Wednesday, January 25, 2012

training questions...

I'm in something of a quandary... my long recovery from the First Light 1/2M put me a week behind in my long runs and it's looking like I will either have to sacrifice one of my remaining long runs or sacrifice a week of tapering. I am inclined to sacrifice the week because I don't want to cut any more corners in my training... but I know that not getting adequate rest could really bite me in the butt. What to do??!

The week has been pretty good. I ran five miles on Monday and did some hill work for the first twenty minutes and speed work for the remainder. I ran for 40 minutes on Tuesday and did the same. Today was Bill's spin class, which was obviously amazing. Since I had actually called it quits early on my Tuesday run (I ran 4.2mi instead of 5), I decided that I owed it to myself to run a mile after spin. I hopped on the treadmill and knocked it out in 7:50. It felt SOOO good to run fast! And yes, I know it's not that fast, but it sure f-ing beats the paces I've been running for the last few months! I don't think I'm getting burnt out on running, but I'm definitely getting tired of running slow. Maybe over the summer when I switch gears to cycling I'll try and incorporate some short runs during the week... I'm not saying that I'm shying away from these longer distances. I just want to run them FASTER!

<3, M.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

18 miles?? PIECE OF CAKE!

Just kidding, it wasn't actually that easy. I meant to knock this one out on Wednesday, but I didn't get out of work early enough to catch the hours of daylight I would need to run EIGHTEEN MILES. So I ran five and went to spin class instead. As always, Bill's class whooped my ass. I could really feel the burn in my quads as we did the sprint work and lately I've been wondering if I should just bite the bullet and buy some good spin shoes. I have the ones I use for my bike, but I don't think they're compatible with the type of clips on the spin bikes. Hmmm...

Anyway! Yesterday, I mapped out three different ~6 mile loops from my apartment. I left out a bottle of water/gatorade and some GU and hit the road at around 10am. It was very humid and the sky looked like it was fixin' to rain (aww I love Mobile) but the sun burned through at around noon. Then, it was hot. Very hot! I kept my heart rate at right around 155bpm (the upper limit of my aerobic zone) and never felt like I had to breathe through my mouth. Although this run was easy on the cardiovascular side, it felt tougher on my muscles and my joints because my stride was really short and so perhaps the cumulative impact was greater? What was weird (but kind of nice) was that the aches and pains would come and go and be replaced by a discomfort somewhere else. So my left arch (the mostly problematic one) would bother me for about a half hour, and then the pain would switch to my right hip and my arch wouldn't bother me anymore. As I write this, I wonder if it had to do with me adjusting my stride to compensate for the pain in the different parts of my body. I don't think I hurt myself too terribly bad though because I feel perfect today. No lingering soreness anywhere!

I took a break in between loops to grab some water and devour a GU. I feel good about the breaks that I took because they always came just when I was starting to feel tired or thirsty. I didn't time my running or my breaks because I wanted to focus on how my body was feeling and not push too hard- this worked out really well for me! When it was all over, I wasn't exactly tired but my muscles were definitely fatigued and I had to support myself a bit on the railing as I made my way upstairs. But yeah, today I am good as new! I think I will stick with heart rate training for my long runs... seems to be working so far.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

fat, fat, fatty

I spent the long weekend in beautiful Ferndale, WA. Hans and I had made plans to do an 8 mile run on Saturday and a 5 mile run on Sunday BUT it snowed all weekend!!! So for once, we had an excuse to be lazy! We stayed in and watched lots of movies and ate delicious food and didn't feel bad one bit.

Lunch at Luna Park Cafe in West Seattle
Tell me, have you ever seen anything more sexy?

I got home late last night and had all kinds of wacky dreams (maybe from the spam musubi I had on the flight to Atlanta...) and woke up feeling like I might be drunk. I had to rush to make it sort-of-on-time to work and I forgot three ESSENTIAL things that I NEVER forget: breakfast, coffee, cell phone. Spent a good part of the day sneaking into different break rooms for a cup o' joe... because if the same people notice you go into the same break room for coffee six times before noon, they might think you have a problem, see???...

