Friday, February 28, 2014

Two of my deadliest things

I thought I'd end the week by highlighting a couple of my most dangerous running things.

1. Laundry
I try to keep up with laundry, especially lately with the amount of sweat I'm producing thanks to Boston Marathon/Triathlon training. Who's idea was it to train for two major events at once?

Here's a glimpse of the gear I've sweat through just since the Hyannis half marathon on Sunday:

That's nine, count-em, nine shirts. Two swimsuits, many sports bras, various shorts, and too many socks to fit in the picture.  (For your sake I didn't include underwear.  You're welcome).  In fact, during my 7 mile treadmill run on Wednesday, I actually paused and changed into new dry clothes!  Forget Tide Sport, Tide with Febreeze, or Tide with Downy.  There's so much sweat baked into these clothes, soon I'll need Tide with Penicillin.  

2. The pony tail
I've mentioned a time or two about how dangerous my pony tail gets when I'm running.  My pony tail creates such a stir it practically needs its own zip code.  Anyone within a 2-3 treadmill distance of me at the gym is in jeopardy of getting sprayed by this sweat nozzle, and now that I have my own treadmill at home, the poor cat has never been saltier.  If you think I'm exaggerating, I finally have it on film.  Here's a little mash up I made of the finish line photos from the Hyannis half marathon.  You can see the amazing arc my pony tail takes, and I think if you could pan out enough, you'd probably see the spectators looking up in the sky wondering where the rogue rain shower is coming from.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hyannis recap

This past weekend was my fourth running of the Hyannis Half Marathon, and it was by far my favorite one yet.  The weather was an ideal 46 degrees and sunny, with a light breeze.  After all the rotten snow and cold and ice of this winter, this run was a real treat!  A bunch of us headed down to Hyannis on Saturday and spent the night in the hotel right at the start line.  It's a huge convenience to stay right on property and I highly recommend it!  We got to the hotel just before the race expo closed, grabbed our goods, and then checked into our rooms.  We were all starved so we headed out to dinner, but then got turned away from two restaurants because of long waits, and ended up at a quiet bar and grille.  We were a little skeptical because the place was nearly empty, but the food was great, the beer was great, and it was very reasonably priced! 

Chicken parm, yum!
After dinner we headed back to the hotel, with plans to get changed and meet back up in the hot tub.  I had a bit of a headache and decided to lay down for a minute, which turned into getting under the covers, and then realizing Twilight Breaking Dawn was on, and that was the end of my interest in the hot tub!  I think I was sound asleep by 9pm!

Sunday morning we all met up in the lobby for breakfast.  We had all been worried about Julia, who had gone to a chiropractor earlier in the week for a calf issue, and walked out of there with a bruise covering the entire bottom half of her leg.  It was (and I mean this with love, Julia) completely disgusting and horrifying. She had only just begun bearing full weight on the leg, and hadn't really run in a couple weeks.  We were calling it her corpse leg, because it really looked like it belonged in a morgue.  Julia went over to the Spaulding booth at the expo where they were offering kinesio taping, and they fixed her up with the most amazing tape job:

Her leg looks like a Jackson Pollock painting!

 My breakfast consisted of a half bagel with peanut butter, a Starbucks breakfast blend, two doses of Pepto, and then a honey stinger waffle right before the race.  That all seemed to do the trick, it gave me the perfect balance of energy without tummy troubles.  Every time I run past a porta potty without stopping is like a personal victory to me!

We stopped just before the race for a quick photo op, then headed into the corral.

The "before" shot

My plan all along was to treat this race as a training run, since it was my longest run so far this season.  To help me stick with my plan I wore my fuel belt and started pretty far back in the corral.  I wanted to stick to 10 minute miles (or so) since that is my long slow distance pace.  Some people say they get too caught up in the race to treat it like a training run, but I've been pretty disciplined this season on my road to recovery, and I really felt that I would stick to my plan.  I started off the run with Ron, so that was nice to have some company.  It was good for him too, since he's had some leg issues lately.  Each of our miles were between 9:35-9:45, so we were cruising along a little faster than I expected but still totally acceptable.  At about mile 8.5 I decided to take a short walk break to pull myself together a bit, take a good drink, and settle in.  Ronnie kept running, and I walked for about 20 seconds and then continued on.  The rest of my run was great, and I did stop one or two more times for short walk breaks.  At mile 11 I started listening to my iPod, because I'm planning to do that towards the end of Boston.  For some reason mile 11 seemed to take forever, but then I hit mile 12 and it seemed like instantly I was at the finish line.  I was thrilled to cross the finish line feeling so good, strong, and not tired or nauseous!  This was my best long run yet.  I wish all my long runs could be races!  My final time was 2:11 with a 9:55 pace, so I was very pleased to meet my pace goal.

Happy finishers!

