Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Exchange Workout For Sanity

As you may have noticed, things have been hectic around here with never ending remodeling projects, wedding planning and the impending arrival of my parents plus brother. So far, I kept my cool (which is kinda surprising) and just kept on plucking along... And along with everything else, I was even able to do most of my planned workouts. Well, the tide has turned and now I am in full blast panic mode.

The first taste of panic happened to me on yesterday's run, where I was just stressing out about all things I wanted to get done, once I got back home from my run instead of just using the exercise as a mental break from everything.

My original plan for tonight's workouts was to take my bike to work and do the MTY Tri route for my training ride. I bagged that idea after I rotated around for a couple of hours last night and the thought of having to pack my bike and bike gear in order to go through with this just made me cringe. So I changed plans to do the ride around the house, this way, I would still ride outside, but didn't have to worry about getting anything packed. For the whole day today, I was playing back and forth my workout options along with the things I wanted to get accomplished in the house and then.... STOP!!!! I made myself STOP... There won't be a workout tonight... SOMETHING HAS GOT TO GIVE and the day just has 24 hours and I NEED MY SLEEP.

So tonight, there was no workout, but I got a lot of organizing done... I will go to bed now, so I can get up early tomorrow morning to get my swim in before I have to work all day, meet the caterer for the wedding and then get some more organizing done... Added bonus for today, no water in the house... Thank goodness, I am off on Friday...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits Vol. 5

  • Saw a glimpse of House Hunter International on HGTV placed in Berlin. They played Bavarian hump-ta music... Berlin is not in Bavaria... Not everyone in Germany wears Lederhosen... It's always fun to see stereotyping like that.
  • Don't you just love spring break? Okay, maybe you don't love it that much in case you work at a Mexican resort and have to deal with drunk teenagers. But for me, it's wonderful... Traffic is SOOO light... WONDERFUL!
  • At the "Walk To The Beach" challenge the results after the first week have been posted. There are tons of teams/ people that haven't turned in there numbers yet, so it's really hard to tell where we stand right now. There is one team that posted close to 450 miles for last week. Rumor has it, that one person accounts for around 200 miles out of that. That would be a marathon per day... It's currently blamed on a pedometer malfunction.
  • Another crappy run.... I cut it short once again. At least I ran a little, but with everything that is going on in the kitchen remodel, I just got completely stressed out on the run today because I was running late with everything anyways.
  • Good news about the kitchen remodel: We now have counter tops again and they look GREAT. Hopefully I am going to have a working sink and dish washer by tomorrow. Pretty please.
Okay... I gotta get some shut eye. Nighty night!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Walk To The Beach: Stats Week 1

A quick explanation to the chart:

  • The pedometer includes daily walking around, walking the dog and steps the gadget counts while I sit on the bike.
  • The Garmin includes all my running mileage... I know... I have to get some more mileage on my legs on a weekly basis.
  • The swimming column is my swim class yardage converted to miles.

I think this week can be called a successful start into the "Walk to the Beach" challenge. If you factor in that you would "just" need to clock 21 miles a week in order to make a personal goal of 250 miles for the time frame, you could say that I was over archiving some. If you look at our team chart for the week, you might be tempted to call us a well matched team of over-achievers... There is worse... The Dead Possum Posse clocked almost 20% of the total mileage required to complete the challenge in the first week.


PS: I don't know yet, where this places us overall, but I'll fill you in as soon as there is a chart or something.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Do You Know, What Time It Is?

TOOL TIME! Well, it's non stop tool time in our household since last December, but like with the wedding planning, we finally seemed to be able to see the end of the tunnel. Which is good, because my parents are flying in this coming Friday. YIKES! I already warned my mom, that we might have to resort to cold breakfast and eating out... Let's hope that is not going to happen!

Do you the other time it is, too? CRAPPY RUN TIME! YAY!

I was planning on doing 10 miles again, but it felt labored right from the start. It maybe was the bike ride from yesterday or the crap food I ate all day after the ride. I also overdressed and got hot during my first mile, so I got rid of the jacket, then I start fussing with my cap (I only wear a cap when I expect it to rain during my run)... I was just irritated... MEH! And then my stomach was bothering me on and off... As I said.... Crappy run and every couple of months it's just going to happen. So I cut the run short (6.65 miles) and moved on. Next time will be better - I know it!

That was me right after my run, when the weather was still kinda nice. And you can also see on this photo the reason, why I normally don't wear caps...

This was a little after my run when I took the doggy for a quick walk. The sky already looks darker, but I really enjoy the blooming trees everywhere.

Maybe an hour after my walk with the dog, all hell broke loose. Thunderstorm galore plus tons of hail. I haven't seen that much hail in one spot in my whole life!

Nuf said! ;-)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dear SC Back Country Road Truck Driver,

Against the popular believe of you and your buddies...

  • cyclist don't appreciate do get honked at. If you think you need to make us aware of your presence by honking, let me in on a secret... Your V8 engine is a dead giveaway most of the time.
  • cyclist don't appreciate to get yelled at. If you have to yell... Let it as least be something nice... "Get your a$$ off the road" is not appropriate.
  • cyclist don't appreciate to get stuff thrown at them. Your buddy that threw that almost full coke bottle out of the window can at least not aim very well, so it rolled to the other side of the road and didn't harm us... That little punk needs a crash course in manners.
  • cyclist don't appreciate you pulling over in front of them. If you want to play chicken, pick someone your own size and not someone that doesn't have two tons of steel around them. Seems like some people never grow out of the high school pick order.

Even though all of the above happened today at our ride, we still had a GREAT time.

We took it a little easier today pace wise. This was perfect in terms of doing this kind of distance without feeling wiped out for the rest of the day. And it was good for my confidence, that I can whip out a bike ride that is 1.5 hours longer than anything I have been doing in several months without feeling bad at all.

The route we choose for today's ride was an extension of the ride, I did last Saturday. On my turnaround point last week, we kept on going passing through Marietta, Pumpkintown, Hendricks and Dacusville. Beautiful back country roads with little traffic. Fortunately little traffic, because I don't know how many crazy truck drivers we would have survived without incident.

