Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hazy, Hot, Humid, and HORRIBLE!

Here's another "H" word for you summertime - HATE.  Ugh.  So, not my favorite season at all.  Actually, summer is my LEAST favorite season of the entire year.  Yup, I'd take a few days shovelling a couple feet of snow over sunny, sweating my buns off standing still days in a heartbeat.

Speaking of heartbeat, last week we had a mini-heat wave.  Three days in a row of 90+ degree heat and high humidity.  Wednesday was the first day of the heat wave and although the heat index was 104 degrees I was not going to miss my weekly running date with Kim (and booty dropping dance party with her wicked cute daughter post-run).  I headed to her house afterwork and watched the thermometer in my car climb.  Just stepping out of my car from the cool air conditioned interior into the heavy hot air made me start sweating and dreading the run. 

I jokingly suggested skipping the run and going for ice cream instead.  We figured we would just do a short out and back and see how it went.  Both of us wore our fuel belts and within the first half mile we were dripping sweat.  I could tell right away that it was going to be rough.  We were chatting, but it was difficult for me to get more than one or two words out at a time and we were not going fast.  I looked down at my heart rate monitor and I was totally maxed out in the first mile.  Kim was fine.  It's SO frustrating to me that I can run for miles and miles under the right conditions, but as soon as the temperature gets above 70 I'm crippled and slowed to a crawl on the verge of heat stroke.  When we got to 1.5 miles I told Kim we needed to turn around.  She could have kept going, but I was dying, literally.

The last 1.5 miles were slightly uphill but it might as well have been straight up a vertical wall.  My heart rate was maxing out at 174bpm almost at my anaerobic threshold.  I could feel my body working to push my blood to my muscles and I couldn't breathe deep enough to get oxygen in my system fast enough.  I chest felt tight and I was drenched in sweat.  I couldn't even answer simple questions and when Kim told me to go right I went left.  If I pushed any harder I would have passed out.  I had to stop and walk and let me heart rate drop to 160 before continuing, then it would spike right back up again and I'd stop and walk and repeat that for the last half mile or so.
We got back and although I averaged only 10:40s for 3 measley miles I felt like I had run a marathon on the surface of the sun.  It took a good 15-20 minutes for my heart rate to drop to a normal range.  I hovered around 135-140bpm for a while.  As soon as it was below 120bpm I slowly got into the pool to cool off a little more.  It is seriously frustrating to want to run and not be able to because my heart and lungs can't function in extreme heat.  I really wish there was a way to force my body to work.  The next two days the temperatures were in the high 90s and near 100 if not slightly over 100 and I decided to rest.  No point killing myself just to do a few junk miles.

Saturday morning Kim and I met SUPER early (5:45am) at the Tufts Track to do our long run before the 26x1 marathon relay race we were both signed up for.  We had 12 miles on the schedule and needed to finish before 8:00am when Kim's husband had to start the relay off with the 600m speed lap.  It had rained a little the night before but the humidity still hung in the air and the temperature although not nearly as high as it was the last three days was still pretty oppressive and in the mid-70s.  It kind of felt like running through wet cement.  We did ok though, Kim mapped out a nice little loop for us to run around a pond nearby with a nice well kept running/biking path.  About 4 miles into the run, it started to rain a little, then A LOT. 

It was POURING rain down on us, but it felt really good because it was so hot and humid out.  It actually wasn't that bad until we started seeing lightning bolts.  I counted the seconds between the lightning and the thunder and assured Kim that as long as the lightning and thunder weren't right ontop of each other we were safe.  The first strike was a count of roughly 7 seconds.  The second one was 4 seconds and I'll admit, that was a little scary.  But then the lightning stopped and we were on our way back to the track.  We finished up our 12 miles exactly at 8:00am and the relay was delayed by half an hour due to the rain so it worked out perfect. 

It's a pretty cool event.  I did it last year too.  Several teams compete and each team is made up of 26 people that each run one mile around the track and one person runs an extra "speed" lap to make up the .2 for a full marathon.  Kim and I were later in the rotation so we had time to rest after our long run.  Thankfully we both had dry clothes to change into too.  We were totally soaked from running in the morning monsoon.  It had sort of stopped raining when they started the relay.  The clouds hung around for a while and the humidity was still making it kind of nasty out, but it was still a really fun atmosphere.  All different abilities running their fastest mile.  Some sub-5 minute mile super fast people and some back of the pack more moderately paced people.  All supporting and cheering each other on. 

