Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Much needed rest and a little drama

Last week I just wasn't feelin it. My resting heart rate was high several days in a row and my motivation was seriously lacking so I decided to take a few days off and rest up for my weekend race instead of pushing myself and overtraining and having a crappy race day. By Friday morning my resting heart rate was back down into the 50s and I felt a lot better.

Friday I came home from work ready to head to NH for the Graniteman Tri the next day and much to my surprise and horror there were several police cruisers in front of my place and "Police Line Do Not Cross" tape around the entire condo building. All the worst thoughts started racing through my mind. Was my place broken into? Did someone die? Did one of my crazy neighbors go off the deep end and hurt someone? I asked one of the cops in the street if it was ok for me to go home and he said it was fine so I felt a little more at ease. I then asked another cop what had happened and he said he wasn't at liberty to discuss it but I could go turn on the news and find out. Oh yeah, forgot to mention the news van across the street. Well, I turned on the news and there was no information. I called my friend that was on her way over to drive to NH with me and warned her about the scene. Come to find out, one of my elderly neighbors go into a fight with her son and called the police. He tried to attack the police with a knife and they sot him twice. CRAZY!!! What a great way to start off the weekend.

Anyway, we made it to NH safe and sound despite the drama and a few severe thunderstorms along the way. Saturday morning I got up and we headed to the race. 3/4m swim, 15m bike, 4.2m run. It was my 3rd year doing the race and I really wanted to place. The swim is so long! This year it felt even longer, but I felt pretty good for the first time ever. I was able to relax and just breathe and swam the whole thing without stopping and switching to the breast stroke or side stroke. I got on the bike and that's when the real work began. It's a very hilly course, but I maintained a great average speed and passed a ton of people. I picked up a ton of speed on the downhills maxing out at 47mph on the last hill. My legs were spasming and then I had to try and run. The run starts really as a death march up this giant hill. You can try to run it, but even the best runners end up walking towards the top. The mile markers were all wrong and I thought I still had like 2 miles left when I rounded the last corner and could see the finish. I finished a little slower than the previous year, but I felt great. Other people were saying that the swim felt long so maybe my time wasn't as bad as I thought. Well, I didn't place, I came in 4th. Just missed gettng a chunk of granite by the exact amount of time I lost in the swim. Oh well, there's always next year.

I hung out for a few hours and relaxed after the race before driving back home. I got home quickly showered and went to Kim and Bill/Shannon and Anthony's summer bash. Huge party and I missed some of the late night festivities because I went home at 9:00pm to go to bed and get rest for my long run in the morning. I still had an amazing time. So many great friends and good laughs and good times.

Sunday I did 18 miles. It was ridiculously humid and gross out. I was slower than I wanted to be but I felt comfortable and hydrated well, so it wasn't too bad. Plus, I got the miles done. After I took my ritual ice bath and rested on the couch for the remainer of the day.

Since I haven't posted pictures in a while, here are a few from recent races:

26x1 Relay with the Greater Lowell Road Runners (GLRR) I made my own singlet

Warrior Dash

Old Port Half with Cherie and Kim

Monday, August 15, 2011

WOW Time flies when you love life

I can't believe it's been two weeks already since the last time I posted something. The days went by so fast. Not just my first two weeks at my new job, but also my training outside of work. Before I recap my training let me first say my job is AWESOME! I love it. I'm finally using the skills I have and learning new stuff too. The people are all very nice and my boss is great. I already have at least 3 projects to work on independently. No more micromanaging and suffocating in a boring routine job. Now I'm busy working with all kinds of different groups and people and my boss believes in me and my ability to take on whatever challenges he throws my way. What a difference a little opportunity to grow and develop has made. I'm like a house plant that was dying and pot bound suddenly I'm in a larger pot with room to grow and plenty of sunlight and water to help me flourish.

Ok, on to what I've been up to outside of work. Here's the cliff notes version: Rest, rest, 6 mile run, 7 mile run, 4 mile run, Firefighter bootcamp, 14.5 mile run, 18 mile bike ride, 5K race, 18 mile bike ride followed by a 4 mile run, 6 mile run, rest, 8.5 mile run, 16 mile run.

So the back to back rest days were necessary after the Century ride and triathlon in one weekend. I even skipped the Good Times 5k Bikini run. It's the first time I've skipped a good times race in probably 2 years. I even walked the race the night I got hit by the garbage truck last year. It was a tough call but I'm glad I did it. I needed an extra day of just chilling on my couch.

The next day I made up for it with a hill run, my favorite 6 mile out and back with a one mile hill in the middle. It was humid but not wicked hot. Thursday I ran to Kim's house for a 5ish at 5ish run. We did 4 miles then I did the extra 1.5 to her house and 1.5 from her house. Friday after work I met up with my friend Ann for a nice easy 4 mile run. It was still wicked humid out and we were both drenched at the end of the run.

Saturday morning Kim and I decided to go to Fit Lifestyle Studios in Melrose for Fire Fighter bootcamp. Basically, a strength and conditioning type workout with a fire fighter theme. We rolled out hoses and dragged them and swung sledge hammers and pulled a 165lbs. dummy, raised ladders, and crawled under stuff with oxygen tanks and helmets on. It was so much fun. I loved it. It was intense, but so fun that you hardly noticed you were working out.

