Monday, November 12, 2018

The Sweetest Days

The day started out rough.  In an effort to be good parents yet also have a little fun, Greg and I designed the weekend on a balancing act - enough activities to keep the kids busy, but not too busy; among friends, but also being creative on their own; spending time with us, yet giving us a breather.  Friday night was a simple family night, yesterday we got errands done (this kitchen remodel is so much fun...said no one, ever) and then went down the road for couple's game night/kid hangout.  Greg and I have been lucky enough to meet some great people through Rob's school - not only do the kids get along, but so do the moms and the dads.  A true bonding through sugar, alcohol and dirty board games - what more could you ask for? Last night we started out innocently enough with Scattergories (love that game) but after the beer and gin began to slow, switched to a somewhat more expressive game.    You've not lived till you've acted out "36-24-36" to your husband and two more couples.  And that was a tame one.

It was a great night, but also a long one - and when the kids don't get to bed until 10 and your other half indulges a bit too much - well - let's just say it was a bit of a rough morning.  Kids were grumpy, Greg was grumpy, and I was about two seconds away from a freak out (or two seconds past-use your best judgment) - when we decided to bring the kids to the Y to give mommy and daddy a break and release some of their pent up energy.  Did I mention how much I love our damned gym?

Greg went to lift while I worked out some frustration in the pool - blowing off steam actually works, even if it ain't pretty - I managed to whip out my fastest 100 ever, and then settled into some well meaning mediocrity.  Even though I swear I'm getting faster, apparently I still look like shit in the water.  I ain't mad, though - I did manage to lap the guy next to me a fair few times (does it count if he was in his 70s and blowing bubbles in the deep end half the time?  No, it does not.)  After I got out my annoyances, I managed to have a somewhat sluggish but cathartic swim, and the day seemed that much brighter.  Post swim, we had a great lunch, and  I went out for a beautiful, relaxed run in the sunshine.

It was nothing special and everything special all at the same time.  I loaded up my mp3 player with some relaxed tunage from when I was a kid and just breathed deeply and relaxed.  And thought about things.  About life.  About my family.  About everything and nothing.  And I realized that the hub bub of the past 10 months has really put me in a position to run from A to B to C without thinking about any of it.  Which led simultaneously to a vague sense of dissatisfaction and connection to nothing.  And that made me sad.

I got sick a few weeks ago- nothing big, just a cold - but it took me over two weeks to shake it free (literally, I had no idea that my nose possessed so much snot making ability - look at me being all special like that).  It was the annoying kind of sick - where you feel like crap, can't breathe, can't eat, can't have a decent workout - but not sick enough to lay on the couch and watch shitty movies.  Lame.  I'm sure its a combo of the cesspool of germs at the school that both my kids delight in sharing with me (thanks guys) and the massive amounts of stress brought on in the last 9 months with work, Ironman training, marathon training, and personal drama.

Enough.  Even the most type A's can admit when they are forced need to take a break.  With all this rushing around, I've forgotten what means the most to me.  To breathe it all in and enjoy.  To enjoy this time with my kids - it won't last forever- to enjoy this time in my life when I am lucky enough to run (and even not look too terrible in said running shorts) - to enjoy the time with friends and family (maybe even a bit too much, but hey, who's counting), and just to be.  Seems like the perfect time of year to let go of all the crap and just breathe in the things that make me smile.

Back when Biz was a baby, my godmother (she who is master sensei of all) sent me this little gem -

Of course, this will make any mom of a newborn cry.  But I remembered.  As I raised my babies I was very careful to love every sleep deprived second - to realize that I was tired, that I was overextended, but that each baby snuggle was so precious because I never knew when it was the last time.  I haven't hit that stage too many times with Rob and Biz - sure, we had the last time they passed out on my chest (god I miss that), the last time they nursed (that, not so much!), the last time they crawled.....but most of those sweet things still exist - the snuggles, the hand holding, the napping together, the excitement to hug, kiss and see Mom....and it's time to remember to treasure each one and put the rest of my stress in perspective.

As Vanessa Williams said...these are the sweetest days....we'll know (oh you bet I was jamming out to her).  They might not be perfect, they might be filled with daily obstacles, but here they are.  Time is fleeting...and you never know when something that fills you with joy will be...the last time.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Veggin Out

So, after eating my weight in Snickers and Reese's and consuming wayyyyy too much vodka and whiskey last night (that would be 3 shots and a mixed drink....yes, I'm a total lightweight), I've decided it's about time.

