Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Mario

Mr. Grumpy Face

I have still not made-up for my missed 16 miler this past Friday. I ran 5 miles today and saw the blue sky for the first time in days. Yay! I'm debating getting the long run done tomorrow or just holding off until Friday. Originally I had planned for this to be a cut-back week because my parents are going to be in town visiting. Figured I wouldn't keep them waiting three hours while I ran loops. So if I can do it tomorrow before they arrive I'll just do 8 or so on Friday. Otherwise I'm shooting for 8 tomorrow and may or may not run long on Friday.

I've been keeping the mileage up this month for two reasons. One, I want to keep a good base up before I start triathlon/half marathon PR/50K training next month (much more on this later). Two, I set a goal of 1500 miles for 2008. I regret the mileage goal. I use an excel spreadsheet running log I downloaded a few years ago. It's great. It's got a lot of fancy tables I don't know how to read and never use, but it also tracks a lot of things to which I pay attention. One of the things it can do is tell you exactly how many miles you are either behind or ahead for a mileage goal for the year.

In 2007 I broke 1000 miles for the first time. That was even with a month I only ran 16 miles! So I thought 1500 would be reasonable if I kept the running constant the whole year. As of today I am 38.7 miles behind my goal for the year. I saw that number creep up to 60 and have been widdling away at it. Sprained ankles forced me to cut back heavily more than a few weeks this year and I've been playing catch-up ever since.

I don't think I'll ever set another mileage goal. I find myself padding my mileage and less willing to really cut back when I need to. I'm less willing to forgo a running day for things like biking (and soon swimming). I don't mind this being the "Year of Run" but next year I think I'd like to not feel guilty when I diversify. And yes, I am too pigheaded to abandon it at this point. I'm not sure if I'll catch up, but I'm still going to try. When I get to December 30th and am more than a marathon away from my goal I will concede.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

First Swim!

I finally got to a swimming pool today.  I managed 450 yards with breaks between each lap.  Holy cow!  Swimming is not easy!  The first lap I was thinking that if I were in open water I'd probably panic and die.  I have a long way to go before I'm ready for an OWS triathlon. I guess my problem is I have no upper body strength whatsoever.  Nada.  My arms and shoulders were burning.

I have not been in a pool to swim laps in almost 5 years.  Back in 2003 I spent the summer training for my first 10K.  In order to give my body a break from the pounding, I alternated swimming days with running days.  My goal for the summer was to swim 1 mile continuously.  I worked my way up slowly and finished off the summer with a 1 mile swim.  

The funny thing is, I remember really enjoying the swimming.  On days that were running days I'd get up and begrudgingly head off to the gym.  But on swimming days I got up raring to go and couldn't wait to get to the pool.  The swimming was just so calming and meditative.  I remember thinking that eventually one day I'd swim for exercise instead of all of the funny running stuff.

Of course, since then I've definitely fallen in love with running so I'm curious to see how this swimming thing will pan out.

Not too shabby!

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's official...I'm a sensitive person


I'm sure you've heard by now (especially since Western States was cancelled) but there's a lot of fire and smoke going on in Northern California lately.  Wednesday I could smell smoke in the air when I was driving to work.  Yesterday I had planned to run just 3 miles to give my shins a test after a few days of NSAID assault.  There was definitely smoke in the atmosphere because the setting sun was a glorious orange-red ball.  There were a lot of people out taking pictures of the sunset along the beach.  My lungs felt okay though my eyes were burning.  

Today I was hoping to get 16 miles done.  I woke up and checked the air quality report.  The San Francisco area was at 74 which meant that "unusually sensitive people should limit prolonged outdoor exertion."  I don't have asthma or any lung problems so I figured by that standard I was okay to go for a long run.  I opened up a window to gauge the temperature and was hit with a scent that can only be described as "campfire."  I hummed and hawed over it for a bit but couldn't differentiate if my reluctancy to get out and run stemmed from smoke or laziness.  So I suited up and got out the door.

When I arrived at the lake there was a father with a young son getting bikes off the back of his truck.  Well, if parents are willing to let their kids inhale this stuff it can't be that bad!  I got started.  In San Francisco it's hard to tell if all the haze is smoke or fog.  I'm hoping it's a mixture because if all of the haze was smoke I had no business being out there 74 or not!  At mile 2.5 I had to take a walking break.  From that point on every half a mile or so I had to walk.   My legs felt good but my lungs were not cooperating.  I felt a tightness in my chest whenever I tried to take a deep breath.  I decided to finish up the lake loop and called it quits at a little over 5 miles which is the mileage I was hoping to do on Sunday.

