Monday, November 30, 2009

Introducing the time trial

Twelve weeks in and being jolted awake by a squawking alarm clock at 4:45 hasn't gotten any easier. A little less jarring, but not any easier.

Today was swim class number 12 and what did The Coach have in store for us? A time trial. But not right off the bat. First there was a warm up swim and then some kicking work. Throw in some breathing and a couple of all out sprints and we were quickly up to 900 yards.

Then it was time to rest. And grab a drink of water. And prepare ourselves for the 900 yard time trial, just over a half mile.

We lined up, two swimmers to a lane and got ready to swim.

Honestly, I haven't been doing a lot of long, extended swims lately. I think my max has been somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 yards during swim class and even that has included a few short rest breaks. Honestly I think the last time I did a straight half-mile swim was in July at the Trek Women's Triathlon.

But today I just wanted to swim continuously. No breaks. Just swim one length of the pool, hit the wall and turn around. Repeat for 36 lengths.

The clock hit zero and we were off. Knowing I had 900 yards in front of me, I didn't want to take off too quickly. I set out at a nice comfortable pace. Was swimming stroke for stroke with the girl in the lane with me. After a couple of lengths, she paused. I kept swimming. I wasn't really keeping track of time, but I did manage to glance at the clock when I hit 450 yards - 10 minutes, 35 seconds. Not too bad. About what I was expecting.

I kept swimming. And I could tell I was starting to get a little tired in the last 200 yards or so and really would have loved to take a break. But I didn't. I refused to stop. And even managed a bit of a "sprint" over the last 25 yards.

I ended up hitting the wall in 21 minutes, 40 seconds.

Not the fastest - that belonged to the girl who clocked 17 minutes flat - but not the slowest either. In fact, I came in before three other girls. One was the girl swimming next to me, but the other two? Completely took me by surprise.

As I was walking off the pool deck on my way to the hot tub (hey, I earned it), I was talking to The Coach. He asked me how I felt the time trial went. I told him not bad it was about what I was expected. He asked me if I thought I could have pushed myself harder. Probably. And he said that's the next step. To push a little bit harder, swim a little bit faster and make it all a little bit more painful.

Because a little bit of pain is good. Makes you know you're working hard.

Guess that means the next few weeks in the pool will be a bit painful. Because I want to shave some seconds off of that time. And time trial number 2? It's already been scheduled for Dec. 21.

Bring it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

HBBC Week 1 recap

Week one of the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge is done.

And I'm hoping the rest of the weeks get better. Because this week? It featured a couple of zeros! Ooops. I could blame it on the holidays, but I don't think that excuse would fly for all the zeros I tallied. And I guess I could blame it on the weather, but that's no excuse when I've got a YMCA membership.

So no excuses. I just threw in some zeros and had a sub par week.

Oh well. It can only get better, right?

Take a look at Week One:

Monday 11/23
Swim 1.25 hours - 5

Tuesday 11/24
2 mile walk - 2

Wednesday 11/25

Thursday 11/26
5 mile run - 5

Friday 11/27

Saturday 11/28
nothing - I'm sensing a trend here

Sunday 11/29
1 mile walk - 1

Total: 13 points

Eh. Not awful. Not wonderful either. This week it'll get better. I hope.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Festival Foods 5-mile Turkey Trot

I got a text message this morning around 6 a.m.

"Good luck and stay dry. 39 and lots of rain."

Ugh, not exactly the most ideal conditions for a turkey trot, but I'd deal with that when the trot started 2 and a half hours later. I went back to sleep, hoping the weather would get nicer.

Alarm goes off, I get ready. Throw on my black running pants, a long-sleeve tech shirt and layer another shirt over the top. Look out the window and I can still see raindrops falling in the huge puddle that's formed in my parking lot. I grab my gloves, ear band and coat and head out.

The plan was to run the 5-mile Festival Foods Turkey Trot this morning. And honestly? The entire time I was driving over to the race site, I was trying to convince myself it was in my best interest to forgo the 5-mile run and opt for the shorter 2-mile version. Ultimately I couldn't talk myself out of the 5-mile run.

I got to the site, grabbed my T-shirt, pumpkin pie (which I later donated to my family's Thanksgiving feast since I don't like pumpkin pie) and race bib. I then met up with Jess and her hubby Scott, who were both running the 2-mile run, and we waited for the start.

And while we waited? We tried to keep moving, but we still got cold.

Finally it was time to run.

The first mile was a bit crowded as the 5- and 2-mile runners were all running together before the split. But it wasn't an uncomfortable crowded. After the 2-milers split, the runners stretched out a bunch and I settled into a nice, comfortable pace. Just me, my running shoes and some tunes out for an early Thanksgiving run.

