Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and an Update!

Is it shitty that I'm blogging on Christmas Day? What can I say? The kids are playing (fighting) with their new goodies, and I'm still in my jammies avoiding clean-up and whatnot. So why not blog?

So I last left off with the local 5k/10k that Evan, Nonni, and I were going to do? How did it go?

Well, the star of that show was Evan. Don't really have a race report because I was doing my own thing at the same time, but the gist of it is that he took off at the start (left poor Nonni in the dust!) and never looked back. He did say at one point that he helped another kid up who fell on the course (sweet boy!), and I did manage to get a glimpse of him around Mile 3, (for me--I was ahead of him doing the 10k, which started 4 minutes earlier than the 5k) where I cheered him on. He looked strong, but little did I know *how* strong until I met up with him at the finish line. The print-out read 23:02. The official results, however, are 23:46, so who knows what it really was or if it was even a true 5k (mine was short... more on that in a bit). At any rate, he ran under an 8 minute mile pace in his first 5k ever. What???? He's 9! Just incredible. I am really excited to see what the future has in store for him. He was so excited afterwards that all he could talk about is how he wanted a new pair of running shoes for Christmas. So Santa delivered!

Kid's PureFlows! Unfortunately, Santa delivered 1/2 size too small. CRAP! Now to exchange 

Pre-race shot of the fam! Nonni ended up finishing 4th in her AG!

Proud AG winner in 9-Under Boys

I ended up taking the win in the 10k for the women. My Garmin read 6.07 at the finish and 42:04. The official results were 42:18, which I can't figure out. I was right at the front of the pack at the start and crossed the mat maybe 2-3 seconds (if that) after the horn blew, yet there is a 14-second discrepancy between my Garmin and the official results. I give up. Anyway, it was a great race for me. I felt strong the whole time and felt like I had a lot left at the finish line.

There are 32 days left until the Yuma Territorial Marathon, and I'm feeling great about where I'm at in my training. Sunday's goal for my long run was 18-miles with miles 4/5, 8/9, 12/13, 16/17 at 8:00P. I ended up doing the intervals between 7:53-7:55P Overall, I ran an 8:28 pace for 18 miles. Felt tired at the end, but I still had a few more miles left in me. The next two weeks will be 62 mile weeks, so I am just hoping to make it through them still feeling HEALTHY. Fingers and toes crossed.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas! I'm feeling very grateful for my family's health and well-being. Even though my boys are a handful, fight like the dickens, and drive me to the brink of insanity several times per week, I'm so blessed to have them here with me. The shooting in Newtown has been on my mind daily since it happened... Really puts things into perspective in so many ways. I continue to pray for the Sandy Hook Angels' families and the community of Newtown each and every day.

My Blessings

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Ramblings

I'm back for my monthly post! And I'm going to do it bullet-point style in 10 minutes or less. No rest for the weary! My house looks like a garbage truck ran through it, I have to log 8.5 miles today, and I've got to wrap presents!

Here goes... since my last post:

  • Running has been going really well albeit a minor setback in the hip department last week. Turns out that jumping back into hill workouts in a pair of worn-out shoes is probably *not* the best idea in the world. Ooops. No worries though... Feeling better every day. Hubby let me open my Christmas present early after my hip complaints. 

It's call the "Cold Roller." It's the "Grid's" cousin, I suppose. You can read more about this rehab tool here. Pretty cool. Thanks, honey!

  • Hip issues also mean getting back to this. Since this hip issue is IDENTICAL (except on the other side) to the issue I had back in August/September (and after the same workout... duh!), I am back to my rehab routine 3Xs per week. It works!
  • So I ended up retiring those shoes after that workout... And then I found a replacement for them in the form of an incredible deal at Holabird Sports:
Saucony Cortanas for $75.95 + free shipping. These shoes retail around $145.

  • The shoes aren't my favorite color and they are not the latest Cortana 2s (which are about an ounce lighter), but at nearly 50% off, who cares?
  • Last week was my highest mileage week EVER @ 58.6 miles. I capped it off with a solid 21-miler at 8:46P on Sunday. I'll peak at 62 miles in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!
  • Saturday is the "Reindeer Roundup" 5K/10K here in Yuma. My oldest will try out his first 5K with his Nonni (grandma)! Their plan is to do the first 2 miles at an 11-minute mile pace. I know Evan is itching to go fast, but I told him to stick with that pace and then if he feels great *after* mile 2, go for it.
  • I'll be running the 10K. This race, last year, measured out to 5.95 miles on my Garmin. GRRRRRR! While I was happy with the 43:32 that I clocked for that distance, I didn't feel like it was a "true" PR because the course measured so short. It will be interesting to see if they changed the course this year. If not, hopefully I'll run it faster, right? My goal for a true 10K is 43:30. I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Phoenix 3TV 10K Race Report

This is the first year that the Phoenix 10K offered the half marathon distance. I guess this is a pretty popular race amongst the Phoenix community as this is the 37th year that they've hosted it. Coming into the race, I was pretty optimistic about setting a new PR. I had the perfect trifecta going: injury-free, awesome weather, and flat/fast course.

Things that weren't so perfect before the start? I got about 3 hours of sleep (I swear I must have some deep subconscious anxiety the night before a race even though I really do *feel* fine), there was no coffee to be found in the Hilton lobby/breakfast area at 5:00 am, and the mini-coffee pot in my room exploded when I tried to make my own (really crappy) coffee. 

Nevertheless, I pressed on with my morning!