I decided it would be better to postpone the long run until Sunday.  Checking the Air Quality forecast it now seems that the air should be back to normal on Monday.  So I'll have to wait and see how it goes as far as what day I'll be able to get out for a long run.  The problem with these fires is you have no idea really if things are definitely going to get better or not.  Who knows if my difficulties today stemmed from the smoke or just an off day, but I didn't want to take any chances.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shin Splints, Flowers, Destructive Chewing

Yesterday I did 9x400 intervals.  I had a hard time hitting the times I've been able to do the last couple of months.  Even when I felt like I was putting in a good effort, Garmin would tell me I wasn't quite making the mark.  Today I went out for an easy 8 miles.  I felt a little sluggish and my shins are both acting up.  I think my body is trying to tell me something.  Tomorrow is a rest day and Thursday I'll cut back a little.  Per my old NYC podiatrist I'm supposed to be icing daily both after runs and at night and supplementing with NSAIDS as needed.  I've been pretty bad about doing this for the last 6 months and it's starting to catch up with me.

One thing about California that I really love is all of the wildflowers.  In NYC things bloom all at once and then fade to green.  Out here there are just waves and waves of new flowers coming out every time I go for a run.  It's probably long since peaked, but there are still new developments.  It's gorgeous.

My bunny has a rubber fetish (that sounds so bad).  He once bit off every single button from my remote control.  He loves to nibble off the teeth from his Zoom Groom brush.  He's put many a tooth-mark on my rubber slippers.  I just caught him nibbling on the edges of my bike trainer.  The wood chairs I can understand, but where does he get this urge?  I guess it does come from a tree.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Mario

In a few days we will officially be closer to Christmas coming than Christmas being in the past. I love Christmas. So I thought I'd celebrate this time-passing victory by posting a few photos of Mario from Christmas season 2007.

We have a fake tree so Mario leaves it alone. I mostly have to make sure he doesn't bite the wires for the Christmas lights. The wires didn't seem to attract him, but he loved to bite at the presents. Once he pulled off one of those sticky bows and ran around the apartment with it in his mouth when I tried to get it away from him.

Mario with his gingerbread cookie likeness (I had already eaten the body when I thought to get a picture of him with it).

Speaking of Christmas...Almost two years ago Boyfriend bought me a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas. In my tiny NYC studio I didn't have the spare table space to get around to putting it together. I finally opened it up the other day and I am hooked. This puzzle is like crack. I sit down and say, "Okay, I'll just work on it until I put together three pieces." Next thing I know it's three hours later. I had to peel myself away from it yesterday to go out and run 5 miles. I haven't done a jigsaw puzzle in a decade and this one is definitely harder than I'd like. I mean, take a look at the picture!! It's all blue and white! I put Mickey together in about 30 seconds, and after that it's been all downhill for my sanity.

Searching for the link to a picture, I also came across this little blip by someone. Yes, I am having the same problems!! There are some pieces you'd swear fit together and since every thing is the same color it is hard to tell you've got it wrong! I like puzzles of things that have different colors and stuff so you can actually search for actual pieces instead of sitting there for 5 hours trying piece after piece trial and error style. I'm not sure if this is fun or torture.

I also sadly have puzzle injuries. My neck is sore from looking down for so long and my right elbow bone is bruised from resting my arm on it for so long as I try to put pieces together.

I need a support group.

My progress to date. Triumph! All the dark blue pieces are in!

So that my suffering is clear, I've taken a picture of the enclosed "Puzzle Diagram."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sweat Once A Day

First things first, I decided to keep the skirt.  It grew on me.  Magically, as I was deciding, a second skirt appeared at my doorstep.  Seems accidentally shipped my order twice.  I took it as a sign it was meant to be and am keeping the original (the second "messenger" skirt will shortly be making it's way back home).

Today I was scheduled to run 14 miles.  Yesterday was fairly warm and today was slated to be "slightly warmer than yesterday."  According to the weather pages, Sunday will be about 20 degrees cooler than today.  I hummed and hawed about maybe putting off the long run 'til Sunday but decided to just get out there and get it done.

I know some parts of the country are broiling right now, but it was mighty hot out for San Francisco today (86 degrees at the end of my run).  One of the reasons I wanted to move here was because I thought it was 49 degrees year-round!  I visited in July a few years ago and it was super chilly.  Perfect running weather, I thought.  Well, days like this make Boyfriend happy (he had visions of us moving to "Sunny California") but this warm weather weenie can't take the heat so well.