There were no mile markers on the route, so splits? Not gonna happen. We ran through a neighborhood along the river, over the bridge and through the college campus before hitting up the lone water stop about 2.5 miles in. I glanced down at my watch at this point and had just clocked 25 minutes. Not bad. About the pace I've been averaging lately.

But the second half of the race? I had to deal with Mother Nature, who decided it wasn't going to be a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot without a bunch of steady winds (although thankfully the rain held off). Wind that we spent the entire second half of the race running directly into.

Needless to say I think that slowed me down a bit.

Even so I think I kept up a pretty steady pace for the first four miles. But I could definitely tell I haven't done a lot of 5-mile runs lately, because that last mile? Brutal. I definitely slowed down. When I made the final turn and the finish line was in sight, I still had enough of a kick to put together a decent sprint to the finish line and (finally) passed this group of three women I had been running behind the entire second half of the race.

Official time? 54 minutes, 55 seconds. Would have liked to see it closer to 50 minutes, but given the wind and the cold, I'll take it.

After I was done, I grabbed a drink and headed back home to take a short nap before heading out to my family's Thanksgiving feast.

Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Catching up and looking ahead

It was a busy week. And while some workouts got tossed out the window, overall it was a good week.

Got some time in at the pool on Monday and followed that up with 4.5 miles on the treadmill on Tuesday. Then I managed to avoid workouts for the next three days. There were a few dinners with friends, an early morning jaunt to drop a friend off at the airport and trip to The 'burg to see "New Moon" with an old friend. So not very workout-friendly, but I managed.

So by the time Saturday rolled around and it was mid-50s and sunny, I couldn't avoid it any longer. My running shoes were calling my name. I laced them up and headed out. I wasn't sure how far I was going to go, I was thinking maybe 3 miles. But I got to the turn around point and the next chunk of road was just calling my name. So instead of turning around, I kept going straight. By this point it was starting to get dusky, passing cars had their headlights on and the sunglasses I was wearing? Not really necessary. It was peaceful though. And enjoyable to run in. The run ended up being 4.5 miles. It felt good. I kept a nice steady pace and finished it off in about 45 minutes.

I should have ran today, but I didn't. Instead there was a trip to Scheel's to replace my malfunctioning, broken goggles before swim class tomorrow and a visit with my parents. And there was football to watch.

So I considered today a rest day.

And I might need it.

Tomorrow kicks off the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge, a challenge put together by Amanda over at Run to the Finish. I'll start off the challenge with a swim session in the morning and might even sneak in a run after work. And Tuesday I'll be scampering after Santa in the Santa Scamper, a one-mile run before the Appleton Christmas Parade. And let's not forget about the 5-mile Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning and a possible season-ending 5K on Sunday.

Should be a good week.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Runs, swims and bullet points

It feels like a bullet point kind of day.

So bullet points you get.
  • Had to burn vacation time at work, so I just enjoyed a four-day weekend full of gorgeous weather. There was apartment cleaning and a 4-mile run on Thursday and shopping, dinner and catch-up time with friends on Friday.
  • Saturday means college football. So I listened to the Badgers beat up Michigan and then snuck in a 3-miler before it got dark or decided to start raining. Run went OK, but legs felt a little dead.
  • More football on Sunday, the NFL variety.
  • Today it was not only back to work, but back to the pool. After missing last week's swim class, 5 a.m. came really early. And it sounds crazy, but I could totally tell I took a week off of swimming. Legs just weren't feeling it. Luckily it was mostly drills today. Not so lucky? Those drills all focused on the arms, which means my legs were doing the brunt of the work. Dead legs post swim mean no run today.
  • Had a bit of an equipment malfunction midway through swim class. Goggles? Busted. Mental note: Make trip to store to get new goggles before next week.
  • The rest of the week looks a little crazy with post-work plans. Right now the plan is to hit the YMCA for a run Tuesday after work and force myself to get up early Wednesday for a run. Will take Thursday off, but might have to do the early morning thing again on Friday. I could just opt out of a run, but I've been in a groove lately, don't want to mess it up.
And that's all I've got. Next time hopefully I won't have to resort to bullet points.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Like free stuff? Check out this giveaway

You can't argue with the chance to win free stuff. There's peanut butter Clif Bars, Clif Kids Mixed Berry Twisted Fruit Snacks and a Headsweats visor. That's a good box o' stuff! And the peanut butter Clif Bars? Delicious. My favorite flavor. Go to The Daily Cadence and check it out!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Treadmill thoughts

Another night. Another run on the treadmill.

After work was done, I headed over to the YMCA for a quick run. Snuck in 3.5 miles in just over 35 minutes before some plans I had this evening. Took the first two miles relatively easy, pushed it during the third mile and really pushed it hard during the last half mile. Felt really good.

