12.21.2009

6 more days!

Less than that, actually. In 6 days we'll probably be walking the strip and looking at the lights of Vegas. I cannot wait! I was surprised to look at the forecast and see how cold the nights are, though. Mid-30s...that's not all that much warmer than what we are used to here. I wish my Winter coat weren't so bulky--I almost think I'd want to wear it in the evenings, but I am sure I won't have room to pack it. I guess I could just wear it on the plane(s) and take it off to hold on my lap if I am too warm. Hubby says we will likely drink enough adult beverages that we won't notice the cold. And he's probably right.

Good lord, though...speaking of the booze. In the past week I drank WAY too much eggnog. Eggnog with dark rum. And I wonder why my fat jeans are snug and my skinny jeans are no-way-in-hell-chubby-bitch. I was supposed to weigh-in today in the weight-loss group on RunningAHEAD...but, um, I am sorta in denial. Or mostly just embarrassed. I will lose a couple of pounds and then celebrate...with a few pounds. Dammit.

To add to things, Saturday night my 2 closest gal pals and I got together for a run (just over 5.5 miles), got cleaned-up, then went out for dinner...then drinks. That was not a low calorie evening. At all. But it was so worth it to have a girls' night out, even the really horrible cover band at the bar was worth it. Such a fun evening.

So now I am paying...in the form of running and biking miles. Last night I did just shy of 9 miles on the trainer, today I ran close to 5 miles, tomorrow I will ride on the trainer again...maybe as far as 15 miles if my butt will tolerate it.

Tonite's run was with one of my friends, then we're planning to run again on Weds. Since DH is working, but DS is home on break I have to wait until evening to run. Running in the dark is sort of cool, but also a little unnerving. It's fun with a friend, but I've never really liked it solo.

Before we leave for Vegas I should be hitting 1800 miles for the year (I am less than 9 from goal, right now). Then I will likely be hanging up the running shoes until 2010. I'm not planning to bring any running gear to Vegas, since I doubt I will get up early enough to avoid crowds on the Strip.

12.15.2009

Gonna be the death of me...

What, you might ask? Eggnog. More specifically, eggnog + Bacardi Select rum. OMG, Nirvana! Portion control is difficult, since it is so tasty. It is also SO high in calories. Ugh. 'Tis the season. I figure the good eggnog (ie the stuff with mostly natural ingredients) will be gone from stores soon, so gotta indulge while I can. I should probably run and bike as much as is humanly possible in the next couple of weeks, too. Ugh.

I recently got a new cell phone. My old one looks like that one at left, only in red. I really loved that phone for nearly 2 years...but all my friends and family text. That phone was useless for texting. And the hinge (it swivels open and closed like a switchblade) had gotten loose enough over the years to start wanting to open in larger pockets (like the wide pocket on the back of one of my favorite running tops). It also wasn't holding a charge like it once had (though better than most of my past phones at the same age).

After looking at the other choices available to me from Verizon I settled upon the Samsung Alias 2. I like that neat e-ink keypad feature, as well as the brand. My previous phone is the most reliable and durable phone I have owned, so staying with Samsung seemed like a good choice.
The new phone is quite a bit larger and heavier than my old one, but I'm hoping that's not too bothersome while running. I found that I couldn't clip my small Juke phone to the waist of some bottoms (like my running skirts) or wear in the side pocket without it being too heavy...so if I have to wear things in a rear shirt pocket or stick to compression shorts, then I might as well get a more useful phone, anyhow. And the camera on it is FAR better than what the Juke had. It can do 30 second video clips, too, which my Juke could not. These features could prove very useful on the run...especially since I can upload them directly to Facebook, which is extra fun. I never bothered texting anything to FB before.

I am very happy with it. Great for texting, though 250 texts/month is obviously not going to be sufficient. If we pay an extra $5/month I would have 500 AND any texts sent or received between Verizon or Alltel phones are freebies, so it seems logical to do that, since just about everyone I text is one one of those 2 carriers.

Today I ran 4 miles...it was chilly. Tomorrow is supposed to be even colder with windchill, so I think I will take that opportunity to ride the "nowhere bike" on the trainer. Weather should warm-up for the weekend, so I can get road miles on-foot, then.

12 more days until Vegas...ahh...that sunshine and warmer temps are going to be SO nice!

12.12.2009

I have a problem

My problem is my "drug pushers," Rick & Tammy. I think I should at least move the (now less than) 3# bag into the kitchen, instead of next to my keyboard.

I need to exact my revenge in some way...perhaps cookies with dried cranberries shipped back to the other side of the state would be fitting. *evil grin*

Thanks, guys, that was really a fun package to open yesterday. I love that you guys saw a massive bag of Craisins and thought of me.

In more happy and awesome news, our nasty, frigid Winter weather system has passed, replaced by blue skies with random foofy clouds and melting snow. Yes! Can't wait to get out for more than 4 miles. Yesterday was miserably cold and windy, so my planned 4-5 ended up cut down to 3, as my lungs could not tolerate the frigid air. Dane had 2 consecutive snow days this week, so my running mileage has been pretty low for this week. I did get 2 good rides in on the bike trainer, though. It's not as awful as I would have thought. I'm getting pretty hooked on CSI marathons on Spike TV, too.

I have about 50 more miles to run to hit 1800 miles for the year. As long as weather is not too horrid it should not be a problem to hit the mileage goal before we leave for Vegas on the 27th (though I may be doing some nighttime runs in the dark, as hubby is still working part of Christmas week and I'll be home with the rugrat). I'm not planning to run while we are there. I'd have to get up early to not deal with crowds on the strip, which I'm just not expecting will happen.

There is a good chance that this December will be the only month this year that I don't log at least 100 miles. But I have at least one 200 miler month logged this year and I have been putting in a few miles here and there on the bike indoors, so I don't feel too sluggish or guilty.

