Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm Back!

I apologize for my long absence.  First, I meant to alert everyone to the fact that I'd be in Hawaii for a long weekend.  But of course I'm the sort of person who is always throwing this and that into suitcases up to the moment I leave for the airport, so I didn't have time to get online.  And then I meant to blog from Hawaii (I even made sure I had access to fodder for "Monday Mario") but of course, got side-tracked with catching up with family and friends.

But I'm home now.  I caught the red-eye out of Honolulu late last night, landed in San Francisco early this morning, and then later had to go to work.  I don't feel so terrible since I stayed on California time while in Hawaii but am a little weary from trying to sleep in what Northwest Airlines considers a "reclined" position.  Note to self:  Catch Hawaiian Airlines (lots of legroom, seats that actually take you into a reclined position, headrests, and FOOD) back home from now on, NOT Northwest.

I've got lots of updating to do but will leave you with this double-rainbow I snapped a photo of from the front of my parent's house yesterday.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Mario

Thrilling rabbit of mystery, champion of right, swoops out of the shadows...
Somewhere some villain schemes, but his number's up...Darkwing Rabbit!

This is the classic location for when Mario-likes-to-sit-on-things.  In my old studio the carrier was usually out and about since I had limited closet space to store things.  He always liked to sit on it.  I recently brought it down out of the closet as a deterrent for Mario who has taken a liking to biting up the walls.  He of course, still thinks it is his personal throne.  I've been perusing my photo archives for this Monday Mario thread and realized it could take months to finish up with all of the photos of Mario sitting on things (not to mention the fact that he keeps giving me new material).  Next week, I'll take a break to mix it up a bit.

Super thanks to our friend, Fez, for nominating us for the Brillante Weblog Award!  Mario highly approves and is very proud.  He will add it to his Disney medal and bowling trophy (which he did claim as his own).

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Sundays are my new "working run" days where I have a good dose of either interval work or tempo work. I got my run done early: 7.2 mi total with 3x1200m & 4x200m intervals. Hit the paces pretty well (3x1200m: 8:36, 8:31, 8:21; 4x200m: 8:07, 7:47, 7:43, 8:15). Target pace was 8:37 for 1200m and 8:10 for 200m. I was mainly worried about whether I'd be able to sustain an 8:30ish pace for the 0.75mi repeats. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't horrendously hard, either. Maybe I'll actually be able to keep up with this training plan.

After my run, Boyfriend and I attended a bowling fundraiser. I'm not a great bowler by any stretch of the imagination (if I break 100 I consider it a good game) but my team managed to win Best Scoring Team! I'd like to stress that there were many people at this event who considered it a good game to break 60. But it was definitely fun. My team even got trophies!

Boyfriend and I finished up Sunday with a trip to the pool. Thank you ShirleyPerly for the swimming cap tips! I managed to get the thing on today. I felt like my head had it's own flotation device. I guess all that hair created a ton of drag in the water. I still have to experiment to get a system for actual triathlons, though. Will definitely try the braid/bun trick. Got in 850 yds.

Mario is in the tail-end of a shed right now. It's funny how he seems to love me plucking loose fur off his head, but hates it when I try to do that to the rest of his body.

Bounty from his head yesterday

Friday, July 18, 2008

First Tri Training Week

Well, the first week of training is in the books. I survived! To recap since my last entry:

Tuesday: I ran 6 miles with 6x100 strides and then swam 600 yds. It's amazing how much more comfortable I felt in the water. Hopefully it can only continue to keep getting better. I'm working on decreasing my rest time between laps so that soon I can do the prescribed distance continuously. My plan called for 200 yds, but after paying $4.00 for the visit and because I was enjoying myself in the pool I kept going. I do and have always, sucked at treading water. It totally drains me and I don't think I could do it for more than 30 seconds. So every swim session I stop in the deep end and tread water. Can't do open water swims if I can't do this!