But while I was running, obviously during the beginning of the run when I didn't need to concentrate on not falling off the treadmill too much, I was thinking. I need to find a solution to night time running since it gets dark at 4:30 p.m. now - I kid you not. I'm not allowed to leave my office for the evening until it's pitch black outside.

I really can't run at my apartment since I live on a pretty busy street/highway with no sidewalks. And since the speed limit is 45 mph, that means the cars (including me at times) routinely drive 55 mph or more down this road. Don't really want to get hit by one of those cars.

But on these days when it's still relatively nice outside - mid-40s to mid-50s, it's painful to leave the office and go coop myself up in the gym on a treadmill. Maybe I should just start bringing my running clothes to work, change at the office and get the run in before heading home. At least there's sidewalks. And street lights.

Hmmm. The things I think about on the treadmill.


You'll notice there's no swim class update this week. That's because I was a bad kid. I skipped my 5 a.m. wake up call yesterday. But I have an excuse. Really. I do. I tried to go to bed at a normal time Sunday night, but for some reason I couldn't fall asleep. And the last time I looked, I was still staring at the ceiling at 1 a.m., thinking to myself, "My alarm's going to go off in 4 hours and I haven't slept a wink yet."

Folks, I can't function on 4 hours of sleep. It's not pretty.

Therefore, I skipped class.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I felt like I was flying

Seriously. This weather? Loving it.

Today was another mid-November outdoor run that I wore a T-shirt and shorts for. Yes, it was a bit chilly at the start, but by the end? I was warm.

After yesterday, I had planned on just doing a short 2-mile run this afternoon after watching the Packers utterly fail against Tampa Bay. Plans changed though.

I started my run, finished the first mile around 9:45. Not surprising. I tend to go out fast. But I didn't feel winded. The run was actually feeling good. I expected to start to feel it in the second half of the run. So I kept running. And I was still feeling strong.

I made it back to the road by my apartment, just shy of 2 miles, and glanced down at my watch. 18 minutes, 16 seconds. Huh? Speedy. And I still felt really good. So instead of taking a right towards home I kept going straight. Tacked on another mile and would have considered more, but it was starting to get dusky out.

Finished up the 3 miles in 29 minutes, 39 seconds. I was flying. And I felt good.

Maybe the treadmill work I've been doing the past couple of weeks is starting to do some good. That or the wings I've now got due to the unfortunate haircut are making me speedy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Is it still mid-November?

I'm confused. I went for a run this afternoon. I wore shorts and a T-shirt. And I was actually a bit warm.

Is it still almost mid-November and am I still in Wisconsin? Because last I checked it's not supposed to be 70 and sunny at this time of year. But today? It was.

Not that I'm complaining.

I loved every step of the 4 miles I ran this afternoon. I didn't worry about pace, I just wanted to go out, run and enjoy the gorgeous fall afternoon. And I did.

The run felt good. I think I might have taken the first mile a little fast, around 10 minutes, but the weird thing? It didn't feel fast, it felt easy. So I kept running. Mile 2 was a little more difficult, but I think that's because I was running into a slight breeze. The last two miles? Felt wonderful.

I would have considered tacking on an extra mile, but I wanted to save my legs a bit so I can do it all over again tomorrow - it's supposed to a littler cooler, but still super nice outside. Gotta take advantage of it while I can.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I will not be going back to Jenna #2

Sometimes I wonder if haircuts are really necessary. Because they're kind of a pain to deal with.

Last night I caved and went to get my hair cut. It was my first one since spring and my ends were looking a little scraggly. I can always tell when I need to chop it when I wear it pulled back into a ponytail all week at work. And on those rare days when I do wear it down? It gets pulled back by lunchtime.

This was one of those times.

So I went to get it chopped. I sat down in the chair and told Jenna #2, the girl who would be doing the cutting, that I just wanted a couple inches off the ends and a few longer layers around my face. And I have to be able to pull it back in a ponytail. She nods her head. I take that as a sign she understands what I want.

She shampoos. And conditions. And starts cutting. A first no problems. Then she gets to the area around my face. Hmmm, I think to myself, that looks like an awfully long chunk she just cut off. She keeps cutting. Soon she says, time to style. OK. Blow dryer, round brush. A little bit of that ratting and then she's done.

She spins me around in the chair to face the mirror, what do you think?


Poofy. I don't do poof. Especially not poof that is more poofy on one side of my head than the other. And those long layers I asked for? I essentially have long bangs. On one side of my head only! We're talking "layers" that come up to my cheek bones. Not exactly what I had in mind.

Umm, it's great. I fake a smile. Get out of the chair, pay and leave.