12.06.2009

3 Weeks!

In a mere 21 days I will be basking in the Vegas sun...ahhh...I think by then I will be sick to death of the cold, dreary Michigan Winter. Bah, who am I kidding? I am already sick of MI Winter and it's not even technically Winter...and this has, thus far, been the mildest late Fall in recent memory.

Finally getting caught-up on some of the photos I took last weekend, at DH's first cyclocross race. I got a couple of really good ones of him. That one at left was taken during his last lap, I think. They cut the race a bit short due to the miserable weather (sideways rain, really cold). We were all pretty chilled after that, but it was totally fun. I think next time I photograph a race I will bring my big DSLR. The point-n-shoot is convenient, but not really ideal for catching fast action. Hmmmm...perhaps I need a Canon "L" lens if I am going to make a habit of photographing the hubby's races, too, heh. *evil grin*

This photo was really fun...taken during his warm-up. Apparently even the warm-up lap hurts. And these nutty people think that I should give it a try (you know, because I run trails and now bike...sure, cyclocross seems like a logical fit...for a friggin' sadist, maybe)! I think I'd run another marathon before I'd do that sort of craziness...it'll be a cold day in Hell! Road duathlons...yeah, that sounds more my speed. Bikes are for riding, not for carrying and riding in the mud.

Yesterday I ran 10 easy miles. It was mostly a nice run, though there were some slick spots from a light layer of ice with a dusting of snow. Not enough to work with YakTrax, but still a little hairy in spots. The day before that I rode just shy of 13 on my bike on the indoor trainer. Good gawd, that is boring. Even with DH next to me and a couple of episodes of Firefly on the bigscreen...it was still pretty monotonous. But I was happy to find that the cycling has thus far not negatively affected my running. The two activities should really benefit one-another. And the size of my ass (I hope).

Today we took some photos outside for our Holiday card. I also got around to getting a few good shots of "Oberon." Isn't she pretty with the appropriate beverages in her bottle cages?

Our holiday photo includes all TWELVE of the bicycles belonging to this household, including a beast of a cheap tandem mountain bike, which the guys of the house pedaled around the yard. That was quite a sight!

The holiday crunch is certainly upon us...once I get our card and my mom's done I need to write my annual letter, mail cards, finish shopping, wrapping, getting my Secret Santa gift shipped to my giftee, and all the other assorted holiday madness is starting to pile-up. I love the season, but it seems that every year I end up feeling bogged-down by all the "stuff" that has to get done. And we STILL have to get the tree up. Gah!

12.02.2009

It's Coming!

*whimpers* Yeah...snow. In the next couple of days we have snow in the forecast. Granted, it apparently snowed while we were in IL for Thanksgiving, but since I didn't see it here, it doesn't count. We saw snow at my brother's place, too, but it was gone pretty quickly once the sun rose.

I'm really not ready for it. Yes, we had an especially mild November, so we're due for some more typical West MI late Fall yuck...but I don't want it. As a kid I loved Winter. Now I barely tolerate it. I don't like the cold, I don't like the days upon endless days of cloud cover, and I don't even like the snow all that much. Perhaps if we had season passes to a ski area I would look differently at Winter, but we don't...so I don't.

Running in snow is fun for a mile or two, then it becomes drudgery. And the ice often lurking below the snow makes it downright dangerous at times. And the eleventy-hundred layers of running gear that make for large loads of wash every couple of days and the chapped, peeling nose from wiping/blowing the constant snot faucet...meh.

This year my dread of snow and cold is perhaps at its greatest. My pretty road bike has only seen 2 outdoor rides. The weather lately has been quite nice for riding, but I'm limited to riding when the hubby is available to go with me (and someone can watch the rugrat--so pretty much only on the every-other Friday that DH is off work and the monkey is at school). I'd love to go out on my own, but at this early stage in the game it's probably unwise. I need some lessons in how to do simple mid-ride fixes and a knowledgeable rider there to make sure that if I get stuck with something that I won't end up stranded in BFE (ie out of cell phone range) with my sweaty bod increasingly becoming at risk of hypothermia.

DH has this Friday off, but the predicted high temp is 30 and we're supposed to have snow. I could probably tolerate the cold part, but I'm thinking my skinny, slick road bike tires would be a no-go. Too bad I can't slap my YakTrax onto my bicycle tires...

Speaking of snow tires...I don't think it will be long before the "all season" performance tires come off my car in favor of the snows. Though driving my little Mazda 3 with Bridgestone Blizzaks is pretty fun. That car is nearly unstoppable with those tires, as long as the snow is not so deep that I completely bottom-out (which is rare, even in these parts--at least on the main roads). I never got the hype surrounding snow tires until I bought a car that can't take standard all-season tires. Seriously, dedicated snow tires are the cat's meow. I can't even get my ABS to kick-in most of the time, unless I am on glare ice.

25 days 'til Vegas! I'm really getting excited, now! Yesterday I hit TJ Maxx, Target, Kohls (I never find anything there...yet I always feel obligated to pop in) and Old Navy in search of some cheap, new duds for the trip (BTW, why is it when I want a cute denim skirt to wear with garishly striped knee-high socks they are virtually impossible to find?). Picked-up a few items and returned home to find the hubby bummed that I never buy anything for him. This was puzzling...he never expressed any interest in me shopping for him. So today I returned to ON and for <$60 I got him 4 nice long-sleeved shirts and a sweater that is nearly identical in color to one I have--we can be twinsies! *snort*

11.23.2009

:)

Yesterday was a smiley day. My MIL had DS for the morning, so hubby and I got out on our bikes for my first "long" ride. It was awesome! We rode 30 miles (in about 2.5 hours and averaging about 13mph for the entire ride, which included quite a few stops at cross-streets)...I had only planned to go 26.2 in honor of my friends who ran a brutal marathon in TN, but we would have been close to 28 miles with our noodling around, so DH talked me into an extra couple. It was fabulous! Next time we'll have to get a photo in color...our little point-n-shoot was set on the wrong color balance mode for outdoor shooting and no amount of Photoshopping could fix it. When in doubt, switch to grayscale!