Despite the heat I felt pretty good out there today.  I went through over double the amount of water I'd normally take in and ended the run a sweaty, salty mess.  I felt like a vampire as I dodged into every shadow I could.  In the shade the temperature was not so bad, but the cloudless, direct sunlight really raised the temperatures fast.  I capped off the run by conquering The Hill again!  I figure if I can do it at the end of a hot, long run I've probably got the ascent covered now.

Some strange things I saw on the run today:
At mile 0.5 I saw a woman and a teenager pushing a tortoise on a skateboard up The Hill.  The tortoise was by far the largest pet tortoise I've ever seen.  It totally obscured the skateboard so that you'd think he had wheels growing out of his shell.

At mile 3.5 I saw a fire truck with it's ladder raised up towards the sky in the middle of a parking lot by the beach.  There was nothing at all nearby for the ladder to be going to.  There was no one on the ladder.  It looked very odd.

Oh, I've also had a major rant about Golden Gate Park's sprinkler system.  They have got the worse sprinkler system ever.  It always shoots all over the sidewalks causing much dodging and trepidation by the tourists.  There are even a few sprinklers which seem to be aimed directly at the sidewalk.  What a waste of water!  Today though, these ill-aimed sprinklers were lifesavers as I ran through them to cool down.  I still think they're wasting a major amount of water, but I won't be mad at them for making me run around them when it's cold anymore.  

There's one span of sprinklers in an area I like to call "Jurassic Park" (because of the Jurassic-like palms) that really gets you drenched good.  They aim almost skyward and the majority of the water falls down on the sidewalk and makes me think I'm on a movie set with fake rain.  I usually get soaked on this span because there's no way to run off the walkway. Today for the first time ever, when I actually was looking forward to a good drenching, I managed to have a perfectly timed run that missed the swipe of every single one of the sprinklers.  I couldn't believe it!  Bleh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And then there was one

Yesterday my new skirt from finally came!  I was a little shocked when I opened it up, though, because the color was totally different from what I had expected.  They recently got a new shipment and the old one was more of a navy blue/baby blue combo and this one has navy/turquoise.  Runningskirts has good customer service, and they apologized for the color difference and said I could exchange it.   I'm debating whether or not to keep it but have to admit it is definitely growing on me.

Today I had planned to run 7 miles, but was enjoying myself so much, ended up tacking on an extra out-and-back for 8.2 miles.  Both of my shins have been acting up so it's time to retire my current running shoes.  I've been using the New Balance 767's for about a year now.  When I was training for the Goofy Challenge I got two pairs going in the rotation so that I'd have a different pair to wear for the half vs. the full (just in case it was raining).  Both pairs of shoes reached 350 miles each this week.  I've read you should be able to get 300-500 miles out of a pair of running shoes, but I find I start to have problems somewhere around 325.  I guess my running mechanics are pretty tough on shoes.  I had a pair of brand-spankin' new NB 767's hanging out in the shoe closet that I bought during a New Balance mega-sale many months ago so got those puppies out today.

I have this personality characteristic that I like to refer to as loyalty.  This is of course, a euphemism I've created.  I'm the type of person who goes to a restaurant for the first time, orders something that turns out great and keeps ordering that same dish every single time (even though I know other things would probably be just as fabulous).  When I go to work, I park in the same stall every day.  When I go to a gym I use the same locker at every visit.  I tend to stick to the same running routes once I become familiar with them.

Running shoe selection, for me, is very important.  I suffered from knee pain many years ago when I was running in NB 765's.  I went to JackRabbit for the first time and they fit me into Asics GT-2100's.  The knee pain miraculously disappeared.  I then developed a crippling case of shin splints while training for my third marathon.  I did some tinkering with different models at this time, but finally bit the bullet two marathons later and got custom orthotics.  A year ago JackRabbit refit me into the 767's which I've been running happily in ever since.  I try very hard to not let myself go through more than 4 pairs of the same style shoe before being refit. I don't want to become one of those people who search far and near for long-ago discontinued running shoes.  I don't want to ever get into a mind frame that I have to be wearing a certain model of shoe to have any chance of running health.  I've since let myself get up to 5 pairs of the 767's. 

