Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me....

And I'm feeling good.  So far this month, I have rested a record 3 days a week.  Sometimes it was by choice and sometimes mother nature forced a rest day, but either way my total weekly mileage has been chopped in half and although it was tough at first, I have to admit the rest has done me good. 

I have been crazy busy at work and it's starting to take a toll on me.  There's only so much running I can do as stress relief until the stress on my body outweighs the mental benefit.  I do come up with a lot of ideas and solutions while I run and the time on my feet and in my own head is very theraputic, but I do have a tendancy to over do it and it adds up overtime and I end up exhausted and burnt out.  So taking a few extra rest days recently has really helped me balance things nicely.

Last week, Mother Nature helped me rest a little extra.  We got some really crazy severe thunderstorms when I wanted to go running.  I love running in a summer rain shower, but when there is lightning and hail I can resist the urge.  I did manage to squeak in 6.5 miles along the Charles Thursday night after work, just barely.  Nothing crazy, no fartleks or fast pace, just a nice easy run along the river.  I finished strong sprinting across the crosswalk to the parking garage in front of a bus that was not stopping and nearly knocked over another guy on his way into the parking garage.  The guy made a witty and slightly flirtatious comment about me avoiding the collision with the bus only to then collide with him.  In my usual awkwardness and out of breathe from running all I could reply was "That's why I always wear my Road ID in case I do get run over".  Really? That's the best I could come up with?  Anyway, maybe I'll be lucky and run into him again, literally.
Friday, I took a half day from work.  I earned it.  I've been busting my butt and wicked stressed out.  So, I spent the half day completely de-stressing with my friend Erin.  I met her at the mall, first I went to the book store and bought a few running books I've been meaning to read and I'm a little embarassed to admit it, but I got the 50 Shades of Grey books.  All my running buddies have been talking about them and I had to know what the fuss was about and join the conversations, so I caved and bought them.  As if that wasn't enough awkward indulgence, Erin and I went to the movies to see 'Magic Mike'.  In case you don't know, it's a movie about male strippers filled with a talented cast that will most likely never win Oscars, but will win the hearts of women around the World for the talents they display in the film.  It was exactly what we expected, weak plot with very predictable twists and turns and A LOT of nearly naked eye candy.  After the movie we went to late lunch at Flatbreads and then to the mall and did a little shopping.  All together it was a pretty awesome day.

Saturday morning I got up and met the Lowell Ladies in Methuen for a 16 mile training run.  It was pleasantly cooler than past weeks, actually a little chilly when we started.  We started a little after 7:00am which in previous weeks might have been too late because of the heat, but it worked out really well this week because it was only in the low 60s.  The loop Cherie mapped out was pretty hilly, but mostly back roads, quiet and shaded.  Her husband Steve met us at mile 10 with refreshing refills for our fuel belts and we finished up the last 6 miles averaging a comfortable marathon race pace for the entire run.  We cooled off afterwards in Cherie's pool and her son Mitchell made us chocolate chip pancakes (this kid will own a very successful B&B someday).

Refreshed and refueled after the run I actually went for a short bike ride when I got home.  16 miles in a little less than an hour.  Took a shower, ate some more food, then took a little nap before going out for the evening.  I met my friend Milady and her family at a movie theater to see the Dark Knight Rises.  I didn't realise it, but we got special tickets in seats that shook and moved with the action in the film.  It was really run.  The movie was great and it was nice to see Milady.  We haven't hung out in a few months so it was cool to breifly catch up.

Sunday, I was going to do a brick workout, but ended up just doing an extra long bike ride instead.  I got a late start because I slept in really late and then lounged around my house all morning so by the time I finished biking I wasn't really interested in running and I needed to go grocery shopping.  I spent the late afternoon on my couch reading and relaxing and went to bed early ready to start the next week fresh and recharged.

Monday, I did a short easy bike ride after work and then cooked an amazing meal for dinner.  Engine 2 Pad Thai.  YUMMY.  I threw in a few extra veggies and inhaled it as soon as it was ready.  I had to pack up a few portions for lunch first otherwise I would have eaten all of it immediately. 

