Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mixing it up and July Tally

Mixing it up:

I tend to get in a rut, doing the same routes all the time. This week I made an effort to mix things up a few times.

Tuesday evening I went to the track. I'm not a fan of the track, but I thought it was the safest place to test out my back to see if I was okay to run. It wasn't very crowded, so I did 800s in the far outside lane, alternating directions each time.

Thursday evening I ran on a familiar path, but alternated between hard efforts and easy efforts in varying interval lengths. This little bit of speed play kept things interesting. Where you see two fast or two slow side by side, it's because I hit the on/off button instead of the lap button by accident, so I'm missing whatever was suppose to be in between there. Oops.

Friday afternoon, I went out for a 15 mile bike ride. Usually I either choose a mostly flat route or a mostly hilly route. This time I mixed things up a bit and did 10 miles on mostly flat before hitting a hilly section.

July Tally:
  • 88.1 Miles by Feet (walked 42.2, ran 45.9)
  • 89.9 miles by Seat
  • 3400 yds in the water
  • 15 Workouts included hills
  • 1 5K race (with a PR!)
  • 1 400 swim time trial PB
  • 10 days modified training plan due to back issues
  • All-in-all an okay month. I lost a lot of time on the bike due to the back issue, but I think I'll be okay for the upcoming Sprint Tris assuming my back and my knee both cooperate over the next several weeks and I'm able to get back on track with my planned cycling.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tiptoe through the Tulips

Doesn't that lyric make you think of being barefoot? While I haven't exactly gone barefoot, I have been experimenting with minimalist shoes, a gateway to the barefoot posture.

If you believe the hype, there are many benefits to be gained from minimal (true barefoot to minimalist shoes) footwear. Some people have gone so far as to run this way, my husband is one. I’m reluctant to run in them, but willing to experiment a bit. After all, I do seem to be the poster child for injury.

I bought a pair of Vibram Five Finger Sprints a few years ago specifically for water sports, kayaking in particular, and for that purpose I love them. I have also worn them for yard work, walking the dogs, running errands, etc, and while I like them on dry land, I don’t necessarily LOVE them.

First, it is truly very much like being barefoot in that you can feel every little rock on the ground, and I live on a gravel road. I realize that if I had a pair of Vibram Trek Sports, for example, this first issue might not be a problem for me because the soles would be different, but with the Sprints this is problematic for me.

Second, I find that I’ve never been able to wear them for extended periods of time comfortably because they start to really bother the pinky toe on my left foot. This poor toe seems to want to be tucked slightly under its neighbor. Presumably due to wearing ill fitting shoes all my life, but after 40 something years, this is how my foot is. Oddly, I find them to be quite a bit more comfortable in the water than on dry land. Not sure why. Perhaps there is more ‘give’ when they are wet.

I do like the more natural feel of the barefoot posture, plus my husband swears by minimalist running. Those two things led me to try the Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove (the men’s version is called the Trail Glove). Taking my first few steps in them, the “feel” immediately reminded me of the Vibrams, only replacing the individual toe pockets that cause discomfort to my little toe with a nice wide toe box. Ahhhh. Much better.

These Merrells also have a thicker/more treaded Vibram sole than my Sprints. I believe this sole is similar to the Treks that I don’t own. This seems to have solved my problem about feeling every little rock on the trail. An added plus is they don’t give you the funky frog feet look and they have many colors to choose from. I'm having a hard time narrowing it down to only one for a second pair.

Bought them Sunday afternoon and I’ve been wearing them almost non-stop ever since as they quickly became my shoe of choice for walking the dogs, doing errands, even for work since I am often able to dress casually in the office. I have noticed some tightness in my right calf. This doesn’t surprise me because the barefoot stance changes your posture and walk/run form and I pretty much jumped right in. I imagine folks are right when they say to start off slow if you choose to run in these, if walking is already causing noticeable calf tightness I can only imagine what running would do. Eek. I should add that at this point I’ve chosen to wear socks with the Merrells, whereas I go sockless in the Vibrams.

