Sunday, April 27, 2008

Still not a fan of country music

So this weekend I descended on Nashville for the Country Music Half Marathon. The only way I could swing a cheap flight was to leave Baltimore at 6 a.m. and land in Nashville at 9:30 a.m. When I landed, I went to the hotel and asked if I could check in early (not necessarily at 10 a.m., but sometime before 3 p.m.) to which they said no with no exceptions, but let me leave my bag so I wouldn't have to drag it around the city for 5 hours.

The hotel was only 4 blocks from registration/expo, so I walked down to that to register and check out the free stuff. Registration was quick and I wandered the expo getting breakfast, including those bagels that have the cream cheese baked inside, various energy bars, all natural peanut butter and sugar free jelly and flatbread, gross drinks, etc. As I was walking around, I saw a table that was giving out pickles. I sort of threw up a little in my mouth having a stomach full of energy bars and bagels when I smelled buckets of pickles, but I did note that it was a local restaurant (Noshville) before I moved on.

After I left the expo, I wandered the streets of downtown Nashville for a bit, and then around 11:30, decided to get some lunch. Now, being that I have a lot of New York Jews in the family, how could I not go to an Authentic New York Delicatessen? So I walked the 19 blocks to the restaurant and got some lunch. I was impressed, they had all the traditional fare that one would expect, so I ate lunch while reading a book for a while. At one point, the guy at a table on one side of me ordered a ham and cheese, reminding me of the difference between traditional NY deli and a kosher deli. Then, a little while later, two women sat on the other side of me and one ordered an iced tea, to which the waitress replied, "Just to let you know, it's Northern tea." Yeah, I had actually forgotten I was in TN while I was sitting in this deli. But that brought it all back.

After lunch, I started wandering back towards downtown and ran into a girl on the street heading to the expo, so I wandered around with her and a friend of hers for a few hours until my hotel opened up. I checked in, slept a little, and had dinner with my friends Kyle and Lauren (the Lauren who is running MC200 with us).

We visited the Charlie Daniels Museum while
wandering the streets of Nashville Friday night

I woke up Saturday at 4 a.m. to have a bite before meeting Kyle and Lauren to walk to the shuttles that would take us to the start line (the shuttles were about a mile from where my hotel was). Of course, it was pouring. We decided to drive to the finish line, park at the stadium, and take the shuttles back to the start. On the way over to pick me up, Lauren and Kyle stopped at Walgreen's to pick up trashbags and ponchos. We made it to the start line with no trouble, and had about an hour to kill before the starting gun. It rained almost the entire time, and Kyle whined incessantly about wanting to go back to the hotel to sleep rather than run. 5 minutes before the race started, it stopped raining, but it was cold and wet and no one was really happy. I stretched a little in my hotel before I left, and then again about 15 minutes before the race started. I was really tight, and was a little worried I may do something bad during the race just from feeling so crappy after sitting around in the cold rain for over an hour.

When the race started, I took off at a comfortable pace and hoped for the best. My goal was 2:15, so I was hoping to just run consistent 10:20s straight through without having to walk like I did in Phoenix (because of the knee pain I had starting around half way through). My first mile was 10:10, followed by another 10:10. Third mile clocked in at 10 on the nose, and the fourth mile was all down-hill, so I came in at 9:35. At this point, I basically did flat 10s for the next 7 miles. This is interesting because I never felt tired, and for 4 of those miles, I walked through water stops, each time walking a full 60 seconds (but still coming out at 10 min mile even walking for 1 min of that).

Now, here I should mention that both Lauren and random girl I met the day before told me that starting at mile 11, there is a really big hill so be afraid. So for the first 11 miles, I was feeling pretty good, but didn't want to push too hard because I wanted to have some energy to try to run this death-march hill at the end without walking. Anyway, I get to mile 11 and see the rest of the course; it's flat with a slight downhill slant, so I decided to just try to finish strong. My two fastest miles of the day were the last two, run at slightly sub 9:30 each, to finish at 2:09. I did Phoenix in 2:16, so this was an awesome improvement.