Yesterday, I packed my running gear and went to work.  My horoscope for the day mentioned a very high risk for accidents and at some point during the day I checked the weather forecast and saw that Mother Nature was bringing a bit of a challenge for me.  Severe thunderstorms were rolling into the area exactly at the same time I was planning my post-workday workout.  I like to live on the edge so at the end of the day I laced up my shoes and accepted the challenge.  It was really windy right from the start of my run and right when my Garmin beeped for one mile the rain started.  Light at first, but quickly turned torential.  No thunder and lightning so, nothing I couldn't handle, then a flash and a crack.  Ok a little scary, but no choice but to keep running.  The storm passed by the time I made it 3 miles into my 7 mile loop.  No accidents like my horoscope predicted and the rain and electricity in the air was invigorating.  I was totally soaked and I didn't care.  A song came on my iPod as I finished and one line rang true in my ears, "Everybody dies, but not everybody LIVES". 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Time - Slow down!

WOW it's been a crazy couple of weeks.  I've been so busy I didn't even realize that I hadn't updated the blog in a while.  Time is really flying by way faster than I would like it to.  I have so much training to do and not nearly enough hours in each day to do everything I want.  I've had a race every weekend and I have a ton of events coming up.  Plus the temps have been in the 90s lately with very high humidity making the heat index unbearable.

The weekend after Independence Day I did a 16 mile training run early Saturday morning in an attempt to beat the heat.  It didn't matter how early I started the humidity was out of control.  I was dripping sweat within the first half mile.  I felt ok.  My pace was a little slow, but considering it was very early and already in the 80s I was ok with it.  As long as I felt comfortable and could keep moving forward without difficulty or pain I figured it was a good run.  Then somewhere around mile 12 my hips started to hurt.  More specifically, my ass muscles.  I had done quite a bit of biking the previous few days so I figured that was the cause, but it really started to bother me in the last few miles of my run.  I slowed to barely a shuffle.  I was so frustrated because I felt ok.  I wasn't dehydrated and I had tons of energy.  It just plain hurt to run.  That was a first for me in a long time.

I finished the run and took an ice bath right away with 80lbs of ice.  It might have been a little too much, but it felt really good.  I spent the rest of the day on my couch watching the Tour de France. Even after laying down for most of the day my hips were still sore.  I hoped they would feel better by the next day because that Sunday I had my first international distance tri of the summer.

I woke up Sunday morning and felt a little better.  Got breakfast and packed my car.  Luckily I didn't have to travel far to get to the race.  It was in Lowell up the street from my house.  I made it to the race and set up my bike.  Listened to some tunes to get pumped and try to relax a little before the start.  I was nervous about the swim because it was the same difficult river swim as last year against the current.  Before I knew it the gun went off and I was swimming.  It wasn't as bad as the year before I felt ok in the water.  I kept looking over my shoulder to see if I was the last one out of the water and there were at least a few swim caps behind me so I felt ok.

I got out of the water faster than I did last year, then it was time for the bike.  I did not feel as good on the bike.  Hips still bothering me.  After 26 miles it actually was a relief to run.  I realized I needed to adjust the seat height on my bike.  It was obviously way too high and I was rocking my hips and over extending my legs pulling my hamstrings.  It was adding up but too late to change it now I was in the middle of the race.  I finished strong, not dead last, but pretty close.

The next week, I felt like junk.  I rested Monday.  I tried to run Tuesday, but had a serious case of lead legs and only made it 2 miles, just barely.  The heat and intense activity of the weekend hit me like a ton of bricks and I couldn't move.  Wednesday I rested.  Thursday I had signed up for a local 5K with my friend Ann so I jogged to the start of the race.  Feeling ok, not fast, but better and not in pain so I figured I'd just run and see how it went.  It was really hot and humid again so I wasn't expecting anything spectacular.  I ran the first mile and a half with Ann and then pick up the pace a little.  It wasn't my fastest or slowest 5K.  I considered it a win because I felt good.  Friday I rested some more before another busy weekend.