Got five miles in on the treadmill after work. I did it nice and easy at a 10:00 pace because I'm going to attempt the elusive 18-miler tomorrow afternoon. That is, if it ever stops dumping rain outside. I have never, ever seen it rain like it rains in the Gulf. I lived in a RAINFOREST for 16 years, and it rains way more severely here. Crazy.

Anyway, I'm beat. Nighty-night.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Achy Breaky Feet

Yesterday, I planned to do my long run for the week- 18 miles. I mapped out two different 9 mile loops (to keep things interesting for myself), strapped on my heart rate monitor, set a water bottle and blueberry GU outside the gate to my house, and off I went! I tried to keep my heart rate in the fat burning/aerobic zones (50-70%) and would slow down if my heart rate approached 160bpm. Folks, I was moving slower than a swimming sloth.

Leave me alone, lady! Can't you see I'm trying to maintain my target heart rate zone?!

When I finally made it home, my knees and feet hurt but I felt great! My heart rate was low, my breathing was easy, and I was excited to knock my second 9 mile loop out of the park. I devoured the GU and slammed some watered down gatorade and I was on my way! 18 miles?! NO PROBLEM!!!

Two miles later, I was finished. My feet felt like two crushed birds, delicate bones protruding sharply from feathers in my Asics GT-2160s. I hobbled my ass back home and wondered what the fuck had happened. Two miles is a long way to walk when it hurts to walk. When I finally got home and had a hot shower, I realized that I probably hadn't given myself enough time to recover from the 1/2M this weekend. 

Today, I feel... better than ever, actually! My feet and calves are just fine, and I wonder if the stupid long run was just what I needed to flush out the lactic acid (in my feet???). I went to a great spin class during my lunch hour today and I feel confident that I'll be able to handle the 18 miler when I get back from this weekend. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

rest day, take 2!

I thought about working out today. I actually packed some clothes and my running shoes to get five miles in after work... thing is, my arches are still really tender from the run this weekend. So I got a pedicure and a massage instead! I went to Nou Veau in west-ish Mobile and took advantage of their stellar BCS Championship special: $74 for a pedicure and a 1 hour massage. Roll Tide!

A nice mint green pedi to disguise my icky feet!

Sorry if that picture is too gross. I know a lot of people who hate feet, but I am proud of what my feet are able to do (sustain the impact of running for miles and miles and miles and miles...) and REALLY proud of this cute nail polish color choice! So suck it, podophobes!

The massage was pretty stellar, as well. The massage therapist had me strip down to my underoos and lay under all these soft, warm sheets. The room was comfortably dimmed and the sounds of water flowing and the gentle ringing of bells just soothed the HELL out of me. I was asleep and drooling in minutes.

My sentiments exactly, Mr. Meow Meow

She traced the muscles along my spine and around my shoulder blades and found a few small spots that I didn't even know were sore. My arms, unconditioned and lacking any semblance of musculature, did not benefit much from this massage. She flipped me over and did a nice job on my shins and my quads but I have to say- overall, she could have been a lot harder on my legs. My calves and whatever it is that runs down my calves to my heels are still pretty achey and my feet, particularly my left arch, are very tender. It felt nice to have someone touching them, but I kind of wanted to feel it more. I don't know.

One thing I really like to do is use my elbows to massage my arches and the bottoms of my feet. If that sounds weird, sorry, but my thumbs just can't push through all that tough skin and tissue enough to make a difference. Maybe my weak hands are an extension of my weak arms. But anyway, elbows. They are pointy and hard and I can use them to dig precisely into each of those sore spots way more effectively than this (otherwise very talented) masseuse did this afternoon. Yeah, yeah don't knock it till you try it, okay? 

This is how I do it: I sit down as though I am doing the butterfly, or groin stretch. I adjust my feet so that they rotate somewhat towards the ceiling (this requires some ankle flexibility). I take my elbow and push it into my foot, sometimes slowly rotating in circles and sometimes just dragging my elbow along the length of the bone or muscle. I do the elbow massage after every long run and it hurts so, so good.

