July 29, 2011

My butt hurts, and other fun stuff

Actually, it's not my butt that hurts. It's my Piriformis muscle, on both sides.
This is what I get for running a 10:23 mile. I'm hoping it's a "growing" hurt, instead of a damage hurt. I'll know tomorrow, or Saturday at the latest.

There's actually not a lot of fun stuff going on here, either. I spent some time at my parents' scrubbing the basement stairwell walls, which had 40+ year old contact paper in lieu of wallpaper. Then I spent some time scraping the basement walls, in preparation for tuck pointing and waterproofing. That job will continue over the next few weeks, when we're not preparing for the electrician or cleaning up after the electrician.

That's about all I accomplished today. I got some homework done. I looked through a few photographs for Aunt Gertie, who is sewing a quilt for my aunt. My Aunt found a mass where there shouldn't be, and is going through all the tests to determine what it is. My sister is somehow including images of everyone in the family on the quilt, in a "we're all thinking of you and praying for you and loving you from afar" sort of way. I still have an external hard drive full of images to go through. That's on the agenda for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is also when I try out my new swim stroke. I have an hour in the pool on the agenda. I've only as yet swum for 45 minutes, so 60 is a little daunting. The biggest thing for me to remember is that I don't have to swim the hour straight. I can take short breaks every once in a while. I think I'm going to focus mainly on using my entire forearm instead of just my hand. If that goes well, I'll start playing with breathing on both sides. I didn't include video of flip turns on my post the other day, because I wanted to get the stroke down before I started playing with those. I used to know how to do them, but I don't know if I ever did the efficiently.

Then I have a paper to write. That's my fun for tomorrow.

July 28, 2011

What's going on?

At my parents':
From left to right: kitchen, main basement, utility room

The ceilings are down in preparation for the electrician, who will be there Friday. I was able to paint the front bedroom ceiling today, and much of the mudding is done in the master bedroom and sewing room. Tomorrow I'll be prepping the basement for internal waterproofing, which I can do while the electrician is working upstairs next week.

On the track:

A 10:23 mile!?! I really don’t know what to believe when I see numbers so far below what I expect. Yes, I felt fast on the track today. I have NEVER seen anything below an 11-minute-mile though. The only way I’ll believe it is true, is if I am able to reproduce the results next time. Next time will be at the St. Joe's track again. 10 minutes from my house, and literally right off the lake. Werks for me!

In real life:

Superman is packing to for a trip to Germany for a family wedding. I wish I could go but finances are a little too tight, even with a paid hotel. If any of you are fans of The Cure, you'll be happy to know Superman will likely be hob-nobbing with them at the reception. The bride and groom apparently handle the band's website.

At the same time, it works out I'll be home because Monkey Boy is will leave Germany to come home for a 2 week stay, at approximately the same time Superman will be in Germany. I’m very excited to see my baby boy! Not so much a baby anymore. He just bought his first car, over there.

July 26, 2011

As Promised

I watched several Youtube videos (below) on freestyle swimming.
I have a lot to learn!

Apparently I AM supposed to rotate my body, stroke for stroke. I always thought that took more energy. This should be an easy fix. 

This one doesn't have any audio, but all I needed was to see how my hand should enter and track through the water. A lot of video talked about high elbows, which I will also have to keep in mind.

The additional rotation above should help with breathing, as there are usually several people splashing about in the pool when I swim. This technique will hopefully keep me from swallowing quite so much water.

I'm hoping to also learn the "breath from either side" technique, as 3 stroke breathing sometimes doesn't give me enough air. That might have something to do with the water I was swallowing though...

I noticed when I kick harder, I stroke harder. Then I run out of energy. This video mentions overkicking, which sounds like my problem.

1:20 Tuesday morning

I meant to write a post today about swim strokes, which I meant to research after realizing yet again how horrible my freestyle is. That post will obviously have to wait.

I meant to create a spreadsheet of my training schedule, and see if I could embed it into the new Training Journal page. That, too will have to wait.

Instead of doing these things, I spent time at my parents, getting all the stuff we cleared out of the basement last week onto the curb for the poor garbage men. Probably 15 bags. A box of 20 year old jelly, pumpkin, and beans (I still think fondly of those canning days). 4 recycling bags and 8 bowling ball bags. This does not include the 2 buckets full of paint we processed with kitty litter so they can safely be discarded.
I spent the rest of the day (and part of the night) writing a paper on outsourcing IT. I feel like I'm finally getting back into the groove with school. That may be because researching and papers I understand better than individual assignments using a program I'm barely literate in.

So now you know what glorious fun you have waiting for you tomorrow. I'll even throw in another speed session bit, which I know you can't live without.

For now, I'm off to bed.