My hotel was 2.5 miles from the starting line... Just long (and dark) enough for me to need transportation via the metro light rail. I tucked $2 into my shoe for the return fare and grabbed my "Guide" just in case I got lost on the "7-minutes-and-4-stops-until-we-get-there" transit. HA! 

Yes. The money was still there at the end of the race.

Side note-This was a solo race for me as are pretty much *all* of my out-of-town races because it really is easiest if I just go by myself instead of dragging the boys with me. They just aren't at the ages yet where it's enjoyable for it to be a family affair, and my husband would end up frazzled (can't blame him) trying to keep everyone in sight in a large race/spectator crowd.

I got to the start about 35 minutes before the race began. I had a Gatorade Prime + another 3 oz. of water from a water table that was set up, then I headed to the porta-potty. You know how that goes. I ran a 1-mile warm-up with 3-30 (or so) yard pickups at the end, then got in line for the start. The gun went off and I settled into a nice pace. My coach's instructions to me before the race were simple: Run the first few miles at around a 7:38P (1:40). Remember that any fool can run a fast couple of miles at the start. Run the second half of the race faster.  

When my Mile 1 split came in at 7:33, I knew it was going to be a great day. Usually how it works for me is that the first 2-3 miles of a race just feel ROUGH. It's like my legs need time to catch up to the pace I need them to run. I end up having to give myself a pep talk and reassure my mind that it's all going to work out in the end. Not today though... I cruised through the first half of the race. While I stayed below a 7:38P for almost all of my miles in the first half, I felt relaxed, smooth, and full of energy, so I gave myself permission to go a little faster.

Mile 2-7:35
Mile 3-7:40
Mile 4-7:31
Mile 5-7:33
Mile 6-7:29

This was the first half marathon I've ever run that didn't offer sports drink at the aid stations, so I was a little concerned. Normally I'd just do 1 gel around the 1-hour mark and alternate sports drink and water at the aid stations, but I decided that I'd take 1/2 a gel before I got to the aid station around Mile 6, then I'd take a few sips of water and finish off the remaining 1/2 of the gel. That seemed to work out well.

It was right around the 6.5 mile point that I knew it was time to increase my effort and subsequently, decrease my comfort level if I wanted to PR. Mile 7 was a 7:27 and then I believe it was right around Mile 8 that we turned around to head for the finish. At this point, I had my eyes on 5 girls ahead of me that I wanted to pass. 

Mile 8-7:16
Mile 9-7:08 (passed 1st girl)
Mile 10-7:12 (hung with 2 girls until I saw I was slowing down when I matched their pace... picked it up and then passed them as well... had another gel)
Mile 11-7:08 (caught up to the last pair of girls and passed them)

My lone race photo purchased at the bargain price of $8.95. I tried to pick the one where I looked the least constipated. This was definitely during the second half of the race.

Right around Mile 12 is where we merged with the 5K walkers and the kid's mile participants. I was so incredibly uncomfortable at this point in the race. My hamstrings both felt like they were about to rupture and that combined with having to weave in and out of people motivated me to run as fast as I could to the finish line.

Mile 12-7:08
Mile 13-6:57
Last .2 on Garmin-5:39 (OMG!)

I finished with nothing left. I don't know about you, but the finish line for me is almost an emotional release that is just too much. I felt like bursting into tears because I was so tired and could finally just relax. Of course I told myself to calm down, and I avoided making a scene. It's not like it's the Olympics already, drama queen. I caught my breath, grabbed some water and forced myself into an immediate 1-mile cool-down. My legs were fried. Seriously, that was the hardest 10:31 mile ever.

My final time was 1:36:39. Good enough for 6th female overall and 1st place in my AG. And it was a 2-minute PR!

After that, it was time to pack up, shower, eat, and hit the road. Made a pit stop first, however, at the nearest cupcake place for some delicious treats for my support crew back in Yuma!  

Nearby Urban Cookies... Heaven. Peanut butter for me, Pumpkin for the hubs, Vanilla for the boys (didn't want to get too exotic!)
I'm honestly surprised these made it back to Yuma. :)

Closing with a car self-portrait. Shame on me for playing on my phone whilst driving!
I'm just so happy about this race and what it potentially means for my January marathon.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fall Update!

Hey, looks like it's only been a little over a month since I last published something. Not too bad. Naturally, a million things have happened since then. Life just keeps whizzing by. It's hard to keep up.

Ok, big news first... We found out where we're going.


East Coast, baby.

My husband picked up command of a flying squadron at Andrews AFB. He didn't think he had a shot of getting it, and he's thrilled. We were in shock for a couple of days because of the three scenarios that were likely, this one was the least expected. We also didn't know very much about this area as opposed to TX and CA, where we thought we'd end up. Where are the good schools? Where do we live for a decent commute? Where are the good swim teams? This caused a bit of stress in those first few days after finding out (for me-hubby tends to roll with things better). However, after the counsel of TONS of friends we have out that way, it's looking more and more like we'll be living in Alexandria, VA. It apparently has good schools and Olympic-caliber swim teams, and it's a 25-minute drive to base. SOLD! We looked at several other areas, but we got enough feedback to come to the decision that Alexandria will likely be the best option for us. Anyway, we have 7 months to figure out all the details... We're outta here at the end of May! Yikes!

Hmmm. What else has been going on? On the family athletics front, the Johnson boys are back to it in the pool. And by boys, I mean the actual biggest boy, not just the biggest kid. Ha! 

Off to the pool!

