Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Solo Training

Before I talk about going solo let me first take a moment to review the ING Miami Half Marathon that was this Sunday. That's right I'm going to review a race I didn't run.

Well not really review it. I mean after all I didn't actually run it. I did go pick up my bib and shirt and flit around the expo. Which by the way is much more relaxing when you know you aren't running the next day.

What a difference 10 years makes
This is the 10th year of this race. I ran the first race 10 years ago. I was one of I think 2000 people who toed the line that year. I wasn't trained but I wanted to run to support a local race. I was hoping that it would stick because I think a strong local marathon is a cool thing. And I still think that. In fact, as a point of further reflection 10 years ago I only knew of one local running store and now I know of 6 local running stores. The whole running scene appears to really be growing.

Another fun 10 year metric. When I ran my first marathon my running store (Footworks) had two training groups one for Disney and one for Grandmas because there was no local race. Now they train for ING Miami and now our summer race will be the Key Biscayne 1/2 Marathon or Seattle  if  you want to travel. I think if you tried you could do a local 1/2 marathon almost every month between here and Orlando. That's a pretty great thing if you're a runner.

10 years ago I got a cotton t-shirt and the expo had like 7 booths. This year I got a bright orange female cut tech shirt and the Expo was great. I was especially thrilled about the huge Footworks Village which brought together all their vendors including a Garmin stand complete with Garmin rep.  A full show at the Miami Beach convention center. Of course, this year there were 25,000 runners. 19,000 1/2 runners and 6,000 full runners.

While I wasn't able to run this year (I was at my daughter's gymnastics competition). I did run last year and I didn't love it. The reason was that the start was HORRIBLE. And therefore the course was too crowded. Also, I had a cold. I did hear through the grapevine that this year the start was much better.  I did hear a rumor that perhaps there was no GU on the course... if that's true that's not a good thing. But I wasn't there ... it's just a rumor.

I'm glad the race continues to grow and be successful.

Now I will put on my advisor hat and say that runners continue to review this race as a great 1/2 and a crappy full course. In my humble opinion the race directors need to address that or they leave this open to another company coming in and besting them.

Now onto things I'm actually doing.

While everyone else was tapering I ran 8 miles solo on Saturday morning. Sunday morning I did a solo 60 minute bike ride. It's all good. Because in my opinion triathlon training is a solo endeavor.

Last year I trained for Trinona solo. It wasn't hard to keep focused because I knew I had that giant swim and giant bike coming up and my brother was going to be there to kick my butt so I had to do my thing.

This year even though I know other folks who will be participating in both the Nautica South Beach Triathlon and the Haines City 70.3 I will now be doing most of my training myself. I think that with all the variables of tri training probably the only way to do it is alone because everybody's schedules are just too different.

My pros and cons list
The really good part about this is that I can do whatever I need to do without worrying about others. The only down side is that without the group it's a little lonely.

Now, to be perfectly honest sometimes the group is what keeps me training. Because I know that my group is waiting for the long run I get my weekly runs in. Without the group committment I have previously tanked the training for one event. That was the Big Sur Marathon in 2003. I registered and then didn't run the race.

In order to keep me honest with these longer races I am taking the old fashioned approach ... I'm paying somebody to keep me honest. In other words I've hired a coach and starting tomorrow he'll be hassling me to keep me going. At least I hope that's part of what he'll be doing.  His name is Frank. He administered the recent threshold test ... did I write about that?

So I'm embracing the solitude ... really, I am.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Long run entertainment

This is a banana spider. they are a Miami special. Apparently they are harmless. But they are also huge and therefore a little freaky.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Triathlon Training Thursday

Okay 16 weeks until Florida 70.3 9 weeks until Nautica International.

Everything is progressing on the calendar - sadly this weeks training so far feels like a bust. I am trying to accept that this is just gonna happen sometimes. But still ... that pill goes down bitterly.

Monday my kids were off of school. I knew intellectually I should get up and work out early but I was tired so I didn't do it. Blah. Then it was kids kids kids all day. And kids come first so I was okay with that.