Halloween was super fun and all - the kids had a blast, adults had way too much of a blast - and this crazy cat lady certainly enjoyed a night out being  somewhat of a normal  a social creature.  However, It's not the first time I've woke up with a sugar induced hangover that made me want to eat nothing but kale and water and put off my workout for the day.
Hopefully this does not predict the future.  oiy.

None of this is good.  See, I was never that girl that ate all the things and got away with it - until I had kids.  Don't ask me how this works, I'm sure it's like Fight Club, but it seems since having Biz, the food just doesn't stick to me like it used to.  It's quite likely that running 50 miles a week and working from home and forgetting to eat lunch have more to do with this than my semi super power, but I'm choosing to live in ignorance, so deal with it.

But the lack of veggies in my diet lately is leaving me feeling like total crap, so I guess that food pyramid exists for a reason.  Dammit.  So, tonight, I decided to do something I haven't done in the last five years (knock it off, this is a family blog) and I revisited my old volumetrics  eating book from when I was borderline obsessive with my weight back in my twenties.

Turns out, while I might still have the maturity of a 12 year old boy, my eating habits are at least a lot less restrictive and goofy, which is a good thing.  But I did have some excellent recipes that focused on produce and were pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself.  Even if they weren't popular back then, seems I was a bit of a trendsetter (stop laughing.  Now).

Enter in the biggest phony of a vegetable ever.  Cauliflower.  I grabbed one at the market today (as I drove my pony in my nineteenth century cart, of course) and figured I could sub it in for some of the crappy carbs I've been living off of lately.  I've done the pizza crust (its...meh).  I've done the mashed "potatoes".  (Slightly better.  With butter.  Lots of it.  Which is...self defeating).

Enter - "rice".  Eggs were also on sale at Tops, and since I'm sort of obsessed with dippy eggs lately (that would be over easy for the non hipsters in the room), I grabbed a dozen and also a bag of mixed veggies.  I was hanging out in the spice aisle and spotted the Asian seasonings and...boom.  I got it.  Fried "rice".

When I got home, the kids were coming down off of another mad sugar rush, so I did what I usually do with dinner...I wung it.  At least I had the presence of mind to snap some crappy photos so you can aspire for something higher class.  But hey, it's a start.

Cauliflower Fried Rice (Serves 4)

1 head of cauliflower, riced - makes roughly 4 cups (see below)
1 bag Tops mixed veggies in the steamable bag (If you shop at Wegmans, you are dead to me)
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
6 eggs
1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ginger
pepper and salt, to taste

Add raw cauliflower to a food processor in small batches, pulsing until the consistency of rice.  Set aside. Add  onion, garlic and sesame oil to a large skillet and saute over medium heat  for about 5 minutes.  Steam the veggies in the microwave (we aren't fancy).  Whip the eggs in a small bowl and add into your onion and garlic mix, scrambling until the eggs are set (add an extra tbsp of oil, if needed).  Add veggies, cauliflower, ginger, salt, pepper and Teriyaki sauce - mix well and reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve.

Less than half an hour from start to finish - even with added kitchen races around the "track lap" by the 5 year old and the 3 year old cracking the eggs (no shells were added for crunch....maybe next time).

Delicious.  Healthy.  And damned convenient for a Thursday night.  

And now for my next quest....
Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?  

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Intentional Grounding

..and it's Sunday.  A very wet, rainy Sunday, at that. After a very wet, rainy weekend where I had the kids all to myself because my husband sucks Greg went to NYC to visit some buddies from college (no, I'm not bitter.  For the record, I encouraged this trip and fully support it).  

What does one do with two kids under 6 on a crappy weekend?  Well, I'll tell you.  We picked pumpkins.  Did trunk or treat at the local church. (No, they didn't convert me).  Got up at 5am and jumped on the trampoline (kids) while mommy did her 8 mile run (that was fun). Did a reeeallly wet village walk in Webster and scored more candy and decorated pumpkins during the Webster Halloween.  Hit up a playdate with our faves and drank lots of wine (that would be the adults, I think....though apparently Rob won himself a wife during a game of rock, paper scissors....dear god help me).  Went to the Y for some mom swim and kiddo play time.  Visited Tops for MORE cider, donuts and candy.  And here we are.  I'm beat.  For some reason I decided this was the weekend to do all the things, which is odd, since during a standard weekend, Greg and I buy into every introvert tendency we have and only go do the social things when we decide we are bad parents.  So why I thought I would do them on my own is beyond me, though I will say that the kids were GREAT and had a blast, so at the end of the day, its all worth it.