Both Evan and Mike swam in the recent Yuma Heat Invitational meet. Evan came away with 3 state cuts (50 breast, 100 IM and 200 free) and 5 regional cuts. Mike came away with 2 cuts for the Nationals Masters meet in May. Woohoo! He qualified in the 50 free and fly and just barely missed the cut for the 200 free. So proud of them! They sure are fun to watch. It was also fun to see my 6', 185 pound husband stand on the starting blocks next to a kid not much bigger than Evan (it was a mixed age-group format for the meet). Hahahahaha!

Ok, so concluding with running....

It's all good! I'm healthy and chipping away very slowly at my weekly miles. I've done a sloooooooooooooooow weekly mileage increase over the last several months. I think it just has to be that way for me because I'm so injury prone. I'm off for an 18-miler later this morning, so that will close my week at 50 miles. It feels like it's taken forever to get here! 

Other "running" things in easy-to-read bullet format:
  • My 5K 3 weeks ago ended up being 3.3 miles on my Garmin. UGH! I finished 2nd place female with a 22:31. That's a 6:48 pace and was pretty much my goal for the race (sub-6:50 mile), so I really was happy with it even though the course was way too long. It appears that the first woman was in the 13-15 year-old AG and ran a 19:56. DANG. Also, it was at night, and it was before the temperatures here broke. 93 degrees at the start. That makes me even happier that I could run at that pace.
  • I've been doing 1-mile time trials at the track every 4 weeks. I started in August with a 6:29. That one felt like death. It was 87 degrees at 5:45 am that day. Ridiculous. September was a little cooler...6:23. My October mile was run on Tuesday. 6:10!!! What a difference it makes with *normal* fall temps. I'm optimistic that I'll see my sub-6 goal by year's end!
  •  Just signed up for a half marathon in Phoenix next Sunday. Feeling fairly optimistic about snagging a new PR. Fingers crossed. 
  • Yuma Territorial Marathon is now 13 weeks away. I'm feeling GREAT about where I am in my training. I was running 50 mile weeks about 6-8 weeks before Carlsbad, and I ran a 3:38 there. With 13 weeks to go, I'm at 50 mpw and will continue to eeek it up each week. My coach thinks a sub-3:30 is definitely within reach if I continue to stay healthy.
And that's all she wrote! See you after my half next weekend!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'm Lame!

Whoa. Looks like I've been in a major blogging slump, eh? Truth is, it's hard for me to be motivated to blog with 40 followers, 5 of whom actually read and comment on my blog. Hahaha! Seriously though, I understand that in order to have followers, you have to be reciprocal in your blogging etiquette, and I simply don't have time to comment on 75 other blogs so that said blogs can come follow me. Sorry! At any rate, for the 5 people who actually read/comment, here goes:

  • I headed back to the classroom on August 17th. I teach 2 English classes and recently picked up a tutoring gig on the days I don't teach. I'm busy enough to almost consider myself "too busy." It's good though. My monthly paycheck covers 1.5 private school tuitions (for two kids). Or daycare and .5 private school tuition (for one kid). Whatever way you look at it. Every little bit helps, right?
  • Running is going well!
  • I decided to quit Daily Mile. I just couldn't be bothered to fool with it anymore. I already log my data on an Excel spreadsheet anyway. Seemed redundant to double log it, and I don't feel like commenting on other people's workouts.
  • 4 weeks ago I got chased down by this on my long run:
I had one of these guys growing up. Maybe he sensed it and that's why he let me get away. At any rate, no more running on the nearby Indian Reservation.
  • 2 weeks ago I ran in a half marathon. It's the one that I was supposed to do last year, but I got injured. Holy cow. It was the toughest course I've ever done. If you click on the link above, you'll see why. I am way too lazy right now to download my splits, but there were some pretty slow ones. The hills and heat were ROUGH. Luckily, my hot weather training paid off because I managed the heat fine. It was amazing to see the fading on the course, however, by others who weren't used to the heat. Never seen so many walkers during a race in my life! It was crazy! I finished in 1:45:20 and placed 2nd in my AG, so I was pretty happy with that. The overall female winner ran a 1:33. I looked her up on Athlinks, and she's a 1:2X halfer in most of her races, so it just proved to me again how difficult the course was.
  • I'm planning on running in a local 5K on October 5th. I'm scared. 5Ks seem brutal. I actually cannot remember the last time that I did one. 
  • I'm hoping to do another half on November 4th in Phoenix. TBD, as we're trying to be mindful of our spending... Need to see if I can shack up with some friends first instead of forking out $$$ for a hotel. I'd rather not.
  • We're waiting to hear our fate for our next set of orders. Could be this week! We're looking at San Diego, Washington D.C., or Forth Worth, TX. We're partial to San Diego, but at this point, we'll take anything. We've grown tired of the desert.
  • I saw my first Yuma barefoot runner the other day. Seeing the bare feet was a bit odd, but what made it really weird was the fact that she was wearing ski mitts. I'm assuming they were gloves. They actually looked like oven mitts, to be honest. What the hell? It was 80 degrees (6:30 am). People are so weird here.
  • Oh, it's still hot here in case you were wondering. The mornings are definitely getting better, but they aren't great. The afternoons are still brutal. Another 5 more weeks of HEAT. I'm hoping I can make it. I think I can, I think I can...
And with that, off to get going on the never-ending household chores...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Taking the Good with the Bad

Good: We had a fantastic vacation in Kiawah Island! It was so great to get out of town. The boys had a great time with their cousins, and they wore themselves out at the beach/pool every day.


Bad: We're back in Yuma. It's hot, ugly, boring and school doesn't start for another week. I am DONE with the summer.