We had one longish stop at a friend's house near the end of our ride and for some reason my Garmin decided to toss the mapping data for the entire ride before that. Bummer. I really wanted to see what it recorded. But I also forgot to have it calculate the lap info. at each mile (I did have it set to beep at the miles, which was fun...takes a LOT longer to hit those alarms while running!). I think I have the settings better customized for rides, now. I also have the auto-pause set to activate any time I go below 3mph. While were standing in my friend's driveway the autopause kept starting and stopping, which I'm guessing was the cause of the data loss from the earlier part of our ride.

That day itself was gorgeous. We were a bit overdressed for temps in the low-to-mid 50s. It's just difficult to comprehend weather like this in November--especially after the past couple of years. My new saddle is definitely a better fit than the narrower, squishier stock saddle that came on my bike. My butt is only a teeny bit annoyed with me today. Clipping in and out of my pedals was no problem and I'm getting better at shifting and keeping my cadence high(er). Having the cadence sensor on my Garmin really helps with that. My Forerunner 305 has definitely paid for itself over the past 2 years. It works perfectly as a running and cycling computer.

Today I ran a peppy 4 miles. I really didn't expect much from my legs after a stretch of workouts that included a 17 mile ride, 10 mile run, and 30 mile ride. Tomorrow I'm planning to do 7-8 miles to make up for the sluggish day of sitting in the car on Weds. If we feel up to waking early, my brother and I may bust out a 5k turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day.

I'm REALLY going to miss my bike in the coming week. With the holiday it's going to be keeping the cats company. We'll be back Sunday in time for hubby to do his first cyclocross race. Next week it's likely that any rides I do will be on the trainer. But the hubs has next Friday off, so if the weather is good I predict another nice roll through the countryside while the rugrat is in school. Woot!

11.20.2009

That was nice

17 miles on the bike with hubby and my MIL. My butt didn't even complain too much, which really surprised me. I'm still going to be happy to have a wider, firmer seat, but my stock one will work in a pinch or maybe someone along the way will like it. Always good to keep stuff like that around.

Our ride went better than I had expected. I was a little nervous about the shoes and pedals. It has been years since I used clipless pedals and that was only briefly before I became "with child." Plus my old SPD pedals were really low-end and never worked very well. They didn't engage well and were tough to adjust...hence one fall when I was completely stopped and couldn't get my shoes to unclip. Today I clipped and unclipped with no issue. Last night I adjusted the pedals to their loosest setting, but they still held my cleats well...just not TOO well.

Running has really made me aerobically fit, too. My quads are going to take time to strengthen (so the speed is not quite there, yet), but our 17 miles was probably 5-10 less than I would have been comfortable doing today. We were crunched for time and I have a 10 mile run on the agenda for tomorrow, so 17 was just right, considering. In 2 days DH and I are planning to ride again (weather forecast continues to look fabulous!), so then maybe we can do 20-25. As long as my butt doesn't complain too much I am game. My right foot was much happier today without my Superfeet insoles, so they were probably overkill in the arch support department.

This cycling thing is way too fun. It's nice to have some variety in my workouts. I don't see myself ever completely ditching running, though. There are few things more fun than racing to really test fitness and it's still a far more efficient workout than cycling in terms of the time requirement. And trail racing...I have no interest in mountain biking (trees come at ya' WAY too fast), but give me a run in the woods on a trail...ahhh...heaven. Plus it's something I can enjoy with my closest friends who don't enjoy cycling. It's a good excuse to get out of the house and then enjoy post run/race beers. Don't forget those trail relays that take all day and end with a smelly, dirty, happy team of 6 runners in a big SUV and nearly 80 miles logged on-foot. I wouldn't give that up for anything.

Today I got my new orange bar tape put on my bike. It looks just like that. My bike is truly garish, but no one could ever claim that they didn't see me, which is good from a safety standpoint. I tend to wear a lot of bright colors when I run, for the same reason. It kind of steams me that so many Winter running apparel items are navy or black, when they should be red, orange, yellow...the end of the spectrum that the human eye most readily detects and what our brains associate with things that require attention. There is good reason that fire engines and stop signs are red and school busses are yellow. It's both physiological and psychological.

In addition to the bar tape I had a Garmin candence/speed sensor installed and a mounting bracket. The cadence/speed sensor is the awesomest thing ever. It allows me to use my Garmin Forerunner 305 as effectively as a cycling tool as it has been for running since I first got it 2 years ago. It makes a cycling computer obsolete. It will track and display speed, distance, cadence, HR, maps, elevations profiles...way more than a typical cycling computer.

The shop ordered the wrong sort of bracket, but it's no biggie. The type they ordered requires that the pins and straps be removed from the Garmin. It would work well if I wanted to use the velcro straps for wearing on my wrist and the quick-release base, then I could pop it off to put on my bike. But velcro against my skin is icky. And the way that sucker would reek after a few sweaty runs would be even ickier. At right is the bike mount I will instead order. It essentially turns the handlebar into a wrist, so I can take my Garmin off and attach it to the handlebars using the traditional watch-band style clasp. This will be really nice during my duathlon next Summer. I can switch the Forerunner from my wrist, to the bike, and back to my wrist for the 3 portions of the race.