My "other job".
Speaking of the end of the day....I have to admit...I missed the hell out of Greg but it was awfully nice to do the girl things after I put the kids to bed.  Paint my nails.  Do a face mask (I don't care how old he is, even at 40, my husband still calls me Queen Amidala every time I put on my clay face mask.  (Is it 1999 again??)   Sit in front of the fire rereading Dan Brown's Origin with snax I don't have to share and the beautiful sound of silence.  Ahhhh.   While I'm ready for some adult interaction, it's been nice to have some time to just be, and to think about the past few months and where I want to be in the next 6 months or year.

Relax.  I'm not pregnant.  (I feel the need to tell everyone this every time I talk about the future).  Greg and I are solid.  And there are no 140.6's in my future, though I sure do think after my swim this morning, I should probably consider it. 

For the record, this is a lie.  But I would like it to be known that I DID do 3500 in an hour, including warm up, cool down, and 400 of drills including 3x100 with hand paddles, which may be torture devices, but are certainly effective at making my stroke cleaner and deeper (took me until now to make a That's what she said joke.  I'm losing my touch.) 

Ahem.  Thinking.  So, in honor of Sunday afternoon, when most of the world is immersed in NFL and....I have "Coco" on in the background for the kids, I find it totally reasonable to liken my current life situation with reference to a sport I know embarrassingly little about.

For the five of you that don't know, in football, intentional grounding is a violation of the rules where  the quarterback throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of it being caught.  It usually happens when the QB knows he is gonna be sacked if he doesn't pitch the ball, so he throws no one.  

All I know beyond this is that Greg gets super pissed when this happens during a Carolina game, and I'm starting to get why.  I'm done with football analogies (thank god, I sound like an idiot), but when I think about the way I've been feeling about things lately, I'm pretty sure I call a penalty on myself for throwing the ball at big fat no one. 

I'm super pleased with the end of my 2018 season as a runner, but as I've said approximately 450 times (who's counting), clearly I wasn't impressed with my tri's.  I've been waffling there, even though I signed up for Barrelman in 2019, I did it because I had a coupon and I'm pretty prone to dumb choices the powers of persuasion.  

I had a great last race in Vermont but have also been feeling a bit at a loss lately for working out - for the last 8 months my workouts have had a purpose and now I'm just....exercising.  This does not bode well for someone that likes having a goal race to shoot for, even if logic dictates that an off season is a pretty smart idea (see above for that).

Oddly enough I got the inspo I needed this weekend from a buddy of mine at work, who also runs marathons.  She randomly texted me Friday night to ask if I wanted to race the Coffee Milk marathon with her in April - she is trying to BQ it, which for her, is a 3:55.  This is laughable, as she ran a 3:14 at Mohawk Valley last year, so in her amazingness, has offered to try to pace me to a 3:35 marathon and BQ.  In a new state (Rhode Island).  OMG. 

Of course, you know I did 3 things right away.  I googled the marathon.  I counted back 16 weeks for the Hansen plan.  I looked up rooms.  I requested PTO (nah, I'm kidding there.  I have to wait till January to do that).  Of course, I'm in like Flynn and super amped about it, even if it is a moonshot goal.  To add more fuel to the fire, by cousin invited me to come hang with her in Missouri for a marathon next fall - Mo Cowbell (Best name ever), so within 48 hours I basically planned out my major race season and have a viable plan for some serious kick assage (yes I made that up.  I don't care). 

I'll round it out with a few shorter running races and a few more tris (debating Musselman, Silver Serpent or another close one), and I think I have myself a season with a few scary yet doable goals.  SWEET.With that being said, my marathon training commences December 23rd, which is perfect for me, as I love my treadmill.  And Christmas cookies. 

I think this is gonna work out well.

So basically, I have 8 weeks to throw the ball at no one.   To take a break - with intent. To take a kickboxing class.  Meander on my mountain bike.  Pretend to swim.  Go for some social runs.  Take a day off (oh who are we kidding here).  Hopefully I don't get  flag on this one - I meant to do it.

But then again, who knows.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Green Mountain Marathon 2018: The Power of Redemption

And, just like that, the 2018 season is (for all intents and purposes) over.  What started back in February (well, ok, last July, if you count the exceptionally dumb idea to sign up for Ironman) is now over.  After 8 months of training, an Olympic tri, an Ironman, an Ultra marathon, half marathon, smaller assorted runs, and a marathon, 2018 is done.  Finitio.  And lest I go all Henry David Thoreau and start rhapsodizing about enlightenment in the  woods pain cave, I'll just step back and talk about what you really came to hear about- the last race of the season - Green Mountain Marathon! (we got time for pithiness later - you know me).