It's pretty cool to look at my times measured through the race, because I got faster at every measurement as the race progressed:

  • 5k: 31:22 (10:07/mi)
  • 6mi: 1:00:01 (10:00/mi)
  • 10mi: 1:39:26 (9:57/mi)
  • final: 2:09:02 (9:51/mi)

My only walking was the 4 water stops, and at the end my legs and knees felt really good. I wasn't really even feeling tired, I felt like I wanted to just keep going. I even managed to run into random girl from Saturday by the bag check trucks, which was really funny and continued randomness.

Kyle and Lauren both finished, though neither did quite as well as they hoped. Lauren had a cold, which I can understand. Kyle has a unique training style that we've come to call "The Long Taper(tm)." This basically involves a training regimen designed to maximize his energy levels come race day and protect against injury close to a not running. He may average approximately one 3-mile run with his dogs per month, maybe. So basically he just runs races totally cold. This usually results in what has been described as the "Uhhh, cougar" face:

example of cougar face

Kyle decided at the end of the race that he was going to train for his next race and try to annoy everyone he passes by running up behind people and singing Rick Astley in their ear before passing them (and thus the Running Rick Roll was invented).

On my way home Sunday, my flight out of Nashville was postponed by a little over an hour, and while waiting at the connecting airport, my cell phone died literally 15 seconds before my connecting flight was canceled. I finally managed to get home, but my bag, predictably, did not make it. Oh well. I'm sure it'll show up eventually.

Anyway, to sort of tie this aimless post off, after spending the weekend in Nashville, running the Country Music Half Marathon, watching Kyle salivate over $400 cowboy boots, even visiting the Charlie Daniels Museum, I still don't like country music. However, I am now extremely motivated and excited to train for Chicago, so good things came from this weekend (you know it went really well when I'm still happy even after the dead cell phone and spending almost 6 hours in the Charlotte airport). So that's my rambling story.

Edited 2008-04-28: The suitcase arrived at my apartment building sometime today, and I got a new phone during my lunch break today, so I'm functionally back to normal.

Another short race for Al

A few days ago, on a total lark, I decided to sign up for the Ravenswood Run, a 5k in the north-side neighborhood of Ravenswood, about a mile west of my apartment in Uptown. I figured since my River to River team canceled and I was being lame that weekend and didn't run the Wrigleyville 5/10 I should at least get some kind of race in before the summer hit.

At the time I signed up I think I'd run a total of three speed workouts in the past 5 months and only one on the track (my disastrous 20x200 day). After signing up I did one more on Friday night: my classic 2-day-before-a-race workout, 3x400 with 3 minutes rest. The idea is to run each one 2 seconds faster than the one before. The execution... not so much. I ran 67 for the first one, then 69 for the second. And my legs were just dead. That's what I get for not running speedwork. Between the second and third the storm that had been brewing all day finally broke. My last one was 69 again. I guess that's all I can expect to do in stiff winds and rain having done only distance training for the last few months.

So the goal for this race was 17 minutes. My speed chops were pretty weak but my distance chops were pretty strong, and I'd been doing brutally tough long runs and tempo runs for the last month. That's gotta be good for something, right?

The Ravenswood Run is a fairly large race that attracts lots of pretty serious runners. The winner last year ran 15 minutes flat. The PA system was too loud and people were crowding at the start line. Grumble. This is why I prefer small races. As in all big races they tried to get people to check in their bags and get to the starting line early, and, as always, I fell for it, while the other people near the front jumped in just before the start. A recording of the national anthem was played, and I am a bit of a national-anthem connoisseur, so indulge me: it suffered from the overdriven PA system. The performance, from a professional or military band, was solid. The arrangement was uninspired. It was loud and bombastic throughout without a hint of contrast in dynamics, instrumentation, or mood. On the weakness of the arrangement, I give it two out of four stars.