So that’s where I’m at. I’ll share more after I’ve had more time in the Merrells. The hope is that the change in stride/posture/etc will improve the situation with my left knee as well as with my back. Time will tell. And neither shoe (Vibrams or Pace Gloves) seem like they would be good choices when the weather turns cold. I may be looking at other styles when the seasons change.

Who else is experimenting with minimalist shoes? How have you used them? Has your experience been positive, negative, or mixed?

[Edited to reiterate, I am *not* running in these. I run in Kinvaras. I am experimenting with minimalist shoes for walking, etc.]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Thoughts

1) Swam this morning. I had also gone to the pool on Saturday, and had to take it really easy on the turns due to my back. This morning I felt great! Completed my 1000 workout complete with one timed 400 at 8:31 (~2:07/100) which I believe is my fastest yet. Woot!

2) I might go to the track tonight. As much as I hate the track, mostly because all the turning is bad for my left knee, it does have a 'springy' surface that I think would be better for me to run on than hard pavement or uneven trail. Yes, that means I plan to run today. Yeeehah!

3) I love my Kinvaras so much, I ordered a second pair in a different color. They are called transition shoes because they are a transition from normal running shoes to minimalist, but for me they may be transition shoes because I've transitioned to running in them full time.

4) Husband runs in Merrells now after starting with Vibram Five-Fingers. It took him a while to transition to minimalist running, but he claims it has helped his hip tremendously. He loves them so much he even wears them to work. I have no plans of running in them, but I picked up a pair of Merrells of my own this weekend. Walked the dogs in them. Wore them to work. So far I'm quite pleased. So much that I'm trying to determine which color(s) to get next.

5) Two weeks from today, Son leaves to go back to California. This time he's heading out solo, spending some time with friends before moving back into Berkeley. In some ways, the summer has gone by way too fast. *sad face*

6) Speaking of time going by too fast, also two weeks from today, Daughter registers for her Senior year of High school. A few days after that she gets her senior portraits done. This is my baby I'm talking about, who is now a beautiful young lady. Where does the time go?

7) Right before my back started being problematic, I registered Husband & I for a 5K, about 2.5 weeks out from now. Two weeks later, Live.Love.Tri. Two weeks after that, Patriot. Race season is fast approaching!

8) If all goes well, I will cycle tomorrow. This is my weak link. Only way I know to get better is to keep at it. So that's what I intend to do.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Q&A with Lisa - Part 2

Before I get to the Q&A, a quick update. My back was doing a lot better this weekend. Still not good enough to run or cycle, but I swam on Saturday and I have been walking every day (15.5 miles in the past week).

Unfortunately, I had a little bit of a setback yesterday. It twinged again while I was tending to the garden. Although not as bad as before, I guess I overdid it. Taking it easy today.

Okay, on to the rest of the Q&A! See part 1 here. Between the two posts, I think I got them all. If I missed one, sorry!

Adam asked

  • What would you do if you won a free pair of brooks shoes on my blog? - I’m pretty excited about that! I’d like to get a pair of Brooks Trail running shoes, probably Cascadia 6. Still waiting to hear back from the Onlineshoes people…

Lindsay asked

  • what song(s) would be played during the 'running-shot montage' of you in your running video? - Let’s see, during the injured segments, It would be Little Feat’s Old Folk’s Boogie (for the line “an you know that you’re over the hill when your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill” and during the actual running segments, it would be Pink’s Raise Your Glass (So raise your glass if you are wrong, in all the right ways, all my underdogs! We will never be never be anything but loud…”

  • you have to take a vacation somewhere in the USA. the only stipulation is that it can't be a typical big/well-known city like vegas, nyc, los angeles, etc... where would you go? - When the weather cools off, a get-away to Sedona AZ sounds nice, beautiful red rock canyon. Ahhhh.

  • what random bad habit do you have? - I have a tendency to leave things on the stove and forget about them. I’ve ruined two tea kettles and a bamboo steamer this way as well as many a pot of burned rice, veggies, etcs.