For the first time, I managed to acquire every available color for one shoe model

I've reached sort of a crux here.  The 767's have been replaced by 768's.  When my much-loved GT-2100's were revamped into GT-2110's I went into JackRabbit and after some treadmill analysis was told that the new model would certainly not do.  So I'm not going to just switch blindly over into the 768's.  I also do not currently have a local running store I trust to go and get shoe advice from.  Also, I've had pretty good luck with these 767's in combo with my custom orthotics.  My shins are just about always tender to the touch, but it has not flared up to the extent I experienced back in 2006.  Back then I was unable to even walk without pain for something like 2 months straight.

But with the introduction of my latest pair of 767's I've come to a point where I'm forcing myself to let this model go.  I could probably find some smokin' deals on the now retired 767's but I'm going to resist the urge.  So I've got 350 or so more miles of running before I have to find myself a new running shoe.  I took the above class photo as a remembrance before I start donating them off to recycling programs or Shoes-for-Africa organizations.

The one thing I love about new running shoes is comparing them to the old ones to show just how much damage you've done.  You can tell just how much of the treads I've been leaving behind on my various running routes.  I can only imagine what's happened to the cushioning as well.

One last note, I recently discovered this race series called the Skirt Chaser Race Series.  How much fun is this?!  Women get a three minute head start.  Then the men (called skirt chasers) get to take off.  I am so bummed that the only location remotely close to me is taking place on the same day as the 50K I'm hoping to run.  Maybe a road-trip on day?  Maybe next year they'll have a location in Northern California.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Choose a Tri

I've done some tinkering and have concluded that for the duathlon my paces were:
Run 1:  9:46 min/mile
Bike:  16.79 mph
Run 2:  9:38 min/mile
My garmin measured the run course to be 0.1 miles too long for each run leg and I'm inclined to believe the garmin.  It also measured the bike course to be about 0.5m too short.  I know Garmins aren't 100% accurate, but 0.1 miles is a lot of error in my opinion for a 1.5 mile course.  I'll usually get about a 0.2 mile error for a 26.2 mile course.  Also, I don't think Garmins are known to measure courses too short unless they actually are.  So, I probably ran a little faster than the above paces and rode a little slower on the bike.

I had a lot of fun at the duathlon and am looking forward to doing more of them.  Even with the short/long courses and strange set-up I enjoyed the event put on by the Mermaid group.  I'm still shooting for a sprint triathlon in late September.  Right now I'm planning on signing up for the See Jane Tri triathlon.  Coincidentally there is a sprint triathlon the day after being put on by the Mermaid people.  On my way home I was thinking about whether I'd like to enter another Jane event or Mermaid event.

Some things I have dug up since:  1) The Jane tri is in a lake and the Mermaid tri is in the ocean.  It seems I would definitely need a wetsuit for the Mermaid tri but not the Jane tri.  While I hate the idea of strange bugs and creatures living in fresh water lakes, I also hate the idea of sharks, currents, and fumbling with a wetsuit for my first tri.  2) The bike course for the Mermaid tri has "several steep uphills. (let's not sugar-coat this, people!)"  The only mention of a hill for the Jane tri is one out of the transition area.  I think it has been established that I am a bike-riding hill weenie  3) The Mermaid tri is 1.5 hours away from house, the Jane tri is 1 hour away.  Also previously established is my aversion to early rising  4) Since the announcers at both of the events seemed to love to do this, I've decided I'd rather be called a "Jane" all day by the announcer than a "Mermaid."  

So, I think I'll be sticking with the See Jane Tri for my first.

Boyfriend says I am not really a "multi-sport" athlete yet.  His reasoning:  "If you bought multigrain bread, you'd expect there to be more than just two kinds of grain in there."  He's a triathlete so I guess he's justified.  But I will take this opportunity to state that my marathon PR is faster than his.  :)

Yesterday I ran an easy 5 miles and today I did a little more than 5 with 3 miles of tempo-pace in the middle of the run.  I'm not sure how much cycling I'll be getting in the next month.  I honestly enjoy the running more and it's my A-game sport right now.  I'm hoping to do at least two rides a week before the structured training plan starts mid-July.

Ferdinand:  So what did you think of the course?
Specialized bike:  Not bad...pretty flat...that stretch with all the grass growing in the cracks of the road was a bit hairy, though.
Ferdinand:  I agree.  Can you believe everyone else has come to get their bikes and we're the last two left here on this rack?!  This is the thanks we get.  Jailed here while our riders go shopping at the expo.
Specialized bike:  I know.  Ingrates.
Ferdinand:  Hey, I like your red handlebar tape!  Very snazzy.
Specialized bike:  Thanks!  I bet they make it in pink.  It would make you look really pretty.
Ferdinand:  I'm a boy.
Specialized bike:  Oh, err...