Good: Running is going really well! This time last year, I was injured. I actually injured myself on our family vacation, and when we got back into town I began my relationship with this:

Alter G... We were together for about 8 weeks before I dropped her.

Bad: I'm still in Yuma and it's hot, ugly, and boring on my runs. My running partner moved away, and my husband's work schedule is precluding me from doing the race I really wanted to do next month. Plan B is now the Arizona Half Marathon on October 6th. Fingers crossed that it works out.

Good: I'm getting faster! Tuesday was my first official "track" workout. While Tuesday is my "speed" day, I've been doing repeats on the canal. I decided to head to the track to see if I was magically any faster than I am on the roads. I think I was! I'm not sure if it was because mentally, I knew how much longer I had to run based on my position on the oval. Maybe that somehow makes me push harder because I have the end in sight? Who knows? Anyway, my workout was 5 X 800 with 200 rest between sets. I logged a 3:22, 3:18, 3:17, 3:17 and rounded it out with a 3:08. Huh to 3:08? That's a great time for me! I think my Garmin was lying.

Bad: The track is ghetto, it's in a terrible part of town, and I have to drive there. There were about 12 shopping mall style walkers that I had to weave between during my workout. Boo. Also, did I mention that Yuma is hot, ugly, and boring?

Good: My husband put in for command and we should find out at the end of September where we will go. There are 3 possibilities, and all are good locations. We do have our hearts set on one of them, and at this point we are cautiously optimistic that we may end up there. We shall see! A few more weeks, and we'll know for sure!

Bad: We still live in Yuma. It's hot, ugly, and boring. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Post State Meet, Vacation Time, and Celebrity Sighting!

Two posts in one month! It's a miracle!

I thought I'd pop on before I pop off and get busy straightening up and packing for vacation. Tomorrow afternoon we head to Phoenix for a bright and early Saturday morning departure. We'll be heading to Kiawah Island, South Carolina to spend time with my husband's family. The beach... The Olympics... I'm psyched!

In my last post, I talked about how my oldest son was going to the AZ Age Group Long Course Championships.


It was a weekend of major highs and lows, that's for sure. Earlier this week, we were watching the Today Show where Ryan Lochte talked about how he always got kicked out of swim practice when he was 8. He said that he liked competing in meets but hated practice and he also mentioned that he didn't get super serious about swimming until he was in high school. Oh, how I hope some of that sunk into Evan's little brain. Last weekend wasn't fun... For anyone. Evan is still too young to hang with the 10 year-old competitors. He's just not there yet. Explaining how it takes time is futile, however.  After most  of his events, he got out of the pool, asked if he made it to finals (nope-not even close in most cases) and then proceeded to pout for the duration of the day. ((sigh))

At any rate, our 10U boys did snag a win in the 200 Medley Relay! This race truly was the highlight of our weekend. The boys, moms, and dads were all smiles after their win.

Evan is the second leg--swimming breaststroke 


I'm back to 40 mpw and starting to build. My body feels good so far. Our summer schedule is proving difficult for me to get to the gym for strength training. So hard to fit it all in. I am hoping to be able to squeeze in a couple of strength sessions on vacation and then get back to Body Tone class in August. 

Earlier this week I did an 8 X 400 speed session. I did 4 400m repeats (ok, .25 miles on my Garmin because I don't actually do it on a track) with 200m (.12 on my Garmin) rest between sets. After the 4th 400, I rested for 400 and then did 4 more with 200m rest between each repeat. Make sense? 

Anyway, the point of this whole story is that the last time I did this workout (in March), my times were:

1:41, :41, :44, :42, :40, :41, :37, :42

On Tuesday, my times were:

1:38, :38, :37, :39, :40, :37, :36, :36


I'm getting faster, now I just have to build back my endurance with my long runs.

Oh, and I had a celebrity sighting on my run. 

Yuma's Bernie Montoya won the 2012 Adidas Grand Prix Boy's Mile in 4:01.32. Holy Hell.

Totally in awe of that kid. Whenever I see him running around Yuma, I feel unworthy to share the roads with him. Can you imagine being 17 and having that level of talent? He's only a senior in high school! Wow. He's really humble and grounded in his interviews too. 

Till next time!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blaaaaaaaahg SLUMP

Hello! Remember me? It's been a while. Summer in my home has proved to be just as busy, if not busier, than the school year. How in the world did I make it through grad school? I feel like I couldn't do it now!

What have we been up to since the last time I posted, like a month ago? Sweet Laura left a nice comment on my blog inquiring, so I thought I'd get on and give an update. You can expect another one around summer's end. HA!

Mid-June marked my middle son's 6th birthday. We celebrated with a party at a fancy establishment called "Rodent du Fromage." Quite exquisite!

Rodent du Fromage = Chuck E. Cheese
Happy 6th, Tyler!

Then my husband went away on a training exercise June 13th, and I pretty much lost the will to live. I'm telling you... Raising 3 boys is not a job for 1! The middle to the end of June was ROUGH! I was dragging everyone out of bed at 5 am each morning so that I could get my oldest to 5:30 am swim practice. Good times. And then the rest of the day meant finding time to either get to the gym for a treadmill run or if I couldn't get a sitter, pool run in the back yard while the kids splashed around me.

I survived with the help of my mom, who flew in to help around the 10-day point. I was seriously losing it!