As you all know, I went into this race with the rage of a woman scorned by a season that has evaded her (don't mess with women triathletes - we are vicious beasts).  In a year where I felt more in shape than ever in my life, a decent time seemed like the mythical white walker - a slave to the elements with the ability to crush my pathetic human soul.  My lone PR was during the run segment of the Keuka Tri - a respectable new 10k PR, but also pathetic in light of the fact that it happened during a tri.  (Of course, if I haven't raced a stand alone 10k in years, I'm not sure when I would expect a PR otherwise.)  Enough.  I started out with the goal to go under 4, then on a reckless night of race research, decided to try to BQ.  This was slightly laughable as I needed to take 18 minutes off my time, and the Boston gods decided to make a larger mockery out of me by changing the standards to a 3:35 for my age group - which - if I can't run a stand alone half in 1:47:30, that goal might have to be a few years away.

Fine.  3:45.  I can do that.  I had a pretty awesome 12 week training stretch, ended with a freak injury in the last week to wreck my knee, and enough work induced stress in the last month to drive me to the point of over training (easy runs are not easy when pissed off at the man.  My fault).  With this in mind, I headed out to Vermont with Greg to see if I could at least go under 4 and redeem my pathetic attempts at salvaging the season.

My cousin Noah lives in Winooski, which was about 20 minutes away from the race.  He gave us a place to crash, brought us hiking the day before the race, and took us to the best Italian restaurant with to die for meatballs the night before the race.  He even lent me his Guy on A Buffalo mug, which makes him my coolest relation ever (he also hiked the PCT.  Twice.  He is amazing.  And he thinks I'm crazy!)

Flat Rae.  I ditched the new shorts.  Thank God.
He was super familiar with the course, and gave me some great recon, like - watch out for dinosaurs.  The fairy houses are pretty.  The dirt roads suck.  And if you thought this race was flat, you're an idiot.  He likened it to Lake Placid - which freaked me the hell out.  At that point, I started the fine sabotage effort pre race of trying things like having a beer.  Bringing out my new bun huggers I got for my birthday last week that I had never run in.  Ever.  Not even two miles.  Sleeping on the floor.  Trying to steal his cinnamon bun for a pre race breakfast.  All in the effort to jinx my race that I was scared out of my mind for.

I did a fine job, not drinking enough the day before, see above for sleep, but I did manage to talk myself out of potential chafe insanity by wearing my standbys, thank goodness.  Race morning we were up and at em, Noah drove us to the site, and the sun was rising with the promise of a perfect day.  After 6 potty stops (think I made up for my lack of drinking Saturday) I stripped down to shorts, a throwaway long sleeve shirt I've been trying to ditch since 2009, and stuffed my gu's down my bra cause at least having boobs is good for something I'm classy like that.

The temps were in the mid 50s with a decent cross wind, but the views were epic.  We started a quarter mile away from the finish line (race was sort of out and back with some random turns) and amid little fanfare, the 400 runners were off!!

Mile 5.  Boy, Vermont is ugly.  
The first few miles were pretty weird - I was cold as hell, couldn't feel my feet, and was pretty sure 26 was the worst number anyone ever invented.  At mile 2, we went down a huge hill that I knew would also be mile 24, but I feigned ignorance and lived in the moment.  The wind was actually pretty wicked and I tried to tuck in behind some tall dudes, who didn't exude much gentlemanly charm, and I quickly ditched them.  My watch ticked off anywhere form 7:50-8:10 miles, which I felt pretty good about.  Saw Noah and his girlfriend at mile 2 and mile 8, and gave a big thumbs up.  The course had Gatorade and water every two miles, so I did a cup of each, and chased a gel at mile 6.

At mile 10, I was averaging an 8:15 pace, and I started to flag a bit - shook out, did my first power walk up a hill, and moved on.  The middle part of the course was all rollers, but a decent amount of it was on dirt road with potholes and rocks, which was not the stuff dreams were made of.  We hit pavement again at mile 12, where I ditched my throwaway shirt and downed my second gel, which was mocha gu.  THIS WAS A GIANT MISTAKE.  I routinely eat with the grace of Joey Chestnut, and this was no exception.  Do you know what chocolate gu looks like on your hands, face and race tank?  Yeah, I'll just let that image simmer.  It wasn't pretty.  Thankfully they had a water stop at the turnaround, so I hosed off and lost that fresh poop look which gave my fellow runners one less reason to avoid me.  Phew.