Monday Mario

One night a few years ago I had some salad as part of my dinner. I didn't eat it all and threw a few lettuce leaves (covered in salad dressing) into the garbage can. Mario was out and about the apartment. I don't call him "Chunky Monkey" for nothing. He realized there was something good in the can and started standing on his tippy-toes to try to get a peak inside. I pushed him down and figured he'd get tired of it. Half a minute later I happened to look back towards the can. Mario got a running start and jumped head-first into the garbage can without the slightest hesitation! It was more of a paper wastebasket than a real garbage can and he didn't really fit inside of it. He was in a vertical position, nose down, happily munching on lettuce leaves. I was so horrified that he was sitting on his face I had to fish him out before I had a chance to get a picture.

A little later down the road he was out and about again and I was watching television. I heard a huge crash, turned around and saw this:

This time I had time to get my camera. He must have been disappointed there weren't any goodies inside. He had a puzzled look on his face as if to say, "Now, how do I get myself out?"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mermaid Duathlon

The announcer getting in on the Mermaid spirit. She kept calling us "Mermaids" which I found a little disturbing.

Today marked my first foray into the multi-sport arena. The Mermaid Duathlon is an all-women race with a 1.5 mile run - 11 mile bike - 2.5 mile run format.

I woke up this morning at 4:50 am (shoot me). The duathlon wave was the first to go at 7:30 am. When I first arrived, I left Ferdinand in the car and went to get my race number. Wow, this duathlon stuff is different! Three numbers! One for the helmet, one for me, and one for Ferdinand. Plus, there was the ankle chip AND the body marking. I'm a little confused as to why the duathletes needed numbers written on the back of both our hands, one shoulder and the back of a calf, but it made me feel hard-core (and it came off easier than expected) so no complaints.

I got my transition area set up which was pretty simple since it was only a duathlon. I have clipless pedals so had my cycling shoes and helmet ready to go. I had some shot bloks there, too so I could munch on one as I changed shoes the first time. I made sure Ferdinand's crank was set in such a way I could clip in quickly, too. I got the lay of the land from a volunteer so I had an idea of where I'd be coming from and where I'd be going. Then I headed down to the "beach (really, it's a lake, but it had sand like a beach)" for the start.

If you look at the above picture, we started the first run under the orange start/finish and ran all the way across the beach to some trail/fire-roads that start towards the top of the picture. I was not expecting this beach run start. The sand wasn't nice and compacted down. It was loose, deep, and shifty. It would have been hard enough to walk in, let alone run. I've had bad luck with sprained ankles lately and was so scared I'd twist one. I was also thinking I'd probably do a face-plant in the sand, too (but at least that wouldn't hurt).

After the hellacious sand start, the rest of the first run was pretty unremarkable and fairly enjoyable. I never really run only 1.5 miles at a time anymore so the distance seemed quick. Of course, the shorter the distance the faster you should theoretically be running, but I'm not so good at that concept.

I got back to the transition area and found Ferdinand. Helmet on, Cliff Blok in mouth, running shoes off, put on my cycling shoes...All set! I did a brisk walk to the bike mount area. Figured there was no need to attempt to run in the cleats.

The thing I was most worried about was getting on and off the bike. I'm not yet so fluid and graceful with this. Sometimes my feet clip in right away without looking and sometimes I fumble for the pedals. Things thankfully went pretty well and off we went. The bike course was a three-loop circuit described as "virtually flat." I got up into my big gear and stayed there the entire ride. I was pretty sure I would be passed consistently and constantly during the ride, and I'm pretty tickled to report that I passed quite a few people! Don't get me wrong, I had my share of people yelling, "On your left!" to me, but it was nice to get in on the passing action, too.

Overall I felt very good the entire ride. I had a lot of fun out there since I didn't have to worry about traffic. I think this will be the best thing about taking Ferdinand out for events! I even got to use my cornering skills I learned at the Bike Skills Clinic I took last month. I definitely could have pushed much harder but there were a lot of times there wasn't room to pass or someone was coming up to pass me when I wanted to move over to push. The whole last mile I got stuck behind another rider and didn't get to put in any final sprint.