And the race. Started at Wilson and Hermitage, ran south down Hermitage to Irving Park, a block east to Paulina and then back north. I could tell these guys up front were serious, nobody was dropping off after starting too fast at the mile marker (~5:27), around Paulina and Belle Plaine. Turned left on some random street a block north north of Wilson, passed the 2-mile marker (~11:00? Didn't really get a good look), jogged another block north at some point, turned back towards Wilson probably at 2200W or so, then shortly back onto Wilson for the finish. It was probably 600m on Wilson, and the two guys I'd passed (after some serious resistance from both) in the third mile looked like big strong kicker types, so I figured I had my work cut out. I saw what I thought was the finish banner in the distance and measured out a kick, but just before Damen my brain turned on and realized that I was looking at the elevated train tracks along Ravenswood Ave. So the kick was mismeasured, I fell off the table in the last 50m, and got passed by one guy just before the finish line and another one just after. Finished in 17:07.

That's OK, given my current distance focus. I'm just not going to run well at 5k without speed training like I did in the fall. I ran into my sort-of roommate Danno after it was over, and we sat through the awards and I surprisingly got second in my age group... it seems like most of the good runners around here are over 25. Winner ran 15:12. Congrats to that dude!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hardest 8 miles ever!

Kori has to go to a conference tomorrow, so we decided we would do our long run tonight.

Little background. I took Wednesday off as I was so sore from our practice tri. But Thursday, we both lifted in the morning (5:30am - I still can't believe I actually get out of bed to do this) and then did speed work (4x1000 m) in the evening.

Our legs have been tired all day. But we're troopers. Even if we whine all the time.

By the time we got out the door to run, the temperature had plummeted from 63 degrees at 9am to 40 degrees at 4:30. Oh yeah, and the wind was blowing at 28mph, with 37 mph gusts.

And guess which genius planned the route earlier the day to include a loop around the Lake of Science where there is nothing to block the wind? (That would be me. On a complete side note, I spent all day analyzing last summer's wind data over the lake and I was totally not convinced that during storm events the wind came out of the northwest - which is what my data said. Well, I think the science gods wanted to humble me today since I didn't have faith in the data - that "blow you over" wind was all northwesterly. So really I brought this all on myself.)

My minion marine battery sherpa undergraduate research assistant out on the Lake of Science

It was pretty brutal. At about mile 3.5 when we were running uphill straight into the wind, Kori just stopped and said "I can't do it anymore!" I seriously thought her next words were going to be "Go on without me! Save yourself!" But when you are 3.5 miles from home, you need to get back. So I made a deal with her that we would walk for a minute every half mile. So we slogged through and eventually made it home and finished up 8 miles and still managed to average a 10:43 pace, even with the walking.

And then we reconsumed every single calorie we burned by stuffing our faces with margaritas and chips and salsa and fish tacos while still mostly in our running clothes.

But the best part? Long run totally done for the weekend. So guess who gets to sleep in tomorrow? Although I am so tired that I imagine I'll crash in an hour and consequently be wide awake at 6am. On a Saturday. It's sick!

In other news, Joe is off in Nashville running the Country Music Half-Marathon this weekend. He texted me today to say that the first booth at the expo was for New Balance.

Anyway, send him fast vibes! Given that Joe trained even less than me for Phoenix and still came in only two minutes behind me, he has to rock this course by comparison :-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


As in, that is what my legs feel like.

After a swim/bike/run brick (is it really a brick still if you do all three?)

Today was practice day for the Siouxperman. I still love the name. Oh, Sioux Center IA, how funny you are! This was Kori and my first realish triathlon (it has a pool swim), so it holds a dear place in our hearts.

Anyway, today Kori and I did a run through - 300 yd swim/16.5 mile bike/5k. The pool was pretty packed when we got there so we shared a lane and Kori started maybe half a length ahead of me. My goal was to not let her lap me. I managed to do the 300 in 7:25 or so, which is a total rockstar performance by yours truly. My fastest 300 all year has been like 7:40. Yeah, I'm still slow, but I'll take it. Even though Kori was out of the water maybe 30 seconds ahead of me, she is too nice and got sucked into a conversation with this older woman who does triathlons on the pool deck. I have been sucked into such conversations before, so I jumped out the pool and booked it to the locker room, leaving Kori to fend for herself. T1 time was a-wastin'!

