Friday, February 28, 2014

That's a pain in the....

Hi! Happy Friday!

Yes, I know, I vanished for over a week! I did post a few quick updates on my Facebook page, but I just didn't have time to sit down and actually blog. Between being sick one week and then having an ice storm the next week, everything got bumped around to last week and this week! It's been super crazy! But I hope we'll have a bit of a lull before the big ramping up that comes in the late spring.

Now, back to the "P" word -

P is for pain. Pain in the ankle to be precise! Last weekend, on Saturday evening, I felt a bit of a twinging in my right outer ankle. It hadn't happened during my long run that morning with my tri club, but rather in the evening. I got up and rode on the trainer on Sunday morning and it felt fine, and then I had a busy day out of the house for the rest of Sunday. I felt a twinge here and there but nothing alarming.

Monday was an absolutely gorgeous day around here so I decided to go out for a run. I had already decided to make this week another Cut Back Week due to the fatigue that was really giving me a run for my money. This was like a delayed fatigue from the race. All I can think of is that the adrenaline from the race kept me on a high for a few days and when I finally came down, I came down super hard! Not a big deal though. I can adjust! So I went out for a run on Monday and tested out the outfit I want to wear for my birthday half marathon in April.

I felt the twinging off and on and every now and then the ankle would tweak. So I decided to cut my run off and take my Penguin-recommended 4 days of rest from running. I googled my symptoms and came up with peroneal tendon issues. This is typically caused by running on slanted surfaces, and also because of tight calves.

::light bulb moment::

I remember during the half marathon several times trying to move over to the center of the road because the slanting was so bad. And this was a hilly course and I hadn't spent much time on hills during my training. And here is the kicker - I can remember telling my mom (and I may have even blogged about it) that the only thing I noticed after the race was that my calves were pretty tight! And with all of the busy-ness going on, I have been neglecting my stretching and rolling, probably during the worst time of all to be neglecting it!

So hopefully, I nipped it in the bud quickly. I have been swimming and cycling on the trainer and haven't noticed any problems. I took my 4 days off running, and have made sure to do some extra rolling and stretches for my ankle and calves. Today is Friday and I'm feeling pretty good! I'm planning to try out a run tomorrow and see how it goes.

The lesson I learned from all of this is RESPECT THE DISTANCE! I didn't do that. I felt so good and so strong after the race, and I had been running 12 miles in training that I didn't take into consideration that this was a hilly run and there was a wind advisory! While I was around 10 minute miles in training, it wasn't during such conditions and I had to work harder because of the wind and the hills. And then I didn't cut back and rest enough in the week after the race. I should have cut back to 50% of my regular mileage due to the fact that I raced this race, instead of making it a training run. And I didn't roll and stretch enough, either. These are all good lessons. :)

So hopefully my run tomorrow will go well and the ankle will be feeling much better. If not, then I'll take a few more days off and try again! If you're running this weekend, I hope you have a great time!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A sneak peak of spring!

It was 69 glorious degrees outside today! It wasn't sunny, but it sure was warm! This girl was taking her brick workout to the park!! :D

I wanted to try out my Team Tough Chik singlet during the run, but I was afraid I'd be chilly on the bike so I threw on a long sleeve shirt over my singlet. I was proud that the only thing I forgot to bring were my cycling gloves, and those aren't absolutely essential since it wasn't that warm.

This is the same park where I cycled and did most of my bricks last year, which made my improvement very obvious! I averaged 14.9 mph. That's just awesome for a park where I had to do 5 laps to get my 15.75 miles in! LOL I noticed that I am able to handle the curves and turns much better and have to do very little braking. I also noticed that I was able to maintain my cadence in a higher gear that I used to. All of those hours/miles in the saddle are really paying off!

I was nervous about the run because it's been so long since I've done a brick run after riding a bike that was actually moving. Running off the trainer had proved to be fairly easy, and I remembered that running off the bike was very awkward for me. But today, I didn't have any trouble! I went ahead and did my 4/1 intervals and ran 3 miles. Freaky that I just did the bike/run portion of most sprint triathlons - and this is my cut back week! And it felt great!