I did pull myself out of bed Tuesday and Spin followed by tennis (Tuesday is tennis day  - did you know?).

Then yesterday I should have exercised but my Mommy book club was meeting on a boat ... can't skip that! And then it was a Hammerhead meeting in the evening. Hammerheads is the name of my triathlon club. I would have skipped that but I had volunteered to help pass out cycling uniforms ... aack. So then I thought I'd ride the trainer afterwards... home at 9 ... didn't quite hit the trainer.

So here I am at Thursday with one workout accounted for... bleh, and yuck and furthermore ick.

So there's the pity party. Now it's over - moving forward.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Press and hold the mode button

Went for a bike ride today. I'm halfway through switching my cateye bike computer to my husband's bike.

Only halfway because it requires teeny tiny zip ties. That is the hold up.

I have a few times accidentally almost changed my trusty Garmin 310xt to the Bike mode so I erroneously thought that I knew how to do this. I did not.

So I rode today with it in the "run" mode and just mentally was doing some math along the way okay a 4 minute mile is about 15 mph.

Then I got home and looked up how to perform that particular move on the trusty Garmin .. ahem press and hold the mode button. It was the hold I was missing. I had pressed the mode button about 50 times before I decided I just didn't know how to do it.

In other news I forgot to start the timer when we started. AAACK! Then I forgot to stop the timer when I was home only remembering after eating "brunch" GAAAACK!

Oh well. Next ride :-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Triathlon Training Thursday

First let me say - oops I missed last Thursday. Apparently I'm not yet in the groove for weekly triathlon training posts.

Countdown: 10 weeks to Nautica, 17 weeks to Florida 70.3
I have been training on my own but the plan is actually to use a coach to prepare for the 70.3 distance. That officially starts February 1. His name is Frank.

Swimming update: I've been swimming on my own 2-3 times a week at the fabulous South Miami LA Fitness pool. I'm up to 1150 yards total and the barfies have not made a reappearance. So I'm making progress. I feel a little bit like I'm cheating on the total yards because at least 200 of those are with the swim flippers which are like wearing a motorized engine in the pool but I'm gonna go with this anyway.
meet the sea monkeys. They are too small to sea here. But I did put my son's eyeball cup behind the tank which I think is pretty funny. They are creepy but they thrill my kids.

In other Swimming news. Last week my lock broke on my locker. I was locked out in my swim suit with all my important stuff inside. EEEK. I had the joy and pleasure of walking through the gym to the front desk in my swim attire. Ahem awkward. There they gave me the bolt cutters (they look like giant red pruning shears) and I cut my lock off. That was kind of exciting. I swear this stuff only happens to me. Sadly for you the reader I did not take photos of this adventure.

Running update: I continue to run. 20 or so miles a week which is not bad except 10 of those are my long run. This is a recipe for an injury so I need to up my midweek mileage.

Yesterday I did my first official lactate threshold test. Renamed by my training friends the 8 minute puke test. I actually did not puke. I'm not sure at the ripe old age of 38 that I have it in me to run until I puke anymore. But I did do exactly a mile in that 8 minutes so I was pushing it. As I had done the mile time trial prepping for the marathon I happen to know that my personal best with that was 8:13 and this was 8:00 flat. Also, I have a new max heart rate to use in my calculations.  And my throat and chest hurt for about an hour from breathing so deeply. Full disclosure: that heart rate is 192. Woah - big number.

Biking update: I went on my first long bike ride in a while. 27 miles with my friends but not the hammies - the self-named misfits. It was cold. I wore everything I own for this ride. Seriously bike shorts under running pants, long sleeve under shirt, bike jersey, windbreaker, gloves, ear covers. But it was a nice ride. I have decided I need new bike shorts and maybe a new saddle. Stay tuned for updates.

