Sunday, December 30, 2007

Weekly Recap 12/24/07 - 12/30/07

Monday: Ran 5 miles with Bill up in Michigan. Great run, great company!

Tuesday: Jumped out on the bike for an easy 8 miles. The roads were finally clear enough to bike outside of my basement.

Wednesday: Ran 4 miles in the morning, biked 12 miles in the evening. All in all, great workouts!

Thursday: First time swimming in a couple weeks. I just went a half miles or so with a major focus on technique. I also did my first core workout in a while, which I'm ready to get back on top of! Also, I went out to pick up some new running shoes, the Asics 2130s.

Friday: Ran 4 miles in the morning. We just got a good amount of snow, so it was a good run but biking outside is over for a while! I biked for an hour in the basement, which I'm going to call 20 miles since that would be about normal on the trainer.

Saturday: More swimming, still focusing on technique. Spending a lot of time counting strokes across the pool, and I'm able to hit 15 pretty consistently now with an occasional 14. Afterwards I did another core workout which I'm really feeling today!

Sunday: Ran 4 miles and change. At the end of the run I had a lingering feeling in the back of my head that I hurt my hip again, but it didn't hurt. Not afterwards, and not now. I think the only thing left for this injury is the head games!

Total run: 17.63 miles
Total bike: 40.06 miles
Total swim: 1 mile

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What a great week! I more than doubled the volume I had last week, which normally would be a huge no-no. Since my mileage is so low, I can afford it. After this I won't have any big jumps, promise! Its great to feel like I'm gaining fitness again. My legs, arms, and core are all starting to feel stronger after just one solid week of training; which is a huge motivator to keep at it!

Most Relentless Runs of 2007

Amy tagged me a few days ago to post my favorite runs of 2007, but I'm putting my own little twist on it. Really, though, the crazy runs are the ones I seem to enjoy the most; after the fact, anyways!

The White Out

Ah, yes. The blizzard that shut down the Midwest! It caused the first snow days at the University of Illinois or Eastern Illinois University in over fifty years. Both schools got two days in a row off due to this beast of a storm. So, what did this crazy S.O.B. do?

Yeah. You guessed it. I tried to run. I had the roads to myself because nobody else would even try to drive in this mess, which was kind of cool. Ten miles were on the schedule, but that didn't quite happen. I only made it five in this absolute white out, but thats a hell of a lot more than any sane person would ever try. The run got finished up at the indoor track, but it still makes it as one of my top three runs of the year!


Freeze & Thaw

The weather this winter was, well, relentless. But so was I. Mother nature isn't going to keep me down!

I was home this weekend where we had some extremely low temperatures and extremely high winds; the wind chill was around -20 degrees. So, once again, what does this crazy guy do with this insane weather and 13 miles on the schedule?

Right again! I bundled up with underarmour as a bottom layer, and almost every other bit of clothing I could justify putting on. Weighing myself before and after getting dressed, I had around 8-10 lbs of clothing on. I smeared some vaseline on any exposed skin to make sure I didn't get frost bite on the bit of my face I didn't cover, too!

I still would get cold on this run, so I started alternating blocks into and against the wind. That way I could get cold, then thaw out repeatedly throughout the run. It seemed like a desperate idea, but it worked! I managed to make it through the run without a scratch!


The Death March

One of the great things about Illinois is that we really, really getting to experience all four seasons. But, one of the bad things about Illinois is that we really, really get to experience all four seasons!

The Chicago Marathon was a pretty good example of summer in Illinois, except one thing: it was supposed to be Fall! Sure, people can train for the heat, but who ever expects Chicago to be 95 degrees in October? Or who expects them to run out of water?

Regardless of the mayhem that was the Chicago Marathon, it was a pretty good run for me. I didn't have to deal with the lack of water since I was fairly close to the front, but damn was it hot!

During the race, it was not one of my favorite runs. Far from it. The last several miles of the race are, undoubtedly, the hardest miles I've ever run in my life; even if they might be among the slowest!

But after the fact, I feel like I've accomplished something huge. Because I was relentless through the brutal Illinois winter and summer, I made it through the race with a PR. Even though it was 95 degrees. And it was humid. And I hadn't run for a month. And I had a hip injury. Whats not to like about that?!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Planning the New Year

Yesterday a friend put an idea in my head: The St. Louis Half Marathon.