Okay, so T1 was sorta long. I wanted to put on a long sleeve shirt but when I took off the shirt earlier, one sleeve was inside out, so I wasted a good 30 seconds struggling with evil sleeves. I never thought I would contemplate this, but I am sorta considering trying to leave my bike shoes on the bike. This entirely stems from the fact that the transition region at Siouxperman is this huge room with a slick concrete floor. Last year I ran out of transition barefoot before putting on my bike shoes because I was pretty sure I was going to slip. So just leaving my shoes clipped in would be ideal, but I am pretty sure would result in me wiping out, probably taking out other triathletes in the process of embarassing myself for trying something I have no business trying. If only I could ride my bike around a room covered in gym mats so that when I practice, the falling will be soft and cushy!

Anyway, the bike! So after talking trash in my last post, I pretty much was obligated to drop Kori. But she was not letting this happen. See, I am never going to beat her on the swim or the run. The bike is all I have! The first 8 miles I was working. It was into the wind the whole way and there were some good hills. And... I. Could. Not. Drop. Her. I could see her shadow creeping up on (which probably meant she was within the draft zone - yeah, that's why she was so hard to drop :-)). We were averaging about 17.5 mph, which is good for me!

Then we turned out of the wind and I cranked up the gears.

And it was bliss. With the wind at my back and a slight decline, I was effortlessly going over 20 mph, getting over 30 mph on a particularly sweet section.

And I finally made some distance in front of Kori. Not much! And I trashed my legs in the process, but I averaged 18-18.5 mph overall. So I gained maybe three minutes on her...

Only to lose all three minutes on the run...

Sigh. It was to be expected.

It was rough. I did a 32 minute 5k and it hurt. That is slow for me. Off the bike I typically come off at like a 9:30 mile and have to slow down. Not today.

Lessons learned:

1. Remember stupid hat! Sweat was stinging my eyes.

2. I love my new tri shorts. Yay TYR! For Jenny

3. Trashing your legs on the bike won't do much for you if you can't run.

4. Kori's T2 was also destroyed by this same woman who kept chatting with her; being a cold-hearted Masshole like myself and not a polite Iowan guarantees faster times.

5. Kori and I might give the same swim time so we start close to each other. We are both competitive types and I'll work harder on the bike to stay ahead of her and she'll work harder on the run to catch me and then I'll run harder to try and keep up. Win win for everyone!

There is a biathlon this weekend in Nevada (the next town over - pronounced Nuh-vay-duh - silly Iowans). Now I think of biathlon as involving skiing and shooting, but it is just a bike/run race (15 mi/5k). Good practice I think! But seriously, I am not doing it unless they are doing age groups (which is looks like they aren't). I need some motivation!

Monday, April 21, 2008

USA Fit?

Has anyone ever done any of the USA Fit training programs? There's one here in DC, and a couple friends of mine are talking about joining to try to train for a fall marathon. The timing works out pretty well for me for Chicago, but for $115, I'd like to actually hear from someone who's done it before joining.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

I feel like an old lady.

I just finished my first 7-miler since the Phoenix Half-Marathon.

Despite the gorgeous 65 degree temps, it pretty much sucked.

I felt like I was lumbering around like an old lady.

I had side cramps.

I was gasping most of the time.

But I got her done.

I was supposed to run with Kori after she went to church this morning, but she never called like she said she would. Totally blown off! Maybe she'll read this and know I am ticked off and then I won't have to tell her. I'll get it out of my system when I drop her like a hot potato on the bike during our practice tri on Tuesday. Yay for passive aggressiveness!

Anyway, I ran my favorite route, minus the loop around the lake. It was hilly. There were some nice 25 mph winds coming out of the east. I used to run this route pre-Garmin, so I have driven it and I know the mile markers. Garmin was almost a half mile off at the end. Normally I have a "Garmin is official" policy, mainly because most of the time I don't know the actual distance I run. But dude, I wasn't letting him drop half a mile on me!