While I missed my weekly spin class (my hubby was out of town) I did get the new trainer wheel and put it on my bike and did 40 minutes on the trainer that day.  Ahem, a bike mechanic I am not. I managed to get bike grease from the chain all over my hands, on my arms, on my legs and my shorts. That stuff was everywhere. In fact I'll admit the only reason I got the wheel on was that I could look at my husbands bike to see how it was supposed to get back together. I'll be repeating this maneuver once a week so I should get better at this :-)

My new tool for occupying myself on the trainer is the streaming movie on Netflix. This is an especially good plan since I never go to the movies so there are so many things I haven't seen. This week I watched Limitless.

Other updates.  I put the quick release band onto my Garmin. I actually bought this when I bought the watch but alas just put it together this week. The master plan is to move the cateye off of my bike onto my husbands and I can use the Garmin. The advantage of this for me is that I can then easily upload my bike data. The advantage to him is he can see how fast he's going. 
First you use the worlds smallest screw driver to take the watch apart. I did this in my bathroom. Note the nail polish and Mary Kay lip gloss featured around the various Garmin pieces.

Next put the removed pins back securing the new quick release back. So far so good.

Next put the band back together with the extra pins featured at the top of the last picture. At this point the directions call for using a phillips head screw driver. Ahem ... that would be the smallest phillips head I've ever seen. As the clever person I am I was able to use the provided teeny gizmo to tighten the screws. Time will tell if this is good enough. This was the trickiest step.

Close up of the quick release on the back.

The quick release attachment on the bike.Takes strong fingers to get those rubber bands around the frame but then it's fine.

The Garmin on the bike. Success.

And that's all for this week.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Amy vs. the collard greens

Alternate title : lessons learned from the farm share.

I am a part of a fruit and veggie coop. That means that every two weeks I go around the block and pick up a box of fruits and veggies. They are all organic and locally sourced for the most part.

Getting the swing of the veggie share has been a learning experience and I should say that I don't want to give the impression that I have the swing of it now. It's a lot of veggies all at once and you have to be ready to deal with them or they spoil before you can eat them. We usually eat the fruit with no issues.

There are mystery fruits and veggies - that's always fun. I find facebook to be invaluable to identifying fruits and veggies that I've never seen before.  And you get what you get and you don't get upset.

I'm like to try new things. So that's the plan try new things.

Apparently collard greens are always in season in Florida.
This is the third time we've gotten them. The first time I couldn't figure out what to do with them so they didn't get eaten in time. The next time I steamed them - yuck!

Why would I even bother - well I think they are pretty healthy. More dark green veggies is probably a good thing in my diet. Plus,  My husband has ordered and enjoyed collard greens in a restaurant.

Here's how the whole thing went down.
I checked the recipe in advance to know that I needed some kind of salty pork something to cook these buggers.

My daughter saw the recipe open before school - she asked "Mom are you cooking lettuce?" I was still asleep and at first I said no but then upon reflection I added, "well, basically yes"

These are collard greens.

One reason you have to be ready for these is they are HUGE and take up too much fridge space.

This is the salty ham thing boiling in water until it makes a "flavorful broth"

First I rinsed the leaves a lot. Then I cut out the thick stems leaving only the green leafy part and cut it into pieces.

It was about 40 minutes till I got somewhat of a flavorful broth.

Add the greens and one dried chili pepper.

Pretty I thought in the pan. Simmer for 15-30 minutes. I went with 30 just because I could.

The finished product. Was - okay. I ate my whole bowl - my husband ate two. It was lunch and the kids were in school so they didn't try it.

So that's it. Success with the collard greens. It's a bit of a process for something that tastes a lot like spinach but I have a feeling it's pretty healthy.

Next up beets : maybe. They are on my counter prepared to cook but I'll admit I'm afraid of them.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What I'm reading

I got this book for Christmas from my step-son. It's called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

It marks a notable moment in my life when I have found a book about running that is so boring that even I can't read it. And this is notable because I can read just about anything. Which is why I'm continuing to read it ... also it's not very long and I don't like to leave things unfinished.

I overslept for the long run yesterday. So I didn't go out with my group instead striking out on my own. I decided to take my camera with me and see if I saw anything photo worthy. Of course, almost everything is photo worthy on some occasions.