I had gotten a silicone swim cap to use because my hair gets out of control and falls into my face when I try to breathe. But after playing around with it, I didn't take it with me. The thing is so hard to get on! I have below shoulder-length hair and a lot of it (hairdressers are always making remarks about how much hair I have). It's almost impossible to get it in the cap. I don't even see how I can wear something like this in a triathlon because when I take it off my hair is all out of the ponytail and a total mess. I'll definitely have to take the time to redo the ponytail before the bike which I'd rather not have to mess with. I have to perfect some sort of technique to get this thing on before I use it in public.

Wednesday: Rest!

Thursday: I had set my alarm planning to get a quick 3 mile run in before work. I got up on my own 5 minutes before my alarm went off (I've heard this is a good thing. You should be getting up without an alarm clock). A normal person would have popped out of bed. Not me. I was so upset I had been robbed out of the last 5 minutes of sleep that I reset my alarm and missed my run. Luckily Boyfriend agreed to accompany me for an easy 3 miler when we got home from work.

Friday: Today I ran 10 miles in the morning and then biked 5 miles on the trainer in the late afternoon. I almost feel like I get a better workout on the trainer because I have to continuously pedal. When I'm outdoors I coast a lot more.

I gave Mario a mani and a pedi the other day. He doesn't like it, but he's generally a good sport about it. What cute feet!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Mario

From the NYC Mario Vault, I bring you a continued study of Mario-likes-to-sit-on-things.  When Boyfriend and I caught Mario sitting on this box he scrambled for the camera which was unfortunately set on "video" mode.  So apologies for the poor picture quality since I had to lift it from the video.

You might have noticed that Mario's supply of pellets in his container was going low.  Never fear...


I ran an easy 4.5 miles this morning.  I didn't think I was tired after yesterday's run, but from the first few strides I knew my body was in recovery mode.  My shin was tweaking, my legs felt heavy, and my ankle which I twisted yesterday (a 3-4 on a scale of 1-10...10 being "There goes the marathon") was a little sore.  I came home and iced everything up.  Ah, yes.  Back to the days of ice packs on both legs.  Later on I biked 5 miles.  Yes, you'd better believe it when I said I found a beginner sprint tri training program.  I believe the first run on the program was "15 minutes" so you can see where this is starting from.  But I'm definitely a beginning cyclist and swimmer so it's right up my alley.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My friend, Garmin

Garmin buddies:  Dad's Forerunner 405 on the left, my 305 on the right

I HEART my Garmin Forerunner 305!  Today I had some time to kill before I set out on my first interval training day.   I was trying to remember that the plan called for 4x800m @ 4:17 min (8:37 pace) and 4x200m @ 1:01 min (8:10 pace).  And since I am meter-impaired (and not doing this on a track), I was trying to remember what this converted to in miles.  Sigh.  Previously I've only done 400m intervals which were easier to keep track of mentally.  I then remembered that the Garmin does things called "workouts" and that there's a way to program all of this into the unit.

I found the owner's manual and figured it out.  Voila!  It beeped to tell me to get ready to kick it up.  It beeped to tell me I was going too slow.  Beeps for too fast.  Beeps for just right!  It beeped to let me know the hell would soon be over and I'd get to recover.  It was great.  No-brainer.  I have fallen in love all over again.

My dad recently got a Forerunner 405 and offered to trade me so that I could upgrade.  No way!  A FREE upgrade?!  He brought it along on my parent's recent trip and I got to take a look at it.  Sleek it is.  It could almost pass for a regular watch.  But, it isn't mac compatible yet.  Bummer.  And it doesn't have multisport function (switches seamlessly between biking and running for races).  Double bummer.  Oh, and it looks absolutely ree-dunkulous on my wrist.  Triple bummer.  

I told my dad thanks, but I'd stick to the honking large 305.  Basically, even though the 305 looks ridiculous on my tiny wrists, the 405 somehow manages to look even stupider.  The wrist strap is not very flexible and sticks straight out from the watch on my wrists before it starts curving down and around.  So there are huge spaces in between my wrist and the straps.  Admittedly, someone I passed by while running would think that the 305 looked stupider than the 405, but from my vantage point the 405 is goofier.