Foot turned slightly towards the ceiling. Elbow in the arch of the foot. Also, penguin PJs.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


The impossible happened!! The official times haven't been posted yet, but I know my raw time was under two hours... crazy, crazy day. I hit a great rhythm at around mile 4 and was able to ride that through mile 11. The last 2.1 miles were a total mind game... I almost convinced myself to walk it the rest of the way, but I knew that if I pushed through the pain I would meet my goal time. In the last mile, I tried to focus on "Violent Pornography" blaring through my headphones, and this quote:

"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never pushed through the obstruction." -William James

Thank goodness I didn't give up on myself! :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

listening to my heart

I got my heart rate monitor in the mail earlier this week. The Omron HR-100C has a stopwatch, backlight, settable target zones, and a zone alarm and that's pretty much it! It cost me ~$35 on and is probably one of the most basic models out there. I know some folks whose heart rate monitors save recorded values through entire workouts and can shoot out beautiful graphs and interesting data to be used for optimizing one's training routine or approach to a given workout. I could get really geeked out on something like that, but I chose to go simple. Mostly because I had just put a massive order in at and knew it would be unwise to spend another $569.95 on something really cool.

I wore my heart rate monitor to the gym on Wednesday. I ran 2 miles at right around an 8:30 min/mi pace (I don't have my workout calendar handy for the specifics) and I think my heart rate was up in the 170s. That sounds high to me, but I felt really good and could have definitely kept going if I wasn't already late for spin class. In spin, my heart rate stayed 130-150 and might have shot up a bit during sprints. I felt GREAT in that workout (the class I blogged about in the previous entry) and mostly breathed through my nose- a good indication that I wasn't working too terribly hard.

My friend Sam recommended that I use my heart rate monitor to measure my resting heart rate by wearing it to bed and taking a quick reading when I wake up in the morning. I tried to do that, but I'm a tosser and a turner and the thing was so darn uncomfortable, it would wake me up several times through the night. I would take a reading before I ditched it and went back to sleep. Having done that for a few nights, I think it's a safe bet to say that my resting heart rate is 55 bpm.

Maximum heart rate is a more finicky chicken to pluck. I used this MHR calculator to estimate that my maximum heart rate is 197bpm. There are a few age/gender based equations out there, but the gold standard, supposedly, is a clinical stress test. This Runner's World article describes a DIY method of calculating your max heart rate while running a track workout. I want to do this at some point because my estimated MHR seems kind of low to me... I will regularly end a tough treadmill workout at 185bpm (as measured by the sensors on the treadmill handle bars) and that would put me in the 90%-100% maximal zone which is potentially dangerous to heart health. Either my estimated MHR is off or I'm working way beyond what is safe for my poor ticker. Hmmm...

In other news, tomorrow is the BankTrust First Light Marathon and 1/2 Marathon. I will be running the 1/2M with some friends and then spending the rest of the day eating bagels and pizza to "restore my carb reserves". In the handful of races that I've done, I have always had two goals- one goal would be the one that I share with people who ask, the other goal would be my REAL goal which I would keep to myself. The goal that I share with people is a finishing time that I am positive I will make. The goal that I keep a secret is what I consider the ultimate, best-case scenario and it's so lofty that I am embarrassed to even speak it out loud to someone else. The lame thing about this blog is that no one reads it. The AWESOME thing about this blog is that... no one reads it. So here is my real, secret, lofty goal for the First Light 1/2M: I want to finish in under two hours.