11.17.2009

Feeling a little blue (heh)

Yeah, I gots me some real shoes! Garish, ain't they (I thought I would be getting boring black shoes, but apparently this is what Sidi is doing with their female-specific models...who am I to argue with that)? I played around a bit on the trainer yesterday with the new shoes and pedals. The outer edge of my right foot was really sore...kind of in the peroneal tendon area, which is a region that has been bothersome to me over the years with running, too. I had DH move my cleats back a bit, which may help. I also need to make sure that I am not over-tightening the velcro straps across the forefoot and midfoot area, which could be compressing my duck feet too much and putting pressure on nerves and constricting blood flow and movement. The Superfeet insoles may be a bit of overkill in the support department, too. It's going to take some experiment to get everything comfy, I'm sure. My feet are accustomed to relatively flexible lightweight running shoes and high range-of-motion, so being forced into a motion-free, inflexible position may simply be something that will require strengthening some new muscles.

Note these are MTB shoes, not dedicated road shoes. These will allow me the ability to do a limited amount of walking from bike to ice cream stand to port-a-john, etc. Priorities, you know...

My next challenge is determining if my seat is wide enough. It's a pretty narrow seat and from the rough sit-bone measurements we've attempted it appears that my sit bones are 130-140mm apart. The "cheek zone" at the widest part of my saddle (Cannondale Raven that came with the bike from the factory--I am suspicious that it's a unisex saddle and no different from men's bikes to women's bikes) looks to be more in the range of 120-130mm according to my tape measure...so I feel like I have to slide from side-to-side to keep a single sit-bone on the seat, rather than being able to keep both 'tocks on the seat. And without both sit-bones balanced on the saddle I'm looking at some very painful and numbing longer rides in the future. If my sit bones aren't bearing my weight, then my girly bits will be. Um, no thanks.

Between my sore foot and ass I could only tolerate the trainer ride for 30 minutes yesterday. Can't point to a low tolerance for pain, either...3 marathons, nearly 1700 miles on-foot since the first of the year, and over 2 decades of endometriosis cramps would suggest the opposite.

Better late than never...

Guess I should post some sort of race report from the Run With A Cougar trail race 3 days ago.

Heather and I arrived at Hoffmaster State Park to find that there were a lot more people running this year than last...and a long line for pre-registered runners to pick up their race packets. On the bright side, us procrastinators were able to walk right up and register.

Due to the large # of runners they delayed the start 15 minutes. No biggie...it was gorgeous, around 50 degrees, and full sun. Gave me a chance to chat with the guy parked next to us who had a car that was virtually identical to mine...color, year, features, body-style, manual transmission, sunroof, etc. (my car is not at all common around here, so it was kinda freaky--and I've seen his car before...I recognized his running-related custom plate). Though his was much cleaner than mine, heh. He was an older guy with no messy kids and probably doesn't park his car under a tree, either.

We got to talking about trunk-mounted bike racks, which was useful, as it can be difficult to fit a rack to a hatchback without a trailer hitch mount. It appears that there are a couple of Thule models that may work well. I can fit my bike in the back of my car with the larger portion of the split-fold rear seats down, but then we can't fit any luggage in the car if we were to go somewhere with DS along. With a rear rack we could take my car on trips without having to deal with a roof rack (and no one has to mess up their back getting the bikes up there, either).

Back to the race. I PRd by almost 1:30, but I swear it felt tougher this year. My right ear plugged-up maybe a mile in (and didn't resolve until at least a half hour after finishing...weird), so I spent much of the race swallowing and yawning trying to get that to clear. Ever notice how the sound of one's own breathing is amplified with plugged ears? Yeah, that sucks during a race.

The last mile or so of the race is on the beach. So one has the choice of running in dry sand, which is REALLY hard, or running on the wet area down by the surf...easier, but with the high probability of wet feet as waves wash up. Yep, my feet got soaked. And I forgot how heavy shoes and socks are when wet--whoa! Wow, that last mile was TOUGH! I have never come so close to puking at the finish of any race. Took me maybe a minute after crossing the line before the nausea abated. Ick.

There was one annoying tool of a guy who was attired in Under Armor beefcake compression wear with a Camelbak (yeah, for a 4.3 mile race in cool temps...moron) and a headcam. At the top of each hill he would stop, turn around, and videotape the people behind him slogging up the hills. Jackass must have done this on at least 3 hills. I think I eventually lost him. Thank gawd. What a creep. If I find that shit on YouTube I'm going to leave some not-so-friendly comments.

I finished 14/17 in my age group (165/222 finishers--14 people DNFd, which seems pretty high for a relatively small race)...which burns me, since there were THREE women who finished just seconds ahead of me. Ack, if only I had known. I'm sure if I'd have realized we were in the same AG I would have put on more gas and gotten around them. I am relatively sure I know which group of women this was and I was behind them for the entire race...I could have sprinted around them at a wider section of the trail, but didn't feel driven to do so...which I would have done had I known they were my direct competition. Ack. The older gentleman we talked to before and after the race said he likes racing tris for that reason--competitors have their age written on their calves, so each person KNOWS who they are directly up against.

3 days out and my calves have finally stopped feeling so sore and stiff. Man, running on sand for so long really does a number on a body.

11.12.2009

Shiny!

I know that's how the crew of Serenity would describe my new toy (ignore all the crap in the background)...

Today we took Oby/Oberon for her maiden voyage. It was a nice, slow, easy ride for just shy of 11 miles on flat rail trail. Gorgeous, sunny day and a perfect opportunity for me to mess with the shifting mechanism. The paddle shifters are a bit different than the grip shifters I was accustomed to on my ancient POS tank of a mountain bike.

After today it's pretty clear that my past super sore butt and instantly-numb-and-painful "hoo ha" was more the result of a poorly fit bike than any specific seat issues. My backside was a little sore after today's ride, but nothing like what I had experienced in the past. I've always been suspicious that my mountain bike was a bit too big, forcing me to lean too far forward and rest my weight on parts where weight shouldn't be rested, resulting in cycling misery after less than a mile. Today I rode on the stock seat and was much comfier--even with a seat that doesn't have an "anatomically-placed" hole. We may still want to mess with the position a bit, since I sometimes felt like I was sliding forward a little bit and had to scoot my butt back in the saddle, but not enough to bother me a whole lot.