When I got home, I took a picture of my Team Tough Chik gear. It looks fantastic! 

Toughie Selfie! :)
What a glorious day to be outside working out! I am sure that we're not done with winter yet, but I am really ready for the warmer (and sunnier!) days ahead!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Another first - Indoor Cycling Class! :)

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend my very first indoor cycling class! I have been wanting to take a class like this, or like Spinning, for a long time! The low-cost gym I belong to doesn't offer classes at all so that's why I haven't been able to go to one before now. So when the chance came up to take a free class, I had to jump on it. And to add to the excitement - this class was being offered by none other than Swim Bike Mom herself, Meredith. The one kink in the plans was that the class was held on Sunday morning and about an hour away from my house. Sunday mornings are busy when you have a husband who is a worship leader and a son who is a drummer at a different church (and who has no vehicle anymore). But this was my Valentine's Day present from my husband and he worked out all of the details to allow me to go! Thanks, honey! It was the best present! ::smooch::

I woke up at 5:30 and left my house at 6:40. Yeah, it was super early - but I wanted to be there at 7:30 so I could get one of the trainers that they had at the store. By the way, this class was held at PTS Sports in Roswell - and they have a beautiful facility! I was very impressed! The reason I wanted to use one of their trainers is that it dawned on me on Friday that my trainer is LOUD. They told us to bring our trainers/blocks in case they ran out, but I'm sure nobody wanted to deal with listening to my crazy loud trainer for 2 hours. (And after using/hearing the other trainers, I realized how truly LOUD mine is! LOL).

I got turned around in Alpharetta so I was about 5 minutes later than I planned to be. I was surprised by how many people had already arrived when I got there. I almost didn't get a trainer! Yikes! But I was thrilled that there was such a big turnout! This was Meredith's first time teaching a class and I had hoped she would have a decent sized group to support and encourage her! Someone helped me set up my bike on the fancy trainer, which was so nice! I was feeling totally intimidated! My new Facebook friend, Lisa, was there and I was so glad because I knew she was a newbie as well. I didn't realize that she was a complete newbie to the trainer even - that is amazing that she was brave enough to tackle a 2 hour group class for her first time on a trainer! I am impressed! I also recognized a long-time Facebook friend and Team Tough Chik member, Karen, who was set up to my left. It was nice to "know" some people there already. I learned later that I knew another of the ladies from a FB group. Small world!

I kept looking around to see what other people were doing and followed them. My nerves were increasing by the minute. Finally I got set up and snapped a quick picture. I would have taken more but I was too nervous and afraid folks would think I was a dork.

Mike the Bike is all ready to go!
After I got set up, I climbed on to make sure I wasn't going to fall off. Immediately as I started pedaling, I realized this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought it was going to be. My normally easy gear was super, super hard. I got off the bike and tried to adjust the tension on the trainer. I did this about 4 times - pedal, get off and loosen the tension, pedal again, get off again. It wasn't really getting THAT much easier. Yikes.

Meredith told us to start with a 10 minute warm up and I started pedaling, trying to reach my 90 rpm cadence that I typically stick with. It simply wasn't happening. On the warm up. Yikes. Finally, I switched to the lowest chain ring and hit a middle gear in there.

I was SO EMBARRASSED. I was in the front row so I know there were people behind me. And I learned on my group bike rides that good cyclists can tell by looking at your chain which gears/chain you're in. So there I was - in my baby gears. Lovely. And not only that, but I was getting winded just warming up. I tried hard to distract my mind and so I wouldn't get discouraged but I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to make it through the class.

We did some single leg drills which I had never really done before - they were cool! Karen helped me by telling me where to put my unclipped foot so I wouldn't have to have it dangling. The drills were hard, and my form suffered towards the end of each set, especially on my right leg, but that's the whole point of drills, I'm sure.