At first I discounted it as a bad idea, but then I really got thinking about it. Currently I'm running the River to River Relay on April 19th which will consist of running three legs of 3-4 miles from sunrise to sunset. The half is on April 6th, just two weeks before the relay.

I'm really thinking a half is doable by then. This week it looks like I'm going to have 17-18 miles total, which is pretty respectable looking at my training log these past few months! I think a half marathon is easily doable on just 30 miles a week, so building up to that over three months doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to me! What do you guys think, good idea? Is anybody else be up for it? eh? eh? They have a full marathon too.

Speaking of planning, I got my training log spreadsheet all setup for 2008. Maybe you weren't aware of my dorkiness, but its bad! New in 2008, it now tracks swimming and biking too, as well as combining all of them in one graph so I can see where I need to pick up the slack and also see how my total volume is doing. This Garmin might be bad for my health, since it gives this number addict all the numbers I could ever want!

Today I headed back to the pool and swam for about 45 minutes. I'm not doing anything I would call a workout just yet, just practicing technique. Once I get my technique down and make all the little things habit, I'll start thinking about doing real workouts again. In the end, having the technique down will help me more than anything!

Now I'm going to hide up in my room with a book for the next few hours, my mom and sister are both still pretty sick and I don't have many excuses left to get out of the house!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Breaking in the new kicks

Today I got to break in my first pair of new running shoes in almost five months; I can't believe its been that long! Last time I got a new pair, a hip injury followed suit. Damn those Mizunos! This time I went back to my old faithful shoes: Asics!

I went with the 2130's, which replaced my old 2120's that I've been eeking out as many miles as possible on. But the new kicks are sweet, no discomfort at all and eliminates nearly all the pounding; just what I need.

The run this morning was great, to me. We got an inch or two of snow last night, which wasn't enough for it to get in my shoes, but was enough for me to make my mark in the snow. Theres just something about leaving the first footprints in a fresh snow; I love it!

My hip is hanging in there just fine, even after four miles at a respectable pace. The splits were:

7:27
7:22
7:35
7:25

And in other news, I'm still managing to hold off the illness that everybody seems to be getting. Hopefully I can stick with it; the 10 hours of sleep is probably helping. I better keep doing that! (Hey, let me believe what I want to!)

Tonight I gotta jump on the bike in the basement again. Although the snow was fun to run in, it completely ruins biking for the next week or so. Blargh!

I hope running is going well for everybody else!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Delaying the Inevitable

Yesterday my sister woke up feeling sick. Today, both my parents were feeling a little under the weather. I still feel okay. But its practically guaranteed that, save a miracle, I'm going to be getting sick in the next few days. Ugh!

I'm doing everything I can to hold it off. I've been drinking lots of orange juice and water to boost my immune system and flush out my system. My hands have probably been washed more today than they have in the past week! Also, I spent as little time in the house as possible today.

I made a trip to the nearest running store, which is 60 miles away, to get some new running shoes since my current ones are wearing out. Then I further postponed coming back to this germ-hole by browsing around Borders for a while, looking at cycling and triathlon books.

After secluding myself by reading a book on swimming, I did the only logical thing and took a trip to the pool for the first time in a few weeks. I'm trying to incorporate some techniques the book talks about in order to make my stroke even more efficient. So far I've gotten my freestyle down to just 15 strokes per lap; a HUGE improvement over the 27 it took me a few months ago!

Tonight I have to start getting ab workouts going again. I've been slacking big time on the goals I set a while back! The stability ball and medicine ball I got for Christmas are really encouraging me to get on top of it now.

And, this just in... (Literally. I got an email while typing this.) I'm officially teaching next semester. Really teaching. Last semester I just taught a lab, but now I'm actually going to be lecturing a classroom of students. I'm excited and worried about it. Its a great opportunity, but how much time is this going to require? I'm hoping it doesn't keep me from training as much as I want to!

And, some responses to comments:

Bill - I use the Garmin Forerunner 305. I love it and how it tells me every possibly thing I could want to know about my running. If heart rate data isn't important to you, the 205 is a bit cheaper.

Vickie - Yeah. That weather sure is fun! Wasn't as bad as the Illinois winter last year, but I'm sure Michigan had it even worse! Luckily I shouldn't be back to Michigan until its nice and toasty again.

Marcy - Yep. I'm definitely trying to make you jealous! But I've earned this break big time, I'll go back to being a sleep deprived college student soon enough!

