes, he really had it included on the workout sheet.

But the hot tub was good. I got to sit in with some other folks in my group who I haven't gotten a chance to really talk to before. We talked triathlons. Mostly Ironmans - there's some folks in my class who are signed up for 2010. Me? I'm just toying with the possibility of an Olympic.

And since I opted for the hot tub, I skipped out on the planned run after class. But I'll get one in tomorrow, especially since I just signed up for the YMCA Freaky 5K on Oct. 24 And I'll need to be ready? Because this 5K? All of the hills on the route may be what makes it freaky.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Painful football made me want to run away. So I did.

Still not convinced Ohio State is a top 10 team.

I spent the afternoon sitting in my recliner, watching the Badgers take on Ohio State. The first half was a good battle and it was close at halftime. The second half? Painful to watch. Especially since Ohio State's offense was sitting on the sidelines while its defense and special teams racked up the points.

And the Badgers? While they were moving the ball, they were having trouble finding the end zone, holding onto the ball in the end zone or kicking the ball through the uprights.

Final score? A 31-13 loss.

And when the clock hit zero, I promptly grabbed my bag and headed over to the YMCA for a run. I would have gone outside, but honestly? Mid-30s and windy was a little too chilly for me today. So the treadmill it was.

I had 45 minutes before the YMCA closed. I started to run, not sure if I was going to go 2 or 3 miles. Heck I even had time for 4 if I wanted. So I ran. First mile was kind of slow. Sped up a bit in the second mile and the treadmill timer was reading 21 minutes, 45 seconds. Not bad, but not good.

My legs still felt good. So I upped the speed and kept going. I hit the 3 mile marker at 32 minutes, 30 seconds. Still was feeling good and still had about 15 minutes before closing time.

So I notched the speed up again and kept running. I don't think the speed ever dipped below 6 miles per hour (a 10-minute mile) during the final mile. And I was feeling good. I liked the faster pace. Finished up 4 miles in 41 minutes, 15 seconds.

Not a great football game, but a good run. I'll take it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Swim Class No. 4

Week number of my swim class was yesterday. And it's definitely not as intimidating as it was the first week anymore.

We did a warm up, worked on a few drills and broke off into our two separate groups again - training and breathing. I stuck with the breathing group again, just to give myself one more week to work on the bilateral breathing. Since I hadn't been in the pool since last Monday morning, I wasn't sure how it was going to go this week, but the breathing came back pretty easily.

Finished up the breathing work and did an easy 200 yards or so with fins to end the session. Next week I think I'm going to abandon the breathing group, try to work on some regular training stuff.

After the swim class was done, I threw on my running clothes and headed out to the treadmill. Normally I would have snuck a run in after getting done with work, but since I was working the night shift (see It's Monday Night Football, Packers versus Vikings and I'm Working), I thought I'd sneak the run in before heading out to an early morning meeting.

I got on the treadmill and at first I thought I'd only make it 2 miles. My legs felt heavy. And it was hard to run. I guess that's what happens after an hour-long swim class. But after a half mile or so, the legs started feeling like normal and the run got easier.

Soon the treadmill readout told me I had gone 2 miles and I just kept running. Finished up with 3 miles in 31 minutes, 30 seconds.

Then it was home, a quick shower and meeting for work. Followed up by a nice 2.5 hour nap before heading into work. All in a morning's work.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I admit, it's a little odd to see

A sports-related note, but taking a breaking from running, biking and swimming...

For the first time, Brett Favre, the Green Bay Packers quarterback I grew up loving, takes the field tonight, wearing Viking gear and facing off against the team he thrived with for 16 years.

Packers versus Vikings. On Monday Night Football.

And I'm stuck in my office. Working the night shift.

This is just so wrong. But at least I've got a TV within 10 feet of me.

And a bit of advice for the Packers defense? Hit him hard boys.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reading Recap

Words were read in September and as a result, I'm slowly inching towards that 40-book goal.

I finished three books in September and 748 pages. Not bad. But it could have been better, especially since according to my records there were 11 days this month when I did not have a book in progress. Eleven days. That's like a third of the month. That could have been a whole extra book. Or two.

Oh well.

I still finished three books and a bunch of pages. That brings the yearly total to 25 books and 8,828 pages. If I want to accomplish that goal of 40 books by December 31, I need to finish 15 more in three months. Five books a month. Is it doable? Hmmm. We'll see.

Anyway. What'd I read in September? Honestly it was a bunch of fluff. But I needed fluff. Take a look:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

The Alchemist was the only book I read this month that wasn't in the fluff category. It wasn't bad. I guess I'd recommend it.

And in a matter of moments I'm going to settle in and start a new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan, later tonight. I admit, I probably wouldn't have picked this up before, but it's the selection for the University of Wisconsin's common reading program, Go Big Read. It's like a book club for my (former) university. But I've read Pollan before. I had to read The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World for a class back in college and it was kind of enjoyable. So I figured I'd see what his newest one has to say. I'll let you know what I think.