These 5:30 am swim practices for Evan have been a challenge... But as they say, "The early bird gets the worm." And if the worm symbolizes qualifying for 9 events at the Arizona Long Course Age Group Championships, then the worm has been gotten! I'm tremendously proud of Evan. He will be swimming in 6 events at the state meet July 20-22 (*swimmers are allowed a max of 6 events). Again, we're looking at this as a fun experience where he can hopefully snag a few more PRs. His times have been dropping like crazy since he moved up to the more advanced group at swim practice. 

On fire in the water!

RUNNING (in bigger font/bold just in case you wanted to skip the kid crap and head straight to this-Haha.):

I was SO happy to move on to July. June was rough for running with my back recovery and then my husband's travel. Ugh.

With that being said, July is the hottest month in Yuma, and I do feel like a lot of my running this month is being done in survival mode. Take yesterday's run for example:

93 degrees at 5:42 am. WTF?!?!

The day before, however, I had a fantastic speed day! My coach's goal for me was 6 miles with 2 X 1 mile @ 7:10P with .5 mile recovery between miles.  I went balls to the wall and did my first mile in 6:57 and the second one in 6:49. Not bad for 86 degrees at 6:30 am!

I know that I touched on explaining the numbers from my Cardio-Metabolic testing in June in my last post, and I know I could get into it more here, but I hate LONG blog posts. I will briefly discuss some crucial numbers, however, and how I've been putting them to use.

Heart Rate Training: 

After my testing, Ken presented me with a sheet of  personalized HR Zones that I could use to smarten up my training. 

Zone 1 (111 bpm-145 bpm) is what is known as the "recovery zone." I have been trying to stay in Zone 1 for the days after my long run, speed days and hill days. Believe it or not, it's hard to stay in this zone. It means slowing down A LOT. Since my HR is naturally higher than most, it actually doesn't take me long to get to 145. And I'll be honest, I've fudged this number a bit higher because of the higher temps here. Naturally with higher temps, one's HR goes up. On my recovery days, I try to stay below 155 (fudge factor of +10). The past month's running has shown me that this number can range anywhere from 9:20P-10:00P. It actually takes effort for me to slow down to this pace, but I am really trying to honor it. I wonder if some of my injuries aren't happening because I am still not going easy enough on my easy days. It will be interesting to follow this in my next training cycle.

Zone 2 (146-163) is the "endurance zone" and is where one should be spending most of his/her time with running. While I have not been wearing my HR monitor for runs other than recovery runs, I suspect I mostly operate in this zone. If I wander into this zone on recovery days, I don't stress too much because it is a "safe" zone.

Zone 3 (164-173) is for tempos and long intervals...  I'm probably here during *recovery jog* on hill workouts and speed day repeats

Zone 4 (174-179) is for threshold intervals/cruise/fartlek... Speed/hills

Zone 5 (180-187) is for repeats... such as my mile repeats on Tuesday

Zone 5 anaerobic & peak (188+).... I probably got here on my last mile repeat Tuesday. Ken tells me that you should not spend much time in Zone 5 or you're looking at injury/burnout.

There's a ton of information out there about HR training. For me, I'm using it strictly to monitor my recovery paces. I don't wish to become a slave to my HR monitor, and the limited research that I've done indicates that relying solely on HR training can actually hinder performance. Some days your HR might be higher than others (e.g. hotter days), so I think it's good to balance your HR training with perceived effort. 

And with that, I'll probably see you next month! Off to catch up on all of the blog reading that I've neglected!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cardio-Metabolic Testing... Part One

In the interest of time, I've decided to split this up into a couple of parts. If you're anything like me, you just don't have time to spend more than a couple of minutes on a particular blog entry. Plus it gets boring listen to someone drone on.

So with that... Part 1.

For months, I'd been wanting to do some advanced fitness testing to pinpoint numbers that would help me with my training. I had actually bookmarked fitstoplab.com because we frequently visit San Diego, and I'd always think to myself, "Someday I'm going to do this." The timing was never right though. Either I was racing that weekend (i.e. Carlsbad Marathon) or deep into marathon training and just couldn't make the time on our trip. Additionally, it's a $200 test, and I don't exactly have that lying around for frivolity.

Finally, the stars aligned with our last trip. A few days before, I happened to stumble across a Living Social $85 special for the Cardio-Metabolic Profile, which is exactly the test I wanted to have done. Since I have not been training intensely because of my recent back injury, I feared that the numbers wouldn't reflect my accurate fitness levels, but I figured, "What the heck?" I might as well do it because now really was as good a time as any. 

The owner of The Fit Stop Lab, Ken Nicodemus, graciously made time for me to have the test done on a Saturday morning, something he normally doesn't do. I showed up at 9 am ready to see what I'm made of!

The first thing that he did was go over a bunch of paperwork that I had filled out and e-mailed back to him a few days earlier. Health history stuff, yada, yada. Next was a BP and resting HR check. No surprise... My BP SUCKS. I have been borderline for years (140/88). Damn genetics (My dad tends to have borderline BP as well despite being healthy and active). He also told me that my resting HR of 58 is higher than he would expect. Again, no surprise there, as I tend to have a naturally high HR for whatever reason. My cardiovascular system is just... interesting. I'll add that I had a full-work done at my stepdad's office (a cardiologist) in 2003 and nothing looked abnormal. My lipid profile for the last couple of years has also been fine. I guess I'm just a freak with a semi-crappy ticker.

Next was a weight and body fat check. I ended up being 129.2 pounds and 13.8% body fat. What a tremendously pleasant surprise!!!! I was expecting to be much higher. According to Ken (and some chart he showed me that I don't have), female endurance athletes should ideally be no lower than 12% body fat. For me to be at "racing weight," I only need to lose 4 pounds. SWEET! I likely won't bother with that, but it's great to know that I am pretty much already there with that particular number.