Saturday morning I got up and did 14 miles.  What a difference a week of taking it easy made.  The 14 miles felt amazing.  The first 3 miles were a little rough and then I settled into a nice comfortable pace.  I actually found a little orange stuffed animal gorilla on the side of the road and took him along for the run, he became my good luck charm because after I picked him up I felt great.  I even saved a dog from getting hit by a truck.  I was running on a back road and the dog ran out of his yard to come run with me.  Normally I would be scared, but this dog just seemed to want to join me, not hurt me.  Unfortunately, right when he came across the road there was a truck coming.  I was able to grab him and bring him back to his home.  Then I continued my run, looking back to make sure he stayed.

I finished the run and took my ice bath, reducing the amount of ice this time to only 60lbs.  I think maybe 80lbs. is just right because I melted the 60lbs. almost instantly.  Once I showered and refueled I took a look at my garmin and my splits for the run.  To my surprise, my heartrate in the first mile maxed out at 207!!!!!!  No wonder I felt like death, I was knocking on it's door.  I stabilized after the first 3 miles and averaged in the 140s, but damn that first mile was bad.

Sunday I had another triathlon, just a sprint.  I got there early and adjusted my bike seat.  I rode a few miles and made sure it was right.  It killed two, well really three, birds with one stone - I fixed my bike, warmed up for the race, and passed some time while waiting for the race to begin.  The race was a half mile swim, ten mile bike, and three mile run.  I felt really good in the water despite an annoying girl in front of me that could NOT swim straight and kept zig-zagging across the line I was trying to swim as close to the bouys as possible.

I got on the bike and immediately noticed a difference from the previous week.  I was averaging between 18 and 20mph instead of the barely 14-15mph I had been seeing.  It was awesome!  I blew past people screaming "ON YOUR LEFT!"  I tried to keep my eye out for girls in my division, I met a few of them before the race racking their bikes near me so I knew who to look for.  One of them passed me on the bike, but I kept her in my sight and when I got to the transition I got my running gear on and quickly passed her.  T2 is one of my strengths.  I am usually under a minute.

The run was really challenging but fun.  It was a mix of trail and road.  Some of the trails were narrow and really scketchy.  It was more like hiking than running.  I felt really good though.  I finished strong and crossed the finish line in 1:25.  I had a feeling it was good enough to place so I waited around for the awards.  It took FOREVER and it was really hot out.  I thought about leaving a few times, but I'm glad I didn't because I got 2nd place!

Monday morning I registered for marathon #13 - Big Sur 2013.  I was teetering on the fence about it, but decided I want to do it and I should just run it.  So I signed up.  So, I've got 2 more sprint triathlons, an olympic tri, a half ironman, a half marathon, then Chicago, Goofy, then Big Sur.  Keeping busy, staying motivated and loving life.  Doesn't get much better than this.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Witty title

Ok, I couldn't come up with anything to call this post, so I went with "witty title", hahaha.  That's as good as it gets right now.  I've been super busy.  Let me see if I can sum it up.

Last week I ran on the Charles Monday and Tuesday 7 and 6 miles, nothing super speedy, but I got it done.  Averaging between 10:00s and 10:30s and keeping an eye on my heart rate.  Wednesday was the weekly Ayer run with Kim.  We did 5 miles with the whole family - her husband Bill pushed their daughter Ryann and I ran with their dog Daisy.  We were a little slower than usual, but that could have been partly because we had to stop a few times for Daisy to "do her business".  It was fine by me.  The weather was pretty hot and humid and I was all set with the slower pace.

Thursday I had to take a rest day because I was suppose to have an electrician come over to do some work, so I just chilled on the couch when I got home and waited.  He was working in my neighbors house first and eventually called me at 5:30 to say he wouldn't finish early enough to do my house too.  Oh well, good excuse to not run.  I went to bed early and then the fire alarm went off at 9:30.  The electrician had set it off by accident, but if it goes off in one unit it triggers all of the units and it woke me up out of a sound sleep.  Scared the crap out of me and took me a few minutes to figure out what the heck was going on.  I opened the doors and windows because I thought it might be carbon monoxide, then I started fanning the detector trying to make it stop, then realized it wasn't even my unit causing it to go off.  Had to call the fire department to come reset the system and of course they had to come through my house to get to the panel.  I wish I had cleaned up a little first.  Oh well.  Needless to say my heart was racing and I didn't get right back to sleep easily after that.