So I ended up doing 7.2 in 1:13, about a 10:07 pace, which is a faster pace than my six miler last weekend. But I was dragging at the end! It was only with a little help from ABBA that I was able to "sprint" the last quarter mile. Then I got home and I was pretty light headed. My first year of distance running, I used to take a gu for all runs over six miles. But since then I have typically done 8 mile runs without anything. Maybe I need to go back to downing the guey grossness on 7 milers. (Actually I am all about the Clif Shot Bloks)

And FYI, I haven't owned a pair of New Balance in 6 years. I am now a convert to the Brooks moon boots. But seriously, I don't think anyone in my running club wears New Balance (although I am still a bit sore from my 7-miler today).

And in complete surprise, with this whole non-sugar thing, I have discovered that I am a big fan of coffee with milk and no sugar. Who knew? I thought I just liked coffee that resembled melted coffee ice cream.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Registration confirmed

So it appears that Chicago is to be my first attempt at a full marathon. Lauren, an old friend and one of our teammates for the upcoming Madison-Chicago 200, moved to Chicago last year and convinced me to sign up and run it with her. After some goading from Lauren's husband and my sister, neither of whom are going to run of course, and the fact that she heard this morning that they were anticipating registration filling up by Friday, I acquiesced (oooh, SAT word), and here we are.

I was checking out the website earlier today, and was looking at the course map. In the legend on the map, they list what services are at the aid stations and hydration zones. Under hydration zones, they say, "contains water, medical, misters, toilets." I sort of stared at it confused for a moment, thinking, "Misters, huh? That's great for the ladies, but no misses for us guys? That's kinda lame." Then, of course, after another minute, it dawned on me what it actually meant, and it made a whole lot more sense than what I had originally thought they meant.

Lauren also pointed out when we were talking last week that given last year's horrors, the race is sure to be extremely well managed with extra everything, so there will be nothing to fear!

[Edited 2008-04-17: Added qualifier in first sentence at Danielle's suggestion so as not to anger the running gods of the Windy City.]

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I think I might throw up.

Today was doughnut day. The one time of year where I gorge on Krispy Kremes. While running a 5k. To sum up, the ISU Triathlon club puts on this race every year as a fundraiser to send the team to Nationals. You get time cut off your 5k time for the number of doughnuts you eat during the race.

I had no delusions of PRs. In fact, I didn't even have delusions of running a good race. Yesterday afternoon Kori and I did a hilly brutal six miles (our "long run" these days) in frigid 20 mph winds with 30 mph gusts. It also snowed Friday night. Seriously. After running, we did an hour of strength training in the "Group Power" class we go to at the gym (it is essentially a free weight workout that targets all the major muscle groups and is set to music). This workout includes a song devoted to squats and a song devoted to lunges, both with the bar with weights on our shoulders (so approximately four minutes of squats and four of lunges). Our legs were shot. So I did not expect any brilliant performance today. But really, do you sign up for a doughnut run for anything else but to have a good time?

So I woke up this morning, intentionally skipped breakfast, and drove on down to the park where the race started. Immediately as I was pulling in, I bumped into Steve in a Speedo and Borsch in the parking lot. We discussed doughnut/running strategy. I got to witness the yellow shortie shorts.

Laurie showed up soon after and it was a little bloggy meetup. I was the only non-Minnesotan in the group. Interestingly last weekend when I was at a physics grad student party, in between listening to guys talk about nerdy (but boring) stuff while trying to avoid them trapping me in a corner, getting into arguments with Libertarians*, and otherwise looking at my watch to determine when it was socially acceptable for me to bail, I learned a surefire way to spot a Minnesotan.

It has nothing to do with accents or the word they use for soda/pop or a tattoo of Garrison Keillor.

All you have to do is say "Duck, duck, ..."

Now every normal person in the world says "Goose!"

But not a Minnesotan.

They say "Gray Duck!"

Who knew the culture divide between Iowa and our neighbor to the north was so great!

Anyway, we hung out and waited for the race to start. At start time Steve headed to front and Jon and I hung back. The race started and we were off! The race takes place entirely on a bike path so the beginning is actually pretty congested and there is a lot of running off the path to get around people who obviously didn't think when placing themselves. But it is all in good fun, so I avoided tossing an elbow at people running three across on the path.