My pace splits for the 800m pick-ups were:  8:27, 8:35, 8:52, 8:26  And for the 200m pick-ups:  8:15, 7:59, 7:49, 7:36.  Total 6.2 miles.  Not too shabby.  I'm not very consistent but at least I'm in the ballpark.  Some of the variation is because I was doing these on an undulating course.  I was honestly afraid I wouldn't be able to get close to the paces the plan required.  I'm glad I kept up with a good base this past month and incorporated some intervals to keep me on my toes.  The workout was hard, but nothing makes a run fly by like doing speed work.  You're only thinking of the next half-mile or so at a time so the run passes so quickly.  

Off to a good start.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

See you in November

Tomorrow I begin official training for the See Jane Tri Sprint Triathlon, Rock & Roll San Jose Half Marathon, and the Helen Klein 50K.  Just so you know, it made my head hurt to get this training plan down in writing.  I basically found a beginner's sprint tri training plan, a sub-2 hour half marathon plan, and my past experience with training for marathons and tried to meld them all.  I had to do this in such a way that I had enough time and days in a week and didn't feel like I was overtraining.  

My A-race is the half.  My only goals for the tri and 50K are to finish with a smile.  So for the tri this means getting time in on the bike and in the pool.  For the 50K this means getting a couple of 20+ mile training runs into the program.  I'm not sure how feasible it is to do a training plan for 26.2 miles and expect it to get you to 31 miles, but from what I've read it is doable.  I can't say I've participated in a marathon where at the end I would have liked to have run an additional 5 miles, but what the heck?  Let's give it a shot!  For the half, I'm going to continue to try to incorporate runs which I am more mindful of my pace and to do regular speed work.

I think the most important thing I've learned in my years as a runner is to listen to your body and to be flexible.  While training for my first marathon I followed my training plan to a "T."  I thought there was some sort of magic in the plan that would get me to cover the distance.  The 4 miler had to be Tuesday and I had to run 9 miles on Thursday.  No more, no less.  No questions asked.  Nowadays I know it's okay to shuffle the schedule around to accommodate life and recovery.

I will be reevaluating my goals and plan as I go along the next few months.  I am willing to abandon the 50K if I feel the prolonged miles are making my body too weary for a quick half marathon attempt.  In all honesty I feel like my plan is under preparing me for a 50K.  I've snuck in a build up of the long runs but I don't feel I have the overall mileage I might need.  Registration for the 50K isn't too pressing until October so I have some time to definitively decide about that.  Ferdinand and I haven't gone out for a ride since the duathlon and I've only been to the pool once so it'll be interesting the next few weeks to say the least as I find my legs and arms again.  I kick off the new training cycle with a 6 mile run with intervals tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coyote Alert

A couple of weeks ago I was running in Golden Gate Park and saw this as I ran by:  

I stopped and took a closer look:

Hmm.  Coyotes do not rank high on my "Things to be afraid of while running" list.  They get beaten out by things like:  Sprained ankles, crazy people, cars, drowning death by sprinklers, etc.  Being in California I've also added mountain lions and snakes to my list, but truth be told I doubt I run anywhere currently where this would be an issue.  

[Begin side-note] I almost stepped on a snake while running in South Dakota, but Boyfriend saved my life.  Here's a picture of said South Dakotan snake:

If he's not poisonous, don't tell me.  I like to think I danced with danger and won.
[End side-note]

I grew up in Hawaii where there isn't any wildlife to be afraid of on a day to day basis.  Rabies doesn't exist in Hawaii, either.  Mongoose could probably be vicious (if you were dumb enough to corner one, pick it up and put it in your pocket like a ferret) and a wild boar could do some serious damage, I suppose, but I'm from the suburbs.  I still get a kick out of seeing a squirrel.  I doubt a healthy coyote would cause a runner any trouble, but it's always good to respect nature.  The signs have been out the last few weeks now.  I bet the Golden Gate Park coyotes are too busy dodging the sprinkler system, anyhow, to care about much else.