Sunday, I did my long run and broke it up a little by doing the 6 mile out and back then running to Kim's for rest of the miles. It went by really fast and didn't feel like I did a long run at all. 14.5 miles total by the time I got home and averaged sub-10s. Still not back to my Boston pace, but trying really hard to get there.

Monday, I went for a bike ride after work to stretch my legs. Tuesday was "Three's Company" three person teams at Good Times. So, me and two other people formed the Crime and Punishment team. I dressed as a cop and they dressed as escaped convicts. My costume was a little tight in the middle and it made it very hard to breathe, but it was fun and we were definitely the most creative team.

Wednesday, I decided with two more tris left this year and one of them being a half ironman I should do a brick workout. I did an 18 mile bike ride all out effort as fast as I could and then when I got home I quickly changed into running clothes and did 4 miles. The first mile was a little slow, but then I was able to pick up the pace and I felt awesome when I finished.

Thursday, I did the hill again. Out and back 6 miles. Another hot and humid day and a slightly soggy run. I was going to do another bike ride Friday, but Ilooked at my calendar and realized it had been almost two weeks since my last rest day and decided shopping at the mall on my way home from work was a better use of my time. :)

Saturday, Kim and Bill picked me up and we went to Cherie's house in Methuen for a nice 8 mile run followed by some lounging by the pool. Chocolate chip pancakes and fruit smoothies made for perfect post run fuel. Then I met up with my friend Jackie at Life Alive for her first experience there. Kim met us there too. It was delicious as usual. Jackie was overwhelmed by the menu but once she pulled the trigger and ordered something she wasn't disappointed. I told her everything on the menu is amazing.

Yesterday, I did my long run for the week. 16 miles, my favorite loop. Shannon came over and joined me for the first 4 miles. She set the pace a little faster than I have been running, but I settled into it and held on for the remainder of my run and I felt pretty good. It was raining when we started and then the rain stopped but the air was still very wet. I was drenched when I finished, but I'll take cool, mistly, and 70 over hot humid and 90 anyday.

Lots coming up quick in the next few weeks, I'll try to be a little better about posting updates.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What an amazing week

So, my FUNemployment is over. I started my new job. Last week I definitely made the most of it though and tried to do all kinds of fun stuff. This weekend was the icing on the cake.

After last weekend in Portland running the Old Port Half with all my friends and hanging out by the pool I didn't think it would be possible to top how much fun we had. I spent all of last week trying.

Monday, I just relaxed, rested, and recovered from the half marathon. I took a lazy day and just did some stuff around my house like laundry and cleaning. Tuesday morning the gas company came to replace my gas meters and informed me that my older than dirt boiler needed to be replaced or it could kill me by carbon monoxide poisoning. Bummer, but my house is old so I knew it would need to be replaced eventually. At least now I have my severance package money to pay for it. After the gas guy left I went for a steamy and somewhat soggy six mile run in the humidity. When I got home I was dripping as if I had just stepped out of my shower. Then my friend Ann called and wanted to go for a short run with me. She came over later in the afternoon and we did a nice 4 mile run through downtown Lowell. It was still very sticky out and we both were wishing we had brought some water with us by the time we were half way through the run. We managed to finish the run at a very good pace and feeling great and decided to reward ourselves with dinner at Life Alive. It was awesome as always.

Wednesday, I did another steamy six miler and then met up with my friend Moe in the evening to give her some bike pedal lessons. She got clipless pedals (the kind your shoe snaps into) for her bike and want to practice riding with them. I told her not to worry, that she would fall over, but it wouldn't hurt and she would quickly get the hang of it. It was still very amusing to watch. She even brought elbow pads to ride with. Sure enough, just like I said, she got comfortable and a little cocky and then couldn't clip out and fell over. We had a good chuckle and she got right back up and tried again. We ended up riding about 4 miles around in circles in a parking lot, then I suggested we try going for a short road ride to Kim's house only a few miles away. We made it there and back safely and Moe felt much more confident in her pedal skills.

Thursday morning I got up to do my long run because Saturday I was doing a century ride (100+ miles) with Moe. Again it was hot and humid, but not nearly as bad as the week before. I started sort of early and just took my time and enjoyed the run. It was slower than I would have liked but I felt good the entire time so I'm not too worried. I got home and did the ritual ice bath and still managed to melt all the ice within the first 5 minutes of sitting in the tub. It felt so nice to just sit in the cool water though. Thursday evening was Ann's retirement party. It was just a gathering of friends at a local restaurant. It was nice to see some former coworkers that I hadn't seen in a month and great to tell them that I already got a new job. I tried REALLY hard not to gloat and rub it in that I seriously scored and feel like I won the lottery by being laidoff, I think I did ok, but it was tough not to show how extremely happy I am to not be working for the evil empire anymore.

