Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coming back after a long time off always sucks

I hate starting to come back after a long time off. I took 3 months off with my injury this fall. When I finally started running, I had an extremely short time before Phoenix, so I wasn't trying to get back to my ideal stride, I was just trying to cross the finish line without hurting myself again. I am pretty sure in the 4 weeks I trained for Phoenix, I didn't run a single mile below 10 minute pace, as my goal was distance, not speed.

Now that I have some time before my next major race, I want to start working on getting back to my regular race pace. It's been a bit of a challenge, as it always is, when trying to get back into the groove after taking a long time off.

I think there's a light at the end of the tunnel, though. This past weekend, I ran five miles, and today I ran six. Both runs came out to an average pace of around 9:30/mi.

So slowly, but steadily, I am starting to see some progress, which is helping to chase away the discouragement...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Houston, there is a swimming problem.

So I have mentioned before my complete suckitude at swimming. In fact, I have gotten worse at swimming since I started training for triathlons. I am not sure at all how that happened. But a year ago I would typically do 2:15-2:30/100yds and now I do 2:30-2:45/100 yds. Yes, I am that slow. Apparently taking a couple of lessons just demolished my apparently inefficient but faster style.

On Monday, I met Chrissy at the pool to do a short set of 300s. We started out sharing a lane, but she moved over when one opened up, probably because she literally swims twice as fast as me. So I was tooling along and did my first 300 in 8:28 (stop laughing!). Then I noticed that the woman in the lane next to me was going just a little bit faster than me, so I spent the next 300 trying to keep up with her and I did it in 7:50 (#%$^ I'm slow!) The worst part was that when I was taking a break between sets, I watched her for a little... and became mortified. Her form was horrendous and she looked like she was going at a snail's pace. And all I could think was "Oh my God, I had to work to keep up with that! Am I really going that slow?!"

I continued on with my 300s and when we got out of the pool I asked Chrissy if my form was that bad and I looked that slow (once we were away from the pool :-)). She told me my stroke looked good, which was somewhat of a relief. She also thought the woman was wearing flippers. I am pretty sure I saw her put on flippers for a kick set she did as we were finishing up and I don't recall the flippers being on while swimming regular sets. So while I would like to believe it, it is all lies.

Anyway, I have decided that I am not allowed to go to the gym without swimming at least a short set like Monday. Siouxperman is 300 m, which is why I picked that distance. Last year I did it in 7:43. On Saturday I did 275 yds in 6:45, so I am apparently capable of picking it up a little. Apparently twice a week in the pool is not enough for me to overcome my natural inability to swim fast, which has existed for time eternal. Interesting that my little sister was a competitive swimmer all through high school.

In wart news, I might not actually have plantar's warts! They might possibly be that, but the doctor says they might just be from friction. Either way, he liquid nitrogened those mofos and they hurt less today than they did yesterday.

And, let us all shed a tear for the demise of my man. While my support may have had dubious beginnings (ahem, cute boys buying me beer), being actively involved in politics in Iowa was a blast. But since the caucuses I have written 51 pages of my dissertation proposal while trying to get some form of training in every day, so I have had plenty to occupy myself with!

Monday, January 28, 2008

What really happened

So now that I have sufficiently basked in Kori's glowing review of my performance on Saturday, I can tell the actual version of events.

As part of my evil plan to stress her out the morning of the race, I was still running around getting ready when she picked me up so we got a late start. Then ten minutes from my house I realized... I forgot my sneakers. How does one forget sneakers? I mean, the only two really essential items were a bathing suit and sneakers! So we had to turn around. Now, Kori is always excessively prompt. And early for races. I put us a half an hour later than our expected arrival time. Thank God the roads weren't bad, or else we would have been really close to missing our wave. But all was well and we arrived with just enough time to pick up packets and get ready to go.

After clearing up the little mess of us both being number 61. I got marked and then I turned to Kori and asked "What number are you?" She said "61" and I said "But I'm 61!" and lo and behold we were both marked with number 61. There was a typo somewhere, but it got all fixed up and I continued the day as number 62.

After the pre-race meeting, we jumped in the pool, mainly to kill time. I did swim a couple of laps, but I wasn't really warming up, just tooling around. I practiced some flip turns since every pool is different. Kori was indeed lounging around. But that didn't stop her from swimming one more lap than me in the 7 minutes of swimming! I did 275 (same as last year). I suck at swimming. I have decided I am okay with this for short events, because that means I get to pass a lot of people on the bike. Because I'm best on the bike.