Funny detail of the day: At the end of the ride, I have been saying to the girls, that I am surprised that I am not hungry... WELL... I ate a lot since I am back home and I am still hungry... According to the Garmin, I burned over 2,000 calories! ;-)

So long!

Friday, March 26, 2010

SMILE! You Are Beautiful!

A couple of weeks ago, I found the website "Operation Beautiful".

Here is the mission of this site:

The goal of the Operation Beautiful website is to end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk.” If this little blog only does one productive thing, I hope it helps readers realize how truly toxic negative self-talk is — it hurts you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Through my own experiences fighting Fat Talk, I’ve realized the power behind an anonymous act such as Operation Beautiful. When I post a note, I’m saying, “I CHOOSE to be positive!”

Participating in "Operation Beautiful" is sooooo simple. Just take a post-it note with a positive message and leave it in a public place e.g. bathrooms, fitting rooms, supermarkets and where ever else you want to leave a piece of encouragement.

Everyday, they post pictures and stories on this web page from people that left or found notes. Everyday, people all over the world, take a little time out of their day and scribble some encouraging words on a post-it note and leave it for someone that maybe needs to hear encouragement at that very moment.

Even though, the mission seems to mostly be propelled by young girls and women, it's a message that everyone needs to hear! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOUR CLOTHING SIZE DOESN'T DEFINE, WHO YOU ARE! Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, it's more important to make good living choices... eat healthy and exercise... Smile a lot, spend time with people you love...

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Four Things...

... that a puppy can demonstrate you on a 30 minute walk.

Always be friendly to your neighbors... Especially the elderly.

Don't litter.

Admire beauty.

Be open minded to the unknown.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Like A BRICK Wall

Hmmmm... All kinds of sporting fun is up on the horizon and I am really looking forward to it. Only every now and then the craziness, I got myself into, is hitting me like a brick wall.

Soooooo.... Just to get things straight.... I am planning on running 17 point something miles of the Palmetto200 relay at the end of April and will attempt my first century ride EVER the week after the relay. If that is not stupid enough: I do this off a training plan tailored for a SPRINT DISTANCE TRIATHLON!

Well, I addressed half of the issue already by putting in more miles running as needed according to the plan, but the cycling portion... Not quite. Right now, I am at around 50 miles on the bike PER WEEK and really don't know how that translates into 100 miles in ONE DAY. Let me illustrate the problem a little more: The longest time I have been sitting on a bike in the last couple of months are two hours... And to complete ONE HUNDRED MILES, I am looking at more than six hours... Even if it's on the trainer or a pancake flat course.

Oh and to make things even more complicated... There is also this wedding that I am currently planning and where people count on me to be there... So that workout weekend is pretty much toast! ;-)

To prioritize things in my head and put them into perspective, I made a list:
  • last year I ran the Blue Ridge Relay after several weeks of little to none running due to an overuse injury... and I survived and not total tanked my legs either!
  • this year, I am smarter when it comes to training (hopefully that is not wishful thinking here) and also have a better base for longer distance running to begin with
  • last year I did a metric century (60 miles) ride with less than 40 miles as my longest training ride... but I had tons of mileage per week going on leading up to the even... I finished the thing in four hours.... My right hand was numb for about a week due to the pressure on the palms for the time of the ride... Fun stuff!
  • this year I stink in the cycling department so far.... and the weekends were I will be able to squeeze in long rides are almost non existing.... Make it work! ;-)
This was the perspective list and now on to the priority list:
  • focus on the running, because it's an actual race in which you are part of an actual team
It's that simple. It really is. Yes, I do want to complete 100 miles on the bike on May 8th, but if it's not happening, then it's not happening. There are no results and no DNF's in this event. I may start out on the road and then move to the trainer and take off the resistance... I may to 50 Miles Of Nowhere instead. Bottom line... I am not going to put myself under pressure for this... The priority clearly lies on the Palmetto200... and the wedding... and a little kitchen renovation and my family coming to visit....

Nuf said! ;-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits Vol. 4

  1. I blew off my swim this morning. On the one hand I feel really bad about it, on the other hand I still believe that I couldn't have gotten up at 5am this morning and that the extra hour of sleep saved my life. Well maybe didn't safe my life, but... it was important!
  2. On Sunday I had my usual phone talk with my mom and she starts sounding nervous about the trip over here. I am so glad that my brother is tagging along, so they don't have to worry about a thing!
  3. Our first mission, once my mother is here, is to find her an outfit for the wedding. Yes, they actually do sell clothing in Germany as well, but so far she hasn't found the right thing... Which is code for: "I really want you to go shopping with me, Dad is useless when it comes to stuff like that!" That's the least I can do for getting married in a far away country! ;-)
  4. In case you are still thinking about signing up for the 100 Miles Of Nowhere... It's too late... Registrations is closed! If you already signed up for it and want some company and you are in the SC Upstate area, pls comment on this post and maybe we can keep each other company while riding the bike on the road or the trainer for 100 miles.
  5. Did my first hill repeats in weeks if not months. That was one long hill, but I got faster as I went and I clocked a total of six miles... During the week... On the road, not on the track or the campus.... I love daylight saving time! Are you already tired of me saying that???? ;-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Lot And Not Much At All

It's already Monday again. I have NO CLUE where the weekend went... I have no idea where my weekdays go either these days.

Looking back, there was nothing big and special, but a lot of smaller things that got accomplished. These days, there are also a lot of gender specific separations going on in our household which sounds horrible, but it's just what it is. Emancipation is great, but not all areas in life need to be emancipated... especially not the kind that involves hard physical labor.... thankyouverymuch.

So while Terry and the kid and temporarily even a nephew worked very hard in and around the house (tiling - this time the kitchen, replacing more windows, fixing base boards, planting huge bushes in the front yard, painting and whatever else), I took care of the more womanly topics like wedding stuff*, laundry and cleaning as far as that makes sense with the current construction projects.

*We have a photographer now! I scored a fierce pair of shoes. I also took care of hair and make-up appointments... Crap... I know that most women plan this day since they are five, but I was just never one of them and a lot of the time I am getting overwhelmed by all the things that have to be taken care of... At least I start seeing the end of the tunnel now.