Speaking of the turnaround, I hit it with a new half marathon PR, which was either really good, or really bad.  The first half of the race was definitely more downhill than the return (Looking at you, Lake Placid), so I knew a negative split was not only laughable, but pretty much an impossibility on my part.  As I turned around, we started to run back toward the lake and I finally got to see more of what made this race so damn awesome.  Even though my calves were shot and my niggling hip twinges were getting noticeable, I was treated to the amazing sights of the Green Mountains, the foliage, wineries (no, I didn't stop), and amazing farms.  At mile 15 there was a wonky turn (which I later found out many people missed and ran an extra mile), but luckily I did NOT have a repeat of The Lakeshore Marathon and chose the correct path. Post turn we travelled back onto dirt road and, as a worthy consolation prize, were treated to this:
This is what it's all about.
Perfection.  The next 5 miles were run quite close to Lake Champlain and saved me.  The hills were bigger, the wind a firm headwind, but the scenery was amazing.  This is why I run.  This is why I am SO LUCKY to be able to run.  I thanked my good fortune to be out there, breathing in the air and living life to it's fullest.  Hit mile 20 in 2:53 and knew that a sub 4 was totally possible, even if I ran 10 minute miles.  I was averaging 9:15's running most of it and walking the steep part of the hills.  Saw Noah, Greg and Noah's girlfriend and her friend at mile 21 and yelled "It's a great day to PR!!" - even though I was legit in pain, I reminded myself that I had less than an hour to go and six months post race to be comfortable.  It was my time.  LET'S DO IT.
Mile 21.  Do it, bitch.
Mile 22 and 23 were pretty uneventful - hit mile 23 in 3:24 and I knew I could swing a 10 minute mile for 5k so I started to think a PR really was in the books.  Then I saw them.

Holy shit.  A friggin brontosaurus.  There was a whole damn forest of dinosaurs amid fairy houses right on the side of the road that I missed on the way out, which was hilarious and totally not a surprise at all, seeing as there were probably also some magical plants amidst the beasts, being Vermont and all.  I didn't stick around to get the munchies, though - I had places to go.  Saw my crew one more time and Greg advised me to stay strong up the final hill.  I flipped him the bird, as I am totally a mature adult, and kept on going.

Mile 24 sucked donkey balls. There is no other way to put it.  Somehow in the last 3 hours, the damn hill on the way out grew twice its size and resembled either Barracks Hill Rd in Geneva or Rich Clark hill in Placid, or, more accurately,  a fine shitty mix of both.  I alternated 100 paces walking and 100 paces running, like a woman on a mission, which I was.  Mile 25.  3:43.  2016 PR, you are toast.  I turned the final corner and headed it in, passing two women in the final mile, stopping for nothing, and finished strong in 3:43:42, a 5 minute PR on a course I had no business PRing on.

Post race I completely collapsed in my husband's arms, a hot, happy mess.  Drank my ritual diet coke (shut up.  I know.) Headed back to Noah's to shower.  And then drove 6 hours home, stopping for some sad McDonald's en route.  Don't let the post race lack of fanfare fool you - I am a happy happy girl.  I ended up 14th woman and 27th overall, with a pace of 8:53 for 26.2 miles (I ran 26.3, which in my book, was pretty damn good).  The pace floors me - if you would have ever told me I could average under 9 minute miles for a marathon, I would have laughed at you.

Boston.  You are mine.  Maybe not in 2020.  But SOON.

All in all, I would consider the weekend a huge success.  How can you complain about a brand new marathon PR on a hilly ass course, and a new (albeit by 30 seconds) half marathon PR?  I'll take it.  Which, if anyone's counting, brings my running PR's for 2018 to 3: 10k, half marathon, and full marathon.  I am of course, trying to find a 5k to do in the next 3 weeks to up that ante to a perfect 4.

My tri PRs:  big fat zero.  So, of course, to celebrate my running successes in 2018, I signed up for my first race in 2019 - Barrelman triathlon, a half ironman in Niagara Falls.  Nobody said I was anything resembling intelligent.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be off, learning how not to suck at swimming and riding.