Everybody else - Thanks so much for the encouraging comments lately! But be careful, your enthusiasm only pushes mine to increasingly dangerous levels!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Feelin' It

The day after the five mile run with Bill my hip was feeling... surprisingly good! At one point I thought I was going to pay for making the big jump to five miles, but it looks like I'm recovering just fine.

During the past week or two the majority of my runs have been an easy three miles, and I've been handling it pretty well. But since seeing that I can handle five, I'm bumping up the easy runs up a little bit. Ah, progress!

Today I woke up (at 11) and went for a solid four mile run. I pushed the pace a little bit, and was surprised how much I was feeling it. I started getting side stitches just a few miles in. Gotta love the aches and pains of rebuilding; it's so much better than being lazy!

Here's the splits:

7:08
6:59
7:23
7:24

After getting some food in me, I went out on the bike. I started with my sister, but she wasn't joking about taking it easy. I went ahead and went my own pace after a mile or so, and got in a good workout. Here's the digits:

Distance: 12.01 miles
Time: 44:25
Speed: 16.2 MPH

And here is what Garmin says about my bike and run.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Weekly Recap 12/17/07 - 12/23/07

Monday: Ran an easy three miles, nothing too notable.

Tuesday: Another run, three miles and change. This is the first time I've ran two days in a row in the past couple months. Hip felt good during and after the run. Biked for an hour this evening on the trainer.

Wednesday: Started to feel a little twinge in my hip and decided to be lazy for a couple days.

Thursday: Went to visit friends in Chicago, was hoping to run when I got back but my Uncle John and two of his ump-teen daughters showed up early and the run got canceled.

Friday: Ran another three miles. I'm turning pro at this distance. All went good, hip is feeling fine again.

Saturday: Traveling all day long and visiting with family.

Sunday: Planned to run with Bill, but the 50 MPH gusts and pouring rain postponed our run until Monday.

Total run: 9.4 miles
Total bike: 20 miles
Total swim: Nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch. I'm planning to go back at it this week and am hoping the ankle problems have gone away.

----------------------------------------------

Another fairly easy week, all things considered. I was hoping to run more, but the weather didn't allow it. Also, I couldn't bring my bike to Michigan. This week will be better unless something goes horribly wrong, promise!

A Run With the Marathon Dude

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!

What? I don't make a convincing Santa? Fine, fine. I'll stick with running.

I just got back from visiting family in Michigan for the holidays. It was a really low key trip, and I got to see all my family: everybody from my 4 year old cousin to my 88 year old Grandma. It was great!

I also got together with Bill for a nice run. We tried to go on Sunday morning, but the pouring rain and 50 MPH wind gusts canceled that plan for us real quick! The crap-tastic weather subsided yesterday, though, so we met up on Christmas Eve.

Bill is one solid runner; he doesn't make those numbers up! I felt as though I was holding him back quite a bit, but if I was in top shape I could give him a run for his money! Our splits were:

8:10 (Icy trail, yikes!)
7:26
7:08
6:37 (Woah, easy there!)
7:10

Since Bill was taking an interest in everything my Garmin will tell me, here is a link to the online version of the run: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/4644733

Afterwards we got a small bite to eat and took a picture, just for you guys!


My hip is feeling great today, even though that was my longest run since the Chicago Marathon. I'm still on the mend, but things are still looking up! I finally jumped out on my bike today too, since the snow is finally gone. Sweet!

Santa was kind to me this year, too; I must have been on the 'nice' list this year! I got most of what I asked for, including a stability ball, medicine ball, and the books Again to Carthage, Total Immersion, and The Triathlete's Training Bible.

I hope everybody else had a great Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lazy Days

These last few days have been lazy. Extremely lazy. But I'm full of excuses.

After running two days in a row there was a small twinge in my left hip when I moved my leg just right. It made me a little nervous, so I took a two days off from running and biking just to be on the safe side. This is no week for a relapse!

I ran 3 miles this morning, though, and it went really well. Okay, so it wasn't this morning since I didn't wake up until 11:30. Regardless, it feels great tonight so I'm not worried anymore!

Tomorrow I'm off to Michigan for Christmas. We've lucked out on the weather, but the trip back is going to be interesting. We're driving back on Christmas day, so everywhere to eat and go to the bathroom is going to be closed. We'll see how that one goes!

Thats all I got. Life on break is kind of boring, but I need this mental vacation. Unless you want to hear about video games, I think its best I leave it at that!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Relentless

It's more than a number of miles. It's more than taking on the heat, cold, rain, snow, ice, and wind. It's a mindset; and one that I've missed. But its back! And I'm back!

