Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two for Tuesday

...both unrelated to running, we'll see how well this works...

365 Photo Project - I've mentioned a few times about joining a 365 photo group that started on March 1.  The idea is to post one and only one photo taken each day.  At first I tried to find interesting photos to share with others. That didn't work out too well. I've since learned that it's best to stick with what I know:  just take photos of subjects that are interesting to me, and try to learn how to better use my camera in the process.  I'm much happier with the results now that I'm staying true to myself.  Here are a few of my photos from the past few weeks: a pretty sunset, one of my cats napping, and a flower starting to bloom in our back courtyard.

Santa Fe Century - I also mentioned that Husband & I drove up to Santa Fe to check out the 50 miles routes for the Santa Fe Century.  To be clear, we drove the loop and I captured it on my Garmin; we did not ride our bikes.  As far as I can tell, the half-century loop is pretty close to 50 miles.  The marker in the center is the turn point for the out&back, which is also described as a 50 mile route.  On the graph, that one would be from the end, to the marker, then back.  From my measurements, that route looks more like 42 miles.  My conclusion was that the loop is definitely more scenic, the stretch in the center has some rolling hills that are a bit intimidating, and the climb at the end will be a struggle no matter which route we sign up for.  Its also worth noting that the *starting* elevation is ~6000 ft above sea level.  Aye carumba!

Then on Sunday we went for a 38.4 mile bike ride, almost the distance of the out & back, but no climb.  We don't need to sign up quite yet, but right now I'm learning toward the out & back simply because it's shorter and the event is only 4 weeks away.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Finding my way back

Earlier this week I was contemplating quitting two things:  running and blogging.  Running because I suck at it and I can't confidently train for anything because I never know when my knee is going to act up. Blogging because without running, I seem to have nothing to blog about.

I still might quit blogging, but I probably won't be so fast to give up running.  I just need to find my way back to my happy place.  I'm frustrated because it seems that I take two steps forward, then one step back.  I'm not seeing the progress that I want.  But I think if I can measure success in some way other than speed or distance, I may be on to something.  Generally, my goal at a race is to finish with a smile on my face and feeling strong.  I think I need to take the same approach to all my running right now. Keep the pace and distance reigned in so that I can finish strong.  Choose my routes to maximize smile time.  Things like that.

Well, I had my first bit of success with this approach on Saturday morning.  Rather than run the crazy hill route with my friend, we choose someplace where we haven't run for awhile.  It's mostly flat, rather than crazy hills, and partly shady, rather than relentless sun.  We also shortened the route and went 4 miles instead of 6. The result was astounding.  I *almost* enjoyed it.  Plus we managed negative splits (granted we started at a fairly easy pace), which allows us to finish strong.  That, my friends, is how you turn a frown upside down.

Later in the day, we went up to Santa Fe to check out two of the 50 mile route options for the Santa Fe Century (more about that later).  While we were there, we stopped at the Nike outlet.  If I hadn't had such a nice run earlier in the day, I probably wouldn't have even wanted to walk into the store.  But since I did, I decided to do just a little bit of shopping.  I came away with a black featherlight cap which I already love, and blue dri-fit shirt with reflective bits. Score!  Now I have something to wear on my next "fun" run, right?

Hopefully I'll be able to find my way back to my happy place with running.  I wouldn't exactly say that I'm totally there yet, but I think I'm headed in the right direction.

How about you?  Have any of you had to reset expectations and/or totally redo your training plan to find your way back to the love of the sport?  Or maybe a little retail therapy to help find the mojo?  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Excuses and walking buddies

Not sure what was going on exactly, it might have been the weather (seriously, I think I have a barometer knee), but my knee was not happy on Tuesday so I ended up skipping my run.  If nothing else, I have learned to listen to my body.  I also didn't run on Wednesday (same reason) or Thursday.  Thursday's excuse was that my running partner bailed, and I was too lazy to head out on my own.

But I *did* walk a good 3.5 miles on Friday and ran a measly 3.2 on Saturday.   It was supposed to be longer, but my running partner has that insane uphill race today, and I convinced her to save her legs for that.  Again, I could have gone longer, but was too lazy to run on my own after that.  Yes, there seems to be a theme.

Side note/rant:  Wanted to go out on a bike ride yesterday, but the winds were CrAzY. Seems like it's going to be the same problem today. Uggh.  Why is it that the weather can be beautiful during the week and then the weekend comes around and the weather straight up SUCKS!?! 

Anyway, decided to go for another walk today.  This time on the two mile hill route that I like to do with the dogs.  Thought I'd share a couple photos from the walk.  As it turns out, with one hand busy holding the leashes, trying to get a decent photo from a cell phone camera with the other hand is no easy feat.  But I did manage to get a couple of photos worth sharing.

This next one needs some explanation.  Right before we get to the base of the hill, we pass a house with three things that always do the same thing as we walk by. The white dog (far right) barks at us as we walk by.  The brown dog (also right), barks at the white dog.  The puppy (center), uninterested in all this barking,  runs around with some sort of stuffed animal in his mouth.  Here they are doing their thing.  It totally cracks me up!

In the final photo, we're back home, right outside the front door.

So, it wasn't a great training week for me.  But it wasn't a total bust either.  Granted, I may have some motivation issues running solo, but I have some great walking buddies that don't complain about the weather and have *never* once turned down the chance to head out with me.

I wish I could take them out running with me. I've tried on several occasions, but Stymie runs too fast and Bandit doesn't have the stamina to go more than a couple of miles.  So they are my walking buddies instead.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Double Trouble

If you read my previous post, you know that I ran 6 hilly miles Saturday morning as part of the jelly bean virtual race (and it you didn't read it, you missed out on one of my more colorful posts).