So my game plan was 6 doughnuts to beat my 5 from last year. So I never sign up for a race unless I think I can PR. In this case, I PR in doughnuts. I got to the first doughnut stop (of 8) and it was packed (you have to stop and eat the doughnuts at the stop). So I ran past it and on to the next one, where I doubled up and downed two doughnuts. Jon apparently doesn't have the doughnut eating speed skillz that I do, so we came out of that stop at the same time (even though he dropped me at the beginning). I will note that at this stop, the workers couldn't keep up and when I got there there were no open doughnut boxes so I totally tore one open like a woman who would not be denied her Krispy Kremes. I seriously ripped the box apart. Time was a-wastin'!

Jon and I ran together until the next stop and then I dropped him here due to my superior speed eating skills. I'll be interested to see our comparative doughnut adjusted times though - I eat faster, but he ate more and runs faster. Note that I didn't see Steve the entire time after the flash of yellow blazing off into the distance. It was an out and back course, so I should have seen him coming back, but I must have been too busy stuffing my face with doughnuts.

After about doughnut number 4, things started to hurt a little. I kept thinking "You can't throw up! You'll lose all your doughnut minutes!" I really thought I might. I think there may have even been some doughnut burping. There was a pit in my stomach. But I bravely pressed on and ate two more dougnuts.

In an odd choice, I wore my Garmin today. This is primarily odd because I have it set to autopause. I typically wear a watch to this race instead so I know what my time was. They didn't announce it, so I actually have no clue. My Garmin says I have 28:11 of run time and 4:57 of rest time. I hope that I didn't have 4:57 of doughnut eating time, since six doughnuts only yields 4:30 off your final time. My previous linear model of 30 sec/doughnut obviously does not work after a certain limit. Experimental evidence shows that there is an increase in time/doughnut as the number of doughnuts increases.

My Garmin also told me I ran 3.4 miles, so who knows what is up. So I'll have to wait for the final results. (Note Garmin also says I burned 450 calories - with Krispy Kremes coming in at a surprisingly low 200 calories each, that means effectively I just ate four doughnuts this morning)

But I'll take 28:11 for running time in a 5k.

Even if it was more like intervals than a 5k.

Yummy frosted covered intervals!

But seriously, I never want to see another Krispy Kreme again.

At least until next year, when in my swan song of doughnut running, I go for 8 - one at each doughnut station.

I didn't want to steal any thunder, so you should go read Steve's and Jon's accounts when they get around to blogging them.

*I am starting to rethink the whole Libertarian cowboy from Wyoming thing.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I deserve a medal.

I had to sit through four hours of presentations yesterday. While a box of doughnuts was approximately six inches from me. In particular there was a delectable looking white frosted one. But I didn't have it. Four hours! Never mind how badly I wanted to have a pop to get through an afternoon of student groups giving the same presentation. (Jeanne, I thought of you as I stared at the doughnuts) Well, I am just saving up so that on Sunday, I can devour six doughnuts while running a 5k. Steve has challenged me to seven, but I am not sure I am ready for that step quite yet.

In other news, I did my first honest to goodness bike/run brick of they year on sunday - 22 mile ride/3 mile run. It was windy. I looped the lake 4 times to avoid leaving town. It was boring, but at least I didn't have to stop for roads nor did I fall over on my bike.

* Boring swim rant below! *

Lastly, I tried the Blink-approved breathing method at the pool last night. I think my massive suckitude at swimming prevents an honest evaluation. The first two 300s I did at 7:55 or so (which is middle of my typical range - I'm effing slow, I know it, so shut up). I decided it wasn't helping so I switched to my typical every other right stroke breathing for the next 300 - I thought I was being smooth and efficient, but did my first 100 10 seconds slower. By the fourth 300, everything had gone to pot and it took me 8:30. I went to the pool to swim 1500, so I dragged my sorry ass through another 300 in 9:15. Yes, you read that right. How ridiculous is that? I read about people learning to swim who do 100s faster than 3:05. Nevermind that a year ago I did them in 2:15-2:30 pretty typically! Jenny assured me that she got a lot slower when switching from flat swimming to rotational swimming too, so maybe there is hope. Maybe if I get in the water more than once a week.