Oby is still waiting for her flashy orange bar tape and will have the triple-crank gearing swapped with a compact double set-up. That should provide smoother shifting and I don't really NEED 30 speeds where we live...our hills are relatively few and far between. On Saturday I will hopefully be picking up my shoes so that we can put the clipless pedals on the bike. Today it was good to use the cheesy toe clips, though. It's been a while since I used clipless pedals and even then I didn't use them all that much before I ended up "with child" and not able to safely bike.

Tomorrow I have one easy 3-4 mile run before Saturday's trail race. It has been months since I ran on a trail, so I hope my legs and feet will be strong on race day. I have a feeling I will be extra sore Saturday evening at the big JDRF end-of-season party. Thank goodness there will be plenty of adult beverages to soothe my aches and pains!

11.08.2009

They should have checked with me before making plans...

It appears that DH's out-of-state 20th HS class reunion is the same weekend as the first duathlon I had hoped to "du," so '10 will likely be a one-duathlon year for me, unfortunately. I was really looking forward to using that first race as sort of a trial-run, then applying lessons-learned to training for the 2nd one 2 months later. Ah, well, such is life. The other nice thing about that first race is that it takes place close to home and on familiar roads, which would have been nice. Guess I can save that for the following year--hopefully my own 20th in '11 won't end up on that weekend, too.

Today the hubby is on the "Chilly Chili" ride. It's not particularly chilly, though. I think it's in the mid-60s. Pretty toasty for early November in these parts. Perhaps they should have planned on ice cream after the ride, instead of a Chili cook-off party. I am uber-jealous of the riders, today. My bike should be ready any day. Today would have been a great day for a ride and I'm sure 30 miles would have been totally doable for me, too. Instead I think I will go purge my closet some and tackle the monster mountain of clean laundry that needs to be put away. Wow, that's almost as much fun as cycling and chili-eating, right?

Yesterday I managed my first double-digit mileage run since the marathon 3 weeks ago. Sheesh, it's kinda crazy how out-of-shape I feel. That 10 was somewhat challenging and just felt so L-O-N-G (but with the gorgeous weather I couldn't not go the distance...it was perfect running weather and who knows how much longer we'll be treated with this). Granted, I am still not 100% recovered from the race. But my lungs also made the run a bit challenging. Unfortunately it's likely only a matter of time before I am back on steroidal asthma meds. Ugh. Hopefully I can try a form of metered dose inhaler with a spacer, rather than the inhaled powder type. The powdered form is reported to make a user much more prone to thrush issues than are the liquid mist MDI units with a spacer chamber device, which gets more med into the lungs and less coating the throat and mouth surfaces.

11.07.2009

Blogging: just another form of procrastination

Here I sit, feeling obligated to type out some randomness, even though there's not much excitement to note at the moment. I really should be gearing-up for a nice run outside. We're supposed to hit ~60º today...YES! It's a full week into November, so anything above the 40s is greatly appreciated. My MIL called last night to report that they had hit 74 in Central IL, yesterday. Wow!

Tomorrow we are predicted to hit the mid-60s, but DH has a cycling event in the afternoon and I doubt I will get motivated enough to run before he leaves at noon, so today will be my day to run. I'm planning to do 8-10...first "long" run since the marathon.

The truly nutso thing is that 10 miles feels so daunting to me at the moment. Seriously, what is up with that? Less than 3 weeks ago I ran 26.2 in a single run...while training for that race a 10 miler was a relatively short run. This weird phenomenon has afflicted me after all 3 of my marathons. Within the span of a couple of weeks I go from 10 miles = easy peasy to 10 miles = LONG. Running really is a mental sport...I think we are all insane.

This glorious weather makes me REALLY wish that my new bike were already here. The scheduled ship date from Cannondale was a few days ago, so I expect that the shop might have it...so the wait now is for them to get my pedals, Garmin Forerunner mounting kit, cadence sensor, and handlebars and tape on. Once ready I will get to go in and have everything adjusted to fit me perfectly. I still need shoes, though. I have ridiculously hard-to-fit duck feet and they were out of the shoes I'd want (a Sidi mountain bike shoe so that I can do a little bit of walking if necessary) in the size I need. Hopefully in the right length they will fit well in width and the heels, otherwise I will have to order something online...and wait some more and still not be sure of fit.

If the shoe issues are not an issue, then I will potentially be ready to roll THIS week...wow! And the forecast looks fairly decent...several days with sun and temps around 50. That's not half-bad. I will still have to bundle-up, some, but I have just enough gear that I can do some cooler weather rides...chamois shorts under wind-blocker tights, a warm cycling jacket, lots of running baselayer stuff, full-fingered cycling gloves, Smartwool running socks, etc.

In a week I am planning to do a favorite little trail race in one of the local state parks. Last year it was my first trail race and I had a blast. I think my legs will be very strong and recovered for this event, assuming I avoid Swine Flu or any other sickies in the meantime. I'm planning to register on race morning, just to be safe.

DS had his H1N1 vaccination a couple of days ago, in the form of the nasal spray. I have been unable to get the vaccine, since all the shots in the county are earmarked for pregnant women and the mist is contraindicated for those with asthma (like me). So I am falling through the vaccination cracks, even though I am in a high risk group. As a result I have been consciously avoiding situations that involve being around large groups of people and washing my hands like I have OCD. I hope we were able to get DS vaccinated in time for him to avoid contracting the virus, too (it takes 10-14 days for the vaccination to offer full protection, so he's still not out of the woods). His best friend had it a week ago, so it's surprising that he is still healthy. Not having Dane be a carrier will cut my risk of getting sick greatly. He has an almost 9 year history of bringing viruses home to mom and dad...the gift that keeps on giving.