Then Meredith announced that we were going to really start the work. Huh? START the work? Yikes! LOL I don't remember the specifics of what we did but we worked in different zones and she would tell us which cadence we were supposed to be in. Since I don't have a heart rate monitor, I focused on cadence and my breathing. I tried several times to go back to the middle chain ring and work there as often as I could, but I was also cognizant of the fact that I need to be careful of not pushing with my knees too hard due to my ITB issues. So I sucked it up and suffered the embarrassment of working in the baby chain ring. At one point I asked if the different trainer could make it feel harder in certain gears and Meredith said that it could, but it could also be the fact that I ran a half marathon the day before! I guess I hadn't really thought of that since I'm used to running 12 miles and 13.1 isn't that much longer and then I ride longer than 2 hours on Sunday. But maybe it was the speed and the hills and the wind from the race that made the difference? Or maybe it was the trainer? Or maybe both? Regardless, it was very, very hard!

Finally - FINALLY - it was the end of the workout! And the last song was "The Phoenix" by Fall Out Boy, which has been my workout anthem for the last 6 months or so! It was a fantastic coincidence and I really gave it my all to finish out my workout. But then she had us get off the bikes and do 30 squats. She is evil!! In the best way, of course! I think it's a sign of a great workout when you sort of hate your instructor towards the end. I know that I feel that way with my Zumba/Tap teacher - and I adore her and keep coming back for more as often as I can! LOL Meredith did a great job with teaching her first class - and though I don't have any experience with other indoor cycling classes, I do have experience with classes in general and I think she did a very good job! My only suggestion would be to be aware of newbies in the class and explain some of the terms a little more. I know what Zone 2 means but other newbies might not. Other than that, I have nothing but praise for her choice of music, her volume of instruction, and the general atmosphere of the class! Well done, Swim Bike Mom/Swim Bike Teach! ;)

(As an aside, last night Meredith posted a blog about this class and about her nerves/embarrassment about a student in the class who was sitting next to her while she was teaching. I thought it was interesting that she was also embarrassed/self conscious during the class and for the same reasons I had been. I loved what she had to say and you can read her thoughts here on her blog.)

Right after the class was over, I was really, really sore and was actually wondering how I would ever drive home. I was also STARVING! I had brought a Luna bar with me to eat but I knew that would not come close to covering my hunger so I stopped at Burger King and got the very unhealthy Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Croissant and some OJ. I inhaled it in less than a minute, literally. It was sort of scary! I got home, showered, took the girls out for lunch and came home to stretch and roll some more and felt just fine. Then I crashed  with a 2 hour nap! My busy weekend had apparently caught up to me!

I hope PTS Sports will continue to offer these classes, and I hope Meredith will teach a few more! I can't make it out frequently because Sunday mornings are just too hard to manage with the family, but I'd like to try to make it once per quarter or something. And I would definitely like to try another time when it's not the day after a half marathon! :)

Hope everyone had a great weekend and the weather didn't hinder any of your plans to get up and get moving! Enjoy your Monday!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Race Report: 2014 Run the Reagan Half Marathon

I'm not really even sure where to begin! I have been wanting to run the half marathon at this race for several years, but it has always fallen too close to the Princess (or I have been injured). So this year, when I realized that I didn't want my birthday half marathon to also be my tenth, and my mileage was increasing enough to allow for a half marathon at this stage of training, I decided to go for it.

But then I didn't. The information was sketchy on the website (which had disappeared and then came back under a different address), and their Facebook page was practically silent. This was supposed to be the 20th anniversary running of the event, but this year it felt so different, so unorganized. I waited and waited to sign up until the last minute, hoping more information to be posted. The course had lost its certification for the half and 5K. It just felt off.

I was planning to register in early February, and then I got sick. Finally, I pulled the trigger, but still felt so uneasy. I had secretly (sort of) hoped to PR this race. I wanted to "prove" that I was "back". To whom? Myself? Yeah, I guess so... nobody else is really all that concerned about my pacing! LOL But sometimes this is how my brain works.

