Saturday, January 28, 2012

Slow Beach Run

First off, thank you all for your kind words of support about the death of my grandfather.  I am so glad I was able to be there for my mom and family to help do the heavy lifting of funeral planning.  The funeral is now set for next Saturday (our family is a weekend funeral family) so we'll be flying back this coming Friday.  We'll be staying the night and flying back on Saturday evening.  Then the next day is the half marathon.

Coming back to the present moment, yesterday I took the day off in preparation for today's long run.  I went to bed way later than I planned, it's so easy to stay up late talking when someone's recently died, all the memories and stories keep you awake.  Oh, and I went to the store and bought TWO candy bars, ate one of them (those reese's stick things) and half of the other (a snickers).  What can I say, I guess grieving makes me weak.  But I finally went to bed around midnight or 12:30am.  I got up at 7am and planned to start running by 8:45am as I had a 1pm flight. 

I started right on time by running the 3 miles from my grandparents house to the beach, then I ran 4.5 miles down the boardwalk and turned around for a total of 12 miles.  Besides the wind, which wasn't too bad, running at the beach is glorious.  It is a beautiful, perfectly sunny day.  Only bummer was I forgot my sunblock and visor so running into the sun wasn't so "cool", though I got to do the last 4.5 mile with the sun on my back. 

The run got "hard" at about the same time as last week, around the 9.5 mile mark.  And I was running really slow for some reason, I kept clocking 13 minute miles.  I just kept reminding myself that this is a long run, take it easy, and don't judge.  It is what it is and I'm not going to push myself. 

I had a couple ideas why it was a bit harder than usual.  One was I pushed myself during the last mile or so of my run this past Thursday and second, I did legs after that run so maybe they were a bit fatigued from the squats and lunges.  Oh, and the other thing was there are a ton of water fountains so I stopped for water WAY more than I usually do, maybe 6-8 times, so maybe all those 10-20 second pit stops made the run harder?  Doesn't matter so much now because I was able to finish, though I wasn't sure I'd make it.  My right hip and leg felt like it was just going to give out during the last couple of miles.  I found myself wondering how embarrassing it would be to fall.  Falling during the last two miles of an Ironman = expected and cool.  Falling during a training run at the boardwalk in front of tons of people with beach bodies = maybe not so cool.  Good thing I didn't get to experience that.

So I cut things really close.  I cooled off and stretched and my mom came and picked me up from the beach.  By the time we got back to the house I had about 5 minutes to take a shower and get my stuff together.  And it was hard to make my body rush.  But I managed and got to the airport just as my plane was supposed to start boarding, only it was delayed an hour.  Hey, time to blog!  And eat a bag of potato kettle chips, I've been craving chips for days.  I think I associate my grandparents house with chips, cookies and candy.

When I get home I'm going straight to visit one of my most-loved friends who experienced a tragedy last night.  She lost her closest friend and I am heartbroken for her.  That's all I can say about that right now. 

Then home to see my babies and husband, who I've missed so much!  I've never been away from them for this long.  Miguel has been sending me a lot of text pictures, which is nice.  Sounds like they've had a lot of fun while I was gone.  Tomorrow will be a day with my family.  I am supposed to go to the gym and do the bike and strength training but we'll see, I'm not fixed on that given that I've been gone and that Migue\ has a0soer game in the afternoon while they are napping.  Flexibility is key.

And helloooo taper!!  One of the ways I got through my long run today was to tell myself this is the *last* long run I have to do.  Besides the race of course.  But that's different, I'll be well rested and well tapered by the time that rolls around.  Ok, my flight is boarding.  If anyone knows if those pit-stops actually could have made my run harder I'd appreciate your knowledge.  Happy Saturday everyone!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sleeping with the Angels

My grandad passed away in the middle of the night last night.  My nana passed away a few years ago and it's comforting to think of them together.  I flew down this morning so I missed seeing him before he passed but I have happy memories with him from this past year and decades before that.  I'm happy with my memories.  Here's a picture of him with little Ms. Myra from her birthday this past September.

And another favorite of mine, I posted this back in Feb 2008 when I came down to LA for my grandparents 65th anniversary.