I was thrilled that my foot held up so well on this run, and never really got too tight afterwards.  The next morning it was tight, but no worse than any other shorter run.  My quads were (and still are) a bit sore.  I did a 4 mile recovery jog on the treadmill yesterday and then an hour of cycling, and the cycling really seemed to help.  So, to everyone who was anxiously wondering if it was possible... the answer is yes, it is possible to run a half marathon with a longest run of less than 11 miles, and substituting several runs with snowshoeing and cycling!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Olympics & winter training at its worst

Tomorrow I head to Hyannis for the Hyannis Half Marathon.  This will be my fourth appearance at this race, so I'm pretty excited to carry on the tradition for another year!  Training for it has been a bit of a challenge, but with several 10-11 mile runs under my belt at this point, I think I'll be okay.  My plan is to take it easy and treat it as a training run, and most importantly to just have fun!  I'm thrilled but skeptical to hear that the weather is actually looking promising: 40 degrees and sunny.  This breaks Hyannis tradition of reliably crappy weather, so I'm curious what rogue storm will blow in and surprise us!

Did I mention weather, and how challenging training has been?  There have been snowstorms every other day it seems, and it's really made my training a challenge.  I've missed several runs in the last couple of weeks due to weather.  I hate to seem like I'm making excuses, because I know so many other people that have still managed to get out in the dark, the cold, the ice, the snow, and yet for one reason or another I just can't do it.  At least the good news is I've gotten in a ton of snowshoeing, which is excellent cross training!  Every time I snowshoe in the deep snow I can feel it in my hip flexors and glutes, and that's exactly where I get sore after long runs.  I'm not a fan of snow, but I may as well take advantage of it while I can!

With Jackie!

Mom sporting the vintage shoes!

I'm not totally full of excuses.  I did make several attempts to get my runs in on the treadmill at the gym.  I ran into some problems here too though!  Sunday I got to the gym an hour or so before it closed, figuring I could get in 6-8 miles on the treadmill.  There's a 30 minute limit on the treadmill but I figured no one's going to be at the gym right before it closes on a Sunday.  Right?  Wrong.  While I'm running, suddenly everyone wanted a treadmill and when the line was 4 deep waiting for a machine, I finally relented and jumped off.  I only ended up getting in 4 miles.  On Monday morning I went back to the gym, swam in the pool, and then changed to run on the treadmill.  They were all taken and several people were in line waiting.  I waited as long as I could, but had an appointment and ended up having to leave without even running.  Any idea how frustrating that is?  For me, it was frustrating enough that after my appointment, I went straight to Sports Authority and bought a treadmill.  No joke.  It got delivered yesterday, and I splurged for the $70 assembly fee.  By 5PM last night, my treadmill was all set up and begging to be used!

I don't know why there's a sombrero in the corner.  Now I feel compelled to wear it.

It's super fancy too.  I didn't really need a lot of bells and whistles but they sure are nice to have!  This one has a built in fan, iPod connector, and a huge speaker.  It also has "quick speed" buttons that are very convenient, to instantly bump you to a different speed without having to continuously press the increase/decrease button.

I know everyone complains about the agonizing runs on the "dreadmill", but I couldn't be happier with my decision to buy this.  Having this treadmill just lifted a huge stress off my shoulders.  I never have to worry about it being too cold, icy, dark, early, late, or hot to run, and I don't have to stress over not getting enough time on one of the treadmills at the gym.  I finally turned the tables, and took control over something that has been getting out of my control.  I ran 4 miles last night and 3 today, and I feel spoiled running on such a nice machine!

I've really enjoyed watching the Olympics this year, despite the fact that I'm not a big fan of snow.  These athletes are amazing to watch, and it's awesome seeing all the countries competing peacefully against each other.  I love watching the back stories about the athletes, hearing about how many of them have had to overcome serious obstacles to reach their goals.  It's inspiring, seeing all the work they've put into their training throughout the year, so that on race day they make it look easy.  That translates well into marathon and triathlon training!  My favorite sports to watch are the snowboarding events.  It's so exciting seeing all their tricks, but it's a dangerous sport.  I'm not talking about for the snowboarders.  I'm talking about for me, running on a treadmill, watching the snowboarders.  I get so into it, I'm running on the treadmill, I'm dropping my shoulder, I'm tucking my elbow, I'm rotating, and before I know it I'm tripping myself and nearly corking myself right off the side of the treadmill.

And finally, in my last blog post I mentioned how I signed up for the cycling program Torture Trainer Road.  After re-doing the 8 minute test with the power meter set up, my FTP (cycling term meaning functional threshold power) was reduced from the default 200 down to 146.  I think I should have been depressed about this, but I was delighted, because it meant they would scale my workouts down accordingly!  My triathlon training program (I know, I still owe you a post on this) calls for some pretty high volume cycling each week, so I'm thrilled to have this software kicking me into gear.  I'm pretty certain there's no way I'd be completing 60-90 minute trainer rides without it!  Here's what a completed workout looks like on Trainer Road:

Tough stuff
In other completely unrelated news, I got new glasses!  I ordered them through Warby Parker.  I really like this company, because for every pair of glasses they sell, they donate another pair, and the prices are very reasonable.  They even have a home try on service, where they'll send you five frames to try on and return.  I'm a big fan!