Friday, October 12, 2018

(Drunken) Cow and (Angry) Cat pose: the art of form (and why I lack it)

It's all fun and games till the taper starts.  Fact of life.  After the last two months of running 50-60 miles per week on the Hanson plan (I'll spare you my crap singing), the big day is right around the corner - Sunday is the Green Mountain Marathon, state #10 and marathon who the heck knows what. 

If you know me at all, you know the concept of taper brings out my evil, evil side.  Last week I got to run 40 miles, this week I've racked up a big 20.  WTF.

WHAT THE HELL DO I DO WITH MY TIME.  I could clean the house (BAH.  Greg and I did start a kitchen remodel, but it's more in the knocking shit down stage and less in the bleach and a rag stage, thank goodness.).  I could spend more time with family and friends (which I have been doing - my kids even remember my name now when they want something #winning). 

I could also be whiny brat about how I can't run and make an attempt at doing some cross training.  Well, you know where this is going.  Last week  decided to try something I haven't done since pre Ironman training and I took a yoga class.  Background story - I used to dance for years and legitimately could lift my leg over my head....15 years ago.  Running, biking and swimming might do wonders for your cardio life and fitting into your jeans, but stretching is embarrassingly low on my agenda and my downward dog consists of playing on the ground with my sitter's canine (I'll be here all week, thankyouverymuch).  So with some trepidation, I took part in a class called "Active Yoga" which sort of seemed obvious to me, but then again, I'm sort of a snob about all things not running, biking or swimming clueless. 

The verdict?  I can still do a mean sun salutation, but apparently my flow has flown out the window with regards to yogic form.  My sun salutations are jerky, my cobra is more of a sleeping snake, and my cow needs to go's drunk.  Regardless of the fact that I probably need to do more at the Y than enjoy the hot tub swim and play in the adventure center, I really did enjoy the class and expect to work on my vinyasa post marathon.  Then again, I say that every time.

In our second installment of taper adventures, I've decided that if I won't get on my bike, I may as well get some more swimming in, so I've actually swam three times a week the last two weeks.  I know what you are thinking, and no, no one stole my blog account, it's me.  My idea of swimming is really to throw some crappy 90s music on my play list and leisurely do laps till I hit anywhere between 2400m and 3200m, equalling a nice 45-60 min swim. 

That sounds nice.  Lately, no one seems willing to let me do this.  Apparently, my form resembles that of an angry cat (and probably the grace of the drunken cow I left back in yoga class).  In the past 4 months, I have been told by not one, not two, but four people, that my swim form kind of blows.  Greg has told me this kindly for years, but taking training tips from your husband rarely works in my books, as he will give me some very obvious analogy that makes absolutely no sense to me.  We excel at moving furniture and understand expensive bike purchase and/or 6 hour training rides, so in my books, I'll let the coaching dogs lie. 

This year, I swam at the Gananda pool for months and a woman who is pretty well known around here asked me one morning post swim if I knew how truly terrible my form was.  Well....yes, thanks.  She did follow it up with an offer to coach, so aside from being kind of abrupt, I gave her a pass and gratefully accepted.  Then they closed the pool, so we joined the Y.  Crap.  A few weeks back, Greg and I were doing laps and one of our tri buddies stood next to him at the end of our lane and asked Greg if I ever took lessons, because I probably should.  As I finished my 2400m set, I joined them and probably surprised him by making fun of my own form.  Then we compared Ironman swim splits and he laughed at himself, as my shitty form netted a faster Ironman swim than his.  Most recently, another fellow triathlete who seems to swim the same time I do has been nice enough to give me a few pointers - seeing as he was a swimmer in college and has done a sub 1 hour IM swim split, I guess I can't make fun of him too terribly yet.  He told me my hands look like a pissed off cat and that if I focused on hand entry, I would probably improve, and suggested the fingertip drill.  After I bit back my inner 12 year old "that's what she said" comments thanked him,I took his advice gratefully and will continue to try not to resemble my Bengal cat after I withhold chicken for dinner.   With that being said, I still think I will probably wait a bit before attempting to circle swim with him and the all world triathlete he hangs out with.  Maybe next year, when Santa brings me my new swim jet.

 To add insult to injury, I decided to take the taper to a new level by attempting to rake surf tripping on a rake at a party on Wednesday, and after landing knee first holding Biz on the rake handle, my right knee is swollen, black and blue, and SUPER AMPED to do 26.2 miles.

Bottom line, I got no game form.

