Winter is Different Than Summer

First, check out Hyedi’s blog for a running headband giveaway and Sarah’s blog for a basket full of Hawaiian goodness giveaway.  Although, if you don’t, then my odds of winning go up….

Obviously I have been through winters before.  And obviously I have seen a time change or 60 in my lifetime.  Yet I am sitting here shocked at how much different this time of year is than summer.

I even trained for this same half at this same time last year, but here I am like, “Oh! It’s Dark!” and “Oh! It’s Cold!”

So we’ve had to get creative with our workouts.

The track that we use isn’t lit.  It also is not made of that fancy newfangled track spongy stuff…it’s dirt.  And the last turn is washed out because it is in the middle of a gulch.  It doesn’t rain here just about ever, but erosion has occurred   So running on this track in the dark or without complete sunlight makes the sprinting aspect of the sprinting workout pretty impossible.

So, aside from dragging ourselves out of a warm bed (is this even a realistic option?) before work, we are doomed to the treadmill.

Fact: one of the busiest weekends at the gym is the week before Thanksgiving.

For some reason, I always feel really self conscious when sprinting on the gym treadmill.  It makes this really obnoxiously loud BOOM BOOM BOOM noise, generating annoyed stares from the people there to walk in peace.

On Tuesday we braved the BUSY gym and did a 5 minute warm-up, then sprinted for 1 minute/walked for 1 minute for a total of 20 minutes before our cool down.  I was hitting between 6/6:10 minute mile pace during the sprints.  I would like to be at about a 5:30 sprint pace by the end of this training cycle.

I do think that sprinting on the treadmill is easier than being in the real world, BUT the treadmill doesn’t let you slow down, and keeping up with the pace is essential if you don’t want to be launched back into the wall/the nice walker behind you.

We followed the sprint workout with plyometrics.  This isn’t something I’ve done too much of in the past, but according to coach Aaron, plyometrics increase your eccentric load (I THINK) giving you more of that explosive energy needed for speed.  Wikipedia says, “plyometric exercises use explosive, fast-acting movements to develop muscular power and to improve overall speed.”  Meanwhile, all the cross fit people are sitting there saying DUH.

We looked kinda like these people.

Basically, we ventured deep into the weight lifting area, and jumped onto a box and jumped off it.  All the meatheaded weight lifters were giving us weird looks (Why these people jump?  Jumping no give big muscle….I always give meatheaded weight lifters cave men accents).

In addition to more gym speed training, we’re having to cram in 3 weeks of “Amy doesn’t want to DNF in the indoor tri” training.

For the next few weeks, Wednesdays will be our Spin It To Win It day which is a fancy way of saying that I’m trying to  master the art of spin biking.  Yesterday was spin class #2 for the year and today I’m feeling the saddle soreness.  At least I think that’s what it’s called.  I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Spinning really works out muscles that I must not use very often because I was having a hard time sprinting up the imaginary muddy hills that the instructor kept leading us through.

There is work to be done here.

There is also work to be done on indoor tri logistics.  Aaron doesn’t seem to think that the transition area will include locker room access meaning no changing that requires privacy.  As a girl of ….um…a certain size I can’t really run without a sports bra.  An option I suppose is to wear a sports bra over a swim suit and remove as necessary (and deal with the fact that this will look completely ridiculous).  I’ve been trying to research swimsuits, but I haven’t found any yet with the support I need.  I haven’t looked into full tri suits (I kind of don’t want to buy something that I may only use once), but apparently they take the whole issue into consideration.

So, that’s where we’re at.  Today is more speed work, tomorrow is yoga, and this weekend is our long run and intense swimming crash course.

THANKS FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT on my indoor tri.  I feel silly for being so nervous about it especially since it really isn’t half as scary as an outdoor sprint.  We’ll see how it goes.

Happy Thursday! (Also, I wrote this REALLY fast today, so I didn’t edit.  I don’t even want to know how many mistakes you can find).


So…I’m Doing a Triathlon…

One of my bucket list items for this year was to race a triathlon.

I’m not quite sure why I put this on there.  Maybe to challenge myself? Maybe because I was high off my first two half marathons and decided I could do ANYTHING? I don’t really know.  But I don’t have a bike.  I was probably 12 the last time I rode my bike.  And I can’t swim.

A few weeks ago I decided to start learning how to swim since that was another bucket list item. But I haven’t really kept it up.

Aaron spends all day in a gym.  I think it takes extra encouragement to get him to go to his “workplace” after hours.  And I like to make a splashing idiot of myself in front of as few people as possible. I suppose on the upside, our wet area is co-ed, so I don’t have to deal with situations like Jen does in the jacuzzi.

Well, I have found a triathlon in December!

This is an indoor tri that utilizes gym equipment.  No bike? No problem.   I’m glad I wasn’t more specific in my bucket list requirements!