Unfortunately for Kori. Because really, an extra lap on the swim translates into very little total mileage. We hopped on the bikes and we were far enough away that we couldn't see each other's distances. I decided I was going to work on beating my distance from last year, 4.55 miles in 18 minutes. The volunteer got everything set up and said "I'm going to put this on level six, but most of the women lower it."

Yeah, that's not the type of thing you say to me. So I kept it there. The first mile I managed to keep my cadence above 90, but I slowly kept dropping. And that 18 minutes seemed to go on forever! And I realized I was going to have to work to beat my distance from last year. At about 9 minutes, I lowered it to level five, but I realized my faster spinning wasn't making up for the lower level, so I popped it back up after a minute. I thought I was going to throw up on the bike. The last 30 seconds I popped it up to 7 and pedaled my guts out, ending at 4.57, just barely squeaking by last year - someone needs to get on her bike more often!

Kori did 4.3 something, so she had to more or less lap me twice on the run course (12 laps to a mile). I thought I might be able to keep up with her, but she dropped me like a hot potato after half a lap. The first lap I came around at around 35 seconds, which is a 7 min/mile. Uh, I think not. I settled into a pretty steady 40-45 seconds per lap and I came through my first mile at 8:18, which prompted incredulity on my part, but my lap counter verified it!

I started to drop back a bit after that, but I was constantly petrified of having Kori on my tail, lapping me. Along one part of the track, there was a line of mirrors, and every time I passed that portion, I would be checking for her behind me (and also noticing that despite the cute skirt, that I looked like I was about to die). With a couple minutes left, I'll admit that I started imagining the nice things Kori would say about me. She didn't manage to lap me, but on the last lap in the home stretch, I heard her lap counter yell "Go, Kori!" so I knew she was behind me and I sprinted in as hard as I could with Kori coming in like 5 feet behind me. So she didn't technically lap me, but since she got one more lap than me in during the 15 minutes, so for all intents and purposes, she kicked butt (especially with her 7:10 first mile!).

So she did beat me at two of the three events. But alas, it is all about the bike.

She should have known better.

This weekend, I'm running a 5k. I figure if I can do 1.75 miles in 15 minutes, I should be able to beat my 5k PR of 27:42. It will be close, but I always PR at the Rosy Cheeks Run. It must be the running in the frigid cold. Last year I skipped out because of this same tri, but apparently it was so cold that the timing clock stopped working.

Race Calendar

Just a quick reminder to everyone, esp the folks who've joined the team while I was on hiatus last year -- if you want to put your races in the race calendar we have on the side, email me, and either send me the info and I can put 'em in for you, or I can send you the info for how to log into the calendar. I put in what I know about, but that mostly ends up just being whatever Danielle and I talk about...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ode to Danielle

Danielle totally kicked it like a cheetah at the Marshalltown Y Tri today. As promised, here is a post extolling her many virtues.

First off, I must say that danielle is an excellent shopper and finder of triathlon outfits, thus making her the cutest gal at the Tri. She wore her black running skirt and flaunted her orange big creek triathlon socks, thus adding to her badassness.

On the swim, she actually did a couple of warm up laps to prepare her for our competitive journey while I lounged. This may have been my undoing. She kicked it in the swim and went in to change clothes.

On the bike, I kept glancing at her and saw her feet racing in circles so fast that it was one big blur - like the road runner when he gets going. I secretly had people go over to her bike to check her distance and she was kickin it. I put it into gear, at one point with my heart rate at 182. yikes. I worked and worked, but to no avail. Danielle is a biking god.

With a brief rest, while I tried not to throw up from my biking effort, and Danielle looking all calm and collected, we moved on to the run. Danielle totally kicked it beating an 8 minute mile for her first mile and then working that hard until the end of the 15 minutes.

The scores were added, and she was the clear better athlete. So, here, I've said it. Danielle is better than me. She is faster. She is smarter. She is nicer. She wears cuter clothes and deserves a standing ovation for the effort she put in today.

I am off to take an ibuprofen and beg for mercy.

Go Danielle!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008


1. Yay for people being interested in running relays! It looks like there is enough interest this year to do two! I know I said the same thing last year, but last year both races were in August. The winners of the relay vote were the Madison to Chicago 200 (MC200) in June and the Wild West Relay (WWR) in August. Since they are two months apart and the Venn diagram of interested relay runners does not complete overlap, I decided to give two a try. Drop me a line if you are interested in running!