These past few months the theme has been "don't over do it." It was a theme I needed, but all and all I think it started to make me weak. I noticed this on the bike the other day. The game plan was to go for an hour, and after just 15 or 20 minutes a little voice kept telling me it was time to quit. Over and over "don't over do it", "you might hurt yourself," yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, I've had it with them. I told them to can it. Forget relenting. I'm relentless again!

Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm still going to increase my running nice and steady, but the other parts of my training are going to start increasing in intensity. In the past, biking and swimming have been cross training to me; but thats not the case anymore. They're a part of my training that needs the same amount of effort as before; not just recovery days anymore!

These past few days have been good days. I've been working out every day, sometimes twice. Running hasn't been aggravating my hip, I've even run two days in a row without any pain whatsoever. With the rest of my time I've been pretty lazy, but I've earned the break after busting my butt these past few months.

But what did busting my butt result in? All A's, 4.0. Hells yeah! I've earned this mental vacation!


SLB - I think its too late to put a trainer on Santa's list. Although, we have one at home that I'll be using for the next couple weeks if the roads are bad. I have enough other biking stuff on my list to keep Santa plenty busy!

Bill - I've never heard that I look like my dad. Honest. I don't hear it from everybody that has ever seen us side by side! A lot of people say the same about me and my sis. Last year at her Christmas party a friend of hers greeted me with 'LOOK! ITS BRENDA WITH A BEARD!' By the way, how does Sunday morning sound for our run? I'm thinking 4-5 miles.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Weekly Recap 12/10/07 - 12/16/07

Monday: Rest day. Gotta have' em!

Tuesday: Ran 3.05 miles, swam for about 30 minutes. Left ankle was hurting so I called it quits early.

Wednesday: Lazy day. Swim practice didn't fit my schedule, ran the day before, and it was raining so I couldn't ride.

Thursday: Ran 3.43 miles, swam for a little over an hour. Ankle started hurting so I just did the rest of the night with the bull buoy so I didn't have to kick.

Friday: Nada. I drove back home this day.

Saturday: Ran 4.2 miles in the snow. Felt pretty good.

Sunday: Put an hour in on the bike that was setup on the trainer in the basement. It was rough but I made it through. I ate like crap all day so I crashed mentally afterwards. Feeling great after recovering, though!

Total run: 10.68 miles
Total bike: 20 miles
Total swim: 1.5 hours

-----------------------------------------

Definitely not enough workouts this week, but it was finals week and it was raining pretty much every day. Running in the rain is great, but bikes rust when they get wet so I gotta hold back! Game plan for this next week is to swim twice, run four times (15 miles?), and jump on the bike 2-3 times even if its just in the basement.

Hope everybody had a great week!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Your Christmas Card

From the coolest family out there!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

6720 Meter Hurdles

Its a new event that is held every winter, have you heard about it yet? The distance tends to vary, but its always long distance hurdling! This time it was spontaneous.

I was out for my run this afternoon, and we got a few inches of snow last night. But I waited just long enough for everybody to get out and shovel their driveways, leaving nice mounds of snow on the sidewalk every couple yards!

Now, my 8th grade history teacher taught me that three things happen when someone is presented with a problem. You can adapt, migrate, or die. Well, this isn't quite that serious (yet, anyways. Theres a foot of snow on the forecast!), but I'm going to claim it still applies. We can either jump over them (adapt), run around them (migrate), or not do anything and fall on our face (process of elimination, right?)!

Well, today I was more in an adaptive mood than anything so my 4.2 mile run turned into a hurdle event, and it was fun! And, since I think it was a definite first for the event, I hold the world record at 33:09. Who's gonna take it? Nic? Bill? Marcy (your Yak Trax might give you an advantage!)?

The hip is still feeling strong after a repeat of last week, woo hoo! Next week the plan is to add one more day of running and bump my weekly mileage up a couple more miles. Hopefully it will go well, everything else has so far!

I need to get back to work. And by work I mean watching movies all day; break rocks!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

D-O-N-E

Thats right. The semester is over. Completely. Holy crap!

Grading, check
Finals, check
Sanity, check

Now I just need to wait for grades to come in. Oh the waiting!