Between everything that was going on, I see it as an added bonus, that I was able to squeeze in a bike ride on Saturday and my first 10-miler in four weeks on Sunday.

The run was pretty good! I did an out and back run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I took it easy on the way out and then pushed the pace a little coming back. At around mile 7, I took out the max speed alert (set at a 10 minute/ mile) and just ran... The drizzle that came down also helped with the speed, since I just wanted to get done and also had more plans (see above: wedding stuff) for the rest of the day. My last mile was actually my fastest mile. That's always good! ;-) Funny event during the run: I saw the same group of three guys on mountain bikes three times during my run. They took it easy, chatting the time away. Met them once right when I started, than again shortly before my turn around point and the last time maybe a mile before I was done. One of the guys asked me if I am coming back up (Travelers Rest that is) with them again. No Sir... I am done for today, almost anyways. Once I was back at the car, I stretched some. Good stuff... 10 miles in 1 hour 43 minutes...

I got myself another pedometer... At least this one is counting steps properly, but the stride length is not adjusted to running... So the plan right now is to use the Garmin for run mileage and the pedometer for everything else.

I really want to keep up the 10 mile long runs throughout the summer. Last year, I had a lot of stomach trouble on longer distances once it was warmer. Hopefully my muscles have developed and my cardiovascular system improved in the meantime to a point that I won't have so many GI issues. I guess I have to wait and see how things play out once the temps rise and I try to maintain this distance.

Update on "100 Miles Of Nowhere"

I registered today and what about you?

So far it doesn't look like there will be a race going on in Cleveland Park or in our basement, but that can change any second, if YOU (yes you!) decide to join in. But if you are not living in the area, or the date doesn't go with your plans or you prefer to do this alone then don't wait too long to register since participants will be capped at 500.

Here is the link for Fatty's post with the links for registration and also some more information about the contents of the schwag bag.

Also, I wanted to corrected a previous statement of mine: All of the proceeds (your $95 entry fee) are still going to Team Fatty's LiveStrong Challenge, but (and here is the correction) it's not tax deductible! Sorry for that!

So long!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Riding!

The weather forecast said it is going to be in the 70s. Heck... Of course I am on my bike. And it seems like my bike legs are slowly but surely returning also... Just like the color green outside. SWEET!

I have no pics of the ride itself, but I tried to get from the house over back roads to Pumpkintown Road based on gut navigation... That didn't quite happen, but I found tons of new roads to ride on and next time, I might just use a cue sheet alright!

This was at the turn around point. As you might already noticed, yes I dropped my chain again. What's up with this? Fairly good cadence and nice average pace.

Done! Cadence improved, pace dropped a little.... I make the head wind responsible for that! ;-)

After running several errands, I also took the doggy for a walk and look what I saw.... Spring, spring, spring!!!

And yes... It's just March.... But that is NOT an excuse for not using sunscreen. First cycle jersey tan line... Fortunately it's not too bad and it doesn't hurt. So I'll make sure that this will be the one and only sunburn of this season.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Introducing: The Dead Possum Posse

Well... The health assessment at work is not even completed and we are already rolling into the next health awareness event!

This is our team mascot and yes, I am fully aware of that it doesn't look very healthy.

I am talking about: Walk to the Beach!

Myrtle Beach SC that is... And it's a virtual* race!

* I am having a lot of these lately, if you haven't noticed it yet! ;-)

Teams of four have to complete 1,000 miles (approximate distance from work to Myrtle Beach times the number of team members) between March 22nd and June 13th.

You track your daily mileage with a pedometer that converts your steps into miles and once a week I have to report to the Posse Captain that turns our numbers in to HR and they will keep the scoreboard up to date (that we always know with who we have to talk smack with).

Speaking of smack talk: As for my team "The Dead Possum Posse", we are in it to win it... Posse Captain is a dedicated hiker, one team member is currently in Ironman Utah training, one team member is a runner and also on my Palmetto200 team and me. We can also use the steps that the pedometer counts while sitting on the bike or being on the elliptical... In the bag... I am telling you. And yes I am bragging here, because I know some of my co-workers are reading this blog. (Yes, I mean you "Accounting Steps"! ;-)

Other than bragging rights, there are prizes on the line which every team is eligible for as long as they complete the distance in the given time frame. But there is still an incentive to do it fast, because there are prizes for each milestone on the way to Myrtle Beach. IN THE BAG! ;-)

Unfortunately, the pedometer that we got provided is a piece of crap. For test reasons, I put it on yesterday around lunch, then I walk from the office to the car, drove to meet Terry and already had a quarter mile on the thing. Funny I thought. Then I looked at it getting to the house and was up to 0.69 miles... I couldn't remember really walking that much. Once I was at the house, I was running around doing laundry, picking up stuff and vacuuming and whatever else. Looking at the pedometer thing... It was still at 0.69 miles... Because I changed from jeans into sweatpants once I was home, I assume right now, that the position of the pedometer on sweatpants (higher on the waist) was the problem... Since I do most of my workouts not in jeans, we have an issue here.

I hope everyone had a great start in their weekend!

So long! ;-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

100 Miles Of Nowhere - Who's In?

Okay, where do I start?

There is this self-proclaimed bicycle celebrity blogger who calls himself "FatCyclist" and who is out to fight cancer by raising funds for the LiveStrong Challenge. To motivate people to donate some of their hard earned money in economically challenging times, he gets very creative and raffles all kinds of goodies off and he is about to organize a "race" called "100 Miles Of Nowhere".

100 Miles Of Nowhere
(click here for Fatty's explanation of rules and timeline)

What: Ride 100 miles on your bike (road bike, mountain bike, Dutch bike etc) without moving or without moving far away from your starting point... So either on your rollers/ trainer or a small loop preferably close to your house.

When: May 8th 2010

Why: Raise funds for cancer research.

Registration: Will take place between March 22nd and March 28th 2010 and the registration fee is USD 95. You think it is crazy to spend this kind of money for a "virtual" race with no chance of awards? THINK AGAIN! It's a 95 bucks tax deductible donation to fight cancer and you will get some nice stuff like this t-shirt and other goodies that haven't been determined yet. (I will update this information as soon as Fatty is posting more about this!)