I'm actually starting to think that I am attacking this all wrong. Because I am a swim slacker, when I do get in the pool, I typically do longish sets. As we can see from above, I totally devolved as my 5x300s progressed. So maybe like with my running, I have to forget about long workouts and focus more on doing short workouts several times a week and only increase distance once I feel like I am at least swimming at a proper pace and form at the shorter distances. And it probably wouldn't hurt to do more drills. Thank God the Siouxperman is only 300m!

Also, I thought I was going to die when I finished the set. Not in a "my arms or sore" or "I can't catch my breath" sorta way, but in a "oh my god I have a massive headache and I think I am going to throw up" sorta way. I lay down in the sauna afterwards and totally fell asleep, had to drag myself out and to my car and home and collapsed in bed at 9. I had some trail mix at 4:30, then went to spinning for an hour and then got in the pool for 45 minutes - someone told me I need to eat better before swimming. Also I weighed five pounds less this morning than yesterday morning, which means I must have been superdehydrated (as much as I would love to believe that a bike/swim brick and no dinner caused me to actually lose five pounds).

* End boring analysis of my swim *

Oh and if you made it this far, enjoy this video (lots of curse words, so possibly NSFW, unless you are a grad student like me and no one cares).

Monday, April 07, 2008

Oh no! River to River!

On Saturday, April 19 is the River to River Relay and my yearly trip to beautiful southern Illinois. My team has one or two spots available (I'm not exactly sure, it's not exactly "my" team, I'm just running on it). It's an 80-mile, 8-runner race and is fairly hilly but only one or two of the hills stretch out longer than a mile. If any of y'all are interested and free let me know: More info at their website.

My early spring training season has really been up and down. I tried to do the old 20x200m decreasing-interval workout from high school a few days ago and the weather gradually turned to freezing rain throughout the workout. My hip flexors complained a lot when I tried to accelerate aggressively, so the combination of cautious starts, my nearly non-existent speedwork up to that point, the weather, and the difficulty of the workout led to some really slow times at the end. My last 5 were barely under 40 seconds, which is slower than my 5k pace from October, and that was really leaving it all out there. It took some 3 minutes to basically regain my composure to where I could unlock my bike to get home and out of the rain.

I've had some really fun and challenging long runs (frozen beaches and the sloppy trails along the north branch of the river out past Pulaski and Foster are another... I like running through urban areas with my legs caked in mud or sand, it's like saying to everyone, "Hey, you're stuck on the grid, but I found DIRT!"). My knees aren't so happy about these runs all the time, or the number of spills I take on them. I guess I'd better keep my distance chops up, though, because if we're a runner short for River to River I'll probably wind up doubling (I don't know a lot of the people on this team, but it sounds like some have had recent injury problems).

Or if we're two runners short I may wind up tripling. I mean, that's not realistic, surely someone else on the team would step up for a 20-mile day (a missing runner's legs must be run by the same person, and a person doubling can't run non-contiguous legs). But it's fun to think about because I've run River to River 5 times and run each of legs 4-8 once. So if I ran 1-3 this year I'd have completed the whole race.

Really, though, I'd rather not do 30 miles within 8 hours just to complete the whole race. So hopefully someone wants to run.

Update: Due to yet another injury and the fact that the leaders of the team are (unlike me) not keen on running more mileage than they really should just to finish, we've canceled the River to River team. Drats.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

First Harbinger of Spring

I should have known if might not be a good biking day when before I even left the house: I managed to fall down my stairs while wearing my cycling shoes. They're slippery! I think I saw my summer flash before my eyes. Good thing I was wearing padded bike tights!

But the first 60 degree day of the year necessitated a bike ride, as I already ran earlier in the day with Kori (5 miles, 9:53 min/mile, finally I am not feeling like a sloth!).

The winds being 27 mph, I opted to do smaller loops around Ames, just in case it was too brutal. Out here in the heartland, the second you leave town the wind just attacks you over the fields.

It was a gorgeous day, if windy. I was happily tooling along on a bike path when the road Ts, along with the path. Whoever designed this intersection made it so that to turn right to cross the street, you had turn greater than 90 degrees, unless you wanted to jump the curb. So as I get to the intersection, a minivan turns right directly in front of me, so I lean on the brakes and no problem and I go to do a sort of wide right turn around the sharp angle to cross the street.