Well, decided to follow that up with a bike ride with Husband later in the afternoon. We had a 28 mile route on the agenda.  It was my first double workout in 2012.  Go me!

Felt pretty good on the bike.  Afterwards, however, I was tired and sore. 

On Sunday, decided to go for another short ride.  The goal was a 16 mile route with 2 hills.  I guess that was too much for my body, because I pretty much ran out of steam heading up hill #1.  Ended up calling it at day at 9.5 miles, skipping hill #2.  

I was bummed out about cutting the ride short, but in the end I realized that I still managed to get in over 37 miles by bike for the weekend. Plus a 6 mile hilly run.  Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Today, however, I am REALLY sore.  Good thing it's a rest day!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

jelly beans!

This week I completed three events as part of the Jelly Bean Virtual Race, sponsored by Jess.  For each one, I choose a jelly bean color from the virtual race logo.  This resulted in an orange jelly bean 21K bike ride, purple jelly bean 5K run, and green jelly bean 10k trail run.  A mini race report for each one is summarized below.

Actually, this is just a portion of a longer ride that Husband & I did last Sunday.  I actually went 19.5 miles (was supposed to be 20 miles, but apparently I turned a little early).

We were riding into the wind on the way out.  Uggh.  But we had a tail wind on the way back.  Ahhhh.

My bike computer says that the average speed was 15.1 mph. That works out to 52:03 for the 13.1 mile jelly bean portion of the ride.


Ran this on Wednesday with my running partner on a mostly flat dirt trail.  We were originally going to run on Tuesday, but her son had a baseball game.  That was fine with me because it actually snowed on Tuesday and was cold.  What's funny is that weather was absolutely beautiful the next day.  Mother Nature doesn't seem to be able to make up her mind!

I wish I could say that I ran this fast, but fast doesn't seem to be in my vocabulary at the moment.  Our average speed was 10:36 for the four miles that we ran. This works out to 32:51 for the 3.1 mile jelly bean portion of the run.


I added the word trail in the title because this one wasn't flat.  We ran a hilly, sandy loop twice to get the full 10K distance in today (see my recent post "Running" Hills if you want to know what kind of hills I'm talking about).

I did pretty good on the first loop and didn't need to stop at all.  But on the second loop, the hills got to me and I had to take a few walk breaks.

I'm actually quite happy with the end result, 1:07:54 for 6.2 miles.  Not bad at all given the terrain!

A big THANK YOU to Jess for hosting the virtual event!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My latest dilemma

I *still* don't have any events on my calendar other than the Live.Love.Tri in August.  I'm hesitant to sign up for the Run for the Zoo until I know for certain that we will be in town that weekend (good chance we will not).  I was hoping to sign up for the half or metric century at the Albuquerque Century but it seems we might be out of town that weekend as well (go figure).  But I did find something that has my attention: the Santa Fe Century in late May.

Mind you, I have no intention of doing the full century.  However there are two routes that I am interested in, a 50 mile out and back and a half century loop.  Both have roughly the same amount of climb (1500ft).  I am unfamiliar with the routes so not sure which would be more interesting for us to ride.  Husband & I are thinking of driving up there to check it out to help make a decision.  This one is definitely on my radar.

Side note, there is something about this event that I find interesting. They charge for an entry fee.  You can pay extra for a t-shirt if you want it (I don't).  You can pay extra for a jersey if you want it (maybe).  I like the fact that the t-shirt cost isn't automatically included; I wish more events were like that.

In other news, I've been counting some of my recent training as part of the Jelly Bean virtual race events sponsored by Jess.  I'll be writing up a virtual race report for the bike ride (21K), 5K run, and 10K run this weekend.  All I can say right now is that it's a good thing prizes aren't based on time or I'd have no hope of winning anything.  ;-p

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Week, Month, & Book in Review

Week in Review:

  • This week I completed one bike ride, three runs, and two walks.  Not too shabby.
  • For the run on Saturday, we did the same crazy hill route that we've run several times before.  This time, however, I took 2.5 minutes off my time from the previous week. Woot! This was not accomplished the easy way (picking up the pace a little bit over the whole run).  Instead, I got mad at the freaking hill and took it out on the last mile, picking up the pace from conversational pace to run-til-you-almost-pass-out pace.  All in all, it was a good workout.

Month in Review:

  • 16.5 miles by bike - Way under what I hoped for.  The weather was horrible on the weekends this month which seemed very unfair given that the weather was pretty nice most of the time during the week, so I only got out on my bike once!  April started off with a nice ride, hopefully will see better weekend weather and therefore better cycling numbers this next month.
  • 19.2 miles walking - Not bad, but a little short of  what I hoped for. 
  • 49.8 miles running - Lots of progress here.  Started off gingerly running 2.5 miles at a time to test my knee and ended the month with some crazy hill runs (still not too long in distance) without knee pain.  
  • 0 swimming - I decided that I didn't want to swim and so I didn't.  That's all I have to say about that.
  • 31 photos - I started a 365 photo project on March 1 and got through the entire month with one photo uploaded to Flickr per day as planned.  334 days to go!

Book in Review*:

  • Had the opportunity to read a free kindle version of "The Ultimate Beginner's Running Guide: The Key to Running Inspired" by Robert Ryan, which is available for purchase through Amazon.com. Overall, I feel that it is a good "how-to" book for beginning runners.  It has information that anyone new to running ought to be considering such as how to avoid injury, how to pace yourself, how to properly stay hydrated, etc.  There are even some training schedules to get you started.  
  • There are a few things that I wish the book included, such as some photos or diagrams and a bit more peppered throughout about staying inspired, however, I still think this would be a helpful resource to anyone new to running.   
*I was given a free version of the book to review, but the opinions expressed are my own.