WHERE: Okay and now we come to the part, why I am writing this big old post about the 100 Miles Of Nowhere instead of just linking the page and be done. I would really like to participate in this event, but I would really like to have company doing it. So my proposal is that we get a group of cyclist together and get 100 miles in our training logs while enjoying each others company. I have three suggestions for possible locations:

If the weather is pretty, I suggest that we meet at Cleveland Park at the shelters near Greenville Zoo and do this (2.199 miles, 45.5 loops to complete the 100) or a similar loop around the park.

If the weather is crappy, I'll push the couch downstairs to the side and we should be able to accommodate up to eight bikes on trainers/rollers there. Music and/or TV entertainment would be included in the set-up, as well as a bathroom! ;-)

If the weather is nice, but the majority of the group wants to do the ride on the trainer/ roller (maybe because of the amenities mentioned above) , then we can meet up at the house and set the trainers up on the driveway... There are tons of trees, so don't worry about frying in the sun.

So please contact me if you want to join the group, so I can keep a headcount! Registration is on you, as well as bringing along a trainer if we go for that option. I will have basic provision at the house (water, Gatorade, fruit, prezels etc) if the event will take place here.

I will add information as I get it or once I remember all the points that I have forgotten to mention so far.

Please consider participating to fight cancer. If you haven't faced this disease yourself, you most likely have family members or friends that fight this battle right now or fought it in the past.

THANKS! And so long!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits Vol. 3

It's Tuesday and I didn't do "Tidbits" in a couple of weeks. Also, I am on a roll here of continuous posting and don't want to break it quite yet... Yes I know... I am OCD like that.

  1. I love me some networking: Last week our DJ for the wedding bailed out and so we had to find someone new. All of last week passed without any real progress. So Sunday afternoon I posted a request for help in my Facebook status and I got tons of feedback from friends and the new DJ is already booked. YAY for my FB family!
  2. Since yesterday, I am back on a training plan. That's a good thing. I took a generic BT plan and really love the option of moving planned workouts around during the week. Of course I have replaced the given workout for swims with whatever we do in the swim class.
  3. Also since yesterday, we don't have a kitchen in the house anymore. Terry has been doing a great job with several big home improvement project over the last couple of months. The kitchen is the LAST BIG project IN the house. There is still some to do on the outside, but at least it's going to be actually worth trying to keep the place clean once the kitchen is done.
  4. My parents and brother are coming in less then three weeks. Not to put any pressure on a huge home improvement project like A KITCHEN!
  5. Yes... I have my moments where I am completely stressed out... I am glad that Terry is not the "getting stressed out" kinda guy, otherwise we would be SCREWED!!
  6. Tonight also marked the return to the track. Instead of joining the GTC track workout, I did one on my own at Furman. 1 mile WU, 4x800s 1 mile CD... I had to ease back into those... This was the first time running for me since the RRR 10K. Sad, so very sad.
  7. I added another feed to my Google Reader... Very De-motivational... Some of it is not for the faint at heart... Consider yourself warned.
  8. I really want to do an outside ride tomorrow night, but they are calling for rain. It really only makes sense to ride after work, if I would ride around there. It's Daylight Saving Time alright, but it's also still March. But that means I would need to rack up my bike tomorrow morning and take it to work... All that mess and then I might get rained out. What to do??
  9. While waiting at the check-out at Publix, I scanned the tabloid covers and was surprised by the headline that Charles and Camilla are getting divorced. Of course I don't have a clue what is going on in these people's lives, but he was running after this woman for most of his life and now that they are finally married, it's over.
  10. Flipping through my Triathlete magazine, I noticed that Paul Mitchell is sponsoring XTERRA Races. Am I the only one that finds that this is an odd combination?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ultra - Crazy Stuff

Last night, I was able to snatch the POWER (remote control) away from Terry for a couple of minutes... Poor TV is always locked on HGTV. Anyways, I switched to the weather channel so I knew what kind a attire was appropriate for today. On the Weather Channel they showed a special called "Surviving Death Valley" about the Badwater Ultramarathon.

I think I mentioned before, that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the marathon* distance, but everything longer than the 26.2 is completely insane to me. Of course, I acknowledge that my boundaries of things that are doable or not doable for me change on a daily basis, but that marathon thing still strikes me as not for me. I admire everyone that puts her/himself through this and we all know that the marathon is just the icing on a cake of long, hard and consistent workout months. But going longer that this?

*Seriously, the only two things that keep me from attempting an Ironman is 1) the time needed for training and 2) that you have to do a marathon at the end.

I won't... But people do it... And I actually think it's fascinating. Now doing an Ultra (any distance over 26.2) is one thing... Doing Badwater and such is a completely different number! Seriously... Not only is it 135 miles, in the heat of summer in the DESERT(!), but the cherry on top is the killer elevation change of 8,642 total ascent. Like the first two premises don't suck enough! And the current course record is 26:51:33 for women (by Jamie Donaldson) which translates to an average pace of a little under a 12 minute/ mile. Taking into account that even ultra marathoner have to eat every now and then and use the bushes and stuff... That means when she was running, she was actually running faster than her race average. Oh... And while we speaking of it... I guess these super humans don't nap while they race, but does anyone know for sure??

Fascinating right? What the human body is capable to endure is really AMAZING!!!

On top of everything else, it's not like a big prize purse is waiving at the athletes to go through all of this... The prize money is a BELT BUCKLE. That belt buckle business is pretty common for ultra races... I wonder where that is coming from...


Also last night, I saw that the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is returning to Greenville for two showings (March 26th and 27th) at the Camelot Cinemas. We went there last year and really enjoyed it, so we are planning on going again and you should too. The tickets are 10 bucks, they raffle off tons of nice stuff (at least they did last year), the crowd is fun and I am sure the films are going to be GREAT.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Daylight Saving Time!

First things first! SPRING FORWARD!

Daylight Saving Time is finally here. For peeps that haven gotten used to exercising in the morning outside, this might not be great news, but for me.... I LOVE IT! The time of after work rides is finally here!!! SWEET!!! Yes, I tagged this post with "holiday" on purpose... It's a day for celebration! ;-)

When it comes to training, I have been keeping a VERY LOW profile for the last two weeks. I skipped tons of workouts and didn't break a sweat over it. Starting tomorrow, I'll be back on a training plan leading up to the Middle Tyger YMCA Sprint Triathlon.