I made it out for a run this morning, but I feel like going out again. Its how I like to wrap up every semester. I ran 15 miles right after graduating college; it was great! I guess I kind of blew it by running this morning, huh? Oh well. I'm not gonna go out again, can't risk the hip! I'll get business taken care of at the pool tonight; my ankle better behave itself or we're gonna have some SERIOUS problems! It never hurts when I run, though, so I'm not complaining too loudly.

The hip is holding up nicely. I made it out for about 3.5 miles this morning to shake the cob webs loose before my final final. I've adopted a strategy this semester that has worked pretty well for me. None of that sleep deprived, studying till the last minute crap that everybody else does. I've been getting a solid 10 hours of sleep, a nice lunch, and exercising before my exams. While everybody else crammed in last minute stuff, I was reading the excerpt from "Again To Carthage" in December's Runner's World.

Splits this morning were:

7:35
7:14
7:08
3:10 (7:25 pace)

Great run, hip didn't hurt at all. Doesn't hurt now.

Tomorrow I drive back home and am stopping at Eastern Illinois on the way to see some old friends and a few professors that nudged me to go to school at University of Kentucky. Then I get to surprise my parents who aren't expecting me until Sunday night!


Nic - You have yourself a deal, my friend. Chicago '08 the barrier will be broken side by side!

Marcy - According to my Garmin, it wasn't THAT fast. Not as fast as Bill anyways; that speed demon!

Bill - Yeah, I'm getting pretty close to muttering those sacred words myself. Maybe next week sometime... I can't get ahead of myself! Soon, very soon!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Something in the mail!

Yesterday I finally got my video from the Chicago Marathon. It was supposed to ship a month ago but got delayed for some reason. Regardless, its finally here! Which means you get to see the finishing shots:


video


I'm pretty happy with the finishing shots, although I was hoping it would be a little higher quality. Most of the rest of the video is really great quality, then anything I appear in is kind of pixelated. I guess they don't want us taking screen shots of it instead of paying $60 a picture for the official pictures of the race.


The weather here in Kentucky is pretty freaking crazy lately. Two days ago it was in the 30's. Yesterday it was up to 70. Today its down in the 40's. I wish it would just make up its mind so I could get used to it one way or the other!

I had my amazing run yesterday, thanks to the weather, but last night my swim was pretty crap-tastic. I got through the warm up (which is still basically a full workout) alright, but then my left ankle started hurting. I kept trying to massage it out, but it just got worse every lap I swam. I decided to call it a night early. The weird thing is, it doesn't hurt at all when I walk or run. I'm just counting it as an off night, I'm giving it another shot tomorrow.

The hip is hanging in there perfectly, even after my too-quick run yesterday. It didn't pipe up at all last night or even today. Sounds like I'm really starting to recover now! I'm still planning for this to be a repeat of last week, then next week I'm going to add in one extra run. Slowly but gradually I'm going to build back up to where I was. So I can kick Bill & Nic's butts.. eventually! The next time Nancy directs a race, they're gonna have to watch out!

All I have left with school this semester is one final. A final I need a 50% on in order to get an A in the class. And its over material I know inside and out. I'm pretty much out of here for the winter!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Four S's

Waking up today, the weather was one great surprise! It was the first time I've actually seen the sun in over a week. Yesterday, we had temperatures around 30-40 degrees. Today, it felt like I accidentally moved to Florida over night; we had temps near 70!

I made it out to run with just my four S's: Shorts, socks, shoes, and sunglasses. In December. In Kentucky. Without freezing my tail off. Did I mention its December?

I think everybody who saw me running today was taken back for a moment, because they were all bundled up out of habit; just like me this morning.

Everything about the weather made me want to get out on my treadmill bike:



Quirky inventions aside, this was the quickest run I've had in months. I knew, secretly, I needed to hold back. And I tried. Oh, how I tried. But it didn't work, not this time. Not in this weather. Not when I'm feeling this good. I just spaced out and ran, just to run.

I ended up running a shade over 3 miles, and loved every step of it. Here's the splits, you can yell at me if you like:

7:11
7:02
6:54

Time to get more studying done so I can make it to the pool tonight!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't say it on an airplane!

So, um, yeah. About that test this morning. The one given by "jerk-face," lets just say I am to that test as President Dubya is to Iraq. I bombed it, but with a smile on my face!

Realistically, my grade on the exam doesn't matter, so long as I scraped up at least a few points. Even if I get a B in the class, its over ridden by the A I'll get in graphics, so it won't hinder me getting into the PhD program should I decide to take that road. Because of this, I went into the test with a pretty nonchalant attitude, despite the fact that I studied 20-30 hours the past few days.