And almost cry in my car. I hate it. As I drove home I thought, maybe it won't be so bad in the morning, when I can style it myself. My way.

And it wasn't. I made it look normal this morning. Sans poof. And those "long layers" are just long enough to tuck behind my ear, although they do fall in front of my eyes every so often. So I think I'll learn to live with the hair cut.

But those layers? Let me tell you. They are going to be a pain when it comes to the gym. I'm a ponytail and headband kind of girl. And those long layers that are only on one side of my head? They were flopping all around tonight when I was running. Probably made me look like I had wings on one side of my head. So I think I might have to add a barrette to the arsenal of hair accessories I use when running.

Those of you with shorter layers around your face or longer bangs, any suggestions?

Even with my wings, the run went really well tonight. Four miles done. Wings and all.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Swim class No. 8

Speedy and swimmer are two words that aren't ever used to describe me.

A slow, steady swimmer. Yes. A speedy swimmer? Not so much. But today? Today I felt speedy in the pool.

Swim class started off with our warm up and some work with a pull buoy. Then we did a little work on open turns (Coach said flip turns are in the near future...that scares me). After that, it was time to work on pacing.

Coach has talked to us a lot about pacing, how swimmers take a different approach in terms of speed depending on the distance that needs to be swam. A short distance? The swimmer goes all out from the get go. A longer distance, like a sprint tri? The swimmer still swims hard, but at a pace they can maintain for the distance they need to cover.

So we started with 4x75. We were supposed to swim the first 25 at an easy pace, gradually get faster over the second 25 and be at an all out sprint during the final 25. When I was done with the 75? I felt like I was working, but it felt good.

We moved on to intervals then, but first Coach did some moving around. There were four speedy swimmers. They were in the two outermost lanes. And then there were the four not so speedy swimmers. That's where I was hanging out. And I was OK with that. Remember, speedy and swimmer are two words that don't go together when you're talking about me.

So we were doing 50s at an easy pace. And since there were only two swimmers in a lane, we were all starting at once and it felt very race like. We swam. I finished my first 50 in 60 seconds, the second in 61 seconds and the final 50 in 59 seconds - an average of 60 seconds. And all four of us slower folks were finishing at about the same time.

We had a minute or two to rest and then it was time for the fast intervals. The second hand on the clock hit the 12 and I got a good push off. I swam hard. Pushed myself. And whenever I took a breath, I saw that I was pulling ahead of the other girls. Hmmm. Maybe I'm just lucky, I thought. I hit the turn around and pushed it the final 25. Finished up the 50 in 55 seconds. Nice. The other girls finished about 4 seconds behind me.

I was breathing hard. But it felt good. I had just enough time to catch my breath and we were off for round two. Same thing happened. About halfway down the first length of the pool I noticed I was pulling away. I kept swimming. Kept pushing myself. Finished the second at 57 seconds. Still breathing hard, but still felt good. The other girls said their easy was obviously their fast. Not me.

Third time. Really pushed it. Swam hard. Came in at 56 seconds for an average of 56 seconds. Not bad. The other girls all had averages of 60 seconds, same as their easy. Me? I shaved 4 seconds off. I was the speedy swimmer in the slow kids group. And I liked it. And I think the Coach noticed. Today I got the feeling the early mornings are starting to pay off.

As a reward for being the speedy swimmer in the slow kids group I ditched the planned run and spent some time in the hot tub. I deserved it. The run can wait until tomorrow. Because today? I was a speedy swimmer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October reading recap

I ran in October. I also read. Two things I enjoy but admittedly haven't been doing enough of lately.

I finished four books in October and 1,103 pages. That brings the yearly total to 29 books and 9,931 pages. That compares to 35 books and 12,687 pages at this time last year. A little bit behind. But like I said, it doesn't seem like I've been reading as much this year as I have in the past. The goal of 40 books for the year still might be doable, but I'm going to have to up the reading time. Or choose shorter books.

Anyway. So what'd I finish in October? Have a look:

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I don't think I normally would have picked up the Michael Pollan book, but the University of Wisconsin was holding a common reading club (think book club for 40,000-plus university students, staff and alumni) and this was the choice. It was OK. Will it change the way I eat? Maybe. But will I decide what I eat based solely on what I read? Not likely.

Into Thin Air was my favorite choice this month. It had been sitting on my shelf for almost two years, patiently waiting to be read. It's about the most deadly season on Mt. Everest. A season where 12 climbers died. A writer myself, I really liked Krakauer's writing style and and eager to read more of his stuff, including Into the Wild and Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman.

And Tuesdays with Morrie? It's a repeat. I've read it before. But liked it a lot. And Morrie? He's got a lot of lessons to pass on. Good read.