The three-loop circuit was on the honor system. After the third loop I pulled back into the transition area. The bike entrance was all the way across the transition area from my rack. At first I did a brisk walk but broke into a run halfway across. It sucks running in cycling shoes.

I took off the helmet, took off the cycling shoes and got my running shoes back on. I was able to jam my left foot into the running shoe without undoing the laces but couldn't do it with the right. I most recently sprained the right ankle and certain motions (apparently jamming a foot back into a tied shoe being one of them) still give me twangs. So I had to undo that side and lace back up.

At first my legs felt super heavy and strange. But I wouldn't say they were tired. It's just a funny sensation because I feel like you have no real sense of what pace you're putting down. You feel much slower than what you're doing. The whole run I was dreading the run back down the beach. When I finally hit the sand I felt like one foot would slide one way, the other would go in another direction.
It was really difficult. It was also very disheartening because that whole adrenaline rush to the finish line was pretty much squashed. The finish line wasn't even underneath the orange arch. As I approached a man said, "Turn right and keep going until the grass." You can see it in this picture. You actually had to cross under the arch, continue fighting the sand, turn right and keep going until you hit a mat that was placed right before the grass started. Talk about a crappy finish line set-up!

But after this I hit the vendors at the expo.
First I got a Headsweats hat from the event. I love Headsweats hats. I would wear a hat to run that said "Rabbit, the other white meat" if it was a Headsweats hat! So you can imagine how happy I was that they had them with the event's name (and it says "duathlon" in addition to "triathlon").

I also got a bike jersey and a set of arm warmers that were 40% off. Yay!

And now, the ever important race swag report:

Not bad if I do say so myself. I wasn't even expecting the finisher's necklace. This one is much nicer than the See Jane Run pendant. It even has a silver chain. Maybe I'll string the Jane pendant on the chain with this one.

Last night I discovered the "Auto Multisport" function on my Garmin. I was really psyched when I realized it would even know when you were in the transitions versus running or biking. But when I uploaded the info to TrackRunner it seems that the transition time is added onto the time for the previous leg. So, my run time has both the actual run time and the transition time included. I'm not sure if this is what the Garmin does or if it is just TrackRunner being retarded. But my overall time per Garmin was 1:22:03 and I'm pretty sure that'll be fairly close. I'll update once I get the math sorted out (if you recall I woke up before the sun did today), figure out how to read the raw data from Garmin directly, or the official splits are posted.

I even let Ferdinand wear it for a second :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Peer Gynt, Suite No. 1: Morning

I usually do my long runs on Fridays. I switched around the schedule this week so I wouldn't have to run long the day before the duathlon. So I got up early this morning and knocked out 12.3 miles. I had a really nice run today and felt strong. There was a nice cool breeze off of the ocean and the sun was just heating up. It's nothing like the heat-wave of the rest of the country, but it's been warmer and sunnier here than usual and this warm-weather weenie has definitely been feeling the heat.

Let me just say that I hate getting up early for anything. I consider the fact that I sometimes wake up (insanely) early to run as the single most definitive statement regarding my commitment to running. It's hard to get out of bed, get dressed and get out the door, but once I get going I feel pretty good. The one thing I love about getting my run in early is that once the actual day gets started you almost forget that you ran. At work today it was almost surreal to think I had done a long run in the morning. I ran 12 miles this morning and was home just about the same time I'd normally be getting up. That is pretty cool.

In regards to my last post, Mario loves medals!
Here he is with the "You're My Champion" medal they gave out at Disney to give to family/friends. I got two out of the Goofy Challenge so one one to Boyfriend, one to Mario.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Clean Sweep

I will admit that I am a Disney freak.  There's just something about Disney that takes me back to my childhood and makes me so happy.  My first marathon was the Walt Disney World Marathon back in 2005.  I went back this past January to participate in the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge where you run the Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday and the full Disney World Marathon on Sunday.  For participating you receive not only a Donald medal for the Half and Mickey for Full, but you also get a third Goofy medal to show the world that you are certainly insane.

Donald, Mickey, Goofy

I've always planned on completing the Disneyland Half Marathon, especially since I'm now situated in California.  I was thinking maybe next year or the year after.  But then Disney announced that they were offering a second medal to people who had completed either the Disney World Half Marathon or Marathon plus the Disneyland Half Marathon.  You receive a Castle medal for the Half and a Coast to Coast medal for doing the two events.