I was planning on doing 10 miles running today, well, between everything that is going on these days, that just didn't happen.... Wedding, home improvement etc.

At least we got a nice long group ride in yesterday with "Ride On Bicycles" off Woodruff Road. It was our first group ride in several months. It was the "C" ride, but they were shooting for an 16 mph average... I felt like all these hours on the trainer over the winter really helped not to feel completely wiped afterwards. The 30 miles felt good to me... Of course there is still a lot of room for improvement. So tomorrow, I'll join another "Spin Class From Hell". Trainer rides are all good and fun, but a spin class just pushes me to a completely different level.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Filling Out The Health Screening Questionnaire

My company does annual health screenings to promote a healthy lifestyle and health awareness. So every year, we are asked to fill out a questionnaire and every second year it's the questionnaire plus blood work. It's not mandatory, but if you don't do it, your premium goes up.

Last week, I filled out my paperwork for this year and once again I noticed that those generic assessments really don't take the endurance athlete into account.

You are an endurance athlete when...

  1. you are looking for a the box "mild on swim and bike days and severe on run days" when asked how much bodily pain you had in the last four weeks.
  2. you are looking for the box "it only hurts when I walk stairs" when asked how much difficulty you had in the last four weeks to do your work or other regular daily activities as a result of your physical health.
  3. you are looking for the option to pick "4 single workout days and 2 doubles" when asked how many days a week you engage in aerobic exercise of at least 20 to 30 minute duration.
  4. you want to check "only to replace electrolytes" when asked how often you add salt to your food or eat salty foods.
  5. you demand a separation in a good and bad fat category when asked if you are more likely to consume low or high fat foods.
  6. you want to separate work load from work out load when asked how well you cope with your current stress load.

My family physician already acknowledges my changed lifestyle. When I still had a BMI of 35 (that is classified as obese) he didn't do anything at my annual physical other than blood work and measure blood pressure. Now that I am at a BMI of 23 (normal), he does all kinds of additional tests since I am an endurance athlete. I thought that was kind of ironic...


How is everyone's weekend going??

Friday, March 12, 2010

Childhood Flashback

Recently, I got my hands on some audio plays of "The Famous Five" (German title: 5 Freunde) by Enid Blyton in German.

As a child, I used to inhale the books and had tons of tapes with their adventures as well as the tapes/books/TV series of TKKG (written and placed in Germany, never been translated into other languages) and "The Three Investigators" (German title: Die Drei Fragezeichen).

The TKKG logo and the business card of "The Three Investigators".

It was fun to revisit those childhood friends on my way work this week. Especially handy is that one episode is approximately as long as my commute*.

*Which is also to prove that my commute is just way too long... I know I sound like a broken record, but this waste of time on the road sucks all life out of me at times!

Looking at these stories and adventures from the perspective of an adult and also keeping in the back of my head that those books have been written in the 40s, 50s and 60s makes for a handful of observations:
  1. Back in the day, children didn't need computer games and television to be adventurous... They had mother nature and a hand full of close friends for some nice clean fun. I didn't grow up in the time these books were placed and if you'll ask my parents today, they'll probably tell you that there have been a couple of days were I spend too much time in front of the TV. But I also have tons of school breaks in my head, where we didn't stay in a house for several days. Just running around outside until the street lights went on... That was when we were supposed to be home! Which leads me to the next point!
  2. Children were so much less supervised back then... I guess there were less creeps... But my brother and I were gone for whole days running around in the neighborhood and nobody thought anything of it.
  3. Language has changed A LOT! In the books it says: mother, father, the parents, the children... try to find those words in "modern" children's books... there it is: mom, dad, the old folks that keep us down at home, the kids...
  4. Food has changed... Try to find a reference to a fast food restaurant in these books! ;-)
I really wonder, if kids still listen to audio plays?

So long!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bike Specific Directions On Google Maps

A couple of months ago, I mentioned here that Google Maps is working on bike specific directions. Over a Hincapie Sportwear Twitter update from yesterday, I was alerted to the news, that this tool is now online. YAY!

Of course I had to try it out right away! ;-)

As an example, I typed in directions from Furman to Table Rock State Park... A route that I wanted to do with the bike for a while now, but just never gotten around. And this is what Google Maps came up with:

Click to enlarge!

Yeah... That's a little sub-optimal right there. This is basically the same route it would chose when I had picked directions by car. Also other routes that I tried out showed similar results. It leaves out interstates, but will keep major (4 or more lane) highways in. Of course, this is all still the beta stage and they actually have a feedback form up that you can use to comment on the route it picked specified to the turn that you think is incorrect or unsafe. So I expect this to improve once the cycling community gets their hands on this puppy.

But only because it didn't spit out perfect routing right away, doesn't mean that you can't use it... They have a drag feature that just lets you move to route and it will recalculate.

Click to enlarge!

Much better! ;-) I just dragged the route from Greer Hwy to one of the back country roads and voila, we have something to work with along with turn-by-turn directions.

So long!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Safety First!

This morning, I got an e-mail from the folks at RoadID that my membership is about to expire... As I type this, mine and Terry's membership are both extended to 2011 and while I was at it, I put it on automated renewal so that I don't have to think about it any more.

For those of you, who are familiar with RoadID, you may wonder what membership I am talking about. You see, last year when we decided to do something for our safety while being out and about, we opted for the "interactive" version of RoadID.

The original RoadID gives you seven lines to put down personal information like emergency contacts etc, but that's it... If anything changes, you have to order a new plate or run around with outdated emergency information. But you don't have to order a new wrist band, since you can exchange plates.

In the interactive version, you only have two lines of personalized text (we chose name and area of residence) and the rest is instruction on how to get to emergency information over phone or internet. On the back side of the plate is a serial number and a pin number, so the first responder can access your information. You can add tons of information on top of emergency contacts like your address (primary, vacation home etc), blood type, known allergies, known medical conditions AND whenever something changes, you just log on to your profile and update the information. TA-DAH! The downside is, in order keep your online profile active, you have to pay 10 bucks a year... I am okay with that.