The other day I also parked behind a car in the park that had a pretty cool vanity plate.  The car had triathlon and track & field stickers on it, but I'm pretty sure the plate referred to a marathon:

I was planning on running 12 miles today but had a hard time out there.  When I passed by my car at mile 6 I almost threw in the towel but told myself to keep going a little bit more.  At mile 7 I decided to take a cut-off that would bring my run to 10 miles instead of 12.  I started to feel good at about mile 8, but by that time I had mentally thrown in the towel and stopped at 10 instead of pushing onward.  Not sure if it was the sun or the air but I guess 10 miles is better than 6 miles.  There's always next week.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Holiday Weekend Recap

The parents are on a plane back to Hawaii so it's time to catch up on the weekend.  First off, we never made it to the fireworks show.  We were watching the news and they reported that the fog was rolling in and that visibility would be pretty poor for the show.  I wasn't much looking forward to driving in and looking for a parking spot and my mom didn't want to go and just watch the fog light up in different colors.  So we decided to nix the fireworks and went out for a yummy Turkish dinner instead.  We did catch the San Jose fireworks live on television when we got home. We turned off the lights and felt like we were there.  In fact, if not for the "Live" declaration in the lower left of the above picture, I'd bet you'd have believed I was there!

On Saturday I was able to meet up with my bunny/tri friend, RV, visiting from NYC.  We went for a nice run at Crissy Field.  I know he lurks on this blog so "Hello!"  It was really nice to catch up.  He gave me some good pointers for my gulp open water swim in September.

On Sunday I took my parents to Tiburon for brunch.  I was told a restaurant there had a "view to die for" of the city.  Of course, it was foggy yet again and all we saw was this:

That's the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge on the right-hand side.

Luckily the food was awesome (Fresh Dungeness Crab & Jack Cheese Omelette, anyone?).  Yum.

After that we went to the Fillmore Jazz Festival.  My dad is a jazz fan so it worked out great he was here for the festival.  It was a pretty small street fair by NYC standards, but the music was great.  The weather was also very nice.  I guess there is such a thing as a San Francisco summer!

Yesterday I got a 5 mile run in and then we headed over the bridge to Muir Woods.  I took my parents on the 2 mile stroll loop Boyfriend and I did a couple of months ago.  It was quite a bit more crowded than it was the last time I was there.  Luckily the crowds thinned out when we escaped from the main pathway onto the Hillside Trail.

Beautiful redwoods...Shame to think of all the fires out there right now

The air quality is deteriorating again and yesterday I had a hard time out on my run.  Today I wanted to get in 8 or so miles.  The Bay Area is about to be swallowed by a heat wave and the air quality is also supposed to be pretty poor the next few days.  I was worried about being able to get the miles finished.  Today was one of those days when I woke up looking forward to my run.  I got an early start and the air quality felt better than yesterday (despite having a worse rating) and the temperature was also still pleasant.  I got a very nice 8.3 mile run done.  Tomorrow's a rest day so I'm hoping the one-two punch of heat and bad air will peak tomorrow and start clearing out quickly.

side-note:  I am watching a time trial on the Tour de France right now.  Holy cow!  These guys can R-I-D-E!  They're showing a guy in a car following his rider and he's talking to him on a ear-bud, I think.  It's like your own personal mantra-man!  I need one of those for my next marathon.  He says stuff like:  "Come on Dave, push it, let the pain settle in...You're almost to the flat then you're going to crush it on the next hill...I need you to breathe a little here so you can really push it hard up the next hill....Last kilometer...Come on!  Everything you've got!  Leave it on the road!"

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday Mario

Continuing on our series of Mario-likes-to-sit-on-things (see here):  Yesterday night Mario decided that perching on his pellet container offered the best vantage point in the apartment.  He's done this many times before, but my visiting mother thought it was adorable and insisted I pixelate the moment.  There aren't a lot of places in this apartment for him to climb (he's not allowed up on furniture), but in my NYC apartment he often jumped up on suitcases I had hidden under the dining room table and also loved to jump up on the windowsill.  But we'll save those for future installments.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Goodbye, Tidbit

I just got home and read that Tidbit has passed away.  Mario and I send our condolences to BunnyGirl and her family.  I will miss reading about Tidbit's antics.  I felt like I knew her even if we never got to meet.  I'm sure she's surrounded by lots of new bunny friends in an endless field of clover.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth!