2. We went to see Spirit of the Marathon last night. I didn't cry, but I thought it was really good. I especially liked how they didn't dismiss regular people and the the journey they take during marathon training. It was sort of weird that Chicago 2005 was supposed to be my first marathon, but injury sidelined me. Anyways, it sort of pumped me up to train for another race. I had a lot of fun in Phoenix and I realized how much I miss disance running. So I am hoping for the Des Moines Marathon in October... Who cares that my foot still hurts? Not me! I have learned to run through it quite well!

3. I got on my trainer for the first time this winter yesterday. I spent so long avoiding it because I thought my cadence sensor broke and I had to put a new one on. Yesterday I finally went to do that and realized it hadn't broke. I need to pay attention more. Anyway, I started getting Netflix specifically to get DVDs to watch on the trainer. I decided to go with a TV show that I could get hooked on, so now I am officially beginning my foray into the world of Lost. I have never seen a single episode, so it's all new to me! It might be too scary though.

4. Tomorrow is the anniversary of my first tri ever! And Kori is so going down.

the competition

So, Danielle last night offhandedly mentioned that in this event that we are both entered in on saturday that she is going to " kick my ass". So, the competition is on. She said it and this is my way of getting back with an offer of publically declaring that the loser must post a paragraph on this blog on why the winner is so awesome and indeed the deserving winner.

The event: An indoor triathlon, 7 minutes swimming, 18 minutes biking, 15 minutes running
When: This saturday, 10:10 am start. Danielle and I are in the same wave

Total distance will be tracked. Being in the same wave, Danielle and I can use this as our friendly incentive to push eachother harder.

Watch this site for the outcome. . . . . .

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Things learned at the gym today

1. Kickboxing is a lot more fun than I thought it would be! Even though my hips pop every time I do a side kick.

2. I think that all my recent bike workouts on the stationary at the gym have been in kilometers instead of miles. That makes me a hell of a lot slower than I thought I was. Sigh.

3. I am cursed with all things plantar - plantar fasciitis and now (TMI alert!) plantar warts. Totally gross. I am guessing it has to be the pool or shower at the gym, as sometimes I forget my flip flops. Yuck yuck yuck yuck! Of course, this is self-diagnosis, but the little teensy things I have on two of my toes sure look like the pictures on the internet.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Will Run for Beer

So I offhandedly mentioned this to someone in my running group and now it is apparently on!

I needed a good reason to go to Kansas anyway!

I call "not it" on post-race DD!

Plus I am a big fan of the Boulevard:
Too bad it starts at the Boulevard Brewery instead of ending there! Nothing like a little pre-run carbo loading! But at 6am? Er, maybe not...

Random Addition: Anyone who knows me probably knows I am utterly freaked out by bugs. Pretty much all bugs, but especially ones that might get caught in my hair (I have a lot of curly hair). I actually have nightmares about this stuff. This morning, I read this, and now bugs in my hair seems so trivial...

Thursday, January 17, 2008


A friend, and my running partner when I lived in Illinois, who I haven't seen since I left almost four years ago, said that if I ran the Nashville half marathon, she'd come run it with me, as she now lives only a few hours away. I am going to sign up this weekend! Yay!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In the immortal words of Bender...

"Everyone else was doing it. I just wanted to be popular." Errrr, wait, I meant, "Now that's why they call me Bender the Magnificent!" Oh, got it. "I'm back baby!"

2007 basically sucked. No, not basically. 2007 sucked. I may not have had a worse calendar year in my life. I had two injuries that cumulatively took me off my feet for over five months -- about two and a half for IT-band induced knee tendinitis in the spring, and then three for when I got my ass handed to me in soccer in September which screwed up all the ligaments on the outside of my right foot. In between, I spent four months working six to seven days a week, probably over 60 hours a week on average, writing a proposal at work that, we found out after we submitted and lost, never had a chance of succeeding. There was also some really crappy personal stuff in there, but that's not to discuss here.

Anyway, on December 17th, I ran for the first time since September 21st. My foot hurt until after Thanksgiving, so I wasn't even able to ride a bike, basically do anything -- it hurt to stand on it. Needless to say, I was ridiculously out of shape. That first day, I made it 1.2 miles. I started running three days a week at that point. That means I ran 12 times between September 22nd and the Phoenix Half Marathon on January 13th.

As Danielle so eloquently put it in her post the other day, training is for sissies. On Sunday, I completed my first half marathon. I was taking it very seriously, as evidenced by the fact that I didn't even bother to bring a watch. I wanted to finish, with no injuries. As long as I crossed the finish line not limping, I would be happy.