11.01.2009

rabbit rabbit

Happy All Saint's Day. If the rest of November is as stunningly beautiful as this first day of the month, we are in for 30 days of far better weather than October handed us. Today it is sunny with ripple-y little clouds and a gentle breeze. No gale force winds and pouring rain like we saw in the last week of Oct. Perhaps I will manage a few late Fall rides on my new bike (which could be here in the next 5 days from the sound of it)...woot! Hope my friends running the New York City Marathon are having an equally perfect day for the race, too!

Yesterday I ran with my local running buddy for 5 miles in the early afternoon. It was windy and cold, but we chose a fairly sheltered route and it wasn't too bad. I am still battling thrush and unresolved asthma issues, so that put a slight damper on an otherwise really nice run. We've not been able to arrange a run together in months due to my marathon training and her kids' crazy extra-curricular schedules earlier in the Fall.

Yeah...the thrush. It appears that my PCP/PA's office has not been prescribing the proper dose of the anti-fungal meds to treat this garbage. Instead of a single 150mg pill (the dosage for the version of thrush that women get "down there") I should be given a script for a 200mg dose the first day followed by 13 days of 100mg (this according to the literature available to medical professionals from the drug manufacturer's site). This past week I have had 2 150mg doses a few days apart and this shit is not budging. I'm really friggin' tired of weeks of my tongue both burning and feeling numb and having a distinct bitter taste in my mouth at all times (yes, it really is just as awesome as it sounds...blech). It's starting to screw with my sleep, too. So tomorrow I get to call my doc's office to tell them that they are doing it wrong. Joy. Gotta be my own advocate, though. High doses of enteric-coated probiotics aren't controlling the thrush overgrowth, so I have to go the meds route if I want any relief.

Overall I feel a bit better after discontinuing both of the steroid meds to treat my allergies and asthma. I've been more sneezy and snorky, but the neti pot helps with that. I no longer feel like I am constantly run-down and on the verge of a cold. This should greatly lessen the potential of future battles with wretched thrush, too. For the asthma I'm going to ask my doctor about the possibility of taking just the long-acting bronchodilator portion of the Advair combined medication I was on. There are greater health risks to using just the single drug (Serevent), instead of the bronchodilator/steroid combo, but the Singulair pill doesn't do much for me and I need to have this controlled (ESPECIALLY with flu bugs all around us). Uncontrolled asthma leads to lung damage, which leads to further asthma issues...it's a vicious cycle. Plus not being able to breathe isn't particularly conducive to running or biking...or sleeping, or living.

Last night's Halloween celebrations were a lot of fun. DS went from wanting to dress as Calvin (as in Calvin & Hobbes Calvin) to wanting to go as a zombie. YES! The zombie costume was a lot more fun to put together and he looked great all made up. We also were able to make good use of a ratty old race t-shirt of mine and some threadbare, outgrown pants of his. I'm particularly impressed by the effect of the blood capsules we purchased.

Too bad he's not quite old enough to watch movies like Zombieland (a bit too intense) or Shaun of the Dead (less intense, but more f-bombs). He has a lot of fun with the notion of zombies (he comes by it honestly).

After trick-or-treating Dane went over to his grandma's for the night, so DH and I went with friends to a local bar that had a live band and a costume contest. None of us felt motivated enough to go in costume, but we had a good time drinking beer, eating pizza, and checking out the costumes of the night. Our favorites were Shrek & Fiona and a really excellent Viking costume, completely with furry boots. Shrek & Fiona won. Least favorite costumes were the big, creepy clown (clowns freak me out) and the Little Bo Peep(show). At a certain age sexy costumes are less "sexy" and more skanky. When your kid is old enough to drink in the bar with you (seriously), perhaps it's time to tone it down on the boudoir-styled costumes (and, please, refrain from getting up on the stage and bending over to shake your ass at the crowd--I'm guessing you didn't check that view beforehand. Ew)...

10.27.2009

Words words words

Have I mentioned how much I miss studying Shakespeare...? Anyhow, I am not good at the daily blogging thing, so the following is all sorts of randomness from the past few days.

Got the guesstimated ETA on my bike yesterday. Looks like it's going to be about another 2 weeks. Poo. And Thursday's forecast is for partly cloudy skies and a high of 60...rats! On the bright side, that might mean one last chance to wear shorts in '09. I have to enjoy every outdoor workout that I can that doesn't involve a subsequent full load of laundry.

Yesterday I had a sucky 5 mile run/walk. This is when I go out intended to run, then after 1.5 miles or so say screw it and start alternating walking with running. I decided to scale back on my mileage plans for today and only did 3 miles--but it was a really pretty good 3 miles. Yesterday my shins were really angry, but today my legs felt fine. Weird. I guess I'm doing pretty well for only being 9 days out from my last marathon, considering.

The only real issue now is my lungs. I quit Advair cold-turkey over the weekend. Why, you might ask. Why would a runner stop taking her 24/7 asthma meds just as H1N1 is gripping her entire area? Why? I'll tell 'ya why...my 4th bout with oral thrush, that's why. I am done with inhaled steroids. I don't care that they are the most effective asthma treatment. I can't bear the side effects any longer...thrush, sore throat, hoarseness, decreased immune function. The decreased immune function allows me to become sick with every little virus that comes my way. And every time I catch one of these things it opens me up to thrush.

After spending $$ on probiotics and other "alternative" treatments I am once again on diflucan to get this crap out of my system. And tomorrow I am off to my PCP to discuss my options. Most likely I will give Singulair a try, again. Perhaps it will work better with the more effective allergy meds I am now on. In the past it didn't seem to do much, but it also had 0 noticeable side-effects. It's a compromise I am happy to make. Though I would like to be able to sleep through the night without waking in a coughing fit and needing my Albuterol inhaler. Hrmmm...