The test was redunkulously hard. Seriously. There were huge questions about stuff he mentioned practically as a side note in class.

But, theres nothing to do about it now. So I'm taking the road less traveled and instead of being bummed, I'm relishing in my smart-ass answers to the questions I had no clue on. My only regret is not taking the time to say various things I thought of on the walk back to my apartment!

The pressure is off now that I have that one behind me. I only need 50's and 60's on my last few exams to stay in the A range, which shouldn't be a problem at all! And ALL my grading is done, to boot!


On the exercise front, today is an off day. I'm just being a bum. Monday is always a rest day anyways. This week I'm planning to hold off my progress on the running front. I want to do a repeat of last week just to rebuild a little bit, then I'll start adding more miles over winter break. Hopefully this endless rain storm disappears sometime this year so I can get out on the bike and put in some more miles!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Weekly Recap 12/03/07 - 12/09/07

Ah, now here's a label I haven't used in a month or three! Here's a summary of my workouts this week:

Monday - Rest day

Tuesday - Swim 90 minutes; really starting to get the drills down! Run 3.1 miles; this run went off without a hitch.

Wednesday - Rest day

Thursday - Swim 90 minutes; did my first real swim workout today. Run 3.36 miles; once again, this was a pretty flawless run. My hip is feeling great!

Friday - Bike 20 miles. Its starting to get easier already. Pacing is getting a little bit easier and my butt doesn't hurt so bad afterwards, which is a nice plus!

Saturday - Run 4.34 miles. Yep, "only" 4.34. I dropped some hints, but nobody caught them. My "8 on the 8th" was spread out over this entire week. You can take back some of your praises and bows and I won't be offended in the least! This run might have pushed it just a little too far. I'm going to back it down to under four miles again this week. I feel fine today (Sunday), but yesterday evening I was a little worried.

Sunday - Swim 90 minutes. Today was my first full swim workout. I think its going to start getting a little bit easier now that I'm really pushing myself every swim. I'm still no super-star; today I was doing a sprint set and someone nonchalantly swam right past me, then turned around to do another lap and while I was wheezing for air!

Total run: 10.8 miles (Highest training mileage since September, BOO YAH!)
Total bike: 20 miles
Total swim: 4.5 hours (Maybe 4 miles?)

--------------------

All in all, a great week! Insanely busy, considering I did all that while pulling everything together for my end of semester projects. But if I can pull it off during dead week and the week of finals, I can keep at it no matter what! It just takes some serious time management and concentration when I'm working on anything for school.

Expect to see a serious increase in biking and swimming in the next month. My amount of free time is about to sky rocket!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

8 On (The Week Of) The 8th -- Race Report

This race has been the talk of the community for the past month or so. Mostly because its put on by the best (most lenient?) race director out there!

A couple days ago I got my event T-shirt. I swore, up until this moment, it was called "An 8th on the 8." I thought, "No problem! I can run an 8th of a mile!" But then I looked at the T-shirt more closely. Crap! EIGHT on the 8th?! You want me to run how far?! Luckily, I had a camera at hand when I made this realization!

The crowd support during this race was fairly minimal. It consisted mostly of pre-occupied students in their zombie-like daze in the week before finals. I assume they were out there to cheer on someone else, because they barely even noticed me zoom by them. Unless I'm just that fast!

Not many runners were out there. Fewer than my last race, anyways. Although, even those that I saw were clearly not cool enough to be in on this VIP race.

There wasn't a single aid station I came to that was running out of water. None of them were running out of water, Gatorade, gu, bananas, steak, spaghetti, or even lobster. All of the aid stations knew just how to prepare for this race!

I felt pretty strong over the course of the race. My splits were: 7:43, 8:06, 8:04, 8:07, 8:00, 7:37, 7:46, and 7:41. This results in a total time of: 1:03:04, which is 7:53 per mile! Sure, its slower than my average pace at Chicago, but I've taken two whole months mostly off.

After finishing, since nobody else in town ran the race, they gave me all of the prizes immediately after the finish.


Do I plan to do it again next time? You bet! I wouldn't miss out on a race like this for anything. Thanks for putting it on, Nancy!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Eat. Sleep. Teach. Learn. Swim. Bike. Run.