I was 24 in the rotation on my team (RaceMenu) and naturally, by the time I had to run, the sun came out and it was hot and humid.  I did not expect much considering I ran 12 miles early in the morning and I was exhausted before I started, but I was pretty pleased with my 8:30.  I think last year I did a 7:45 or something, but whatever, I don't care, it's not about speed for me, it's about the experience and having a good time and that mission was accomplished.  I went home after the relay, showered, ate some lunch, and crashed on my couch for a few hours.

Sunday morning, I had to wake up early again.  This time for a triathlon.  It was a sprint in Webster, MA at Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (Nipmuc indian for - you fish on your side, I fish on my side, no one fishes in the middle).  1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3 mile run.  Still a little tired from the day before I just had fun with it.  The swim was nice.  It felt really long, but the water was warm and I wasn't the last one out of the water.  I passed a bunch of people on the bike and then started counting people on the run because it was an out and back so I could see exactly how many people were behind me and added to that when I passed someone.  I finished and felt pretty good.  Nice little weekend workout.  I didn't stick around for awards, I was fairly certain I didn;t win anything.

Headed home and relaxed for the rest of the weekend.  Did my grocery shopping, laundry, dishes, etc.  Can't believe it's almost July!  That means the Tour de France starts next weekend!!!  Bummer my favorite, Andy Schleck is out because he fractured his sacrum (Low back/part of his pelvis), but still excited to watch it.  I've got 3 more triathlons in July, maybe a century bike ride.  Chicago training is ramping up.  Pumkinman Half Ironman is only 75 days away.  AND Goofy 2013 is only 200 days away!  Yippee!  Still keeping busy and totally addicted to running despite the stupid weather making it difficult.  Summer Solstice has passed so that means fall is right around the corner!  Bring on the cooler temps! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summertime = triathlon season!

Triathlon season has officially begun!  WOW, I've been busy.  Haven't had time to post anything.  I finished the Nashua Y-Tri two weekends ago.  Officially my first triathlon of the year since the swim was canceled in the Escape the cape tri.  I'd say it went pretty great considering I haven't really had time to get on the bike and I only swim in races.  And I actually swam faster this year than I did last year in the same race.  My overall time was about 30 seconds slower, but pretty darn consistant.  I was faster in transitionand a little slower on the bike and run.  I really think it has to do with the extra weight I'm carrying in comparison to last year.  It's not a ton, just about 5lbs, but noticable.  I've definitely lost muscle mass.  Whatever, I'm not too concerned about it.

I basically have a tri every other weekend from now until September, wrapping it up with the Pumpkinman Half Ironman in South Berwick, ME.  Add to that training for Chicago and it is going to be a very busy summer.

So far so good.  I have managed to start ramping my mileage back up since the marathon a month ago.  Wow it's hard to believe another month has flown by.  Work is keeping me super swamped and I love it.  Such a drastic change from this time last year.  This time last year was the day before I got laid off.  BEST DAY EVER!  Time really does fly when things fall into place and life is good.  I seriously need to pinch myself occasionally to remind myself that this is not a dream.

Back to the important business of running.  Two weeks ago, wow, seems so long ago.  I did Rest-6-5-7-rest-12-RACE (tri).  Averaging 9:30s on shorter runs and 10:20s on long runs.  Right on track.  I don't really think I will PR in Chicago and I don't care, I'm going with friends and it marks 5 years since I lost the weight that held me back for so many years so I'm just going to have fun and celebrate the new life I've discovered.  Last week I did 6-6.5-6.2-rest-bike-14-rest.  A little slower on the short runs, but I had to run in the morning near home (HILLS) because I had long all day meetings for work from 8:00am-5:00pm. 

My long run this past weekend was AWESOME!!!!  I was running with Shannon, Kim, and Jackie and they wanted to do my 10.75 mile loop and I wanted to do 14 so I went out a little early and did 3 miles before they showed up.  It was EARLY.  They were meeting me at my house at 7:30 so I needed to get out my door by 6:45 to make sure I got home before they got there.  The sun was up, but it was cool and kind of misty out.  I started out fast because I knew I had a time limit.  Then about a mile into the run.........I found a twenty dollar bill on the ground!  I didn't care that it was the crack of dawn I woke up the whole neighborhood and screamed and jumped up and down with my arms in the air.  WOOOHOOOOO!!!!