Ahh, they are such a lovely couple.  67 years of marriage.  Miguel explained to Marek this morning that Grandad is sleeping with the angels.  Marek loves his great-grandad.  I don't know how much he understands. 

So my mom and I ran around today doing busy work to keep her occupied.  We mostly shopped for clothes for grandad's send-off.  We were both feeling worn out from all the shopping so we got lattes around 2pm. 

We got back to the house around 4:30pm and I figured I'd better get out for my run before it got dark.  I had a 5-miler on the schedule with legs/sholder/core work to do after.   I did my run around my grandparents gloriously flat neighborhood but it did get dark about 30 minutes into my 57 minute run.  I was happy to have my bright yellow Nike miler shirt on.  I noticed at about the 3 mile mark that I was teetering on slower than a 12-minute-mile pace so I picked up the pace and finished with an 11:37 average.  Happy with that.

After that I did my best to do my workout with the one 8-pound weight that my aunt found for me.  The good thing was I could do squats, lunges, calf raises, shoulder raises and all my core work - all without a machine.  The only thing I couldn't do were leg extensions.  I felt really good getting my workout in despite all that's going on and not going to a gym.  Tomorrow is a bike day so I hope to sneak off to the local 24-hour-fitness at some point, though it may not happen as we have a very full day planned preparing for the funeral. 

The other up-in-the-air thing is my long run for this weekend.  I just researched flights home and it looks like I'll be flying home Saturday afternoon.  I'll miss most of the day with the kids so I don't want to spend all Sunday morning on a run - I'll need to catch up on my hugs and kisses!  So I'll do my long run here Saturday morning.  That means I don't need to go to the gym tomorrow.  Man, my workout routine is all whacked but that's life.  I will be happy with whatever happens. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

There's an app for that

Today is a rest day.  Thank goodness because my back is sore, but it's a soreness from strength training, which is good.  And I just feel generally kind of tight so I know I need the rest.  Things are going to get interesting around here during the next week or so.  My beloved grandfather is passing away and I'm flying down south to be with my mom.  There may  be another trip with the whole family soon to say our final goodbye.  I love my grandfather, he's been sick for some time and I feel good that peace for him is coming soon.  He and my grandmother were married for 60 some years and she passed a few years back.  It's nice to think of them being together. 

I have a 5 mile run tomorrow and the gym.  When I'm down there I usually pay a day use fee a the local 24-hour fitness.  We'll see how things go, if nothing else I think I can get a run in.  I know there will be a ton of food around but that doesn't mean I need to overeat.  This is life and at times like this you just do what you can. 

Changing subject...So I was talking to a friend about how I wish someone would invent a water bottle that beeps at you to drink it.  Then, when you do, it resets and beeps at you again a few minutes later - or however long you set it to beep.  I'd keep that sucker on my desk and hopefully drink enough water.  Well, she tells me, "there's an app for that."  At first I dismissed the idea but then figured since my phone is on my desk all the time that might be almost as good.  I downloaded an android app called Drink Water Beta.  It pops up with reminders periodically to drink water and you tap it whenever you drink a glass so it keeps track.  Mostly I like the reminders.  It's very uncomplicated, which I like, and it's already helping me to drink more water. 

Finally, a change to weigh-in day this week.  Since I'll be in LA on Friday and I am not packing my scale, though you know I considered it, I will weigh myself tomorrow, a day early, as my official weight for this week. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

3 Miles and a Cinderella Story

I went to the gym today.  I had a 3 mile run and back/biceps/core on the agenda.  I wasn't sure how the run would go since I did a long run on Sunday and according to my plan today should be a day off.  But I want tomorrow off instead. So the 3 miles on the treadmill went fine.  I ran mostly at 5.0 mph, didn't feel like pushing myself beyond that.  And strength training was good.  I was in a hurry to get home in time for dinner so I was working hard and moving quick.  Things felt a little harder as a result, or maybe I'm just in need of a rest day.  In the end my workout was done, which is the most important thing.