Coast to Coast Medal

Now, I am not a huge medal person.  All of my medals save my first marathon medal are stowed neatly away in a tin container in some far recess of storage space.  I'm pretty sure these two new medals will join the rest.  But there's something about these freakin' Disney medals that get my attention.  I know it's just a huge money machine for Disney and I give them kudos for realizing that by offering a second $1 medal to me they could harvest possibly $400-500 out of me for the weekend.  So yes, I am a (HUGE) sucker.

Registration capacity is up to 85% today so I bit the bullet and signed up.  I'm planning on having a lot of fun during this race.  I'm going to carry my camera and get photos with all of the characters on the course.  Last year the weather was ridiculously hot and nasty so I'm not planning on racing this at all.  I have thoroughly loved all of the past Disney World events I've participated in, and I hope that Disneyland will not disappoint!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday Mario

My favorite running store in NYC is JackRabbit.  Never mind that they do great foot strike analysis and recommend great shoes without a sales pitch.  Who cares that they have great customer service?  The thing I LOVE about JackRabbit is their logo.  I mean come on!  A RUNNING RABBIT who appears to be a LOP bunny (hard to tell with all of the velocity going on, but Mario thinks if he sat still for a moment Mr. JackRabbit would definitely be a lop).  Just so you know, that biking, swimming and yoga bunny came after the original running rabbit.  I miss JackRabbit dearly.  They were kind enough to mail me (sans postage charge) some JackRabbit gear over to San Francisco.  I got an email from them a couple weeks back with this snippet:

Oh, how I wish I were in NYC now to swipe up a bunch of these babies.  I feel so Earthy Green when I use my reusable shopping bags.  Such a warm fuzzy feeling.  And how much better would that warm fuzzy feeling be with a JackRabbit bag?!  I don't have the gall to ask them to mail me one of these puppies, but Boyfriend is going to NYC in July and I'm really hoping they still have a few left.

I got out twice on the bike this weekend for a total of 26 miles.  For the first time ever, my total bike mileage for the week (40.4 miles) was higher than my running mileage (34.1 miles).  Today I ran about 5.3 miles with intervals.  I'm going to try to keep up the speed work this month until I re-enter the structured training program in July.  Tonight we're planning on watching "Sex and the City."  I had wanted to watch the entire series again before the movie, but settled for re-watching the last two episodes.  Hope it's worth paying movie theatre prices!

Friday, June 6, 2008

What's in a name?

I brought my bike home over 2 months ago.  We had a rocky start when I had some buyer's remorse about whether or not the fit was ideal, but after a fitting session we moved past that issue.  There was little cycling together the first month as it took some time for my shoes to come in so that I could go in and get the fit done.  The second month brought slightly more time together as I worked on my confidence about riding with traffic and riding solo, oh and riding in general!

I took my bike in for it's first tune-up last week.  I was expecting it would just take 10 minutes and I could browse around and wait while it was done.  But the LBS man told me it would be ready the next day!  Umm...I wasn't really prepared to leave my bike all alone overnight!  I worried about it all night long.  The apartment felt a little empty without it leaning up against the wall.  The next day when I went to pick it up, I felt relieved when I saw it being carried down the stairs to meet me.  I hadn't realized that the bike meant something to me, that I had started to care about it, until that moment.

We're soon entering our first event together and next month marks the beginning of triathlon training.  

It's time to name the bike.  

On my run today, the perfect name popped into my head.

"Once upon a time in sunny Spain, there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand."

That's right.  I've decided to name my bike "Ferdinand (the Bull)."  The reasons are simple.  Ferdinand was from Spain.  My bike is from Spain!  Walt Disney believed in Ferdinand.  
I love Walt Disney!  Ferdinand was a "he."  I had wanted my bike to be a "he!"  Ferdinand was black. 
By golly, my bike is also black!  Ferdinand grew up and grew horns.  One day when we grow up, I'll get the bike some aerobars!  Ferdinand was not afraid of his image, associating with flowers and pastels.
My bike is laced with pink!  People thought Ferdinand would be strong and ferocious (but he wasn't).  People might think the bike and I should be fast (but we aren't)!  Ferdinand loved to smell the flowers.
With a rider like me, my bike will have plenty of time to stop and smell the flowers, too!  And when I get angry at it, I can scream at it to "Cut the bull!"  Aaah...It's the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  

Ferdinand (the Bull)

Top of The Hill

I ran about 11.5 miles today.  In order to run directly from my apartment you have to go up and down a lot of hills.  I do very few runs directly from home and regrettably drive less than 2 miles to various locations so that I don't have to start and end my run with a monstrous hill.  The most direct route from the beach up to the apartment involves a lot of climbing stretched out over almost 1.5 miles.  Thus far in my relatively short time in San Francisco I have not successfully made it back home from the beach running the entire distance.

