Sunday, February 28, 2010

Closing it out

And another month comes to an end.

In a shameless bit of self promotion......

But then, this is my blog, I guess it's all shameless self promotion, eh?  I mean it *is* all about me after all.

Still feeling tired.  Seemingly more tired than I should be.  I've realized it's partly due to work.  Not just the regular crazy work stuff that everyone deals with, but the constant uncertainty.  I know that most everyone has some degree of uncertainty in their job, but when it gets to the point of wondering how many more months worth of money the company has, it's a little over the top.  I'm not even really worried about whether I'd be able to find another job.  I just want a little better idea of if I'll have to.  I can't imagine jumping ship at this point.  We're too close to something happening.  Either we get money, get bought, or fizzle out.  But something has to happen soon.  Of course, I thought that about this time last year too. I guess it's the nature of small biotech, but I may be getting too old for this kind of 'excitement'.

I may be stuck in my weight loss journey.  Which actually would be okay.  If this is where my body wants to be, then I'll live with it.  I'm about 10 pounds lighter than I was when I competed at Kona, most likely at least some of it muscle.  I'll find out a little more next weekend when I get dunked.  Sports Basement (a local sporting goods store) is having a tri-expo and they are offering body fat testing for $20, so I jumped on an appointment.  That's a deal.  Although, I'll probably make up the difference in purchases.  But, hey, it's stuff I would have 'needed' anyway!

Another small race in two weeks!  5k...less than half an hour....excellent. :)

February hours:
swim:  8.33
bike: 11.7
run: 7.64
strength: 8 
grand total: 35.67 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Racin' and Relaxin'

Saturday morning I headed over to Palo Alto for the Juana Run 8k.  I was really looking forward to pushing myself to see if these old legs of mine could learn some new tricks.  I arrived about an hour early in order to get my t-shirt, take it to the car, and do my warm up run.  Coach and I had emailed back and forth earlier in the week and I had my plan in place.  Take it easy starting off, especially for the first mile, was going to be the hardest part.  I've historically started off fast and died off towards the end.  Yeah, I'm still learning this little thing called 'pacing.'

Soon enough they were announcing that we needed to head over to the start line, which was a couple blocks away.  I followed the crowd over to the chalk line on the ground marked 'start' and tried to keep my legs loose and nerves in check.  A few minutes went by and someone at the front of the pack started talking, very quietly, and all I heard was 'GO!'  And off we all went.  Or should I say, off *they* all went.  Zoom.  And I was following right along.  Damn, they grow them fast over on this side of the bay!  I made myself pull back and keep my race in my head rather than trying to keep up.  I got to the first mile marker and there was a volunteer reading off times.  

I hit my first mile about where I thought I would for my "A" goal, and worried it might be a little too fast, but felt good.  I hit the second mile and again was right where I was hoping to be.  At the third mile, there was no announcer, but I was still feeling good.  Good sign.  Right after the three mile marker I passed a woman and felt her fall in pace behind me.  Occasionally I would hear her say something to a spectator, so I knew she was hanging right there.  I was trying to pick up the pace a little with each passing mile, but during the fourth mile my head started sending some negative thoughts down the pipe.  I tried to shut them out and keep pushing, but felt myself fade a little.  I think at some point I was hoping that woman behind me would pass so I could rabbit her instead of being the rabbit.  But she didn't.  And when we hit the 4 mile marker, I told myself that there was no way I was letting her pass me now.  I started to pick up the pace a little.  And when the volunteers said, "Last turn, the finish is right down there" I pushed it a little more.  In retrospect maybe I should have waited until I could actually *see* the finish line.  It seemed to take forever to get there.

Crossing the finish line, I glanced up at the clock to see that I had beat my revised goal of going under 45 minutes.  In fact, when I checked my Garmin I had come seriously close to hitting my "A" goal of going 8:30 pace.  Of course Garmin says I ran 5.04 miles, when the course was supposed to be 8k, so my official pace was 8:42.  Either way.....I beat my 5k PR pace on an 8k course!  Woot!   I guess this old dog may be capable of learning new tricks after all.  Thanks coach!

My workout week done, it was time for some relaxation.  I took Bam out for a hike at Garin and realized that my dog has become obsessed with the creek.  She used to just pop down the bank to get a drink when she was thirsty.  Now she'll hang out in the creek until I *make* her come back up.  Then she'll trot off to the next accessible bank and head down to the creek some more.  Why the change?  She discovered tadpoles last spring and has been looking for them to come back ever since.  And while we haven't seen any yet, she's started chasing after water striders.  She will romp through the stream chasing them down, biting at the water, generally being a total goofball.