I still got home 15 minutes after dinner started, "Mommy, you didn't eat beans and cream with us!".  My husband is Honduran and we eat black beans with Honduran cream (like sour cream but more salty and less sour), avocados, corn tortillas and salsa for dinner several nights a week.  I  sat down to eat and my son stayed at the table with me until I was done.  Ah, the family dinner hour.  Might be my favorite part of the day.  Two-and-a-half year olds are sponges and our son will usually ask me several times during dinner, "So, mommy, how was your day?." 

Moving on to the Cinderella story...I signed up for another event!  A friend asked me back in November to do this with her.  Registration opened last week and I'm signed up.  The Cinderella Classic is a metric century on March 31st in the East Bay.  Doesn't "metric century" sound so much cooler than 65 miles?  Anyway, here's the blurb...
"The Cinderella Classic is a 65-mile recreational bicycle ride for women/girls only.  The Cinderella Classic is not a race - take your time and enjoy the trip. Males do not ride Cinderella. They do the organization, support, rest stops and SAGs for the Cinderella. 
This unique 100-kilometer tour winds through Amador, Livermore, Diablo, and San Ramon Valleys. It is mostly flat with a few moderate hills. From the start at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, the Cinderella Classic circles through town, out through the vineyards of Livermore, then north and along the base of beautiful Mt. Diablo to Danville, where it turns south and winds back to the Fairgrounds. Charming Princes will be at three rest/food stops along the way, with a cold lunch at the second. Our SAG service patrols the entire route to provide rider assistance if required. A Cinderella Classic ride patch is awarded to every rider. 
We offer some of the area’s best SAG support. They patrol the route to cool you when you’re hot, pump you when you’re flat, mend you if you break...these folks are good! Rest stops will have fruit, drinks, and snacks." 
I was sort of hesitating to sign up for this given that I have a 10k the very next weekend and I've never ridden farther than 50 miles.  But when I read the description and saw the $40 registration fee I couldn't resist.  I haven't told Miguel yet.  I think I'll be calling mom in for some support.   And I haven't forgotten about the Tour of Napa Valley 30 miler in August that still sounds lovely.  Throw in a couple of camping trips and Oh, it's going to be a fun summer!

February 5th:  Kaiser half-marathon
March 31st:  Cinderella Classic Metric Century
April 7th:  Marin County 10k run
June 16th:  Tri for Fun Sprint Triathlon
November 4th: Marin County Olympic Triathlon

Monday, January 23, 2012

Guilt vs. Sleep

There's something about routine that's just nice to fall into.  I started this morning with my standby work breakfast - a bowl of grape nuts and coffee.  I spent the whole morning on the road so I snacked from my "emergency food", a clif bar I keep wrapped up in my bag.  I take a few bites from it and call it a snack.  Fortunately I made it back to the office in time for lunch.  We have a cafeteria but it only serves lunch from 12-1pm.  I had my standard large salad with a small scoop of mac-and-cheese and a few pieces of eggplant ravioli.  That's a typical lunch for me.  I always eat a salad and choose a hot item from whatever their serving.  I generally try to make good choices, though, like today, that's not always possible.  I figure as long as I use good portion control it doesn't much matter what I eat.  And since it's being dished up for me (and I don't go back for seconds) it's sort of easy to limit portion size.

In the afternoon I was stuck at my desk all day so I went back to my clif bar for a few more bites for a snack.  I went to the gym after work.  I was planning to take a rest day today but changed my mind.  I'll spare you the thought process that led to that decision.  It wasn't easy though, I had to miss dinner with Miguel and the kids and I hate missing dinner.  But it was the only time I could go.  I won't lie and tell you I'm convinced that it's worth it.  I just don't know.  More on that in a bit.

At the gym I rode the bike for 25 minutes and it felt better than it has in weeks, if not a month.  I don't know why the bike was getting so hard but today was a refreshing easy ride.  Maybe it's because I did a little less running last week (remember, I only did 2 miles instead of 5 on Thursday).  Or maybe it was the food overload and lack of exercise this weekend, could I still be getting extra juice from all those calories and rest?  I don't know but I liked it.  I was starting to dread the bike a bit, and I'm not good at dreading. 