Random chart I found for reference. According to this, I can stand to be a shade fatter. Nice! Bring on the dessert!

Next was the big treadmill test. I had to strap on both a HR monitor and a face mask, which would measure my O2 and CO2 levels to determine my VO2 Max.


I won't bore you with all of the details, but I ended up doing a series of different paces while having my O2 levels/HR monitored and letting the testers (Ken also had an intern) know what "level" I was working at during each interval. When I got to level 10 (maxed out), it was time to call it a day. I reached 10 sometime around 10 minutes and at 10.0 mph on the treadmill. I think I did about 15 seconds of a 6 minute mile before I cried, "Uncle!" I'm not used to running fast anymore.

At the end of the session, I was told that my VO2 max was 45.5. First of all, what the heck is VO2 Max? Basically, it's the size of your engine. It's your capacity to deliver oxygen to the working muscle.
Here's another chart to see where I stand:

Yikes. It's really hard to see.

Using a magnifying glass, you'd be able to see that a 45.5 for my age group (30-39) puts me in the "Good" category. This is sort of what I was expecting given what I believe is my fairly "good" (not great) athletic ability + 6 weeks of little to no running (other than Alter G). Just for comparison, Steve Prefontaine's VO2 Max, I found, was 84.4. DAAAAAAAAAAAANG!

My lactate threshold or LT was a 38.0, which is also "Good." Metabolic fitness is a marker that describes how much of your aerobic capacity can be utilized by your working muscles. Higher LT levels means that you have a greater resistance to fatigue.

Ken finished by telling me that he thought when I got back to my regular training, my numbers would likely bump up to the "High" category, which left me feeling pretty optimistic about it all.

Ok, whew. That's a lot, and I'm tired. Surely you are too. And that's not even all of it... Although, it is for today.

I've been collecting some interesting heart rate data during my recent runs, so next I'm going to share that with you. I've been trying to utilize the different "zones" that I also discovered during my testing. Pretty cool stuff!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Teaser... Or is it Spoiler?

Coming to you at 5:47 am... quickly. Hard to believe that summer break is upon us, and I seem to be just as busy as ever. In fact, I am waiting for my husband and 8 year-old to get back from swim practice, so I can head out for a run before the pavement starts melting.

That's right. My boys are at a swim practice, which started at 5:30 am. That's the price they pay for being such studs!

First, for visual interest... I present to you a picture of my latest kitchen gadget.


This thing is awesome! It's called Yonanas, and what you do is freeze a crapton of bananas and other fruit and then shove it in here and it makes an ice cream/frozen yogurt sort of deal. Delicious! Definitely recommend it if you are into kitchen gadgetry, ice cream, and healthy eating.

Next, my back is better!!! I called it... I said it was going to take until the end of May to heal, and sure enough, it did. Right around the last couple of days of the month is when I noticed it no longer ached during runs. 

I did my first long run on Sunday alongside an injured buddy who was completing her first marathon: RNR San Diego. I ran from my hotel to meet her at Mile 15 and then did the remainder of the race with her (total of 14.86 miles). I thought it might be a bit of an aggressive goal, however, she was struggling with a knee injury, so I knew we'd be completely CHILL on the pace. It worked out great! That is until I got physically shoved off the course by a Competitor Group "bouncer" at the finish line chute. See Facerant below, which no one from RNR San Diego or Competitor or whoever has responded to.

Count me out in *any* RNR races in the future.

So what is this spoiler business about?

On Saturday, I took a trip up to Carlsbad (from our hotel in San Digo) and had some cool fitness testing done at a place called The Fit Stop Lab. The owner, Ken, had offered his normally $200 Cardio-Metabolic Profile test for $85 on LivingSocial, so I nabbed the offer.

It was fascinating and will take me a while to sit down and explain it all. Basically I learned that I have a pretty good engine, I'm an efficient runner, and I have a high threshold heart rate. While 170 bpm for someone else might be busting his/her hiney, for me, it's not too taxing. The test provided a bunch of heart rate zones for my workouts, which I will explain in the next post.

Yep. 6:08 am and my other two kiddos are up. I'm outta here!    

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mixed Bag

I'm a total mixed bag of emotions lately. When was the last time that I blogged? Didn't look before I started this post, but I think it was a couple of weeks ago. At any rate, what's been going on?

For starters... This finally happened. FINALLY!!!!!

Cheers! Celebrating with sparkling peach faux champagne. 

20 months of graduate school... DONE! I earned an M.A. in General English Studies from Northern Arizona University last Friday. Now I'm eligible to teach more than basic writing at my community college! ENG 102, here I come!

I can't tell you how excited I was (am) to be finished. You think 26.2 miles is long? This felt like the longest marathon ever, and I can't tell you how many times I wanted to QUIT. Doing homework on planes, in hotel bathrooms (while everyone else slept--didn't want to disturb them), on vacations, during classes that I taught (when my class was testing or writing), when my kids were sick next to me on the couch, etc. There was never really a break until now! I am so grateful that I had the support of my husband throughout it all, and I'm happy that the boys got to see their mother graduate from college (again). Education is a lifelong pursuit, and I hope that getting a glimpse of this academic achievement of mine drove that point home to them. 

Or not. Who am I kidding? They were mostly excited by the non-alcoholic beverages we had before the commencement ceremony. 

Other exciting things...

I've been trying to eat clean. Want to know what I just ate for dessert?

Chocolate mousse made with avocado. What the what?