As the week went on, the bottom fell out of the weather. We got a snow/ice storm, and the forecasted high in the mid 50s on Saturday started to drop. At this point in my running career, I just expect it. I have some strange power over the weather when I run. Surprisingly enough, I didn't really freak out or get stressed out. The closer to Saturday (and the more the ice/snow melted), the calmer I became, and the more excited! (Even when a Wind Advisory was announced late last night! I mean, really, one of the things I said I would never run outside in? Yeah, I get the irony!)

I laid out my clothes - the shirt from my first half marathon that started it all (Princess 2010)! Paired it with my new Sparkle Tech skirt from Sparkle Skirts, and then threw on the jacket from last year's Princess (which was the last half I had run). It seemed quite fitting!

So loving this skirt from Sparkle Skirts - it's called "Orbits" and it matches everything!
I slept pretty well last night, and woke up before my alarm because it was actually set for later than I usually wake up! Gotta love a half marathon that is 15-20 minutes from my house! I left with plenty of time to reach the start in time for the group picture for my Moms Run This Town chapter. On the drive, I was overcome with emotion and found myself crying. I started running 5 years and 4 months ago. I did my first half marathon the first weekend of March 2010. Less than 4 years later, here I am going to the start line of my 10th half marathon. And this was with an injury that I was afraid would keep me out of running altogether! I hit rock bottom a couple of years ago, and have been slowly climbing back out of the rubble ever since. My family and my friends have stood by me and encouraged me every step of the way! And through everything, my relationship with God has grown deeper and He has helped me learn to trust and depend on Him - yes, through running (and swimming, and biking). It has been an amazing journey, and I am stronger than ever before - and I don't just mean physically!

I had to sit in the car for awhile and compose myself. It was so cold and windy, the tears would freeze to my face! LOL I hooked up with the MRTT crew and I hadn't seen them in SO long! I met some folks who I hadn't seen before, and then it was time to start the race!

The  wind was simply unreal. The course is an out-and-back and we started off with a brutal head wind. My lips were so cold that I couldn't even feel them. And the course is fairly hilly, and I wasn't well-trained for those hills. And the last 2-3 miles is basically an uphill, so I knew I needed to keep something in the tank for the end. But it was hard to conserve energy when I was constantly battling the wind just to keep moving forward. At one point, going up a hill, the wind was so strong that I could barely even move forward, running or walking!

At mile 3, I looked down and saw that my race bib had come undone from my fuel belt. I had never attached anything to the belt toggles before and I'm not sure why it ripped on one side, but it did, and my bib was flapping around like crazy. I was afraid it was going to fall off and fly away and I wouldn't get credit for my race at all! But then I remembered that I had a safety pin on the zipper pull of the fuel belt, put there by the previous owner (and MRTT chapter leader, Wendy, who happened to be running the half). I had never taken it off! So I was able to pin the broken side of the bib to my jacket and keep going! It worked brilliantly, and I think from now on I'll be carrying extra pins with me in my pockets!

For the record, I have never run with a fuel belt/water bottles in a race before. I wanted to try it this time to practice for the half ironman - when I will likely be on the course later than most folks and don't want to face empty water stations! It worked wonderfully (except for the toggle issue) and it was nice to be able to bypass the jam at the water stations (though that wasn't really an issue with this small race).

Got to the turn-around at last. I'm not sure how much longer I could have battled those head winds. I was concerned that I was going to be out of energy from battling the winds for more than 6.5 miles. But actually, I felt pretty good. I'm not sure time has ever passed so quickly during a half marathon as it did today!

Coming back with a tail wind behind me and the bright sun in front of me was lovely! I actually got warmed up so much that I had to take off my hat and mittens and put them through my fuel belt and unzip my jacket and tie it around my waist (since my fuel belt was wrapped around it LOL). I ended up losing my hat at some point, though, which is a bummer.

It was such a gorgeous day (when the wind was at my back LOL) and I marveled often at how blessed I was to be out there running a half marathon. I thanked God over and over for His blessings - the strength to run, the beautiful day, a husband who is supportive of my goals and dreams, children who don't mind Mom being gone in the mornings every Saturday, a mom who thinks I am the premiere runner in the US, a dad who is proud in his own quiet way, extended family constantly support me, running friends who talked me down through the hard times and support and encourage me through the good times, and non-running friends who may not always understand why I do what I do but still like me anyway! It's a lot to be thankful for!