Just to be clear here... I have bought the RoadID myself and I am also paying the membership. I just happen to be convinced by the value of this product and believe that everyone that enjoys the outdoors should invest in this little buddy.

I haven't been wearing my RoadID all the time last year, but recently I tried to get better at it again for my own good. Just last weekend, I was almost run over by a mini van on the last two miles of a solo bike ride. Seconds after that, I almost had a wash out of my rear wheel on some sand and debris on the road, maybe because I was still so scarred from the mini van attack. Seriously, that guy must have been drunk and he was way too fast and he pulled to the right side again before he even passed me. CRAP... And this was Old Buncombe Road... There are cyclist ALL THE TIME, so it's not like I could have surprised him or something.

That was a good mental refresher to ALWAYS wear my ID... when running, cycling, hiking or walking the dog... Whenever I don't have regular ID with me... AND YOU SHOULD DO THE SAME!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Race Report: Reedy River Run 10K

Results based on Guntime:
57:48 - 9:19 min per mile average
Overall 764/1290

Chip Time: 56:57 (PR)

Once again, there were no results per gender and age group published, so according to my (magic) Excel spreadsheet:
Female 260/594
Age Group 62/134 (30-34)

What a beautiful day for race, only that I didn't feel like racing at all. I didn't have a goal for this one and I didn't have an idea how my running is going these days. But since I was already registered, I got up at 7AM and had a pita bread with jelly (my new favorite pre-race food) and we headed out the door a little after 8AM for the short drive to downtown Greenville.

In front of Soby's we met up with several members of the DNR All Stars and friends and chatted the time away until the gun went off. This chit-chat stuff was entertaining (for us and the people around us!) and it certainly helped to distracted me, so I didn't even develop my race jitters! Even before that, I was out and about with Katie (not coach Katie) to make a little pit stop before we would get going. I told her that I really didn't feel like racing at all and she said, that on those days, your best races happen... And she would be right.

I started out in the back third of the runners lining up. I prefer that, since it's not like I am competing for awards and it also helps me not to go out too fast, because it takes a little while until the masses have stringed out. A 0.1 into the race, I heard the Garmin beeping at me and then I remember that I forgot to take out the programmed max pace from last Wednesday's run. CRAP! I can't handle the Garmin beeping at me for an hour... So I spend the next quarter mile to take the Garmin of my wrist and disable the max pace and put it back on. Then I saw Chris, our DNR team captain, and ran with him for a little before taking off on my own and try to figure out what I am going to do with this race.

Can you spot me in the crowd? ;-)

And while I kept plucking along, I checked in on how things felt and found that I actually felt pretty good. I also noticed that I enjoyed to run and the course and the weather. The first mile splits came up and the good feeling I had, was also reflected in those... Heck... I hardly run a sub 9 minute mile at a 5K and here all of a sudden I clocked two of them... Yes, they were mostly downhill miles, but still. I reached mile three in around 28 minutes and then I started thinking about the possibility that I could PR... And the thought became a mantra... I am going to PR, I am going to PR.

In Cleveland Park, the course gets pretty flat and I was just cruising along. I thought that I can push it some more, but I also remembered that I have two hills left. One around mile 5 that is not too bad and then a really nasty one at mile six. I skipped the second aid station shortly before mile 5, because I knew the end was near and things got a little congested around the station. There was the hill at mile 5 and then a little downhill and then another little hill... Hmmmm... I completely forgot this one. At mile 5.2 on my Garmin I had a time of 47 minutes and change. Right there I realized that I could run the last mile with a 10 minute/ mile pace and would still PR. Goody goody...

Then the course flattened out before the big finale... The hill up McDaniel. When we turned the corner and got our first glimpse at that hill, a girl in front of me turned around and said: "Do you see that hill?" I know exactly how she felt, because that's what I thought last year. I just said: "It's the last hill and then it's downhill to the finish! WE CAN DO THIS!"... She said thanks and took off!

All through the race, I took it easy on the uphill and then really picked it up on the downhills. It worked... But at McDaniel.... I attacked... Too much... When I was on top of the hill I felt nauseous and actually wasn't able to pick up my pace right away, but had to lower my HR a little first. This is probably the only thing that I would do different... And maybe wear less clothing... I completely over dressed. But before long the nauseous feeling passed and I picked up my feet again for a strong finish.

After the race the DNR All Stars gathered for a little recap before we went over the Liberty Bridge to get something to eat and drink. In our little group, there were several PR's and several goons** that ran this distance for the first time and just tore it up. SWEET! I am SOOO looking forward to run the Palmetto200 with these guys and gals!

**Our captain's pet name for the team members - I don't even know if that's offensive... Sometimes it sucks not to be a native speaker and not to have grown up in the same country... Some jokes are just completely lost on me!

I am a very happy camper about this PR... Two minutes at this distance is pretty awesome. Also, it really shows the progress that I made in the last 4 months*... I didn't get a chance to run a half marathon... But I had a successful 10 mile race two weeks ago and now I shaved off ALMOST TWO MINUTES of my previous time at the 10K. THANKS, COACH KATIE!

*My average pace at this 10K is faster than my average pace at the 5K back in November! Crazy stuff!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fluke Or Not A Fluke?

Okay, let me share a little athletic story from my teens. I think at one point, I mentioned that I was into gymnastics from age 7 to around age 17. I started out being fairly good, but around age 13 or so, my progress was stalling and I never really gotten into heavy competitions after that.

There was this one stellar moment late into one practice afternoon when I tried a back hand spring all on my own. No coach close by to help... Nothing. And I did it... I was the buzz of the locker room that afternoon. But as it turned out, the perfect back hand spring from that afternoon was just a FLUKE. I was never able to reproduce it.