Stay tuned for next week's blog post, where I can tell you once and for all if it's possible to train for a half marathon almost exclusively through snowshoeing and cycling!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Don't Ask Me...

Over the last few days I've made a few teeny weenie mistakes, all of which were harmless and only result in some good entertainment.  I've never claimed to be an expert of any kind, so if you ever think of coming to me for advice... don't say I didn't warn you.

Don't ask me how long it takes to ride a bike for 8 minutes.  Okay let me back up a bit.  Last month I joined a triathlon club, MRA Multisport.  I know I have a lot to learn and these club members are more than eager to share their expertise.  Trainer Road seems to be the drug of choice... It's a software program for cycling that gathers all of your vital stats to create a personalized workout.  I'm not really a gadget/data junkie, and wasn't planning to participate in this, but supposedly this is the single best way to improve cycling so I figured I'd give it a shot.  Plus, Kristen signed up for it, so that was the kick I needed.  She posted on Facebook about how she completed the 8 minute test, and how difficult and yet awesome it was, and how quickly the time went by.  I mean... I don't want to say anything, but really Kristen, 8 minutes is a very short period of time.  Of course it flew by.
On Saturday I had done my long run (more on that later), so Sunday was going to be an easy day.  I did a yoga workout on my BOSU to get in a lot of stretching, and then decided to finally go for it and sign up for Trainer Road.  Since I have triathlon training starting soon (more on that in a future post) I knew that this program would be ideal to help me conquer those long rides.  And even though this was my rest day, I figured what the heck... it's only 8 minutes.  So, how hard could it be?
Well, I'll tell you.  The 8 minute test is actually an hour long.  I should have investigated this more thoroughly before I started.  I should have noticed something was up when it said to start off lightly spinning for 5 minutes.  As it turns out, it was a series of short sprints, followed by periods of recovery, followed by a series of 8 minute intervals where you are supposed to pedal just about at your maximum effort.  All the while the program is capturing all of your statistics to make it an interactive experience.
It was the hardest "eight minutes" of my life.  The amount of sweat rolling off me was dangerous.  There was sweat on my bike.  On the floor.  On the couch.  On my phone.  On the laptop.  On the cat.  On the TV.
After I finished the workout, I realized I made a fatal error and forgot to set the power meter, which was a critical piece of information it needed to give a complete performance assessment.  So guess what, now I get to take the test again!

Don't ask me how to get to Boston from Hopkinton.  On Sunday, Ronnie was running the marathon route to get in one of his long runs.  He had expected to meet up with other runners on the course but ended up being alone, so he asked me how to get to Boston College from there.  Here's how it went:
Ronnie: Do I just stay on 135 all the way to BC?
Jill: Well no, you stay straight on that road all the way to Newton, pass Newton Wellesley Hospital, go over 95, then when you see a fire house on the right, take that right, and go up Heartbreak Hill which is really only a slight uphill and probably won't really even look like a hill.

Fast Forward 2 hours, Ronnie calls me from the side of the road, lost in Wellesley, who insists he's still on 135 but doesn't think this is the right way.  I pulled up a map and realized he stayed on 135, which took a right, instead of staying straight and merging onto route 16.  Luckily I navigated him back on course, so when he then got lost on Heartbreak Hill, he has only himself to blame.

Don't as me what the current weather conditions are, at this very moment.  Because that would require me to look out a window, and if I had looked out a window before I dressed for my lunch time run, I may have seen the awful road conditions and thought better about heading out.  But once I was outside, in my running clothes, there was no way I was going back in.  Today's 4 mile lunch run was probably the worst road conditions I've ever run in, and I felt like an idiot for being out there.  I'm pretty sure everyone else was calling me an idiot and worse.  At one point a police officer drove by me, and I expected to be pulled over and ticketed for being an idiot.  Cars were sliding and skidding everywhere, and I had zero traction because the roads hadn't been treated yet.  The only cool thing about it was seeing all my foot prints on the way back, and having the nice soft snow to run in was a cool bonus cushion.

Week 7 recap
Staying right on track...
Total miles ran: 19.25 (long run 10.25)
Total miles biked: 27.25
Total yards swam: 1,900 yards
2 Bosu ball workouts

The highlight of this past week was definitely my long 10.25 mile run, which is my longest distance since training began.  It seemed so easy compared to last week's 8 miler!  The coolest thing was when I was running down a side road in Upton, and I passed a lady walking a dog.  As I passed her, she asked me if I was training for the marathon.  "Yes, I AM!" I responded.  She wished me good luck.  That added a little pep in my step!

This week is shaping up to be a bit more of a challenge, trying to squeeze in my runs in between snow storms.  As long as I don't have to do a 12 mile run on the treadmill, I think I'll be okay!