Anywhoo here it is:

We're having winter here in Sunny South Florida so I'm wearing pants. Capris actually to keep me warm. Of course by the end of the run I was hot. 
This is the sun coming up at my corner. Not a particularly photo worthy moment but it does prove that I didn't leave too late in the morning.
I was freezing even after the sun came up for about 30 minutes. Can you see the dew still on the grass here?
So this is steam coming off the roof of this house. I always think it's cool when steam comes up from places like a river or a street when its cool out. This particular house is also totally bizarre in that it looks like a castle so that adds to the photo worthy - ness.

Cool coral thing at the corner in South Miami.
Tree with the sun behind it on Red Road.
Duck by the canal. I think all the construction in Dante Fascel park has caused all those pesky ducks to move across the street. Which is fine by me. They were super aggressive.

So I'm no economist but this is one of seven new construction projects I pass every day so I am thinking the economy might be recovering. But who am I to say ... I don't really know but that's my guess.

And that was my run. 2 hours. I missed my running buddies.

Also I have decided that my water belt is finito - kaput - all done. Add it to the shopping list!

So hopefully this has not bored you too much.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Triathlon Training Thursday

Remember Marathon Monday ... where I tediously updated everyone on my marathon training progress?

Well now that the most recent marathon is over I'm going to concentrate on triathlon training. There was going to be a few half-marathons before but they've been scrubbed due to family committments of the 8-year old daughter having a gymnastics meet variety. No contest gymnastics meets win.

Next race April 1 - Nautica Triathlon South Beach. Olympic distance (1.5k swim, 40kbike, 10k run)


Training is rolling to a slow start this week. I have no excuses. Actually there are plenty of excuses but they do nobody any good. I did swim yesterday. On my starter plan I was supposed to do a main set of 1500 yds. I made it 500 and then felt like barfing. So I stopped - that's a personal rule I have stop before barfing. I have this rule because barfing is no fun.

On the plus side I did all my flip turns and didn't miss the wall once. Also on the plus side the 500 yards was actually the main set I actually did do a warm up of 200 yds before and 100 yards afterwards.

On the non-plus side the swimsuit spinny dryer machine at the gym was not working. Drat. Also the smell of my neighborhood LA Fitness continues to make me want to gag. It's not that it's not clean its the smell of something that they use to clean the gym. Doesn't bother most people ... I've asked my friends they don't smell anything ... it's just me. blech.

And I ran tonight. Just 4 miles. It wasn't easy breazy. Somehow my slacking off has had too much of an effect and whats weird is I haven't slacked off all that much.

So clearly I have some work to do and so that means it's time to get to work!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An ant in a room of pencils

One of the facts about reading my blog is just that you're lucky sometimes to have my vacation reports pop up - complete with cute pictures of my adorable kids.

This just happens to be one of those lucky days.
First tree sighting was actually at the petrified forest. Very cool to see these fossilized tree parts.

We spent the last week of the year in Northern California and specifically we went to see the Giant Redwoods.

Well not all of the giant redwoods but some of them. Enough to get the idea that they are simply massive. It's a great trip - very humbling about our place on the planet because they are sooooo big and soooo very ancient.
Driving up. In our experience most of this trip was driving. There are highways through the forests and the "attractions" are old fashioned road-side attractions like the drive-thru tree or the chimney tree. Go slow and be prepared to stop - a lot. Every attraction has a gift store.

If your curious - which would be if you've stumbled on this blog because you too are planning a trip to see Giant Redwoods with your kids we flew into San Francisco and headed North to Garberville. Which was our base for the Humbodlt State Forest Redwoods because it's near the Avenue of the Giants. We were a little confused planning the trip because we were looking for "the" redwood forest which isn't how it is.

In fact there are about 36 state forests in California that feature Giant Redwoods. They grow all the way up to Canada so there are a lot more places to see them than we found. I have no idea which ones are the best but this is where we went. Fwiw, If you end up in Garberville, CA I recommend the Best Western - all the other motels are a little long in the tooth in a creepy Bates Motel a la Psycho kind of way.