So what do you think about that?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Love's a Revolver

Spin class today kicked soooo much ass. I LOVE Wednesday 5:30pm class because Bill is an incredible motivator and he always has the best music. 2/3 of the way through class, he played this remix of Madonna's "Revolver" and I felt the way I feel in the end of a Bikram yoga class- totally at peace and utterly unstoppable

I'll just get it out there- spin class is very sexy to me. They dim the lights and crank up the noise and everyone's in there checking everyone out in the giant mirror in the front of the room. It always makes me feel like I'm in some steamy, spandex-y dance club. Kind of erotic- especially when we're riding in third position... it's a standing climb with your hands on the very ends of the handlebars and your hips stretched waaaay back with your bottom hovering just over the seat. Most of your weight is in your legs and your hands only lightly touch the handlebars for balance. When I'm in third position, I feel like I could ride my stationary bike right over any insecurity or self-perceived flaw I might have. All my anxiety is gone. All my inadequacies are gone. I feel the solidness of my core and my burning, pumping legs and my palms just grazing the PVC-dipped bars and I think, "DAMN, girl!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

First yoga of 2012!

So I totally meant to run four miles after work today... but I took a nap instead. I think I'm just exhausted from the holidays, honestly. I set my alarm for 5:20 so that I could throw on my favorite pair of pants and meet Trish for 5:30 yoga at the Y.

Lululemon Wunder Under Pants- favorite pants in the world

Of course, I'm late for yoga. That's okay though, because promptness wasn't one of my goals for 2012! Maybe next year... Also, of course, it's INCREDIBLY crowded!!! People were right on top of each other in this tiny yoga studio. And yoga is probably the shittiest class to be late to because it's soooo quiet. I mean, if I tried hard enough I could probably have heard people's heart rates pick up in their annoyance with me. The spot next to Trish was ocupado so I settled for the last available free space- directly in front of the instructor, who I had never met because I had never taken yoga at the Y.

Not really a good start! But gosh, was it a great class... We started with flowing through some sun salutations and it felt AWESOME to sink my heels into downward dog. I also wasn't as weak in chaturanga as I thought I would be

Chaturanga Dandasana 
(PS- who is this BABE?!!)

We did some core/hip strengthening work which I felt really strong in. We also did my all-time favorite stretch, pigeon. It was especially sweet after my 10-mile run yesterday. Surprisingly, the hardest part of the class for me was the balance! Things I used to kick ASS at, like eagle pose, were totally impossible. I felt every tiny muscle in my feet and ankles burning for rest. I'm wondering if not doing yoga has made my stabilizer muscles weak... and if that has contributed to the pain I've been feeling in the arches of my feet. 

In the book Born to Run, Chris McDougall talks about a dude whose flat feet had caused him all kinds of running injuries. As a last ditch effort, the guy abandons shoes altogether and the muscles in his feet eventually developed to where he had a strong arch and he stopped having foot pain. He also went down a half size in footwear! Okay I might not have all the details exactly right, but I think it's interesting. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Intentions

One of my resolutions for 2011 was to log all of my workouts. I decided to write them in a calendar in my living room so that I could easily see when I was having a good month or a lazy month. It ended up being really great motivation for me! 

My December 2011 workouts

Here is a breakdown of what I did in 2011:
45 Bikram Yoga workouts
25 spin classes (I thought this number would have been much higher!!! Maybe I wasn't as diligent as I thought)
665.5 miles biked
365.57 miles run (106 of which were in the month of December alone!)

As a side note, I also read 13 books in 2011. I logged all the books that I read on this calendar as well, and will probably keep that going in 2013. Yay!

I had some bad months... in May, I was in Yorktown and didn't bring my calendar so I didn't keep track of anything that I did (which probably wasn't much) and in September, the only thing I logged was a 9.3 mile run on the 7th, shortly before I came down with strep throat.

Anywho, I still need to buy a 2012 wall calendar but Hans and I already set some good fitness-related goals for the new year. My goals are to ride the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic and the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver (and Party), log 500 running miles and 1000 biking miles, run an ULTRAMARATHON (will more than likely go with a 50k), and do a pull-up.

I'm thinking that I will throttle back on my running after my marathon in March and focus on preparing for the long bike rides in the summer (the STP is 202 miles long and the RSVP is 188 miles long). Then I should have a solid three months to prepare for a 50k in the late fall...

Yeah I might be a little overly ambitious but it's the beginning of the NEW YEAR and I feel soooo great!