Believe it or not, it's actually pretty good. I got the recipe from a friend in Baltimore and decided to try it when I got home. Here it is if you're feeling adventurous:

Sheryl Crow’s Decadent Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse
2 large ripe avocados
1/2 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup agave nectar, plus more to taste
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 pint fresh raspberries, or whatever berry you have on hand
1. Cut a ripe avocado in half. Use a big knife to grab the pit and turn to remove. Spoon out the meat of the avocado and then blend to break it down a bit.
2. Add in cocoa powder, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and almond extract and blend for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure every part is included.
3. Refrigerate overnight and serve in martini glasses with garnish.
This Sunday was supposed to be the Pasadena Marathon, but instead, there is no marathon for me and I'm single-momming it while my husband is schmoozing folks in TX for his next (potential) set of orders. ((Sigh)).
On a good note, I did another test run this am, and it was a roaring success. It was exactly the type of run that I was hoping for. I ran 4 pain-free miles at a little under a 9 minute-mile pace. SUCCESS!
Am I jumping for joy?
I'm happy, but I can't say that I'm wildly enthusiastic, to be honest.
Would you be thrilled running in this for the next 4-5 months?
I'm relieved that my injury seems to be clearing up, but at the same time, I'm bummed that I'm entering survival mode for the next several months. Summer running here is awful. As I've lost some fitness, I'm also unsure of my goals and my direction. There's also the consideration of how I ended up injured in the first place. It's apparent to me now more than ever that I really can't afford to neglect my strength training. I truly was enjoying my ever-increasing mileage... What to do for balance though? I'm not sure that I can do both: lots of miles and lots of weights. Over the past 5 weeks, I've been putting in some quality hours at the gym, and I've really enjoyed the weight training and the new strength classes that I've been doing. I'd love to continue to keep up that aspect of my training, but doing both is a huge challenge. It's going to take some time to figure it all out. Not to mention that my boys are out of school in 1 week, which adds a whole new challenge to everything.
So much to think about... There really is never a dull moment in this girl's life!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Not Quite

So my running attempt last Saturday was a big, fat flop.

5 miles.... At the end, a little voice said, "Let's not do that again anytime soon," and I gingerly walked back home and proceeded to ice my back.


It served as a reminder that the injury process is a lot like potty training. 1 step forward... 2 steps back.

This week has been another step forward. I'm back on the Alter G and able to do 70% of my body weight with pain level = nuisance

The tricky thing with the Alter G, however, is that running 8:50 min/miles sans nearly 40 pounds of body weight (70% of about 130 pounds) actually feels like I'm running 10:00 min/miles. So to try and continue to keep up my cardiovascular fitness, I'm incorporating the ARC Trainer in there as well. That thing kicks my ass. The plan for now is to do 2 days of AG, 1 day ARC Trainer, repeat. I may do some pool running on Sunday. We'll see.

I've also been hitting the weights hard. And core. Here is my new favorite exercise. I like to do it after doing a few minutes of regular planks and/or crunches.


And no. I can't get to Z yet.
(I do it with both of my knees off the ground.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Adventures in Injury

What to say since the last time I blogged? Well, for starters, Pasadena is OUT. It's ok. I've made my peace. I decided to let it go, since the whole point of the race was to PR for a better chance at getting into Boston 2013. I could do the half, but there really is no good reason, to be honest. Sure, I'm out $90 for my race fee, but if you factor in the gas, lodging, and food costs of the weekend... I'm actually saving money in the end.

My back is getting better. Slowly but surely. I went out of town last Friday-this Tuesday (for my godson's First Communion and to visit family in Chicago) and took 5 days off. I did do some core/hip/glute exercises a couple of times, but that was it. My back felt rough, and over the weekend, I went through a period where I felt like I had piraformis syndrome. What the hell?!?! At any rate, that dissipated. Today was the first day that I woke up feeling NO PAIN. Yay! Of course, as the day has gone on, my pinch-y/twing-y back sensations have been noticeable but not terrible. It hasn't precluded any of my cross-training. Today, I managed to try out a machine called the ARC Trainer in my gym.

Looks like a more horrible version of an elliptical. But it's not!

This thing was awesome. I mean, don't get me wrong. Machines SUCK! But I got a great workout on this beast. I did an hour of the "Pike's Peak" program, so my ass felt like it was going to spontaneously combust by hour's end (one could only hope... no such luck). I also noticed that it was easier on my knees and that my feet didn't fall asleep like they normally do on an elliptical. Sweet!

You Tube has a great video on the ARC Trainer that explains the physics and such behind this machine. I highly recommend it if you are laid up and would like a break from the monotony of other machines (elliptical, bike, etc), as well as pool running (which I've been doing... in my backyard pool! Yikes! BORING!).

Tomorrow is a test 4-miler to see how everything holds up. I'm hoping that with continued core work/weights and chiro trips ( X 3 per week) that this will be cleared up by the end of the month. Fingers crossed! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Alter G and Me

I had a couple of bloggers ask me for more information about the Alter G after I mentioned it in my last post, so here goes.

First of all, the Alter G is an anti-gravity treadmill. I first read about it in Runner's World, and I believe the article featured a picture of a very pregnant Kara Goucher using one.

Last summer, I was sidelined by an undiagnosed injury. By undiagnosed, I mean Navy Medicine did not want to spend the money for me to have an MRI and an X-Ray of my right leg showed nothing. Considering my 8 week time frame for recovery, I believe it to have been a tibial stress reaction, something that doesn't show up on an X-Ray.