Huge. Huge. Huge. This is from the Avenue of the Giants which is a small road sort of next to CA101 that winds through the forest.
 Confusion Hill
Once I figured out to go slow and stop often we stopped at all the "hokey" road-side attractions. This is the gravity house on Confusion Hill which was Jack's favorite thing of the whole trip. It's apparently an old trick of just a tilted house but boy was it weird. We stopped here twice. There is sadly not a repeat discount and also the train doesn't run in the winter, fyi.

On our first little hike my daughter said she felt like an ant in a room full of pencils - I thought that was a really good description of what it feels like to walk around the bottoms of these huge trees.
This was actually the biggest tree in the world before it fell. (According to the brochure in Founders Grove) It just went on and on and on. There were signs saying "please don't climb" but I couldn't really keep the kids off of it and I tried my best to turn it into a biology lesson about the tree going back to the earth.

Sometimes where the trees fall they have to cut them to clear the path. Amazingly these trees can be 800-1500 years old. It's just mind boggling.
The weather was nice and cool while we were there. I did three light - very light days of jogging while we were out there.

We also did 2 days in San Francisco - normal San Fran stuff - sea lions, Chinatown. And 2 days in Napa which isn't the most kid friendly spot since it's really all about the wine but instead of tasting we went ice skating, saw old faithful and up the tram at Sterling.

And that's it. Now it's time to get back in the groove of training.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What will 2012 Bring

Luckily for me 2012 begins on a Sunday because I still need this day to plan. Having spent the last week of 2011 on vacation in California I have some thoughts but not much concrete to go on for the new year as far as resolutions go.

Oh yes a new years blog post. Goals goals goals. But first looking back just a little bit.

2011 was a mixed bag ... all years are a mixed bag of ups and downs so I can and always do say that. I feel that looking for perfection means always being sad that you don't hit the goal. That's also why I never make a goal to always work out in the morning or never eat ice cream. Goals like that are instant failures. In 2011 there was a lot of good, some not so good - nothing really terrible. And by nothing terrible let me clarify that yes I do mean that I have more relatives at the end of the year than I started with. Going the other direction is always a bummer.

In 2011 my biggest resolution was to race once every month. That was a lot of racing. I did pull off 11 races during 12 months but when I got into the New York Marathon I modified my race plan dropping some shorter races. This was the right thing to do. When I couldn't race I volunteered so I still participated in a race every month. It made a fun year. I like to race and while I'm not going to resolve to race every month I like being a part of races.

I had two other goals. The first was try something new every month. I did that I just tried new things all year long. It's fun and I like trying new things. I started keeping track but it was too much keeping track so I stopped that but kept trying new things. The last goal was plant something in the garden every week - this I did not do. Garden is something I am not good at. I did try for a while and some of the things I planted are still alive. :-)

Now onto the future

The big fitness goal for 2012 is to go longer and then go longer a little faster. I plan to complete three 70.3 races this year. The details are not all ironed out. But here is the muy- muy (that's very very to you non Miami readers) tentative plan:
I learned a while ago from my sister in law that you are more likely to actually race in these things if you actually register. It's true although most recently that has meant me registering for 2 half marathons that I won't get to run because I didn't check my daughter's schedule carefully enough. OOPS. And also Yippee Gymnastics!

I'm registered for Nautica. Today after my hubby gets home from the football game I'm going to confirm this schedule with him and then I'll register for May 20th. The other two require some more planning.

In fact I'll be honest the whole schedule after 4/1/12 is pretty fluid. I could bail on Chisago and run the Twin Cities Marathon the first week of October with my sister-in-law. It's all up in the air.

Also happening immediately after sending this post into the cybersphere is that I will download a training plan for that May 20th event. I will also continue to fantasize about buying a tri bike. That is a very plain jane fantasy because I don't know much about tri bikes other than I like pink ones by Quintanaroo.

In other resolution type things. I resolve to give blood in 2012. I used to do this before I had kiddos. It's a good thing to do and I should get back to it.

Also, I'm renewing my passport and getting passports for the kids. This will make it actually possible for us to take exciting trips farther away than we already do. What and where tbd.

Last things on my list which are always on my list: be less bossy and be more organized.