So a couple of swim practices ago, I was gushing about my breakthrough only to learn that the actual breakthrough didn't happen until the very next swim practice. But I guess I just noticed that something clicked that day and when I got into the pool the next time it was like magic. We had 2x 400 yard time trials on tap and I did the first one in 6:40 minutes. Normally I need around 8 minutes for this distance. I thought I counted the laps wrong. The second 400 I did in 6:30 minutes, so I guess I have counted correctly... And the funny thing was, I could have kept on going. That whole thing felt effortless. I was able to maintain bi-lateral breathing, when normally, I start breathing to one side once I swim faster. Not this time, I was cruising through this whole set. My lane partner noticed it, the coach noticed it... IT FELT GREAT!!

Once I was out of the pool, I started worrying, if I would be able to hold on to this or if the next time, my form would just collapse to my old air-sucking self.

A week after those two time trials, we did a 400 yard race simulation in the pool. I swam the whole thing in 6:20 minutes! I was ecstatic... I still am... I start to believe that this time it isn't a fluke... This time, I can hold on to this progress.


This morning, I did the Reedy River Run 10K. I had to expectation on this race, I didn't even feel like racing.... Well and now I have a new PR. According to my Garmin, my time was 56:57 minutes... That's almost two minutes under my PR time at this race last year!

Friday, March 5, 2010

What is EASY?

The other day I read this blog post from Elizabeth Waterstraat (athlete and triathlon coach) about the definition of success for athletes. According to her post, the secret ingredient for a successful athlete is PACING. Not only during racing, but also during training. They know when they have to go hard and when to go easy.

That made me think about my approach to training a lot of the time especially when it comes to running (for whatever reason, I don't seem to have this problem with swimming or biking) that I have only one gear. So my tempo runs have the roundabout same speed than my long runs than my recovery runs (what are recovery runs anyways! ;-)... You get the idea. So for Wednesday night I was telling myself, that I want to do easy six miles... And after I read this blog post, I thought to myself.... What is easy? To what pace does "easy" translate to?

So I remembered that a couple of weeks ago, I discovered the McMillan Running Calculator. One use for this sweet little gadget is race time prediction... Basically stuff like... I run a 50 minute 10K, what can I expect my half marathon time to be and so on. Of course this is not an exact science, just a guideline, but it certainly gives you an idea.

I am trying to use this gadget the other way round. My approach is, that I want to run the 10K of the Assault on Cherokee International Triathlon in under 58 minutes and with what kind of paces do I have to train to be able to accomplish this goal*. So I entered my goal time of 57:50 mins into the entry screen.

*Just as a side note, this is not a completely unrealistic goal, my current 10K PR is 58:53 mins.

And out came this table, that basically shows me when I have to run how fast... It defines paces for any kind of distance and intensity and I will print this baby out and use it for my reference in the coming weeks of training.

(Click to enlarge.)

So my "easy" pace based of the table is between 10:52 and 11:22 and I did my easy run of 6.2 miles with an 10:55 average right on target. And yes, it actually FELT easy. In order to keep me on track, I entered a max speed of 10:20 for this run in my Garmin and the little guy beeped at me to go slower and that worked out just fine obviously even though the max pace in the Garmin was so much lower than the target pace.

Tomorrow, I am going to race in the Reedy River 10K. That's actually the race were I PR'd last year. So far I haven't even thought about a specific goal for this race... We'll see what is going to happen.

On a completely different note:

So the race organization of the Myrtle Beach Marathon Weekend finally made an announcement this past Tuesday about how they are planning to "reimburse" the runner's that were not able to run the half marathon or marathon on Feb 13th 2010. If you picked up your package for the half or the full, you'll get a 50% discount for your 2011 entry, but you have to sign up by March 31th. I guess that will give us close to four weeks to decide what we are going to do.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Palmetto200 Updates

With everything else going on, I hardly had time to mention the Palmetto200 relay more than on a couple of side notes over the last couple of weeks. Let's get you up to speed with the scoop and the current planning situation.

As you know, the team is complete. We have 12 runners and out of the 12, we have 10 original DNR members and 2 replacements (16.6% bounce rate is not too shabby)... Those 12 runners form a team with the sweet name of "DNR All-Stars" and the t-shirt logo looks something like this... But this is all still in the draft stage of things.

We also had a naked Calvin on our t-shirts from last year, so this is kind of a natural progression in team name and logo.

There was also some crazy talk about the three wolves t-shirt partnered with another 80's essential... But I think we are over this stage by now. Remainders of this discussion is a statement, that parts of the race will be run in Chuck's... For my part, I thought it would be fun to run one leg in a tutu, but really, the space is limited in vans! :-)

Design credit for the team logo goes to DNR team graphic designer Alex S.

After deciding on team name, logo and actually completing the team, it was time to assign the team members to the legs of the relay. I mentioned earlier, that I signed up for runner #3, then the course got changed around and I swapped for runner #6. Well, they changed the course again and as of now, I am up to 17 miles for the total relay once more... I guess it's just meant to be. Here is a comparison between the old split and the new split courtesy of Brian:

E is for easy, M for medium and H for hard... Since the course is pretty flat, the difficulty of the legs is really determined by the distance. My first leg will be 9.9 miles (longest of whole relay)... That is going to be tough, but at least it will be out of the way early. My next two legs are rated easy with 3.4 miles and 3.7 miles.

That's the status as of yesterday, we'll see if there are going to be more changed to the route.

Still in the works is van rental and hotel reservations for Charleston for after the relay. Since we ran to the beach, we figured it would be nice to stay there for one night before driving back home.

So long! :-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Case You Haven't Noticed Yet...

... I live in an AWESOME city! ;-)

Greenville SC has been profiled in the US Airways Magazine and here are the articles.

If that is not enough to convince you, there has also been some bike related praise by Competitive Cyclist back in January 2009.

I especially enjoy reading the conclusion of the article over and over again... It always makes me feel really proud to live here:
"Go to Greenville. Bring your bike. The weekend club rides there are, by reputation, high-quality both in terms of turnout & talent level. Stay at the Hampton Inn downtown on the Reedy River. Eat at the Lazy Goat or one of the other Soby's restaurants. Talk a long stroll through Falls Park and freak out a bit as you walk across the gorgeous Liberty Bridge. Outside of Europe, I've never seen such a cosmopolitan small city. It's a gem -- it's worthy of your vacation time, and it's certainly worthy of the USPro."
Since the Sprinx RunFest is going to have a marathon again in 2010 and the course will go over the Swamp Rabbit Trail up to Travelers Rest, I think it's safe to say, that by the time the race rolls around, they will have the downtown portion and the Travelers Rest portion of the Swamp Rabbit Trail connected to result in a 13 mile multi-purpose trail.