I finished in 2:15:52, which I am pretty impressed with. I had no idea when I actually started, because I didn't actually see a clock at the starting line, so I had to guess what time I crossed the line when I saw the clock at mile one, and use that as a basis for estimating when I'd finish for the rest of the race. Turns out I ran the first mile a full minute faster than I thought I did, which amuses me.

My only problem when I finished was that my knees were pretty sore, not being used to the abuse they take from running any significant distances. It usually takes me a couple of runs greater than 6 miles to get my knees used to the pounding, so jumping straight to 13 was harsh. I hurt pretty bad Sunday, and Monday was no treat either, but I've been icing them pretty consistently, and Tuesday felt a lot better than Monday, so I figure I'll be good in a few days.

Anyway, Danielle's trip report pretty much sums up the rest of my weekend experience, with the exception of the flights, which were crowded, but uneventful.

Now that I am running again, I will be hanging around here on the blog again. When I had to stop running in the spring because of injuries and work, I stopped even visiting the blog because I was so frustrated that I couldn't do anything. Deciding whether my return is a good thing or a bad thing is an exercise left to the reader...

RnR Phoenix Half-Marathon

So I rolled into Phoenix on Friday night, pretty late. It was a pretty uneventful flight - lots of runners on board! I chatted with a dude who works at Trek who was running the marathon at the airport and this older man who was running his 25th marathon was seated next to me on the plane.

Saturday I slept in deliciously late - 10am, so really 11am central time - and then Joe and I headed out to pick up race packets. The expo was a little too disorganized in layout and overwhelming for me, so we didn't hang out long there. After lunch, we tried to figure out something to do in Phoenix for the day. There are some local hiking spots, but I decided that hiking probably wasn't in the best interest of my undertrained legs. We decided to drive the Apache Trail. I'd have pictures, but apparently keeping my camera unprotected in my bag finally ruined my camera. Doh! Here is a stolen picture from the internet instead:Due to a SNAFU at the care rental place, we were tooling around like yuppies in a shiny white Prius. About 22 miles of the trail was unpaved and pretty treacherous actually. I was glad there were few other cars around because in many places, the road was really only big enough for one car, with one side of the road being a cliff wall and the other side being a steep drop off. But it was nice to get out into the pretty mountains around Phoenix and be surrounded by desert brush and cacti instead of the ubiquitous palm trees that decorate the city. Hello! I did not see a single palm tree outside Phoenix! I actually don't really like Phoenix. I have been there before in June and was just miserable. That, and as a water resources engineer, I am pretty much morally opposed to cities like Phoenix, which just shouldn't exist (I am also looking at you Las Vegas and LA).

Anyway, after meeting a friend of mine from the Peace Corps for dinner, we turned in early. This whole time I had been fighting a cold which developed on Friday. I woke up several times Friday and Saturday night to deal with coughing and sneezing fits. So not fun! But I woke up Sunday morning actually feeling okay. Not 100%, but better than I had felt the day before.

One thing I am going to give major props to is the race organization. With 30,000 people, you would think there would be some logistical issues, but everything ran supersmooth, from packet pickup to catching the shuttle to the start of the race. No excessive waiting, nothing. They had like 25 corrals for the half-marathon start and they started everyone off in a very organized manner. I rarely felt like there was nowhere to run and I had to dodge people (except for water stops, but that always happens).

Anyway, we were in corral 10 (based on my projected starting time of 2:10, back before I got distracted by politics and thought I would actually train). Here is another thing - this race is a slow person race. Just think about it - 2:10 is about 10 min/mile pace and there were 15 corrals of people who thought they would finish slower than that as opposed to the 9 ahead. Crazy! When I ran the Drake Relays half-marathon in 2006, with my time of 2:19, I came in 45 out of 50 in my age group. It's nice to run in a race where I am closer to average, rather than almost DFL.

I decided that since I wasn't sure how much endurance I was going to have to run this thing that I was going to try and negative split. I know that doesn't seem to make sense, but my thought was that I definitely needed to hold back in the first half if I didn't want this to be miserable and mentally I could only do that if I deluded myself into thinking I could pick up the pace in the second half. To PR (my current best was 2:15), I just needed to average faster than a 10:21 pace, so I used that as my guideline and tried to stay in the 10:20-10:30 range in the first half and then sub 10:20 for the second half.