I got back to my house just as Kim and Shannon arrived and Jackie showed up shortly after.  It warmed up pretty quick, but the loop is mostly shaded so it was not too bad.  We are definitely going to have to start earlier and earlier as the summer goes on.  We kept a very consistant pace.  I averaged 10:18s perfect 4:30 marathon pace, it felt a little faster, but condering the heat factor it made sense that we were working a little harder. 

Saturday evening we all got together for dinner and drinks in downtown Lowell.  It was nice to go out and enjoy great company and even a tall watermelon beer.  Sunday I remembered why I rarely drink anymore.  I felt like ass (excuse the expression).  I wasn't really hungover.  I didn't have a headache or anything.  I just didn't feel like doing anything.  I stayed in my PJs all day despite the fact that it was absolutely gorgeous out and I kind of wanted to go for a bike ride, but couldn't get motivated. 

This week marks the official start of summer and we are getting a heat wave.  I can't wait.  Triple H days coming (hazy, hot, humid) my least favorite running weather.  Countdown til fall can't start now for me.  I'm not a fan of summer only for the reason that it is yucky running weather and I hate the beach anyways.  I'm going to be super busy training and working so I will do my best to post every once in a while, but it may be more sporadic than usual.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Who knows her body really well?

Ok, so after a rather disappointing long run on Sunday, I took a rest day on Monday and bought some iron and B-12 supplements.  I stopped at Whole Foods on my way home from work just to buy some brown rice and supplements.  Seriously they should rename the store 'Whole Wallet" because they take it as soon as you walk through the doors.  I grabbed a small basket and walked through the produce section on my way to the supplements and found organic grapes red and green for 3.99/lb!  I've been looking for some yummy organic fruit to have for snacks lately and Hannafords has had nothign to offer.  So, I put two bags of each in my basket.  Then I found organic golden beets and regular beets in giant bunches for 2.99 - SCORE!  OK, on to supplements, got what I needed and moved on.  Got the brown rice and headed for the checkout.  A quick trip to the store for one or two things added up to $67.00!  Thanks Whole Wallet.

When I got home I started to cook some dinner.  Put the brown rice on first because it takes the longest.  Then started prepping the rest of the meal - shredded carrots and toasted sesame seeds tossed with a little rice vinegar and tamari soy sauce to make a slaw, set aside.  Sliced up the beets and put them in the oven to roast with a little water, salt and pepper.  Chopped kale, broccoli, carrots and steamed them - set aside.  Whisked together more tamari, a little honey, corn starch, and water.  Saute some tempeh and tofu chunks and throw in the sauce to coat.  Make some red quinoa and mix in with the cooked brown rice and some salt and pepper.  Now time to assemble the meal - first the brown rice and quinoa, then the kale, broccoli, carrots, beets diced up, a scoop of tempeh and tofu, a little of the carrot slaw and top with a sprinkle of sliced raw almonds - YUM!!!!!  I inhaled it in about 5 minutes.  Then took my supplements.

Tuesday after work I decided to test out how the rest and refueling worked.  Just a quick jog around the Charles.  I figured I would head out and see how the first mile went and decide from there how far to go.  WELL....the first mile was awesome!  I ran it in 9:35 significantly better than the 12:00 minute miles I was doing Sunday.  I checked my heart rate and it was right where it should be in the 140s (~70% of my max).  So, I pressed on and even picked up the pace a little (which usually never happens in the 2nd mile of this particular loop because there is a little incline right at the BU boathouse that always slows me down).  I got to the bridge where I needed to decide turn or keep going and decided to go easy and turn instead of pushing my luck and keep going.  Finished my run - 6 miles averaged a 9:20 pace!  AWESOME!!!!

The run would have been perfect if it wasn't for one small (well actually not that small) gross incident that kind of ruined it.  Somewhere along the way I stopped at an intersection to wait for the walk signal and looked down at my shirt and saw a giant greenish brown blob of bird turd!  Eeeeewwwww!  It was sort of raining a little so I didn't feel it hit me.  I tried to wipe it off with a leaf and made it worse.  So, I just kept running, nothing I could do about it.  I was getting the funniest looks from people like, "I wonder if she knows she has shit on her shirt".  It was hilarious.  Then, of course, as luck would have it, there was an accident on Storrow Drive and there were several fire trucks and about 20 Boston Firefighters all standing there as I ran past looking all cute in my running skirt and my shirt had shit on it.  Oh well.  They say getting pooped on by a bird is good luck.  Maybe it is, I'll let you know if I suddenly get lucky, although I doubt it will be with one of the firefighters.  hahaha