Lily on the Road asked

  • My question is...what ARE you going to do with your new Brooks you won from Adam? - See above. First I need to actually have a chance to pick them out, then I’ll know for sure J

RockStarTri asked

  • Do you miss being "slow and steady?" - I still feel that way when I tri; I’m not a very good cyclist. Just probably can’t claim it anymore when running since I’ve moved up more to the middle of the pack.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Q&A with Lisa - Part 1

ajh asked
  • Best book you ever read? – That’s a tough one. I don’t really read for pleasure. I can’t even remember the last book I read.
  • Favorite way to spend an unexpected free hour? – Of course it really depends where I’m at, what time it is, etc. Lately I’ve been trying to finish up a dozen simple toddler sized quilts for Project Linus. A free hour is just enough time to make some decent progress on one of those.
Marlene asked
  • If you could run (tri) a race anywhere in the world, where would that be? - I really loved the French Polynesia (Moorea) when we were there a few years ago for our 20th anniversary. I’d love to do a sprint tri there!
Laura asked
  • What is your all time favourite meal? - Without a doubt, Thanksgiving dinner!! Nothing is better than roast turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberries, homemade rolls, & pumpkin pie. Yum!
TNTcoach Ken asked
  • If your running career were made into a movie, what would it be called and who would play you???? I was trying to think of something catchy as a title, but honestly my running career isn’t anywhere interesting enough to be made into a movie.
Raquelita asked
  • Where did you grow up? - I grew up in Toledo, OH. Lived there through high school. Went to college in Cincinnati, OH. First job out of college was in Findlay, OH. We moved out here to NM in 1990 for work and have been here ever since.
Teamarcia said...
  • Do you ever consider living somewhere else? If so where? - Not seriously. We've thought about moving a few times for work, but in the end decided to stay here. I love living in NM and hope to retire here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mid-week update

1) Back Pain - Thanks for all the comments and concern and suggestions. I really appreciate it. I worked from home on Monday and rescheduled my meetings so that I had a few chunks of time available to do some rehab work on my back (stretching, icing, walking, etc). By the end of the day my back was feeling much better. I learned that walking made my back feel better than anything else. Tuesday I went to the office and essentially sat in a chair in front of a computer all day. Not good. I left the office feeling much worse that I did the day before. However, I also had an end of day chiropractor appt. The chiro does something more like ART than regular chiro stuff. He also sent me to PT (it's a joint chiro/PT office) and the PT did some electro-stimulation and ice. I woke up this morning feeling much better. Went for a walk and soon will be heading into the office. Hoping today will be better than yesterday if I make time to get up and stretch and stuff.

2) Mindset - This weekend someone asked me if I was upset about my back issue messing up my training schedule as they knew I was working toward a hilly triathlon. Yes and No. I'm mostly upset that the back problems are messing up my life. And training is part of my life. But I'm not at all concerned about the effect it might or might not have on my race. Several years ago I trained to race, but now I race to train. It's a completely different mindset. It's about the journey rather than the destination. Having a race or two or six on my schedule just helps me put structure in my training plan. But it really isn't so much about the race itself. Does that make any sense?

3) Q & A with Lisa! - I was tagged by Teamarcia at the Studly Runner to open my blog up to some Q & A. I've enjoyed reading the questions and answers on other blogs so I figured, what the heck. So please ask away...

Monday, July 18, 2011

This too shall pass

So everything seemed to be going great after my mid-week update. On Thursday, I did a nice tempo run. Friday was an easy day, with just a 3.3 mile hike because I was planning on a fairly heavy weekend.

Saturday's plan was 5 miles easy on a dirt levee road, to be followed by a 20 mile bike ride, no hills, on the recently reopened bike trails. Sunday was to be my long swim with a short easy ride. And somewhere in there, I was going to do some more yard work.

Fast forward to Saturday morning, at roughly the 2.6 mile mark of my easy run. I cannot for the life of me figure out what happened, but suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my lower back that stopped me in my tracks. My running partner walked with me for a bit, then I tried running again. No dice. Walked some more, then tried running again. Still a No Go. Walked more, and finally did a bit of a shuffle run just to hurry up and get to the car so I could get myself and my achin' back to the house.

Suffice it to say, the weekend contained no bike rides, no swimming, and no yard work. Instead I was dealing with back spasms and trying to figure out how to get them to stop. Not my idea of a fun weekend.