July 24, 2011

Training Journal

After reading about Amanda's Running Journal over at Running Hood, I decided it might be a good idea to chronicle my running experiences in a shorthand fashion. Yes, I talk about my running here. I don't talk about each run though. I wanted somewhere I could see at a glance how things have been going, what I did vs what I planned to do, and how I felt about what I did.

Yes, I post my runs on Daily Mile, but that isn't the journal format I want. It shows the list of workouts, but not the schedule to come.

I opted instead to create a Training Journal page here on the blog. After a bit of fussing, I decided to run it in reverse calendar order, so the most recent month is on top. This way there's no scrolling to get to current info.

The plan is to post my training schedule, for however many weeks in advance as I want to work it out. I can edit it more easily than on my written calendar. I can write how each workout felt, whether I was tired, if my eating or hydrating affected the run.

I'm still working out the format, and whether I'll actually post the page, or just leave it in my drafts to continuously edit.

July 22, 2011

What is a tempo run?

I knew it has to do with speed work, but I really had no idea what a tempo run was. A run at the tempo you want to run your race? That's how I used the term myself when I ran 2.5 miles at 12mph pace today. A tempo run. But was it, really?

I decided to find out.

Running Times has an article defining tempo run as "20 minutes of steady running at threshold pace." This is from Jack Daniels, PhD, who coined the phrase (no, I don't believe it is the same Jack Daniels). With that in mind, I did actually accomplish at least one portion of a tempo run, kind of. I ran 30 minutes at my goal pace.

I do not believe I ran at threshold pace. Or maybe I did. I don't know that what I ran was "comfortably hard." I do know I can't run a 5K any faster. I didn't quite make it to 5k distance today. I also know I can't run that for an hour. I wanted to. That was the original plan. I have to work up to that length of time though, because I'm not yet there.

Using this definition, my last race turned into a tempo run. I bonked around 9 miles and had to push hard to finish the last 4 miles. Those last 4 miles were tempo, because I had exceeded my lactate absorbing threshold. I felt that for a week after. Last week's speed work, which I felt into the weekend, also exceeded that threshold.

2B talks about tempo runs as sustained effort, at or just above anaerobic capacity. That is slightly different than lactate absorbing threshold. Anaerobic capacity is based more on heart rate, which is also something I have trouble measuring. Of course, if I had a garmin I could test the heart rate theory. Maybe someone will buy me one for my birthday (hint hint!)

It seems this, like just about anything else, is going to be a quest to find out what works for me. I think I prefer the path I'm on, which is to work at increasing the distance I can run at my goal pace. Doesn't matter to me if I exceed my lactate absorbing threshold in the process, as long as I don't do it the day before a long run. Doesn't matter to me if I push my heart rate, as I seem to do that just be the act of running. Until I do have something (which I won't trust anyway) to measure and give me numbers on that, I'll just have to wing it. It's what I've been doing all along anyway.

July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Running Fast, Slowly - Week 2 (and stuff)

Today was a light day at my parents. The wrecking crew and dumpster will be there tomorrow to remove the kitchen ceiling. To prepare for that, I boxed up and moved out everything from the countertops and walls, then taped up all the drawers and cupboards so no dust could get in.

I came home and did some homework, a little housework, then headed out again.

Can I say I hate shoes? Especially running shoes. If you've been here any length of time you've heard my complaints, and about the different shoes I've owned. I am currently running in a pair of Nike Free, which I purchased because even though I wore them for like 6 months, the Sauchony Kinvaras were always too tight (and they became unwearable after they got soaked). The Nike Free have about a 8mm heel drop. The Kinvara have a 4mm heel drop. The Free have a VERY flexible sole - that being one of the selling points. The Kinvara... not nearly as flexible.

Ever since I bought the Nike Free, I've had calf tightness and my Planar Fasciitis has become a major issue again. I hadn't had the PF issues since early last year - before I switched to a more minimalist shoe. I thought at first the Free were a lower heel drop, and that I just pushed the distance in them too quickly. It turns out I was half right. The heel drop is not the issue, but the flexible sole apparently is. I pushed the distance too far too fast, for the new stress on those muscles and tendons.

I like the Nike Free. The problem is, I HAVE to run that far. I'm signed up for a 10 mile race in less than a month. I'm actually behind in training because I took 2 weeks off for the PF issues. I decided to see if there was a better shoe for the longer distances - something in between the Nike and Kinvara.

I'd ordered a pair of men's Kinvara before I purchased the Nike Free. Those were too narrow, as well. When I went to the running shoe store today though, the Kinvara fit just fine. I think I ordered an 8.5 since I wear a 9 woman's shoe. What I walked out of the store with today was a men's 9. Apparently the Kinvara run small. Funny, since The Energizer Bunny just this past weekend offered me a different pair of Sauchony she'd bought, which were too small for her. Besides the fact they have a full, thick sole, the woman's size 9s were also too small for me. The Energizer Bunny had purchased 2 other pairs previously, same size and style, that fit just fine. I wonder if Sauchony changed their sizing recently...