Wednesday was my weekly Ayer run with Kim.  I had missed it the week before because of work so I was excited to get there and run.  It was pouring rain when I got there, but the sun was in the sky just one town over from Ayer so I was hopeful that we wouldn't get soaked.  Kim was less enthusiastic.  I dragged her out and we started running.  We did a slight variation of a run we've done before.  The rain stopped within the first half mile of the run and then it got really warm and muggy out.  I almost would have preferred the rain.  We added on a little in the middle of the run to avoid the giant hill that we went up the last time we ran this particular loop.  I asked Kim if she was sure it would be enough, should have known better, she has internal GPS and knows distances really well.  It was exactly 5 miles right to the end of her driveway.  We averaged 9:40s which is awesome because Ayer is HILLY.

Last night I went for another run along the Charles after work.  There were thunderstorms looming over the city and I was torn - run or not run.  I went for it and figured it would be fun if I got stuck in a storm.  Maybe the bird turd was really lucky because I got 7 miles done at a 9:30 pace with some fun fartleks in the middle and finished up the run just as the rain started to come down.  Then I got stuck in traffic on my way home and sat on the highway for almost 2 hours.  It was torture because after my run I chugged about a gallon of water then had to pee wicked bad.

This weekend I'm doing a long run Saturday and another triathlon Sunday.  I'm hoping I can get home early this afternoon and sneak in a bike ride and maybe a short run and call it training for the tri since I really haven't trained at all.  Weather forecast is a lot better than last weekend so it should be a great couple of days.  Maybe if the bird turd luck continues I will actually place in the triathlon and win something.

Monday, June 4, 2012

First triathlon of the year.....kind of

I've been really tired and feeling 'off' since mid-May and more so after the marathon. Since my trip to Copenhagen I've had tummy troubles more often than not. I’ve been really tired and struggling with motivation. At first I thought it was just traveling that wore me out and then I thought just racing back to back weekends. Then maybe work because it’s been really busy the last few weeks. I’m starting to think it’s something else. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate my diet and consider eating meat or taking a supplement – both options are not appealing to me for various reasons. I’ll talk more about that later; first a weekend race re-cap.

Escape the Cape triathlon - Well, I finished. The remnants of a tropical storm forecasted to hit the beach where the race took place made conditions less than favorable for a triathlon. I was hoping that would scare people off and no one would show up making it an easy win for me. Unfortunately, a lot of other people were just as crazy as me and I was not the only one there so I didn’t get first place.

Driving down there the weather didn’t seem that bad. It only really started raining right when I arrived, naturally. I got all my gear out of my car and to the transition area and the downpours started with a few 30mph gusts of wind thrown in too. I was shivering and soaked almost instantly and still had almost an hour to wait around until the race actually started. While I waited I put on my wetsuit to attempt to stay warm, it kind of worked. Then the race director made an announcement, after speaking with the harbor master and reviewing the weather forecast, and timing for high tide, they decided to cancel the swim portion of the race and change it into a Duathlon (run-bike-run). The high tides, strong winds, and torrential downpours made it too dangerous to swim. The water was extremely choppy and scary looking. Wise decision by the race organizers.
So, now I had to take my wetsuit off and prepare to start the race in my running gear. Some people were so upset they left (they signed up for a tri not a du), most people were psyched because the swim is everyone’s weakness. There was one poor girl standing near me that looked like she wanted to cry. She had signed up because it was her boyfriend’s birthday and the swim was her strength. She was not a runner. I on the other hand could not have been happier (aside from the fact that I was freezing cold).

They still started us in waves because there were about 500 people there and that is too many for one big mass start. My wave was 4th to go with one minute in-between each wave. They started the race with a bullhorn and I was off. Short fast one mile run before the bike (which is my favorite part). I quickly realized the wave behind us was the 40-49 male age group, those guys are ridiculously fast (if you watch the Ironman in Kona they win it)! They blew past us before we even made it half a mile.