This isn't the first time that I've had this problem. Seems that I have both a chronic knee issue and a chronic lower back issue. All the more reason to be grateful when nothing is hurting and I can get out and move my body the way that I want to. By now I know how to work through the back problems. It's just frustrating and painful for the better part of a week.

So there won't be much in the way of swimming, cycling, or running this week. And the yard work will need to wait. But I'm trying to stay positive. There will be lots of walking, stretching, and a few extra rest days. That's all good stuff. And sometime later this week, or whenever I'm feeling 100% again, I will carry on with my plans. In the grand scheme of things, it's just a bump in the road. Sometimes I just wish the road was a bit smoother. :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mid week update

Here's a short list of a few things that I've done in the past few days:

1) Cycled on high desert hills. Riding with Husband is always a big plus and the view of the mountains never gets old. However, when riding in the desert, one must always beware of "goathead" thorns which are death to road tires. I think he was checking his tires for thorns when I snapped this photo.

2) Got back in the pool and swam. My training lately has resembled duathon training rather than tri training. I figured it was time to rectify that. Actually made it to the pool in the morning before work. Go me!

3) Registered for local HILLY sprint triathlon. The website claims it's the most difficult sprint in New Mexico; they say that the only part that is flat is the swim. Yikes!After much deliberation, I decided to go for it. This solidifies my need to continue training hills.

4) Cleaned up my snorkel gear. We have a trip to Hawaii on the horizon and my snorkel gear has been in the garage for a few years. Got it out, rinsed it off, cleaned up the mask, and it's good to go. Crazy excited about the trip, but I've still got a while to wait.

5) Ran Hills. The rest of my run group was doing track work, but my training plan called for 4 miles on a hilly route so I went out solo. I think the route that I picked was perfect. Next time I might just do that first hill several times, but it was nice to mix it up a bit and do something other than a straight out and back route.

How about you? What have you been up to?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up (includes Race Report)

After my hilly double on Thursday, my legs were tired. and sore. and did I mention tired? I went for a 4 mile recovery walk Friday morning and that was about it. I thought about swimming, but it never got past the thinking-about-it stage.

Saturday morning, I went for a 4.4 mile easy run. My legs were still sore. I came home afterwards and stretched a bit and used the foam roller. I was a little concerned about some tightness that I was feeling in my right calf; felt like it was on the verge of cramping.

This morning I got up bright and early for the Women's Distance Festival 5K. . Start time was 7am sharp and since I hadn't gone to pick up my packet on Saturday, I needed to be there at about 6:30am. Before leaving the house, I used the foam roller again.

Arrived to a sea of red shirts. These were the "Women-in-Training." Wow. There were a lot of them. Right before the race started, Misty came up to me. I hadn't seen her in ages. Well, at least since sometime last fall. Misty, if you are reading, just a shout out that you look great!

Ran the most of the race with my running friend. Didn't quite finish together, as I had a bit more of a kick at the end than she did, however we both finished with 5K PRs. I haven't seen the official, but my Garmin had 27:52 which is the first time I've been under 28mins. Woot! I'm quite happy with that. For a long time, I was finishing right around 30 mins, it seems like I'm at a different level of fitness these days which seems pretty amazing for someone in their mid-forties, if you ask me.

Updated: Official results are posted and they have me at 27:50, an 8:58 pace. Yeah, baby! Found a photo of me finishing from the race site and am posting it even though I look like a dork. I'm gritting my teeth because I was trying to get in under 28:00, trust me, I was smiling on the inside.

This is my third time to do this particular race. It's one of my favorites because it's a women's only race and a lot of women are out there for the first time at this distance. I think that is very cool. They also have a tradition of giving chocolates and a flower at the finish line. This year they also gave away several loaves of healthy bread as raffle prizes. I ended up walking away with a yummy whole wheat cinnamon roll. And the race shirt this year is a women's specific technical shirt with a really cute design. Score!

But the fun didn't stop there.A few hours after the race, Husband & I went out for a bike ride. We ended up doing 17 miles total. If you've been following for a while, you have probably realized that I live about a mile above sea level and it's easier to find hills than a flat route around here. Even so, that first hill was particularly tough for me!