Friday was a little rough waking up for work, but I survived and made it through the day.  After work I went for a bike ride.  Just a nice easy 18 miles.  I haven't really been on my bike much this year.  It's not for lack of time or anything.  I could easily make time to fit it into my routine.  I'm still a little anxious about getting out on the roads.  Yup, it's been over a year since I was hit and I still get sick thinking about it and have a really hard time gettting out there.  I have time when I get home from work, but then I start thinking it's rush hour and there are a lot of cars on the road and I get nervous and don't go for a ride.  It's frustrating.  I have this sweet new bike and I'm afraid to ride it.

Anyway, Saturday Kim and Shannon came over at 6:15 to run a quick 3 miles before Cherie and Erin joined us for the 10.75 mile loop from my house.  We wanted to get the miles in before it got too hot out.  It was a little tough getting up and out the door that early, but it gets easier the more we do it.  Considering the heat and humidity we all did pretty great.  Averaged 10:30s for the total of 14 miles.  After the run, I had a few errands to run and then I went to Kim's to hang out by the pool with her and Shannon.  I'm not usually one for sitting by a pool or on a beach, but I'm slowly learning to enjoy it. 

Sunday, I watched some Tour de France coverage and got inspired to get out on my bike.  I was originally just going to do my 18 mile loop, but it was so nice out when I got out there I just kept riding.  I didn't bring any food with me, but I brought some cash in case I wanted to stop.  I guzzled my water and ended up meandering through some weird back roads in Andover to a cemetary that I knew had water faucets for watering plants so I could refill my bottles.  When I finally made it home I had gone about 40 miles.  It was awesome except that I forgot to put sunblock on my lower back right between where my shirt rode up and my shorts slid down.  So I now have a nice tramp stamp sunburn.  Oh well.  Happens to the best of us.

Monday the electrician resceduled and came over to rewire an outlet and fix a few other little things for me.  He was there from about 3-6 and then I was so excited to move my TV to the new outlet and start watching Tour de France that I shoved the TV stand right into the pipe that feeds one of my radiators and cracked it.  It was leaking all over the place!  It's never ending with my house.  I asked the electrician if he knew a plumber and he called a few friends.  I got the information for one of them.  Luckily I don't need heat right away so it's not an emergency fix, but I needed to get all the water to drain from the radiator.  I shut the valve to the radiator so I figured I would just be swapping tupperware containers until the water IN the radiator drained.  Well, I did that until about midnight with no sign of the flow of water slowing down or stopping so I went ot the basement and tried to figure out how to shut the water off completely to the heating system.  It took a few attempts of trial and error to figure out the right valve.  Then I was up until 2:00am waiting for the last of the water to drain out.

Tuesday was REALLY rough at work.  I almost considered calling in sick because I got less than 2 hours of sleep, but I had way too much to do and there's always coffee to keep me awake.  I felt like a zombie.  I had meetings most of the day and tried not to fall asleep at my desk the rest of the day.  Towards the end of the day I was actually a little nervous about driving home, but I made it and put my PJs on and closed the blinds immediately.  I couldn't fall asleep right away, but just laying on my couch doing nothing felt pretty awesome.

Yesterday was the 4th, holiday = no work = YAY!  Only it's a random Wednesday and I had to work today so not too exciting.  I spent most of the morning cleaning and watching the Tour de France, then I went for a bike ride.  25 miles.   It was another steamy day with the threat of thunderstorms looming overhead.  I was dripping sweat.  It started to rain when I was still about 8 miles out from home so I stopped at the Andover Fire station to ask for a ziploc baggie to put my phone in.  Naturally, after that I made it home and it didn't even rain, but whatever, I now know one more Andover Firefighter and I can stop there for water any time I want. 

After the bike ride I decided the day was young and I'd turn the bike ride into a brick workout by adding a run to it.  I threw on my sneakers and my garmin and did my 6 mile out and back up the giant hill by my house.  THANK GOD there is a church right at the top of the hill with a hose outside.  I doused myself with water and took a few sips before heading back down the hill towards my house.  I was definitely super slow, but I didn't care.  It felt great.  I was absolutely soaked when I got home.  I friggin love that feeling.  Completing a tough workout and having a puddle of sweat beneath you to show for it.  AMAZING!  I may try and do it again today.