Ah yes, my life has been the good life these past few days. I can encapsulate everything I've done into the above seven words, and I wouldn't change a thing. Luckily for me, or what would be unluckily for some, I get to keep at it this way for at least the next week, and hopefully all through break.

Last night I had what felt like a really break through swim. For the first time, my coach had me do more than drills. This means I'm going to start getting in really great workouts there too, rather than just doing my thing for an hour and leaving.

Usually with my drills, I end up swimming 25 or maybe 50 yards tops and take a little break. I'll think about how to improve my technique or just catch my breath, let my heart rate get down, etc.

Well, once we did the workout, first thing was 100 yards! It was rough, and I was panting like crazy when it was over. Whats up next? Yeah. 200 yards. I suppose I inadvertently gave an "oh sh*t" look when she said that, because she backed it off to 150; but I did the 200 anyways. Who knew I could swim that far?!

She had me count my strokes to get across the pool, too. Told me that getting down to 20 would be a great goal to shoot for. Bam! 17! Oh yeah! Eat that di-hydrogen monoxide (that's H2O)!

This morning I decided to squeeze in some time on the bike between classes. I somehow managed to get ready, drive out of the city, bike 20 miles, get back, shower, and eat lunch all in three hours. Not sure how, but its good to know I can get it done!

All in all it was a great ride. Much easier than my first one, mostly because I know a little bit more about how to pace myself. I tried to focus on trying little things on the bike. The one reason I won't let myself ride in the city is I simply can't let go with my left hand in order to signal a left turn. I wobble out of control.

Just like today when I was practicing. I decided to signal left before a turn, and then make the turn. Well, it didn't go so hot. I came pretty close to doing a face plant in the ditch, and I'm really, really glad I didn't. I'll have to come up with some way to ease into it so I don't have another experience like that one! Face plant = bad!

Running tomorrow, 4 miles on the agenda. If the rest of the world operated in base-2 like we computer scientists do, I could tell you thats triple digits. I'm confident it'll go well, my hip feels great after yesterday's 3 and change. I've set the goal to run 6 miles next weekend, which is easily in reach unless tomorrow's 4 goes poorly.

Also, don't forget the 8 on the 8th is tomorrow! Even though I get to cheat (in fact, I'm already 3/4ths done, suckers!), you can bet I'll have a race report up tomorrow. Best of luck in catching me!

Finally, finals are next week. Pretty much everybody is a great big ball of stress except for me. I crunched the numbers and I'm going into my finals with fairly strong A's. I have quite a bit of room to spare if I need it. I found out second-hand that jerk-face's A range goes down to about 65%, so I'm actually doing fairly well in that class, despite having what normally looks like a craptastic grade.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I'd Like to Say I'm......

No, I can't say it.. not yet. I can't jinx the progress I'm making.

But lets look at the facts. In the last seven days, I've run 8.77 miles and my hip is feeling wonderful. Although I've had weeks with higher mileage, this is the highest pain free mileage I've had since the beginning of September!

I'm hoping I can keep this progress going, and as long as I don't do anything stupid I think I can keep it up. Once I get up to 5 miles I think I'll be able to mutter the words I won't let myself say just yet.

On a less positive note, I lost my sunglasses. And no, not some cheap-o pair from Walmart, these were the $120 pair I got from my parents for my birthday in 2006. My wonderfully comfortable sunglasses I barely notice are on my head. The ones I could have a seizer with and they wouldn't move a millimeter.

I'm really, really hoping they turn up somewhere soon, but my apartment isn't that big and I've searched the entire thing up and down. And my car. I must have dropped them after my ride Saturday, because thats the last place I remember having them. One way or another, I think they'll turn up or I'll give in to buy some new ones. Update: Found 'em! They were in my car. Fell off the opposite side of the passenger's seat.

Since I'm not one to dwell on the negative, here's a few positive things. I rocked that assignment that demolished my Thanksgiving "break." I still feeling completely on top of everything in school, only 1/3 of an assignment left this semester! Not to mention everything that I said was going right in my last post.

Here's to progress.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Accomplishments

These past few days have been crazy busy! Between swimming, biking, running, classes, grading, and projects I've hardly had a moment to relax. But the great thing about it is the sense of accomplishment that comes along with it. This post is mostly just me patting myself on the back, but I think I deserve it!