Basically, you run for 20 minutes on a treadmill as fast as you can, hang out on the spin bike for 30 minutes, and swim in the pool for 10 minutes. Your score is based on distance covered rather than time.

So, I am now forced to learn how to swim (or at least establish a good doggy paddle) for 10 full minutes. That isn’t so bad, right?

I’m nervous.

I mean, the marathon was scary because I did’t know what would happen at mile 20.  But, at least I knew it involved running.

Well, how nice for you, tri person!

This is such a new world for me.

I’ve definitely been inspired by all of you who jumped into tri land and had to do things like swim in open water!!! (OMGSOSCARY).

And indoor tris seem to be a whole different game than like, real ones. I don’t know anything about transitions, especially because I don’t think there is a “transition area.” AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WEAR!

My swimsuits aren’t necessarily designed for competitive swimming.

Are you kidding me…

Meanwhile, Aaron has done countless tris including 3 Ironmans.  These are really where he excels, even more so than running.  I think I killed it because he hasn’t done any triathlons since I met him.

I don’t think I’ll be keeping up with him anytime soon, but I have decided that I need to let myself out of my comfort zone every once in awhile.  I am truly having to chip away at this triathlon thing from the bottom.  If anything, this will ensure that I get some quality cross training in. And maybe next year I’ll be crazy enough to sign up for one outside!

Small steps.

Friend Brandon Runs and Tris.

Happy Monday! 

Today’s guest poster is Real Life Friend Brandon.  Brandon actually grew up right across the street from me, so I’ve known him for a REALLY long time!  He is currently training for his second full marathon, and recently celebrated his birthday by running a Ragnar Relay.  

Hi, my name is Brandon. I’m writing a guest blog this week while Amy is busy with work (and training). Don’t worry I’m going to keep the same theme going and talk about some of my running experiences. This is my first blog of any kind so we’ll see how it goes.
I’m currently training for a Newport, Rhode Island marathon on October 14th. My goal is 4 hours. It will be my second full. Last year I ran Hartford in 4:03 so I’m pretty close. Training has been going pretty good so far. Although I feel like my entire summer has been nothing but working, eating, sleeping, and running. I haven’t missed any long runs yet and I’m staying strong with my plan. I even ran during vacation. Although I’m putting the miles in and doing speed work once a week, I feel like my maintenance miles should be faster. Last weekend I had a 20 mile run…well it was more like 18 and I ended up walking the last two. I felt strong the first 15 and then I stopped to have a drink and after that it was tough the rest of the way. I will have two more 20 mile runs before my race so hopefully those will go better. I’ve been thinking about trying a hydration belt. Do any of you guys wear one on your runs? Do you like them?
In the last few years I’ve been getting into triathlons. I just finished a 10 week sprint triathlon summer series. It was a lot of fun. The races were every Tuesday night so it was a nice event to look forward to during the weekdays. The races included a ¼ mile swim in a lake, a 8k mountain trail bike ride, and a 5k mountain trail run. With a race that short I quickly learned the bike is what separates most people, which was unfortunate since that is  my weakest event. And since the ride is on serious off road single track trails you really have to know how to shift. With that said, every week I got a little faster and I ended up finishing 4th in total points for my age group. Next year I want to expand to Olympic distance triathlons and maybe a half Ironman but I know that is going to be a big commitment. It’s also going to cost a couple thousand to buy a good road bike, a wetsuit and everything else I’ll need. The eventual goal is completing a full Ironman which is the main reason for these marathons and sprint tri’s….I’m trying to work my way up.
{AMY INSERT: Me too! But in like 10 years}
As far as running goes I’ve been pretty good so far at avoiding serious injuries. When I first started consistently running long distances a few years ago I had IT band problems. The tight tendon was causing a sharp pain on the outside of my left knee. I tried a lot of recovery techniques but the only one that worked was resting until the pain went away. As I continued to run I felt like my legs got ‘looser’ and since then I’ve been fine. I still make sure I spend time every week keeping my entire body as loose as possible. I get occasional massages. I foam roll whenever I can. I do yoga at least once a week and I go to the chiropractor once a month. I’m a big fan of chiropractors. Even when I don’t have any discomfort and everything feels good I still go for maintenance. When I’m running I like doing active stretching prior to starting and especially before races. Afterwards I do passive stretching.
In the last couple of months I’ve been experimenting with some new fuel choices. Last year when I was training for Hartford I used GU gel packets which worked great. I would always carry a couple with me on my long runs and during the marathon they passed them out at the water stations. This summer however, when I started using them again during training they were giving me minor stomach aches so I started looking for something a little more solid. Recently I’ve been trying Honey Stinger waffles and I like them. They have some good flavors too including vanilla, chocolate, lemon, and strawberry. My stomach has been doing better with these. The only downside is they are kind of crumbly and they are not as convenient to carry as gel packets. Another thing I started using is Nuun electrolyte tablets. I don’t know how much they actually help but after my runs I drop a tablet in a glass of water and I love it. They also have a ton of flavors to choose from and I haven’t found a bad one yet.
I’m sure many of you download a variety of running podcasts on iTunes. I’ve been listening to a couple for over a year now and I wanted to share my thoughts. The first one is The Marathon Training Academy.  This is a very motiving podcast that is hosted by a married couple. The wife runs multiple marathons a year and the husband recently ran his first. It’s geared toward beginning marathon runners but it’s entertaining enough for anyone. They are both very positive and encouraging people. In a typical podcast they will talk about their recent running experiences, have an interview, and offer a quick tip at the end. Each episode usually lasts around 30 minutes. One of the reasons I like this podcast is my training schedule last year matched up with one of hosts so in a way I felt like we were training together. The second podcast I enjoy is Ben Greenfield Fitness. Ben is a former college athlete who has been a bodybuilder, ironman finisher, public speaker, author, nutritionist, and trainer. His podcast is a series of Q&A’s that listeners send in. He focuses on a holistic approach to health and fitness, and stays up to date on current studies and articles. His answers are very detailed and long winded and because of that you learn a lot if you’re willing to listen to an entire episode which averages around 2 hours.
I hope you guys enjoyed my post. Happy running!