Around mile 9, I knew that I was going to be able to finish. Around mile 11, I knew I was on track for a PR if I could maintain my pace through the next 2 nasty hills. Thankfully, I know this part of the course very well from doing the 5K and 10K in previous years. I knew exactly how many hills were left and that it would be fairly flat until the finish line that seems to get further and further down the road each year! I hit the crest of that last hill, took a final walk break, and ran the last 1.1 miles to the finish line. This was the only time where I felt I was really, really pushing myself. The rest of the course I had been working - especially against the wind - but now I felt my breathing move into another Zone and my brain kept telling me to go ahead and take a walk break and get a drink. But I was so close! Half a mile to go! I could get a drink at the finish!

I saw the finish line clock and confirmed that I could get that PR - and maybe even come in under 2:10, though I wouldn't be upset if I didn't. Apparently, the joy that I was feeling came shining through my face. Check out this picture that the newspaper folks took right before I crossed the finish line (they do this for everyone, not just for me LOL):

Such a giddy grin on my face! I love it! And can you believe everything I have around my waist?!
Sailed on through the finish line and got my beautiful medal!

Feeling strong!
Pretty medal! The only thing that could have been better is if they had put 20th Anniversary on it!

Race shirt picture - ONE ZERO!

I waited around for a little while and swapped stories with some friends from my MRTT chapter, but the wind was blowing and I was getting colder and colder. So I said goodbye and headed for my car to go home! Got a nice warm shower and put on my really cool race shirt. It's a bright yellow and it's a tech shirt, but it feels cottony! I searched all over for a bright yellow shirt last week and couldn't find one I liked! This one is perfect and is SO comfy! I love it!

So there you have it! The race report for my 10th half marathon! I could not have asked for a better experience. My official finish time was 2:10:07 which I am so thrilled about! It is 6:17 faster than my previous half marathon PR, and that was running straight through (today I did 4/1 intervals until the last mile) and though it was a hilly course, there was no wind that day. I am certainly proud of my effort today, and would have been without the PR. I just had a great time - and that's what it's all about!

Thanks for sharing this journey with me! And now it's on to my 20th half marathon! :D

My tenth on their twentieth!

Well, I did it! I completed my TENTH Half Marathon today! :)

Number 10 in the books!

This isn't going to be THE "race report" because I simply have too much going on in my head and in my heart right now to be coherent! I am going to start working on it and I hope to be able to post it this evening!

For now, just know that it went absolutely beautifully. It was cold and it was windy (I need to find the post where I talked about the weather conditions that force me indoors - Wind Advisory is one of them. HERE IT IS! LOL Well, we had one today and I was outside running hills in it! At one point, I could barely stand, let alone run or walk).

But I did it! And not only did I do it, but I smashed by previous PR (personal record) by 6 minutes!!

I'm a happy girl, in a bright yellow shirt! :D
Check back this evening for the race report!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I'm all in!

Finally pulled the trigger - registered for my 10th Half Marathon! It's this Saturday! Yes, as in 5 days away! I am trying hard to be a good girl and have the money in hand before I register, but I actually had this money last weekend. But I was sick and was unsure if I would be able to run at all. So I waited patiently. Sort of! ;)

Yesterday I was able to run for the first time in a week. It felt really, really good! I did my 4/1 intervals and did my very best to keep it nice and slow. I also stopped at 5 miles, which was so hard because I felt so good. In fact, it felt so good that I almost made a really big mistake!

You see, last weekend - when I was wondering if my half marathon was going to happen - I went in search of other half marathons in the area in the next few weeks. And I found one on this coming Sunday. So while I was running yesterday, my brain starts thinking that maybe I should do both half marathons. My rationale being that I am used to cycling 45-50 miles on Sunday so how much different could it be to run a half marathon?! I texted my hubby on the way home from the run and told him of my crazy idea. He was supportive, as he always is! :) I even asked on one of my triathlon groups on FB and got mixed replies. Some folks said no way and others said to go for it. I figured if I made it through Goofy under-trained and injured, I could do this.