The story behind Alter G: I set out one Sunday morning in July to do a 14-mile run (after having several days of painful running), took about 7 steps and said, "NOPE." I turned around, walked home and then got into my car to go to the gym to begin elliptical hell. When I walked into the gym, however, it was like:

Complete with music

I could not believe that the semi-crappy Marine Corps base gym had scored not one but TWO Alter Gs.
Apparently one of the Marines on base is a member of the All-Marine Marathon Team, and somehow he got the money allocated for it. SWEET!

And so began 8 (or 7?) solid weeks of 5 days per week on it!

To be completely honest, SUAR has THE BEST POST on it. She actually took pictures of herself and included a video. While I considered doing it for my blog, I felt like a tool asking someone to take my picture at the gym. From what I understand, SUAR was invited to a physical therapy clinic or something to try the Alter G.

This week I spent Tuesday-Friday on the AG. Saturday was pool running. Today, I managed to eek out a grandma-paced 10 miles outside, so I'm optimistic that my Alter G time has ended. I plan on continuing EASY miles until this back issue clears up. As Pasadena is now 28 days away... it doesn't look good. At this point, I'm hoping to downgrade to the half marathon and use it as an easy-paced training run for a possible late summer half marathon. Time will tell.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This Bimbo is in Limbo

Ha to bimbo! I couldn't think of anything else that rhymed.

So anyway, here I am on the injury train. Boo boo!! (I'm on a roll!)

I'm actually in pretty good spirits all things considered. It is what it is, and truth be told, I did it to myself. My coach was going back over my training log and looking for training errors, but honestly, I attribute this to lack of strength/core training. Something was bound to give, and with my weak abs, it was my back.

I know my abs are weak because I got back into the gym this morning for lower body/core work and did some ab exercises that were fairly easy a couple of months ago. Today? Not so much.

What a bonehead move on my part neglecting ab work. Even elites do it.

Well hello there, Kara Goucher! If you're doing weighted sit ups, I sure as hell should be doing them too. (source)

One thing that has kept my spirits high is this GEM.

I love you, Alter G, even though you give me Camel T at 50% of my body weight. Luckily, I'm hanging in there at 70-80% bw these days.

Can you believe that I get M-F 0600-1800 FREE access to this thing?!? Me neither. So I will shut up all whining because I know I am lucky as all get out.

Before you start hatin' though, check this out.

That's really all that I can say about this.

So looks like I take the good with the bad these days. 

Chiropractor X 3 weekly, Alter G, and tons of strength/core with a side of pool running and yoga, here I come!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Expect the Unexpected

My title is a bit of a misnomer, as you'll see in a bit.

So it appears that I am facing an injury.

Yesterday, I set out for an easy-paced (9:00P) 22-miler. I felt really good and was actually shooting for 8:59P (Ha! I like seeing 8s as much as possible.). I decided to go on a more adventurous route and run across the Colorado River into California. As I crossed a bridge and crested a hill at mile 11, my lower back started hurting. I was caught a little off guard but thought maybe it was just a kink. You know how all of us distance runners get kinks during runs that seem to eventually work themselves out.

Except this wasn't working itself out.

I stopped to stretch at mile 12. Then I started back up and discovered it wasn't getting better. I began to consider an alternative. Maybe I could shoot for 20 and call it a day. I kept on but started doing the thing where I look down at my Garmin every 2 seconds. I saw my pace slowing. Uh oh. I realized I was in the 9:20s and starting to hurt more. I got to 15.57 and something in my mind said, "STOP." So I did. Then I walked 2 miles to a nearby Chevron and called my husband to come pick me up.


While this certainly was unexpected in a sense, in another sense, I've seen it coming.

Signing up for marathons within 4 months of one another was a big leap of faith for me. I did not plan on BQing at Carlsbad, so Pasadena was primarily my A-goal race where I would run sub-3:40. Being the Type-A that I am, once I got that BQ I realized that I wanted to shift to sub-3:35 to help increase my chances of actually getting into the Boston Marathon with the new strict registration process.

While I could maintain the intensity of training for Carlsbad fairly easily, it's been tough to keep hanging on for Pasadena. My runs have been solid and exactly where I want them to be, but the things that I need to be doing off the pavement? Not good.

Things I have NEGLECTED:

  • strength/core work-It's been about 5-6 weeks since I've been to the gym... yikes
  • sleep-I don't get enough. Period. I really should be getting a solid 7-8 hours per night.
  • diet/hydration-My diet has not been that great for a while. I'm in busy mom mode and haven't been feeding myself the *best* quality foods that I should be eating. Also, I live in a constant state of dehydration.
  • yoga-Yeah right! Like I have time for that.
Neglecting some of these things has simply come down to how I bit off more than I can chew. Running sub-3:35 has meant an increase in mileage, which has been incredibly hard for me to balance given my family responsibilities, part-time job, and grad school studies. Oh yeah, and then balancing stuff like spring break and this:

Poor guy fell asleep on our back patio yesterday. I swear, I'm wondering if he brought home the Ebola virus from school. 

So here I am, not sure what's going to happen in the next 34 days. The good news is that my back feels better than it did yesterday. Yesterday I was hobbling around like a 90 year-old woman. It is still most definitely unrun-worthy, however. My plans today include a lot of sitting on the couch with the boys, listening to them cough/hack, but selfishly, I will be dragging them to the chiropractor's office so I can start re-hab ASAP. They are ill but not DEATHLY ill, so it's all good. And I know they'll be up for a little good behavior bribery in the form of Starbucks cake pops. 

Oh, and of course today I'm going to be tracking my Boston girls! YAY!