Twitter Road Race and Swimming Lesson #1

About a month ago, I saw something on Twitter about the Twitter Road Race. 

After looking more into it, I found Doug Cassaro’s blog and his movement to organize a virtual 5-k.   Turns out some 700 people around the world signed up!

The Nike Women’s Marathon organized a virtual half marathon last weekend that I was thinking about joining.  Since I was running a half marathon anyway, why not run a 2nd “virtual” one at the same time?

For the Nike Women’s, it was a $40 fee ($10 went to charity and you got a bracelet and a chance to win an automatic entry into the lottery process real Marathon in October) AND you  had to have a Nike plus GPS system.

I’m a Garmin girl.  I didn’t want to buy the Nike thing. So I decided not to participate.  Plus, adding $40 to the RnR fee just didn’t seem economical. But I thought, hey, a free virtual 5-K  that helps me connect with other runners sounds pretty cool.

So I signed up for the Twitter Road Race.

This week, after the Rock n Roll Arizona half marathon, has been very relaxing.  I went on the elliptical once and I have been happily indulging in all the food, beer, and wine I desire.  I feel gloriously fat and out of shape. Aaron also busted his knee last week in Arizona, so he hasn’t been able to run.

 I had to run my virtual 5-K on a treadmill at the gym so Aaron could hang out on the elliptical. 

My problem with “virtual races” is this: I like to win.  When running, being able to pass people keeps me going.  Not having those people around makes me much less motivated to go faster.  Add the whole running without going anywhere to the equation, and I pretty much never had a chance to meet my PR time of 21:05 .  Plus, running fast and hard on the treadmill is noisy, and other gym people look at you like you are a complete nuisance to the gym world. I don’t like gym people looking at me like I’m a complete nuisance to the gym world.

But I started out fast anyway. My calf tightened up, I started feeling seriously ill 1.55 miles in, and had to walk for 3/4 of a mile.  So I didn’t have my best race (virtual or not) ever.

26 minutes and 13 seconds.  Just about how fast I ran first ever 5-K.  But hey, it was fun anyway (except for the whole feeling violently ill part).

Since we were at the gym anyway, I asked Aaron to give me my first swimming lesson.

If you read my 2012 bucket list, you may know that I want to do a triathlon this year and you may also know that I don’t know how to swim .  And by don’t know how to swim I mean, if you dropped me in the middle of the deep end of the pool, I would drown. I live in the desert, so not knowing how to swim hasn’t really affected my life too much.

Aaron on the other hand was a champion high school swimmer in addition to you know, the THREE Ironman races he’s finished. So I’d say he’s qualified to teach me.

My first ever swimming lesson made me realize how far I have to go.  I have an irrational fear of drowning. For example, it took me several tries before I was able to snorkel without having a nervous breakdown and on those occasions I had a floatie vest and a breathing apparatus.

I don’t know to kick.  I don’t know how to move my arms.  I don’t know how to breathe.  Putting my head underwater is terrifying. And Aaron let me know a sprint triathlon is 400 meters….I did about 100 today and thought I was going to die.  Even being a runner, swimming wears me out.

But I am still determined.  This was only the first lesson.  I imagine after about 5 more I will be able to at least make it across the pool without stopping to rest. And someday I will be able to stick my head underwater without thinking that I will die.

At least let’s hope.