Next I did chest/triceps/core for strength training.  First up were pushups.  I was ready to try for 4 "real" pushups (instead of the 3 I'd been doing) per set.  I hyped myself up and dropped and did 4 pushups, followed by 4 modified ones on the smith machine bar.  Wow!  And I was able to do all three sets like that.  One step closer to my dream of three sets of 8 real pushups.

I pulled into my driveway and wondered what I missed while I was gone.  How did dinner go?  Were the kids in a good mood?  Did I miss something funny?  Did they miss me?  I wondered if some day they'll scream at me in a teenage rage, "All you ever cared about is going to the gym!!  You never care about me!!"  I know it sounds melodramatic but that's how it feels in my heart sometimes.  Missing dinner with my kids is no easy decision.  Maybe these feelings will motivate me to get up at 5am some mornings.  Or maybe not.  I'm don't have a shred of morning person in me and those 5am wake-ups are painful.  I'm only human after all.  I guess this kind of internal struggle is par for the course for a working mom who's trying to fit in some serious fitness too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Running in the Rain

I want to tell you about my rain run today but first, a quick report on our trip to Monterey (scan down to the post run picture if you just want to read about running in the rain).  We had a great time!  We drove down Friday and after settling in to our hotel we took the kids to a nearby fitness center with an indoor pool.  We had a fun time splashing in the water with them.  Then we took them to the basketball court and played with balls for a bit before heading out to dinner.  We decided on burgers and I had a hamburger with cheese, avocado and bacon along with onion rings.  I think I will call this "vacation eating".  Back at the room I contemplated going to the gym to do my Friday workout.  In the end I decided spending time with my family was more important so I settled in with a glass of wine and later had a Häagen-Dazs chocolate and almond covered vanilla ice cream bar.  More vacation eating.

On Saturday we got up and had breakfast at the hotel buffet.  Pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, toast with butter - you get the idea.  Miguel took the kids back to the room to start packing and I enjoyed a few minutes by myself finishing my coffee.  Once packed we headed to Monterey Bay Aquarium.  The weather turned out to be nicer than we were expecting (no rain) and we had a good time.  Of course the kids mostly enjoyed opportunities to splash in the touch pool and running outside.  We got a nice family picture on their patio.  And I got a picture with my lovely little girl.

After the aquarium we headed toward home.  We stopped at In-n-Out burger for a late lunch.  I had a burger with cheese, fries and a chocolate milkshake.  More vacation eating.  Back on the road and the kids fell asleep for the ride home.  

Once home I decided to have Special K Protein Plus cereal for dinner to balance out some of the calorie overload.  Put the kids to bed and relaxed a bit.  Miguel went to the store for milk and came back with a giant slice of cheesecake.  What?!  Well, I decided it was still technically the last day of our mini-vacation and shared it with him.  Besides, I knew I was running 11 miles in the morning so maybe I'll just call it carb-loading.  

I got up this morning hoping for overcast but no rain but no such luck.  It was drizzling at 9am and nothing much changed while I had breakfast and coffee and got dressed for my run.  When I was heading out the door at 10am it was raining lightly.

I started out with a warmup walk and then start running.  I decided not to check my pace or time during this run, felt things would go better if I ran by feel.  My watch beeps at every mile so I could keep track that way.  I had a route planned out in my head but about 2 miles in I decided on a different route that passed by my gym.  That's the nice thing about these GPS watches, you can change your mind without worrying about tracking distance. At the 3 mile mark I ate two Shot BlocksI do well eating two (black cherry flavor w/50mg caffeine) every 3 miles.  A few minutes and a small hill later and I was passing my gym so I darted in and out for water.  The spectacular gym staff cheered me on with big smiles.  That was nice.  Back out the on the road and headed toward the local junior college.  This is familiar ground since I run in this area whenever I do an outdoor run from my gym.  

Mile 6 and I ate another two Shot Blocks.  Feeling pretty good.  What can I say about the rain?  It was cool actually.  It fluctuated from a heavy drizzle to a light rain throughout the run.  I never felt really wet and the rain kept boredom at bay.  Dashing around the occasional puddle, feeling a big rain drop hit my head now and then, having the road mostly to myself, feeling like a real runner - a lot of things about it that were nice.  Mile 8 and I passed my gym again, again darting in for water.