But then I took a step back.

I do NOT need to screw up Augusta just because of a crazy idea! My base building has gone so well this winter, despite the crazy weather we've been having in Atlanta, and I've only had the one hiccup of last week's nasty cold (a nurse friend thinks it was the flu!). I do not need to push my luck and end up screwing everything up!

Apparently being off for a week made me borderline crazy! LOL

So I'm sticking to just doing my one half marathon this coming Saturday - keeping fingers crossed that the snow/ice be totally out of the way by then! I am very, very excited! And today I was able to get to the pool before any bad weather came through. I switched up my schedule and got in a little trainer ride in the afternoon. It's unlikely that I will be doing a brick tomorrow, but I will do another trainer ride for sure. Hoping to get to the pool and then run on Thursday afternoon, but the weather will be the main factor.

If you're in the path of this nasty ice/snow storm in the southeast, please stay home and be careful. If you're someplace that is sunny and 65, then POOH on you! Enjoy your workouts, my friends!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

This wasn't on the training plan!

I've just spent the last 5 days doing absolutely nothing. Well, I take that back - I've run a fever, cycled through the boxes of tissues, and swum in ... well, I can't really think of anything that goes with swimming. Anyway, yeah, I've been sick!

It started Monday night while waiting for my girls at dance. I had had a really great weekend of workouts to wrap up my Cut Back Week. I did a 9 mile run on Saturday with my tri club, 3.5 of it was doing speed intervals and the rest was a nice,slow 4/1 run/walk with a few of my new friends who needed to run longer. Then on Sunday, we had a beautiful afternoon for a ride and I rode the fastest I have ever done before!

Can you see mile 23? TWENTY miles per hour?!? Nothing was under 10mph, not even the two super hills. And the slowest was just barely under 11mph. I can remember when my average was 11mph on a mostly flat trail!

Then Monday came around and I was on fire to get back to some big miles! I ran 7 miles at the park with a 4/1 interval and I felt strong and happy. I wore a new Sparkle Tech skirt that I had received as part of a trade - the skirt I intend to wear for my 10th half marathon in one week! I was feeling like a super star.

Until I wasn't anymore. I'll spare you the details, but by the time the dance classes were over, I was starting to feel congested and dizzy. By the next morning, a fever was full blown and I couldn't even lift my head off the pillow. All I can say is thank goodness for kids who are old enough to take care of themselves, and that I didn't have to lift up my head to play Candy Crush, because everything was hurting too much all over my body to allow me to sleep. By Wednesday, the fever was gone, and each day since, I have been feeling better. Thursday I got dressed and took care of my family, Friday I drove the car and got groceries, and today I'm catching up on my housework and laundry.

Notice what I haven't been doing? Yeah, working out. It makes me sad, but I really want to be able to do this half marathon next weekend (did I mention it's my 10th? Oh, I did? A bunch of times? Hee hee) and I do not want to get back to working out too fast and end up relapsing. Honestly, today is the first day I have felt like I could actually work out - I was so weak or congested before now. And I always follow the "Bobby Cox" philosophy of returning to play after an injury or illness: "One More Day".

So that puts me returning to the big game on Monday. A whole week after my last workout. I can't remember the last time I took this long off. But I also can't remember the last time I was this sick. Wow, that was something else. It's been frustrating and disappointing, but I'm trying to remember the big picture. If I've learned nothing else in the last 2 years, it's that sometimes you have to take care of your body with rest and recovery so you can make it to the big day at all. I am spending this weekend getting some stretching and yoga in since I haven't even been able to do that much this week! It sure was nice to be able to bend over this morning and not have my head feel like I was going to explode! :)

I hope y'all have had a great week! And if you are doing the swim, bike, run thing this weekend - do a few miles for me, OK!? It's sunny and gorgeous here in Atlanta and I'm dying being inside! LOL