Friday morning I met up with Moe again and we did a nice 14 mile bike ride to boost her confidence even more with the pedals. She finished the ride in one piece and didn't fall at all. It was great. After the ride she went to work and I went back to bed. She texted me in the afternoon and asked if I wanted to go for a short run so naturally I said yes. We did a quick easy 4 miler and made plans for the next day's event - the century ride.

Saturday morning I got up and ate some breakfast and headed to Lexington High School for the start of the century ride. I loaded up my bike pouch with drinks and mini Lara Bars and NRG Bars. Moe met me there and a few of her other friends showed up and we were off. We started at about 7:30am. I couldn't tell you the towns we went through, but it was a really nice ride. Rolling hills and gorgeous countryside. Then Steve, moe's friend got a flat tire. We stopped and waited for him to fix it. Then we were off again. Miles were ticking away and before I knew it, I was at the 35 mile rest stop way ahead of the rest of the group. I had gotten in the back wheel of a small group in front of us and drafted off them for the last 10-15 miles to the rest stop and lost track of the rest of the group. The rest stop was the turning point where you could decide to do a metric century (62 miles) or the full century (100+ miles). I waited and after almost 45minutes Moe and the rest of the group finally showed up. Steve flatted again and they were all struggling. I felt bad because I was doing awesome.

SO, after some discussion and refilling water bottles they all decided to go the shorter route and I decided to take on the full century, ALONE. I took off and tried to catch up with one of the other groups on the road in hopes of doing a little more drafting and conserving my energy. We hit some serious hills around mile 50 and I spotted some other riders at the rest stop near mile 60 or so. I skipped the rest stop and tried to catch them. I would get within a bike length or two and we would climb another hill and I would get dropped. I worked so hard to try and close the gap but I just couldn't do it. It was really fun trying though. Eventually I gave up and just tried to enjoy the ride. I don't really remember much between mile 75 and 100 except being hungry and thirsty and angry at every hill I had to climb. I remember counting down the miles I had left from mile 90 on and then when I got to mile 104 where the ride was suppose to end I realized I was no where near the end. It destroyed me. I had to power on though and get to the end. I wasn't sure how much farther it was but I knew it couldn't be too much. The last few miles were some steep climbs and I just wanted to be done.

FINALLY, I made it. 107 miles DONE! I pretty much collapsed and I was delirious and dehydrated, but I did it. Moe was there waiting for me with her friend Steve and they congratulated me while laughing at the sad state I was in. I was totally spent. I didn't even have the energy to get my car keys out of my bike bag. I'm surprised I could even walk. I was slurring words and dropping F-bombs like it was my job. I'm so glad I did it though. It would have been more fun if I wasn't alone, but I accomplished yet another amazing goal on my "to-do" list so I am extremely proud of myself.

After the century, Moe and I went to my house, showered, and drank some more water before heading over to Cherie's house for some dinner. I made a chocolate chip peanut butter cheesecake with a brownie crust for Steve's birthday. It was amazing. Right when we got there Cherie had some stuff already BBQ'd and I dug right in. I think in the time that we were there I managed to go through 6-8 bottles of water and only peed once. I was severely dehydrated. It was a great way to cap off an incredible day.

Sunday morning, believe it or not, I was registered for a sprint triathlon. I did contemplate skipping it, but when I woke up I felt pretty good so I decided to go for it. It was a really short distance (1/4m swim, 11m bike, 3m run). Plus it was in Lowell so it wasn't like I had to drive wicked far to get to the race. I got there and set up my transistion and walked around a bit talking to a few people. Then the race started. Much to my surprise I felt great in the water. I swam probably the best I have ever done. I completed the quarter of a mile swim in 8 minutes. Hopped on my bike and my body was instantly angry with me, but I got over it and settled into the saddle for the short ride. About a mile in I heard a loud clank and thought I just hit something on the road, turns out after inspecting my bike post-race I had broken a spoke and my rear wheel was completely warped and rubbing on the brakes. No wonder it felt like it was really difficult to ride. I just thought I was tired. I finished the bike and started the run and I knew the run would be the toughest part for me considering the work my legs did the day before. I actually felt ok though. I finished the race and felt pretty good about it. Nothing spectacular, but I did it and I did it the day after doing a century ride for the first time.

I went home after the race and just slept all afternoon. It felt really good to do nothing. Monday was my first day of work at my new job so I needed to be well rested and ready to go. My first day of work was orientation. I felt like a little kid on the first day of school. It had been 10 years since I started a new job so it was very exciting for me. New people, new buildings, new procedures and policies to learn. It was a long day but it felt great to be back to work and taking on new challenges. Afterall that was my New Year's resolution. I can check off "get a new job" from my to-do list now.

The next day, I started my first day actually at my new job not in orientation. I got a tour of the facility and some introductions and saw a lot of familiar faces so it was a nice easy transition. At lunch I checked the results that were finally posted from the triathlon on Sunday - I GOT 1ST PLACE!!!!!! I will have to email the race director to see if I won anything. I didn't think I would place, nevermind come in first.

Lots of exciting stuff coming up fast, another triathlon, a half ironman, reach the beach, a half marathon, and then the Chicago marathon. Stay tuned for more.