Speaking of Swine Flu 2 paragraphs up...one of my close friends in my community seems to have had it descend upon her house. I saw her at the store tonite and kept my distance, which cracked us both up. While at the store we were stocking up on our own "flu survival kit." At this point it's not if we get the flu...but when. It's definitely closing-in on us. While at Walgreen's tonite I asked the pharmacist when they expected the vaccine and they have been told LATE November. Add to that the 10-14 days that it takes the vax to be effective and the earliest we can expect to be protected from the virus is early December. Fat chance.

While I am at my doc's office tomorrow I am seriously considering asking about the possibility of renting a nebulizer for a month. 2 of the last 3 flus I have suffered have landed me in the ER for breathing treatment. Given how stretched hospitals are becoming I envision laying around the waiting area for an hour or more just to be seen. Seems more logical to take matters into my own hands, if need be, and not go out further spreading the virus if I can avoid it.

If I'm still healthy on Nov. 7 I may register for a 5k Turkey Trot. Seems a waste to not make as much use of my marathon fitness as possible. A week after that I hope to do a really fun 4+ mile trail race in a state park about 30 minutes away, too.

Still not sure about our Halloween plans. There will be trick-or-treating with the kiddo and maybe going out to watch some fun bands later in the night. If weather permits we may go to try and help reclaim Grand Rapids' spot in the Guinness Book for largest zombie walk the night before, too...

10.23.2009

Ta-da!!!


And it was worth the wait! My ring took about twice as long as the jeweler had predicted, but I LOVE the results. It's not 100% what I would have had done had it been a fully custom job, but that would also have cost probably $300 or so more. Not worth the money, really. I wish the sides were a bit more open (the long sides are still pretty much enclosed in gold), but the underside of the diamond is now cleanable, so that will make it much easier to keep the pretty bling sparkly. And I love that the small side diamonds (which were earrings that belonged to my late maternal grandma) are no longer in prong settings (which didn't match the original ring's design well) and the setting is now all white gold. I NEVER wear yellow gold and have always preferred white. 2-tone was kind of trendy when we got married, but it's admittedly dated now.

The best part of my new ring...how unobtrusive it feels on my finger. That ugly airline tubing spacer always drove me nuts. It made a callus under my finger and collected a lot of dirt. I was always afraid I'd lose my ring, too.

I did have to have the new one resized right away. When I was fitted back in Sept. I must have had a bloated/puffy hand day (in part perhaps because it was more humid and warm that day). The ring had been made a 5.5, but was loose. So the jeweler resized it to a 5. I have surprisingly dainty fingers for a stocky gal. My feminine hands surely don't match my duck feet and cankles.

Speaking of ducks...I had planned to get out on my first post-marathon run today, but decided to hold off for one more. It was windy and pouring most of today and in the 40s (the sort of weather that ducks don't mind, but me...not so much). Lungs are still kinda chunkyfied, so going out in that mess just didn't sound all that appealing. Though I will say that not running for this many days has my legs feeling fabulous.

After my first marathon I only allowed myself 2 full days of rest and it took me over a month before my runs were no longer really uncomfortable. After the last one I gave myself 3 days and found that I felt better about 7-10 days faster. This time I will have had 5 days of rest. I have a feeling that this will really leave me feeling strong and refreshed much sooner. I know several more experienced (and faster) marathoners who swear by taking a full week off, post race. So I don't feel particularly sloth-like or guilty. I am actually really enjoying the prospect of running for pleasure, rather than following a relatively strict training schedule.

I am also REALLY looking forward to the arrival of my 2-wheeled toy. Hopefully it's soon. It will be nice this Winter to stay indoors on the bike trainer if it's really godawful outside...instead of bundling-up in eleventy-hundred layers and running on treacherous roads or dragging myself to the little fitness club. I will likely still join there for a couple of months in the dead of Winter, but more as an excuse to run side-by-side on treadmills with my running buddy...more of a social workout than a workout workout.

10.19.2009

Half Fanatics?

So my super-fast friend Jeff Scovill (the same dude who WON the Grand Rapids Marathon yesterday) kinda made me verbally commit to run Green Bay in May. He's planning to run the full...I'm pretty certain that I'm done with that business at this point, so I would do the half--with the added bonus of finally being able to see him finish a race, instead of being somewhere near the halfway marker when he is catching his breath.

Running at Green Bay would have a few big plusses, not the least of which is the fact that my sister and my nephews live in GB (near the course, apparently) and my folks could come spectate, too.

AND it looks like GB is only 2 weeks before Bayshore. If I did both races I could qualify for the Half Fanatics, which would be really cool. The Half Fanatics is a relatively recent half marathon version of the Marathon Maniacs club. There are varying levels of membership requirement. At the very basic level a person can become a member by completing 2 half marathons in a 16 day period or 3 in 90 days. No problem. The Marathon Maniacs membership requirement is similar...but finishing 2-3 marathons in that span would be a problem for me, heh. 2 in 5 months has about killed me.

My other potential option would be 3 half marathons in a 90 day period, which I could do by running the Oktoberfest race, something a bit later (perhaps Grand Rapids or Mackinac Island Great Turtle), and then Vegas in early Dec. The first and last are already pretty concretely in my plans for 2010, so it would only make sense to try to squeeze something in the middle there. I am really finding so many new goals to look forward to for next year.

Pit-stop cost me a marathon PR

(mostly copied from the RunningAHEAD.com race report):

Crap. Pretty certain this 3rd shot at the distance will be my last, too. The marathon is about 10 miles beyond what my body apparently can tolerate in a race.

Woke this AM about a half hour before my alarm was set to go off (@ 4:15) and decided to go with it. I prefer a leisurely race morning to rushing around trying to get us out the door into the cold, dark "night," anyhow.