At one point I was watching her and saw her grab a leaf, shake it, and drop it.  And then watched it swim away.  Uh...wha!?!?  I went over to take a closer look and saw that it wasn't a leaf (of course), but was.....

a salamander!  I watched it for a while and it was swimming/crawling/moving around okay, so I don't *think* she smooshed it.  She saw me watching and started to stomp after it again, but I was able to get her to leave it alone.  We went back to Garin today and walked the other direction on the trail.  She still checked out every stream access point she could and I wandered down with her.  I was able to see 2 or 3 of these little guys at each point we stopped at.  Pretty cool.  Oh!  I also saw a fox out there today.  And some wild turkey.  And of course....cows.  But they left us alone, and we returned the favor.

All in all, a good weekend.  And I'm really looking forward to the upcoming races to see just how far, or should I say how 'fast',  I can push myself.  I'm doing the work, seeing results, and actually believing that I can make some progress.  Look times ahead!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

T minus 3

Three days until my first event of 2010!  Wheeeeeee.  Yes, there is excitement in the air. And there is also a twinge of nervousness.  Maybe more than a twinge.  I have an ambitious goal in mind for myself for the 8k on Saturday.  I need to remember that it's a goal....if I don't make it this time, there will be another chance.  In that light, perhaps I need an "A" goal and a "B" goal.  A=ambitious, B=backup?  Okay, I now have two goals in mind.  There, wasn't that easy?  Hopefully they aren't both too ambitious.

Workouts have been going well.  I feel like I'm getting stronger and maybe, just maybe getting a little speedier (hence the overly ambitious goal).  I've had a few bricks in the last couple of weeks and the running off the bike is....well...running.  My version of running anyway.  Altho the default settings in my Garmin seem to think it's a 'fast jog' or 'slow run'.  Whatever. Yes, I know it's shorter stuff.  Nothing like IM training. (And right now I say "Woo Hoo for that!")  But it's nice to feel like I come off the bike now with my legs somewhat intact even if it's only for 20-30 minutes at a pop.  I'll take it.  Progress is progress. Gotta' start somewhere.

Weight is hovering on a precipice.  I am a hair away from my goal.  Now I want to lower my goal.  Of course.  Classic "me."  I just don't know how low I should go.  I have a body fat dunk test all scheduled up for 2 weeks from Saturday.  That will give me more info and then maybe it's time to talk to the nutritionist again.  I've been pretty happy with the results she's helped me get so far.  Amazingly I'm not starving, altho I do get hungry quite often. Or "HUNGRY!" as I text'd to dear hubby just last night. But I mostly eat sensibly, indulge occasionally, and try to balance it all out.  Not rocket science by any means.

On the entertainment front, I've been indulging my inner couch potato and soaking up Olympic coverage.  Altho, it's at times like these that I would kill for either cable TV, Tivo, or both.  Can not *believe* the amount of commercials they show on NBC.   I have to admit that I fell asleep during the opening ceremonies.  Sorry, just not as exciting as Beijing. 

We skipped last night's coverage to catch Billy Joel and Elton John in concert at the HP Pavilion.  This is the second time we've seen them together and they do put on a fantastic show.  Both were musically entertaining, but Billy Joel was also just plain entertaining.  Quite a few jokes about his age, including some seemingly unintentional 'senior moments' when he couldn't remember the name of one of his albums.  They started out playing piano facing each other, alternating who's song they were singing, and alternating stanzas of the songs for 4-5 songs.  Then John played for about an hour, then Joel for about an hour, then back together again for 4-5 songs.  And even tho I joked about skipping out after Elton John was finished, I ended up enjoying the whole thing quite a bit.  A fun night out, but as I said to Jeff, "I'm getting too old for these late nights."  His response?  "Maybe you're just getting old."  Smart ass.  I did have to laugh tho.

But man, am I tired now.  Maybe tonight we skip some of the Olympics and hit the hay a little early.  After all, I need to rest up for my big Saturday!

*** Breaking news.....questions to coach, and answers back, have me revising my goal a bit.  I was definitely overly ambitious.  With this new goal in mind, I'll just leave it all out there and do my best!  C'mon Saturday! :)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Over thinking it

I emailed coach last week, whining *again*, about my swimming.  I was really feeling like I'm stuck in a rut, even after the lesson.   And the more I thought about my swim stroke, the more confused I got.  Am I supposed to do the stuff I learned at the lesson (more of a lengthening out my stroke) to get faster?  Am I supposed to increase my arm turnover to get faster?  Kick more? Kick less?  Turn more on my side? Or less?  So, yes,  completely reasonable *now* to see that I was way over thinking it.  She sent me some comments, and no it wasn't "quit yer whining!", and so I'm back to working on things without thinking about it quite so much.  If that makes sense.  So tonight I was swimming on my own, since I couldn't make masters swim.  I really focused on the drills.  Work on one thing at a time. And when the time comes to swim....just swim.  And maybe I saw a little progress.  Which completely fell apart as I got tired.  But still...I have to start somewhere. 