Aside from the hot mess that I clearly am, I'm still excited to take on Vermont and check off another state, enjoy some fall foliage, adult time with my equally crazy cousin (who has hiked the PCT twice, woot!) and get back to my running game.  Which clearly, I have found myself with.

(Mad props to Greg's skillz)

And that's why running, in the end, is clearly the superior sport.  Am I right??

Monday, October 1, 2018

Mmm Hop: My Hanson Review

So sue me.  Every time I think about my marathon training plan, I revert to the Hanson Brothers insult of to the music industry from the 90's. Yes, I know, I need my head examined.  You also already knew that.

But DID YOU KNOW....that aside from the musical stylings of Mmm Bop and the original Tay Tay's boyish good looks, that the Hanson trio brought us more than just "epic" tunage?  Yep.  They brought us Hops.  Or, in case you still think my post title is not only lame but a typo, I didn't stutter.

Nothin' like livening up shitty 90's music that sucked twenty years ago like a drinking game.  You're welcome.

Well, aside from time hopping everyone back twenty years (see what I did there), I really am here to talk about a different set of Hanson brothers, who might not be as famous as the three that should have quit while they were ahead , but are arguably more influential to those of us that are stupid enough to run fifty plus miles a week.

As many of you faithful readers know (all 6 of you), I've followed quite a few marathon training methods in the last ten years - all in a quest to break 4 hours.  I finally found success back in 2016 on the 3rd try to break the 3:xx tape- after ditching "Less is More" and adding in an extra hour easy run; I found four runs a week while NOT trying to train for a triathlon or ultra marathon at the same time brought success.  Sounds simple....because it is.  So why improve upon success?

Well, I'm glad you asked.  I've run a few marathons since my epic breaking of the 4 - one attached to an Ironman, so we won't count that one, and one where I ended up running an extra mile due to the fact that I'm a moron I liked Northern Ohio so much I decided to tour the town and extend the original course.  Clearly, neither of these guys were PR setting events, so its about time I redeem my damn season and shoot for the marathon time I know I am capable of doing.  Combined with the fact that my bike and I are still in the  "its complicated" stage of our relationship. I figured ditching multi sport and running 6 days a week seemed like a wise terrible way to start tri off season. Enter my super speedy runner friend Amanda and the plan that got her to a legit fast marathon - The Hanson method.

The basic premise of the plan is to run 6 days a week - 3 runs are super easy relaxed pace and 3 are "SOS" runs, or, "something of substance".  Each week you do a strength set, which is speed work for us slow twitch runners - repeats ranging from 1200 to 3 miles; one tempo run ranging from 5 to 10 miles, and a long run that builds to 16 miles.  It was appealing because all I want to do is run....and I never have 3 hours to do a long run now that they sort of expect me at work.  The nerve.

Even though it freaks me out that my longest run is 10 miles shy of a marathon distance, I am loving this plan.  I jumped into the last 9 weeks of the 16 week plan figuring Ironman gave me some sort of base (I know, I'm wild like that) and have only missed one run to date.  I'm running anywhere between 50 and 60 miles a week, which is a huge jump from any past marathon.  I struggle to keep the "recovery pace", as its about 90 seconds per mile slower than cruising speed, and have had a few issues keeping pace with long run speed, which is, for me, 8:45-9 mm. My first 16 miler was done at 90 degrees and we took that at face value, but I held it nicely for the second. The whole idea is that for 90% of the runs, you enter into it tired, but able to build up the running legs to handle the volume and pace - basically, you are training to run miles 10-26.2, not 1-16.  I can get behind that.

Overall, no injuries to speak of (Rae, you idiot, shut up), other than some tightness on my hip which I believe is due to road camber (there are some wicked slants on my main route) so I've been trying to mix the route up and have been doing the speed work on the 'mill, which seems to help.  Overall, I'm pleased with the process, and have never hit the Awww crap, I HAVE to run today mode.  Rather, I get pissy on my "off" day and can't wait to get back out there, which has made the post IM blues much more tolerable. 

The results?  Well, we shall see in 13 days!  State #10, Vermont, is my next Target - Green Mountain Marathon, which, despite it's name, is not that hilly, and run entirely on the island of South Hero Vt.  I am super amped and hope the weather gods got out all their aggravation up in the Adirondacks and in Geneseo and that we have some great fall mary weather! 

And if not?  Welp, at least I know post race I have options.  So there's still that. Though god knows, if I end up chugging shitty beer post race in Winooski, VT,  I will not be held responsible for any social media, blogging, or texts that may ensue.  And that means two beers, in case you had any doubts that I am anything but a lightweight. 