Mile 9 and ate my last two Shot Blocks. I was starting to feel little aches and pains and by mile 9.5 I would have been happy to stop so I ramped up the positive self talk, "You're doing great, you're strong, you have a little discomfort but nothing you can't handle, you're going to do this!, just keep running," - that's the kind of thing that works for me.  A good song came on (now I can't remember which one, something by Tom Petty) and that gave me a big boost.  I begged the "random" gods to send me a good song to finish on and sure enough, Survivor by Destiny's Child came on - I'm a survivor, I'm not goin' give up, I'm not goin' stop, I'm goin' work harder.  Now those are words to run by.

And boom!  11 miles.  Whew!  Oh boy was I stiff.  I walked a bit, stretched some, walked hobbled some more and congratulated myself.  All of a sudden the chill and rain wasn't so pleasant and I was happy to step inside my front door.  Miguel congratulated me and the kids were happy to see me.  I got a quick shower and then Miguel left for his soccer game.  I stretched with the kids climbing all over me and later iced my knees.  I am SO GLAD I got this experience now, no longer worried about rain for the Kaiser half.  What can I say?  My longest run ever and I did it.  I'm a survivor, I'm not goin' give up!

Ok, details about what I wore running in 50 degree rain - you should quit here if this is of no interest to you because I'll probably ramble on quite a bit.  First, a post-run picture.  I felt so tight that it was actually hard to hold still for this picture.

The picture pretty much says it all but I'll add some commentary of course.  I had my new Sugio Versa running jacket on.  Yes, I blew all my money on a running jacket for the rain.  I got it at my favorite local running store, the Marin Running Company, same place I got my running shoes a while back.  Charles, the owner, spent a bunch of time talking jackets and running in the rain which was helpful.  He also gave me some insider tips on the Kaiser half (he's done it several times), which was cool.  I give the jacket a big thumbs up.  The neat thing is the sleeves come off and it becomes a vest so it's like two items in one. The arms are like a little bolero held on by magnets so you just pull and off they come!  Needless to say I had them on the whole time today.  The jacket kept me from getting soaked but my shirt was wet, though I didn't notice it until I got home and took it off.  From sweat or rain who knows, it doesn't much matter as I certainly never felt "slopping" wet and being warm is priority #1 I'd say. This is totally geeky but after the run I shook the surface rain off and weighed my jacket - it was 426 grams.  I weighed it a couple days later when totally dry, 354 grams.  So the jacket had 71 grams, or 2.5 ounces of water on it.  I have nothing to compare that to but 2.5 ounces of water after a couple hours in the rain seems good to me.

The pants are by Paradox, a "technical base layer" that I scored at Costco for $20!  They have a microscopic layer of fleece on the inside.  I'm sure they got wet but my legs never felt cold.   As far as feeling cold, I noticed my shoulders felt cold a few times but nothing intolerable.  My hands felt cold a few times too so I pulled my sleeves down and covered my knuckles with them and that helped.  I figured thinner socks would be best so I wore some Pearl Izumi cycling socks.  By around mile 7 my feet were wet enough to feel a bit sloshy but it didn't really bother me. 

Overall I was happy with how warm I was.  I had considered wearing a thicker shirt (the same "technical base layer" from costco) but Charles recommended a thinner shirt and I'm glad I took his advice and wore the Nike Miler shirt I scored a while back at Ross for $20.  Here's another post-run picture showing the shirt. 

On my head I wore a light fleece lined Columbia headband (that also covered my ears) from Target.  Over that I wore my Headsweats running visor to keep the rain off my face.  The top of my head was exposed but I never really noticed it feeling wet (though it surely was).  If it were 10 degrees colder I might want to have it covered but today it was perfect.  I had sunglasses on for the first few miles but they fogged up around mile 4 so I put them in my pocket.  Speaking of pockets, I also had my Spibelt on (forgot to include that in the picture as it's hidden under my jacket).  I had my ShotBlocks and digital Walkman inside.  

Ok, there you have it.  Probably more details than you will ever need about what to wear for running in the rain.