I almost made it a little over a month ago right before my running funk hit.  I had planned to do 10 miles that day and Garmin beeped that we're-at-10!!-let's-stop-now!! about 0.15 miles from my front door.  I thought about it a nano second and started walking.  I know.  I kicked myself later for just not sucking it up another minute.

So today I planned to do roughly 11 miles and wanted to end the run going all the way up The Hill.  I started off the run going downhill towards the beach.  I really dislike starting off downhill because I feel totally chilled to the bone and feel like my cold legs are getting pounded into the cement.  The wind here is kicking pretty well today.  There was another infamous headwind along the shore.  In fact, my hat blew off twice.  It was miserable.  Once I got to the safety of the park the winds magically died down as I did a five mile loop.

Heading home I was looking forward to the run from the park down the beach because it had to be a tailwind this time.  The wind didn't disappoint and I forgave it for the beating it had given me earlier in the day.  Then I turned up my street to face The Hill.

I wish I could tell a story of dire suffering and perseverance as I fought tooth and nail against gravity back home.  The steepest sections of incline occur in the last 2-3 blocks before getting home and my heart rate didn't even feel elevated until I got to the very end.  I guess the interval training I've been doing has allowed my body to get used to elevated heart rates.  I arrived victorious at my apartment and even had something left to round out the Garmin to the nearest tenth of a mile.

I'm hoping to incorporate The Hill into my training more often.  I think it's great for helping with endurance and strength.  I also hate having to drive the car such short distances to go running.  It's a new era in RoadBunner running!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Look the part

Yesterday I bought two pairs of super cheap, yet super cute (and hopefully super functional) tri shorts.  I'm about to get serious about incorporating more cycling into my training program and need the proper duds to get it done.  I also picked up a swimsuit!! I tried on a couple of one-piece deals.  I haven't worn a one-piece swimsuit since I was 14 years old.  It was very slimming.  But I have to admit it made me feel like I was 6 years old again.

So I decided the two-piece was a better idea because 1) It's easier to transition from string bikinis to this set-up and 2) I have the option of wearing the top during races as-is or as a sports bra.  I'm hoping to find a swimming pool in the next couple of weeks to get my swimming groove on!  Yesterday also marked my first brick workout. Slowly but surely on my way!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday Mario

When I first knew I was going to be adopting Mario I made a list of names I thought would be cute.  The only ones I can remember off the list are Chandler and Zummi.  Cringe.  When he first came home with me I thought his most notable feature was his almost perfectly symmetrical moustache.

I immediately wanted to name him after someone who had a moustache.  I could only come up with Charlie and Adolf and none of those would do.  One of my friends suggested Mario a la Super Mario Bros. fame.  I was a huge fan of these Nintendo games when I was a kid and immediately thought it was a great idea.  It took a day or two to decide if he was more of a Mario or a Luigi or even possibly Wario (he peed on the couch in his first 24 hours home), but Mario ended up winning.  Now I can't imagine him with any other name.

I spoke much too soon about my legs feeling good the other day. They were downright sore and stiff yesterday.  I had wanted to go for a "long" bike ride yesterday but held off until today to give my body a break.  This morning I went for a 10.5 mile bike ride.  I've decided I'm definitely a wimpy bike rider.  I'm not sure what elevation our apartment is at, but I can't imagine it is more than a few hundred feet above sea level.  It's all downhill to the shore and then all uphill on the way home.  I had to get down into my easiest gear and felt like I was barely moving on the way home.  I read about people doing rides with thousands of feet of climbing and can't even fathom how I'd survive that.  I guess the good news is that since I have to tackle the hills to get home whenever I ride, it can only get better from here.  In the afternoon I went on a 4.6 mile recovery run.  I'm still a tiny bit sore but my legs felt amazingly good on the run today.

I checked the official results from the race and my time was 2:01.xx!!  That is totally wrong.  I hit my garmin at the start and finish and normally I'm within 2-3 seconds of my net time.  The announcer at the finish was also relaying the time and I distinctly remember her saying "2 hours, 3 minutes" as I approached the line.  So in the end, I'm going to go with my Garmin time.  

Mario enjoying the view from the previously mentioned coveted cardboard box