Except there was another biker there. He had been crossing the street from the other side as the minivan turned so I didn't see him and my wide turn that I was executing would have totally put me in his path. I was already going slowly but I had to jump on my brakes.

Anyone see where this is going?

So yes, I have decided it is not spring until I fall over on my bike while clipped in.

In front of this other biker, some walkers, and an intersection full of cars.

And I don't even have someone else to blame! So of course, the only thing bruised is my ego, which actually surprises me as I totally tipped right over onto concrete, which is hard. Being a klutz I think I have mastered the art of falling - whatever you do, don't break your fall with your hands!

The funniest tip over story I have heard though is when my friend Kirstin was doing the Whaletown Tri and she came into transition on the bike and managed to fall over while clipped in in transition, while the announcer was announcing her name.

At least my embarrassment was anonymous.

As for sugar, it's been two days without pop/soda/fizzy goodness. But I had two beers last night. I think that might count as cheating.

And I didn't get dessert at The Cafe, which has the bestest desserts in town. But I did finish off the last of the spiced bran muffins I made last weekend for breakfast this morning. I think that also might count as cheating.

My friend just sent me this recent article on the topic. In total randomness, the authors blog talks about going to a political rally in Ames on NYE - which would be the same Obama event I was at.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Give me some sugah!

So I have a bit of a problem.

I'm a tiny bit of a sugar addict (my post below extolling Krispy Kremes should be evidence of that!)

Typically I exercise enough that my sweet tooth doesn't do me much harm.

And my dentist thinks I have lovely teeth (and I don't even floss!)

But... January to March were rough while I was trying to get my proposal and conference stuff done. Ironically I started working out regularly again too and I managed to gain ten pounds. I imagine some of that is muscle. But I am pretty sure not all of it.


Since the Siouxperman is a month away, after randomly stumbling on articles on the topic recently that inspired me, I have decided to try and give up sugar.

Today was my first day.

And I failed.

In the middle of the day, when all I wanted was a Diet Dr. Pepper (which is also excluded because apparently the sweeteners do the same thing to cause sugar cravings as regular sugar) I e-mailed Jeanne at Not Born to Run. Jeanne has talked about giving up sugar before so I wanted to know if it actually worked. I keep hearing these stories (which I seriously believe to be urban legends), that if you stop eating sugar, your body stops craving it and *gasp* doesn't even find it appealing. I personally don't believe this, because how could I never want sugary goodness? But Jeanne verified this myth for me and she says even after a week you start to crave it less.

Now Jeanne and I have a sugar pact (since she's fallen off the wagon a little and I... have never been on the wagon). My goal is to try this for one month. I'd like to get rid of 5 of these excess pounds before the race. I mean gees, there is spandex involved! She has her own motivations, which she said she'd post about tomorrow on her blog. We decided our pact needed to be public though, so I'm laying it all out there! So besides being blood sistahs on the sugar front, we are both also suffering from the PF (I don't know if she knew that!)

Of course, I am making an ahead of time exemption for the Doughnut Run. Maybe the trick will be to eat so many dougnuts that I will pass out in a sugar coma and wake up so disgusted that I will continue to not want sugar? Steve in a Speedo asked if I was going to eat six this year, continuing my upward trend. Six doughnuts in the span of a half hour seems so... well, I am pretty sure that will cause me to never eat another Krispy Kreme again! Steve is contemplating a trip across the border to partake - since he is so speedy and eats a lot, I totally bet he could get a negative time if he strategized it right!

Oh, related question - if you don't eat sugar, do you not eat Gu and drink Gatorade? What do you do for energy during training or races?

Oh yeah, my failure. When I was TAing lab today, I was essentially conked out in the front of the room at my desk. I thought this whole sugar avoidance thing was supposed to help that? Perhaps the fact that some demon has possessed me and I actually get up at 5am to go to the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays (that demon would actually be named Kori) causes me to fall asleep in the afternoon. But either way, I got a pop. Er, soda. I figured I might never live it down it I started drooling on myself in my sleep in front of my students.