Here's what I got:
  • Biked 33 miles. You guys know the story.
  • I'm really getting down my swimming drills. Going back for more in a little bit!
  • My 3.1 mile run today simply felt monumental. I don't know what the big difference between 2 and 3 miles is, but this run felt very significant. Nothing hurt, and it still doesn't! Rock on!
  • I am 100% caught up on grading until more gets turned in on Friday.
  • In my classes, I'm the only one who doesn't look like they could drop dead at any moment due to the sheer amount of stress. Taking time to take care of myself really pays off.
  • My final graphics project is pretty much complete. And I'm really, really enjoying this stuff. I'm hoping I have some time on break to do a little more with it. You guys know what it means when I get excited. It means you get to hear about it. But a pictures worth a thousand words, so here is a little look into what a first semester graduate student in graphics can do.
Some basic shapes, who said math wasn't beautiful?

Reflections and shadows

A scene combining everything, including some transparency


Everything is winding down. Sort of. I have one project left to do, and then finals. I'm determined to still find time to swim, bike, and run as much as usual. So far sticking with it has been paying off big time.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Inhuman?

After yesterday's ride, I swore up and down walking was going to be a monumental feat today. It wasn't. I'm not even sore. Mostly just hungry (I've eaten most of the food in my apartment by now). I feel like I must not be human to feel so bad at the end of the ride, and not even be feeling it today!

This morning I swam for an hour, just working on drills. I'm really getting all of them down now, both with and without the flippers. Sometime in the next week I think my coach should have me doing some normal swimming.

I ran this afternoon too. Nice and easy 2.31 miles averaging 8:17 pace. It was raining and was all in all a pretty good run. My hip is behaving itself pretty nicely still. Sometimes theres a little discomfort down the side of my leg, but its no where close (either in proximity or intensity) to where it was before, so its not making me too nervous.

I've run 2 and change a couple times now and my hip is still behaving itself! So... Tuesday I'm going to push it to three miles and keep my fingers crossed. This makes it look increasingly likely that I'll be able to show Bill the real way to do an easy run when I visit family for Christmas!

And... because I have nothing else to babble about, heres some responses to recent comments:

Bill - Yeah, these guys were pretty experienced. Most of them have ridden about 5000 miles a year for the last several years. Once I get some clip in pedals and some miles under my belt, I think I'll be riding with the big dogs in no time.

Marcy - Oh, I'm sticking with the running. Don't you worry! This week was actually my highest mileage week in the past six weeks! Progress! As long as Ms. Helen keeps her yap shut, I'm hoping to get in some good workouts over my Christmas break in all three areas, because I'll definitely have the time!

Nancy - Well said with how running spills over to life, it really does. Its the #1 example, in my opinion, of how much hard work pays off! No name for the bike just yet. I know I'm breaking the rule, I've ridden 'er twice and don't even know her name yet...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bonk is spelled: B-O-N-K!

I went on my first group ride today. They had a 20 mile route and a 32 mile route, and I figured the 20 might be pushing it but I'd go give it a shot anyways! I just ran 26.2 miles a couple months ago, I can bike 20, right? Right.

That is, until we get to the part where the two routes split and everybody decides to go 32. Internal dialog: "Oh, sh*t!" I didn't say anything, I just trucked along.

The group was really, really great. I talked to most of the people a little bit, to introduce myself at the very least. Since I'm new to the group, most conversations went something like this after introductions:

Biker: So how long have you been riding?
Me: This is my first group ride. (Halfway dodging the question)
B: Oh. So you've been riding on your own a lot?
M: I started yesterday.

And then they'd be appropriately surprised, because most the conversing was going on before I started getting my butt kicked.

At one point, me and Jay were up front and missed a turn. We had to backtrack a little bit and attempt to catch up. He said "stay on my wheel" and took off at, I'd guess, 25 MPH. Now, I don't know about you, but 25 MPH just wasn't happenin! Not even if I'm drafting! I managed to hold about 20 MPH for 3 miles just to keep him in sight so I didn't get lost, but then he was gone.

Eventually, a few people were stopped up ahead waiting for me. We took off, and I got dropped again. I was bonking. Hard. No energy, quads were shot, etc, etc. It wasn't pretty. But thankfully Keith stopped with me so I could scarf down my clif bar, drink quite a bit and stretch out. He pumped my glycogen deprived brain full of information I'm hoping I retain.

All in all, it was a good experience. Everybody was nice, despite me being the one that was holding them back. I'll be back for more. Whenever my legs work again. Needless to say, that was the best workout I've gotten since Chicago.

Here's a link to the Garmin data, and a picture of the brutal elevation chart.