I am telling you.... It's a GREAT place, not only if you are into the swim, bike and run of things.

So long! ;-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Forecast: Two Unstructured Weeks

I am back on my own when it comes to my training. No training plans are made for me anymore... At least for now, since there is a wedding in my near future that needs some of my time and attention for planning purposes. That doesn't mean that I will stop working out... Well, there is a life after the wedding... E.g. the Palmetto200 just two weeks later as well as a couple of triathlons over the summer. Besides, I need this working out to keep my sanity during this planning period and also to make sure, that I will still fit in my dress... Even though I don't have a dress yet... Which makes me a little panicky... ARRRGGGHHH!

Since I kinda like the idea of a training plan, but still want to keep my flexibility, I decided to go with a generic plan from Beginner Triathlete (short: BT). For the last two years I logged all my workouts on that web page as well as enjoyed the huge community of athletes for inspiration and advice. I never tried one of their training plans, but now is a good time.

I took a calendar, circled the date for my first "A race", the Middle Tyger Triathlon (400m, 14 miles and 4 miles) on June 5th and choose the "Intermediate Sprint Plan 3x Balanced". That basically means, that the plan is for people that already did a sprint distance and are working out for at least one year one a regular basis. 3x balanced means that you have three session swim, bike and run per week plus some strength and flexibility. This translates to up to 10 hours of training during peak weeks.

The training plans on BT are flexible enough so you can tailor them to your needs. For example, put the swim on a day that suits you and the run on a day that works with the training of a buddy or a group run etc. For me personally, it means adjustments like getting rid of the third swim in the plan and put a little more emphasis on running since I will be doing the relay and also vowed to maintain a 10-mile long run in preparation of the international distance beginning of August.

It's a 12 week training plan and if I calculate the weeks back from race day to DAY ONE of the plan, I end up on March 15th... So besides of winter advisory for the Upstate for today... In my forecast are two weeks of unstructured training... SWEET! :-)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Training Duathlon and Girl's Ride Out

Can you believe it? It's MARCH! Two months of 2010 are already done and over. Daylight saving time starts in two weeks and I can't wait. Spring is not quite here, but ALMOST. See what I discovered on my walk with the doggy on Saturday.

Well, as I am typing this and look at the picture, I completely ignore the weather forecast that calls for 6 inches of snow tomorrow... Think happy thoughts... think happy thoughts.

Training Duathlon

On Saturday, the Upstate Tri Club organized a training duathlon out on the Furman campus. The duathlon consisted of a 5K run, 13.5 mile bike and another 5K run. Around 30 people showed and several brought along family, so we were quite a crowd.

The whole thing was scheduled to start at 1PM. I took it easy in the morning, slept in and then just stayed in bed for a little while longer, then ran some errands and got back to the house at around 12PM. The whole morning I forgot to drink and by the time I got back in I was thirsty... Once you are thirsty, you are already way too dehydrated. Great job, Kathrin! :-( So while I was trying to get my crap together, I sipped on some water to at least put something back in my system. I was at the transition area a little after 12.30pm and then I noticed that I forgot my bike shoes. Fortunately I live just around the corner and was able to make it back on time. Still... That's what you get if you prepare at the last minute.

I started off running at the very back of the group and took it easy, but actually felt pretty good. Maybe half a mile into the 5K I started picking up people and I did that for the whole distance. I can't remember being passed at all. At 5K, I hit the lap button on my Garmin and saw that I had a time of 28:13 mins. This is the lowest 5K time I had in a while and I wasn't even pushing it. Once I passed the 5K mark, I kept on running easy and made a little pit stop before returning to the transition area. This was training after all, so no need to go all crazy here.

Going on the bike felt good and I was glad that I put on a windbreaker in the transition area, since I was sweaty and the wind was really cold. The bike route started out on a familiar route for me, but 3 miles into it, I was on new terrain. On hilly terrain that is... Later I saw on the computer that the we did over 1,000 feet of climbing over 13.5 miles. There were a couple of hills that really hurt. Of course it didn't help that I started feeling the effects of my little water consumption earlier that day... I started cramping in my back and it was especially bad on the hills. Even though I started downing water like a crazy person once I got on the bike, it was just too late to catch up. My bike split had an average speed of 14.4 mph and I was disappointed about that, but I guess that was all I had in me that day.

By the time I was back at the transition area, I already decided that I am not going to do the second 5K... Maybe just a little one mile cool down jog or something, but once I got off the bike, I didn't even feel a cool down jog. Instead I had something to eat and a lot to drink and socialized a little.

When I got back home from the duathlon, I took the doggy on a long walk... That made my back feel better and made the doggy happy.... WIN WIN!

Girl's Ride Out

I am painfully aware of the fact, that my bike fitness is nowhere near I was end of last season. The ride during the duathlon was witness of this fact too, even though other factors sure also played into my performance... Like hydration! DUH!!!

Trainer rides can only do so much, especially if none of your trainer rides exceeded one hour in over two months. The ultimate cure for bad bike fitness is getting out there on the bike and ride it. So of course I was in, when Katie (not coach Katie) asked me if I was up for a ride. We decided to do the Donaldson Country Loop which I never did before... Just follow the light blue/ green arrows! ;-) The sun was shining, but it was still chilly, so we had on several layers. I can't wait for the days, when I don't have to think about how many layers I need. On the bottom I dressed quite light, I didn't even have booties or toasty toes, but I had three thin layers on on top and that worked quite good. The country ride is a nice loop with lots of rolling hills on back country roads and only very little traffic. Katie dropped me a lot which just made me push harder, so it was certainly good training for me. Over 31 miles, we did 1,500 feet of climbing with an 15.6 mph average for the ride... Not bad...

When daylight saving time is finally here, I will definitely take my bike to work at least once a week and join one of the evening rides that start just a little down the road... I think I can't hide it.... I am itching for SPRING!

So long! ;-)