I had a nice moment of progress last Saturday on my brick workout too.  Legs felt the best they've felt off the bike in I can't remember how long.  I was actually the bike....unheard of.   And I was instructed to end in HR zone 3, so I saw some paces I haven't seen....well....I think ever.  So I'm feeling good about getting a tiny bit of speed in my aging body.  It's nice to see the results of the work.

Sunday was a rest day. What better day for a hike, eh?  Okay, that might not be rest, but it was a nice easy-paced hike with Jo Lynn and dogs.  The three B dogs: Bam, Boomer, and Bella.  Lots of babbling brooks and streams.  Lots of cows.  Interesting too that Bam is perfectly content to *chase* the cows when she's in a pack. Probably doesn't hurt that Boomer and Bella can run circles around her and the cows are mostly scattered by the time Bam gets there, but still.  The dogs had a blast, I had fun chatting it up with Jo Lynn, and Bam and I both had a nice nap when we got home.

My weight had a nice little blip downward this week.  Seems to be a pattern, lose one week, hold steady for one week.  Whatever. I'll take it.  I'm about 1.5 pounds from my original arbitrary goal weight. I'm going to go for a dunk test sometime in the next few weeks so I'll have a better idea what my body fat is and can set a goal body fat and weight from there.  Hopefully my lean mass hasn't dropped much, if at all, and I've mostly lost fat. I have to guess there's at least some muscle loss however.  Those 3, 4, 5...8! hour rides from last year *had* to have put some muscle on my legs.  And now that I'm doing shorter durations, I'm pretty sure some of that has melted away.  Be interesting to see anyway.

In other news, I hear from my big brother that he's back in training.  He and my Aunt are going to run the Illinois marathon (the half).  It's on May 1, so there's plenty of training time yet.  Very cool.  If I wasn't already going to be back in Illinois two weekends in May, I *might* be tempted to join them.  Then again...this is the year of shorter maybe not tempted *too* much.  Happy training family, you'll do awesome!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Hocus pocus and other magic

Through the magic of the internet, Bam and I met up with Jo Lynn and her super cute dog, Boomer, for a hike on Tuesday.  When we met at Garin we realized we had seen each other 'around' before, which makes sense as we live a stones throw from each other. Well, not quite that close, but pretty close.  Bam had a great time romping with Boomer, and following his lead, she even worked up the courage to walk right towards the cows standing on the trail and make them trot away.  I think she slept the entire day away once we got home.  Okay, it's true, that isn't *that* unusual for her....but she was definitely worn out!  A good start to the day for sure.

This morning I finally got in to see my PT about my shoulder problem.  After talking about what's been going on with it, he did some tests.  This involves him pushing and/or pulling on my arm in various ways as I try to resist. It starts as a pretty pathetic effort, I have to say, since he's not using much force at all.  Then he does some hocus pocus where he has me reposition my posture/head/some part of my body and we do the test again.  And it's just amazing what a difference it makes.  Biomechanics...simply amazing.  My problem wasn't the shoulder at all.  Well, maybe a tiny bit, but it was really in my neck.  See, I sit all day long behind a computer.  And I have bad posture.  And I slouch...which I guess is the same as bad posture.  Anyway, what's apparently been going on is that I've been slouching and my head is kind of slouching forward, not up nice and straight and tall, and it's affecting the nerve coming out of my C6 (cervical vertebrae #6).  Which, not so coincidentally, runs down the clavicle, through the pecs, down the arm, and innervates the last two fingers on the hand.  The ones that have been tingling.  There was some fairly painful deep tissue/ART work on my neck and some work around my clavicle.  My *favorite* is when he hits a particularly nasty tight spot, evidenced not only by the pain that I experience, but also by the "Ewwww" or "Ick" he utters as he digs in.  The sound effects are awesome.  And of course, there was homework issued.  Which I fully intend to work on this time.  I do *not* want to get back to the place I was a few weeks ago.  After all, it's not something that requires weights or equipment.  I just have to 'reset' my head position and work on getting my muscles to learn their new job.  Or the job that they should have been doing to begin with. All this just reinforces the fact that maintenance really is the best policy.

Anywhoo....the week is wrapping up and I can almost feel that Sunday rest day!  Happy weekend all and best of luck to everyone racing this weekend! Wishing you fast feet!