And you thought I was just here to talk about running. Or maybe I should just stick to that next time :)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

If you are not part of the are part of the problem.

I like to think in my non Ironman or Mommy moments, I'm a pretty logical thinker.  I may do some incredibly ridiculous things, like answer Greg's query about what to do for dinner with "Mmmm, I dunno, we can either go out or stay in" or when Rob asks me what he's getting for his birthday, I reply "presents".

Although, when you think about it, both are pretty darn logical.

So, when presented with my recent bike conundrum, I knew there were steps I could take to rectify the situation.  Well, really, phases if you will.

Phase 1:  Collect Underpants.
Phase 2:?
Phase 3:  Profit

Then when I understood I really wasn't an underwear gnome, I applied said phases to my bike phobia.

Phase 1:  Get back on the bike.

Last week at the gym, two fellow triathletes persuaded me to get back on the bike.  In true sense of dude-liness, dude #1 told me that it was a shame to let a kick ass bike sit in the corner while I got pissy.  Dude #2 outlined a race plan for me for next year, taking into account my level of suckiness with some excellent HTFU thrown in.

I went with their advice and promptly dusted off Jess and rode her (that's my bike, you sick people.)  On the trainer.  Cause in my mind, that's a phase.

Phase 1:  Ignore bike.  Throw fit on social media.  Vow to give up triathlon.  ealize that this is entirely ineffective and you are better than said hissy fitting.

Phase 2:  Address one part of the problem by getting back on the bike in the safest fashion possible.  What IS the problem?  Time to investigate.

For ride #1, I rode an hour on Zwift's watopia while watching some trash TV.  The ride was easy, my legs felt good, I wasn't annoyed, but I also wasn't thrilled.  Would have rather been running.

Duh.  Nobody likes the trainer.  It's a necessary evil for New York's shitty winters, shitty drivers, people who try to fit in Ironman training with two kids and a job, and for wusses like me that fear their bikes.

Fine, let's move on.

Phase 3:  Address some of the riding fears on a less scary steed.  It's Mountain bike time!

Before you roll your eyes, let me explain that I was not tree flying, bunny hopping, trickster inducing riding here.  This was a simple one hour canal ride on my non clipless pedal ride with about half of it on the open road.

The verdict?  Well, I hate non clipless pedals, which shocked the crap out of me.  My foot kept sliding off the pedal, which was super annoying, and something I take for granted on my tri bike.  I took the first half hour of the ride to assess some of the issues I was having:

1.  Mount/dismount:  I do this with the grace of a drunken pony.  There is no escaping this.  When you have clipless, you add insult to injury by trying to clip in, but I still look like a moron either way. Verdict:  Go back to the tri bike.  Learn to friggin clip in and out.

2.  Shifting:  Oh sweet mountain bike with your shifters on your handles, I love you to no end. I am no longer stuck in grind mode because I hate not steering like a grandma with my hands firmly planted on my handlebars.  Verdict:  Mountain.

3.  Nutrition:  I brought my camelbak because I don't have cages.  After getting over my fear of letting go with one hand (as I assume I will just end up about 6 feet over into the road when I do this) I realized that I move...maybe an inch in the direction I take my hand off of.  Auto correctable.  Verdict:  Tri bike.

Take off your IMLP sticker, ya dork.
4.  Weight and fit:  Don't make me laugh.  My knees and butt hurt after 12 miles.  TRI BIKE FTW.

5.  Traffic:  I encountered a few a-holes and a route that included 4 stop signs and two lights.  Yes, I had to stop.  Did I feel any safer on my mountain bike?  Nope.  As I climbed the ungodly hills on a bike easily three times the weight of my tri bike, I took my hands off the brakes realizing that if a car came at me, ummmm...I wouldn't use the anyways.  I would, ya know, GET OUT OF THE WAY.  Same thing with a branch or road debris.  Faulty thinking on my part.  Verdict:  Tri Bike.  You move faster and get out of the way of said motorists.

6.  Beauty:  After a half hour of assessing everything, I let go and appreciated the beauty around me.  The fluffy clouds.  The ducks in the canal.  The friendly hellos of people I passed (wait, I was dong the passing???) and the breeze in my face...and even better, on my back.

Verdict?  Yeah, I need to get back into this.

Phase 4:.....Getting the tri bike back out.  It's coming.  Even if it's in a damn parking lot.  Learn to clip in and out.  Learn to shift with with ease. Stay tuned!