Yesterday I was a bum and skipped my morning run.  I have another week and a half before I'm back in training mode so thought I'd get in another rest day (really I was more after that extra hour and a half of sleep).  My shin was also tweaking during my 16 mile run two days before.  But really, I was just being a B-U-M.

Today I ran eight miles, enjoying all the people watching that July 4th brought.  Golden Gate Park was really alive with BBQ's, volleyball games, and enjoyably--lots of other runners.  I mix up my running venues every day, but generally do not run in the park during the weekend.  During the week when I'm most likely to do a run in the park, there usually aren't a ton of other runners. It's a strange thing for me since I'm so used to running in Central Park in the past.  A very slow day in Central Park runner-wise is probably equivalent to a busy day in Golden Gate Park.

Speaking of NYC, Boyfriend is currently in the Big Apple.  He stopped by JackRabbit for me and reported that it was closed for the holiday.  He also said there is a stack of the $1 reusable shopping bags I previously mentioned in the window.  Noooooo!  We're not sure if they're going to be open again on a day he's still in the city.  Sniff.

Thanks for all of the socks comments.  I have come to the conclusion that either 1) In some sort of absent-minded moment I threw the socks into the garbage can instead of the hamper, or 2) Someone is stalking my socks and stealing them out of the washing machine for the pure pleasure of messing with my mind.  I'm not sure which scenario is more worrisome or realistic.

I'm hoping to catch a fireworks show tonight with my parents.  Years ago I spent my last undergraduate year in Edinburgh, Scotland.  I returned home shortly before July.  I went to a fireworks show with some friends that summer and when I heard the "Star Spangled Banner," realized just how much I had missed the United States.  It felt good to be home.  Happy Birthday, USA!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We now return to regularly scheduled life

Sock Monster

I got a good 16 mile run in today.  The weather cooperated -- overcast and cool with a slight breeze.  Perfect.  The sun started breaking out right at the end which was not only good timing, but a psychological perk, too.  I love sunny days -- just not when I'm running in them!

There is a Balega sock monster in my apartment.  Balega socks are my current sock of choice.  For a couple of years I had only one pair.  I realized I gravitated towards wearing this pair for longer runs.  A few months ago I bought two more pairs.  More recently I turned my mom on to these socks, too.  She wanted 7 pairs so she could wear them every day when she goes walking/running.  Wow, 7 pairs of Balegas!  What a luxury to have your favorite sock every day of the week!  I found them very, very cheap at Sports Basement here in San Francisco.  I'm talking almost 50% cheaper than usual cheap.  I bought her a stash of them and figured, why not?  I deserve a few more pairs to round out my week.  So I did just that.  I bought more to have seven pairs of Balegas, too.  Too bad, Thorlo and Smartwool socks (previous socks of choice)!  Move over, here come the Balegas.

Well, last week I did laundry and when I was done I had 6.5 pairs of Balegas.  I was short a sock!  I searched high and low but no sock.  I was so disgruntled I had to go back and pick up another pair to bring my count back up to seven.  Well, this week I did laundry and at the end had 6 pairs of Balegas (I am technically back up to 6.5 since I still have that half a pair floating about).  What the heck?!  I know I wore seven pairs of Balegas this week, I washed them all and ended up with six.  I was very careful this time around after last week's incident to make sure nothing fell out of my basket or got left in the machine when I was done.  There are only so many places in this apartment that a dirty pair of socks could be and trust me, I've looked at them all.

I guess I'm just not meant to be a person who has their favorite sock for every day of the week.  My mom is going to get her additional six pairs today after I pick my parents up from the airport.  We'll see how long she can keep her count up to seven.  

Maybe Balegas are so magical you're just not meant to have seven.

Seriously, though....What the heck happened to 3 of my socks?!