Anyway, I finished the run in 8:00 and got to the transition area and threw on my bike shoes and helmet and that’s where the race really began for me. The course is flat and fast and I’ve done it 3 years in a row so I know it well. I love it because I get to scream “ON YOUR LEFT!!!!” a lot as I pass people. The roads were wet and the rain was coming down hard stinging when it hit me, but it was fun. I did use a little caution around the corners, but on the straightaways I gave it everything I had until my legs burned. A little voice in my head always reminds me to save a little for the run, but I really love to crush it on the bike. Finished the 10 mile bike course in 35:12 (averaging ~18mph, slower than I’d like to see, I’m usually closer to 20mph, but the weather definitely slowed everyone down).

Second transition is always super-fast, take my helmet off slip on my running shoes and GO! I flew out of the transition and started the 3.1 mile run (the really fast elite guys were just about to finish the race). The run is an out and back loop so you see all the faster people and the people you need to catch up to and pass. Nice thing about triathlons is they write your age in sharpie on the back of your leg so you know if someone is ahead of you in your age group to push a little harder and catch them or if someone blows past you and is way younger (or older) you don’t need to stress. I’m pretty good at pacing myself and then kicking at the end and I finished strong with an overall time of 1:11:58. I did the last run in 26:12. That’s my best time so far on this course. Can’t really call it a personal record because the swim was canceled, but I’ll take it. I finished 6th. Still no podium spot, but considering I ran a marathon 2 weeks ago and didn’t train at all for the tri I’d say that’s pretty good.

Photos will be posted later in the week, if there are any really good (or really bad) ones I’ll put them up.

Sunday, I had a 10-12 mile run in my training plan and when I woke up I really did not feel like running, but I figured as soon as I started I might feel better. The first few miles are always the toughest until I can settle into a comfortable pace. As my Garmin beeped at the first few miles I knew it was not going to be a record setting run. I was going a lot slower than usual, but I raced the day before so my legs we tired. Still, I was struggling to maintain a slow shuffle and I felt like I was sprinting. It was really bad - slow and sluggish, felt like I was working really hard and not moving at all.  Sort of like slow motion or trying to run through thick mud.  It was exhausting and depressing at the same time.  I've run that same loop a hundred times and I KNEW I could do it way faster and with ease.

I checked my heart rate monitor after the run and my max HR was 202! That is NOT normal considering I only averaged over 11:00 minutes/mile. I usually average closer to 9:45s and only hit 155-160 max HR.  Something is just not right, this is more than just a little tired from racing the day before.  I've PR'd with harder workouts the day before a race and my heart rate never gets that high on a long run - NEVER!  Even if I sprint up a hill, I've never seen it that high.  So, I know something is wrong.

I did some thinking (and resting) after the run and racked my brain for a reason and came up with a few possibilities.  Either I'm sick, getting sick, or overtrained.  Aside from the slow run I don't feel sick.  Maybe I'm not getting the right fuel for my body to perform.  I've been trying to go vegetarian/vegan for the past 8 months.  I've gained weight since this time last year and lost some of my muscle mass due to a lack of any kind of strength training (I hate it and I just don't do it anymore).  I think it is most likely a combination of things in a perfect storm of destruction causing me to implode and my energy to completely fizzle out.

So, I'm going to try a few things to re-boot my system and restore my energy and motivation and hopefully get my speed back.  I am going to start taking a few supplements.  Iron and B-12 - I know I have iron deficiency anemia and usually control it with diet, but without red meat I don't think that's working anymore.  The B-12 is a common vegetarian deficiency and I've noticed symptoms of it before (numbness and tingling in my fingers).  I may also get a multi-vitamin to really make sure I'm getting all the micronutrients my body requires.  I hate the idea of taking supplements because I really strongly beleive that we should be able to get all of our nutrients from foods (and real foods not processed crap).  Supplements are also not a regulated industry and you really never know what you're going to get and the quality of what you are taking.

I'm also going to attempt to add some sort of strength training back into my routine.  I may try P90X or some other DVD just to get something going at least a few times a week.  Without a gym or fitness center to go to anymore it is a lot harder to fit it in easily and although I COULD do it at home I'm far more likely to put on my PJs and relax than bang out a few burpees when I get home in the evening.  And I do have pretty high ceilings, but still don't want to mark up my hardwood floors with my jumprope.  I DO really, really miss using my jump rope.

If all else fails and I still do not feel good, I will go back to eating meat.  I'm resistant to this option because of how difficult it is in the US to get meat that is not tainted with antibiotics, hormones, and genetically modified grain fed garbage.  Really the only difference between my training this year and last year is the lack of strength training and eating meat so I KNOW that is what needs to change.  I'm just trying to really hard to find alternative solutions to this problem.