The first 5k I came in at 31:47 (10:14 pace), so a little faster than intended, but hey, that always happens at the start of a race. I hit the 10k at 1:02, so again a little faster than I wanted. Mile 10.2 (where they had the third timing pad) was 1:47. Wait, what? 45 minutes to run 4 miles? What the hell happened there? I dropped from 10 min/miles to slower than 11 min/miles. So then I got anxious and I booked it. I figured with less than three miles, I could afford to push a little. I passed people left and right, which was a bit of a boost. I finished in 2:13:57, so I polished off that last 2.9 in under 27 minutes. In a total win for consistency (even though I apparently was all over the map in between), my end pace was also 10:14, exactly the same as my first 5k. And I finished like 600/2000 in my age group - I never finish in the top third, just another testament to how this race brings out all sorts of runners. Joe had to stop and walk because of his knees, so he came in a couple of minutes behind me.

The course itself was pretty dang ugly, but it was superflat. Also, the weather stayed in the 50s during the entire race, so it couldn't have been more perfect. In fact, I might seriously consider doing the full marathon next year.

Now of course I am paying the piper for that PR. I am sore. Really really sore. I can barely walk down stairs. And something is funky in my hamstring. And my foot is achy. And running seemed to push that cold to the surface so I am all stuffed up and coughing. I am not a pretty sight. Yesterday, I could barely stay conscious on the plane. I am hoping one more night and I can sleep it off. Because I got a triathlon to train for! I have already missed a 25 mile bike and a 2000 yd swim and I am probably going to skip my run tonight. Lazy bones, I know! Being sick is a good cover for being too sore!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Danielle's tips for PRing

1. Running through injuries like plantar fasciitis just makes you run faster to end the pain quicker.

2. Catching a cold two days before the race just means that one part of your body is effortlessly running (that would be your nose, hardy har har).

3. Training is for sissies. I ran a total of 55 miles since December 1st. Over 9 runs. That's pretty much averages out to 1.5 runs per week. I pretty much only did "long" runs in December, topping out with my one ten miler on Christmas. And I wasn't cross training. Since 12/1, I have ridden a total of 15 miles on my bike and done 1500 yds in the pool.

And yeah, I totally PRed by two minutes, coming in at 2:13. With a one minute negative split to boot!

I'll do a real race report for the Rock and Roll Phoenix Half Marathon when I am feeling more inspired (or rather, when I am more inclined to procrastinate).

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Call me overly enthusiastic, but yesterday I did my second two-a-day in a row. I was at the gym, getting off the bike and had about 45 minutes before the gym closed, so I decided to get in a 4 mile run.

Of course, this is only because it is the first week of training.

And I was trying to avoid work.

And I figured that resting Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before PF Chang's would be a good idea, right?

Oh yeah, I have a half marathon to run this weekend.

It is probably going to suck.

No, not probably - it *is* going to suck.

Especially since I have felt like dying on runs half that long this season.

And given how much my foot aches after a 3 mile run, I am pretty sure I won't be able to walk after a half-marathon.

I shouldn't be running this but I gots lots of them book smarts, but really no common sense.

Plus, I am stubborn.

That and I am sort of bound by Joe to showing up in Phoenix this weekend so if I am there, I might as well run.

Okay, back to writing my dissertation proposal.

Have I mentioned how much I hate writing?

But if I don't write, I don't graduate, and my fantasy life in Wyoming will never come to fruition (it involves lots of skiing, a house with big dogs, demolishing my previous PRs after living at 7000 ft, and a Libertarian cowboy).

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I'm bored.

The activity in Iowa has dropped by an order of magnitude now that no one cares about us anymore. I can't say I am not disappointed that my man didn't win, although it would be nice if headlines actually acknowledged his second place finish instead of "Obama comes in first, Clinton in third!" I have seen Obama probably five times and he has said the same thing all five times, and I think I am just way too cynical to believe that he is this messianic uniter that everyone wants him to be.

Okay, enough politics! (sorta - I am obsessively checking the NH results as I write this)

The major bonus of the caucuses being over is that now I officially have time to train again. I have been in the pool twice this week and I ran today as well. I have a schedule. I plan on sticking to it, despite all the new year resolutionists at the gym. It might appear that I am one of them, with my new found working out resolve, but my timing solely had to do with the caucuses, not January 1st! (In fact my celebrations happened on the 3rd instead of the 31st.)

Right now the plan is for the Hy-Vee Olympic Tri in June...

That is of course unless I am distracted by this.

Yes folks, Lisa has proposed running the Midnight Sun Half-Marathon in Norway. It's in the middle of the night. In the Arctic Circle. How cool is that? It is the same weekend as Hy-Vee though. What to do?!

I have frequent flyer miles.

I have always wanted to go to Scandinavia.

I haven't seen Lisa since we ran the Toronto Half-Marathon almost a year and a half ago.

But lots of people I know are doing Hy-Vee, so that would be fun. Ah, the dilemma!