We arrived well over an hour before race start and hung out in the warmth of the Grand Rapids YMCA (along with one of the many Jeffs from RA (JWU42), until 10 minutes or so before race start. Prior to this I had tried to make one last potty stop indoors before heading to the starting line, but lines were long. So I figured I could get in and out of a port-a-john in time. Wrong. Those lines were just as long. Darn.

I pride myself on never having stopped to use a portable toilet mid-race. But I knew before the gun went off that today wouldn't be my day. In hindsight I wish I would have sucked it up and found a dumpster or bush to squat behind, but there weren't as many as I would have expected during the early miles. By just before the 7 mile mark I decided to get in line for a toilet behind a couple of other women. This cost me 2.5 minutes or so...the price of a PR. I didn't realize this until the drive home. Damn!

I planned to stick with the "John Bingham" 4:44:44 pace group for the entire first half and to pick up the pace for the last half. The first 13 miles were wonderful...well under my HM PR pace, relaxed, comfortable. I could have maintained that even split for the entire race...or so I thought. At the 16 mile mark my right calf started it's usual song-and-dance...the tightening that signals cramping to come. Crap.

My training for this race has been far better than for my prior 2 marathons. More miles and some actual speedwork in the form of tempo runs around 10 minute pace or faster. A couple of months ago I had an amazing 18 miler at 10:30 pace, too. One of those runs where I felt like I could have maintained that pace forever. No discomfort, a smile on my face the rest of the night.

An easy PR today seemed like a foregone conclusion. I had already decided that this 3rd marathon would likely be my last (I don't enjoy the distance enough to keep at it--not at the expense of shorter distances that I much prefer and perform better at--finishing strongly in the first half of my AG, instead of plodding through a miserable death march for a couple of hours...then taking weeks to recover), so I was looking forward to going out on a relatively good note. 4:49:30 (70/80 AG) wasn't that great a way to go out.

On the bright side, I was able to hold the cramps off until just before the 25 mile mark (I think they struck around 22 at my last race) and this time only one calf was affected and not nearly as severely as in the past. I was approaching the final aid station when it hit and as my foot twanged off at a weird angle and I grimaced I saw one of the kids holding out a cup of Gatorade look at me in horror...like "holy crap, that chubby broad is gonna fall on me!" I think a course photographer might have captured the moment, too. That one should be a real keeper.

Adding insult to injury...once again I missed seeing our own Jeff Scovill place in a race...this time FIRST! I found out via my hubby at around 17.5 miles. Eryn/backroadrunner had called him on his cell to let him know and to relay the info. to me. Had I run the half I would have seen him finish, which would have been beyond awesome!

But post-race was awesome. We (Eryn, Jeff, Jeff's GF, DH, DS, and I) stood around having a few New Holland Brewery beers, then shuffled about a mile to the Hop Cat beer bar (well, I shuffled...everyone else actually walked) for drinks and "crack fries." (MTA: I called Cory/Corland on the way to Hop Cat and he was already there waiting for us--last time I had seen him was on an out-and-back section of the course) We made it back to our cars a couple of hours later, said our goodbyes, and I vowed that the next race I run "with" jscovill will have me registering for the shorter distance, so I can see him finish, for a change.

This race closes out my target races for '09. And now I am eagerly looking forward to concentrating on the distances/events I love--primarily the HM, trail races/relays...and taking a crack at a couple of sprint duathlons. It's going to be a nice change to put some miles in via bicycle with the hubby. I can't wait to cover 20 miles via my own leg-power and not have it take over 3.5 hours.

Here are the laps...including the last one when I forgot to stop my Garmin:
edit delete
Info
Date:10/18/2009 8:02 AM
Type:Race
Course:2009 Grand Rapids Marathon
Distance:26.2 miles
Duration:4:49:30
Pace:11:03 / mile
Equipment:Nike Run Avant+ (blu/yel)
Misc:Quality: 6/10, Effort: 9/10
Field Placement:1227 / 1555 (78.9%)
Age group:35 – 39
Group Placement:70 / 80 (87.5%)
Gender Placement:445 / 635 (70.1%)
Weather:45° F, Humid, Partly Cloudy
Notes:Last marathon. Thank gawd.
Statistics:VO2 Max: 30.0

edit delete
Intervals (GPS Interval)
TypeDistanceTimeTotal TimePaceAvg HRMax HRNotes
Interval1 Mi10:24.7810:24.7810:25
Interval1 Mi10:22.9620:47.7410:23
Interval1 Mi10:28.8231:16.5610:29
Interval1 Mi10:20.9241:37.4810:21
Interval1 Mi10:21.1951:58.6710:22
Interval1 Mi10:33.441:02:32.1110:34
Interval1 Mi13:11.791:15:43.9013:12
Interval1 Mi10:28.051:26:11.9510:29
Interval1 Mi10:18.751:36:30.7010:19
Interval1 Mi10:17.691:46:48.3910:18
Interval1 Mi10:36.951:57:25.3410:37
Interval1 Mi11:07.042:08:32.3811:08
Interval1 Mi10:13.112:18:45.4910:14
Interval1 Mi10:30.472:29:15.9610:31
Interval1 Mi10:28.372:39:44.3310:29
Interval1 Mi10:44.452:50:28.7810:45
Interval1 Mi10:49.383:01:18.1610:50
Interval1 Mi10:33.133:11:51.2910:34
Interval1 Mi10:47.23:22:38.4910:48
Interval1 Mi11:01.173:33:39.6611:02
Interval1 Mi11:12.383:44:52.0411:13
Interval1 Mi11:09.293:56:01.3311:10
Interval1 Mi12:39.134:08:40.4612:40
Interval1 Mi11:42.334:20:22.7911:43
Interval1 Mi12:24.124:32:46.9112:25
Interval1 Mi12:17.014:45:03.9212:18
Interval0.58 Mi15:27.95:00:31.8226:40