I took a photo from the mid-point of our ride to give you some idea of the area, but I think I'll save that for another day.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hill Sprints

Yesterday was another double day. Cycled 10 miles with two hills in the morning. Then we did hill sprints with the run group in the evening. I did a double day on Tuesday as well, cycling the same route in the morning, then doing a 4 mile easy run in the evening.

Anyway, lets talk about hill sprints. The format was warm up, 10x20sec up the hill FAST, mostly walking back down, then cool down. I need to figure out a better way to capture my data. I probably should use the lap button so that I can see the pace each time up the hill, but I didn't. Instead, I do have a graph of pace by distance.

You can see the warm up ahead of the sprints, then the each sprint up the hill, and the walk back down and the cool down at the end. You can also see that I tried to pick up my pace at the end of the cool down (much to Coach's dismay) so that I had the feeling of finishing strong.

I have to admit, hill sprints are one of my FAVORITE running workouts. Somehow, even though I am way back of the pack when running on flat surfaces with the group, I am solidly middle of the pack on hills. Not sure why that is. Maybe it is more a measure of strength than speed? Sporttracks summarized my run with the following stats:
  • Walking: 23:04min/mi for 0.46 mi
  • Jogging: 11:00 min/mi for 1.54 mi
  • Running: 7:62 min/mi for 0.79 mi
I was clearly pushing it up the hills and my legs are reminding of that this morning. A recovery walk is on the agenda. And if I make time, I think I'll go for a swim as well.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mid-week meanderings

With the Bosque fully closed, the choices seem to be running around the neighborhood (bleh) or running on the partially shaded acequia (irrigation canal) path. Seems like a no-brainer, acequia path for the win! However, I remember now that there is one disadvantage of running near water, especially in the evening. Ran last night and now I'm covered in mosquito bites! Definitely need some bug spray if I'm going to continue to run there.

The weirdest thing has happened with regard to cycling. I'm actually finding that I don't hate it right now and even looking forward to it. The bike path is closed an therefore I haven't been riding as far. Perhaps I have found the sweet spot for me. Long enough and hilly enough to be challenging, but not so long or hilly to be miserable. So far, I've ridden on Monday and Tuesday both this week. Today I'm giving my legs a rest though.

Speaking of cycling, I've decided that my bike needs to be spruced up/personalized a little bit. Stay tuned...

The pool was crowded on Sunday. I went at my normal time, when I usually find one or two open lanes. Every lane was full, some already had folks doubling up. I scanned the lanes with one person and decided to join someone who was walking across the lane. Before I finished one lap, the person started swimming and swimming WIDE with flapping arms and legs. Blah. In trying to find the bright side, I chalked it up as good triathlon training.

When I got home from my long run on Saturday morning, I signed up to run a 5K this Sunday. Should be fun. I'm treating it more like a speed work day and less like a race; I'm still planning to do my long run on Saturday.

I'm still debating whether or not to sign up for the Patriot Tri (two weeks after Live.Love.Tri). Hopefully I'll make a decision one way or another this weekend and either sign up or cross this one off my list.

Friday, July 1, 2011

June Tally & Thursday hills

June Numbers:
  • Miles by feet: 56.1
  • Miles by seat: 112.2
  • Yards in water: 4550
  • Sick Days: 3
  • Too Smokey to Workout Days: 2
  • Best 400 swim: 8:37
  • Hill workouts: 8
  • Bike Flats: too many to count
  • New tires installed: one
  • Tri training is off to a good start. :-)
Plans for July:
  • Tri training
  • Decide on Patriot (to do or not to do)
  • Lots of hills
  • Possible 5K (stay tuned!)
Thursday Hills:

This was my morning cycle profile. I wanted to do one more repeat, but didn't get out the door early enough and had to cut it short at three:

And this is what our evening run looked like:

Yikes. That was intense. But one of my best workouts ever.

When I went to bed last night, I honestly thought that I was going to get up this morning and do more hills on my bike. Hahahahahahahaha. Let's just say that the body had other plans. Went for a nice 4 mile recovery walk instead. It's probably best to let my body recover from that double hill workout day before I tackle more hills anyway.