From the running store, I took my new Kinvaras to my 2nd speed workout. I arrived early, since I have a standing 8pm on Tuesdays (which I actually have to be at by 7:40). I can't get the full workout in if I start at 6:30. The group tends to stay until 8:00. So I arrived half an hour early, and got started. I didn't know what was on the agenda for the group, but I knew I could do last week's workout until everyone else was ready to go. I'd picked up an arm band for my iPhone so I could use the Jog Log app I like so much. I hate arm bands, so I guess it's a good thing this one is so large it won't stay up on my arm. Wrapped twice around my wrist works rather well though.

Let me say yet again that I don't trust GPS, or any mechanical number generator. Jog Log insisted that 3 and 3/4 laps around the track = 1 mile. Take that into consideration when viewing the following numbers.

I ran:
1 mile @ 11:19 (Jog Log says I ran 1:05 at a 10:48 pace)
1 mile @ 11:37 (Jog Log calls this one 1:10 @ 10:33)
.5 mile @ 10:38 pace (.53 according to Jog Log)

Who knew I could run so fast?!? I only wish it was sustainable...

By the time I'd finished the 800, everyone had arrived and warmed up, so we got started on the actual group workout. Today was intervals. Run as fast as you can for 300 yards. The others then jogged the remaining 100 yards, + another 400 yards recovery before rinsing and repeating for a total of 10 sets. I knew if I tried to jog all that "recovery" I would not be able to run the fast lap. I ran the fast 300, walked 100, jogged 300, walked 100. I did this 4 times, for a total of 2 miles, making my speed workout 4.5 miles total. A mile and a half farther than last week's. I timed it as a chunk, instead of just the fast 300s, so I have no idea how fast I went. I do know the early miles took their toll. My last 300 was at about the recovery jog pace of the other runners.

It's a good thing I stopped when I did, as my knee got wonky walking to the car, and my legs stiffened up by the time I'd driven home. I expect, much like last week, that I will feel this into the weekend. I guess that means I'm building muscle.

Since I made you read about my day as a wall of text with no pictures, here are some of my sunflowers. They're getting massive, and almost every stalk has a flower getting ready to bloom.

Aren't they purty?

July 15, 2011

By the numbers

Don't step on it
Do you trust your scale? I have a hard time doing so. My Dad trusts his. He has to, for medical reasons. For him, the number itself is almost arbitrary. It's the change in numbers that is important. If he gains weight, that means he's retaining water. Don't you just love that that's all it means? This system works well enough, unless he loses 10 lbs unexpectedly (true story). 10 lbs is over a gallon of water, which is an awful lot to retain unknowingly.

Personally, I don't keep a scale in the house. Much the like comic above, it affects my mood. It is also impossible for me to keep from stepping on it daily. This is not a good combination when my thyroid condition makes me retain water periodically (when I forget to take my medication), when I eat salty foods, or when I have too much desert.

I get curious sometimes, though. Especially lately, as I've been tracking what I eat again, have stopped (mostly) eating sugar, and have been working hard both at my parents and on the bike/in the pool. I know my pants fit differently. So I step on my parents scale every once in a while.

I don't believe the numbers I see.

Yes, part of my mind makes the connection that looser pants = lower weight. Part of my mind says I can't be 180 lbs though. That can't be right. I haven't been 170 lbs for at least 10 years. The scale must be wrong, I must be dehydrated, it will go back up tomorrow....

Then I go out to dinner with Aunt Gertie, who's visiting from Florida, and have a big brownie sundae.

Anyone else do that?

July 13, 2011

Running fast, slowly

Yesterday was a busy day. First, I schlepped stuff out of my parent's basement. They're making way so the ceiling can come down, so the electrician can do his magic. Then I was up on a ladder putting screens on gutters for a while. Then I primed the front bedroom. I thought about taking pictures of all this, but was too busy actually doing to stop and memorialize.

When I got home I had just about enough time to eat, clean up, change, and head out the door. It was my first day for the Second Sole Striders Speedwork Session (say THAT 10 times fast!).

As recommended, I showed up early. About 20 minutes early. There was no one around.
I drove around the front and back parking lot, making sure I was in the right place. By the time I came back around, people were arriving. I'm horrible at meeting people, so was very very nervous. I sat in the car until they moved over to the track, then casually wandered over and asked if they were part of the Striders group. They were.

I hoped there would be people in my speed range, but suspected they would all be really really fast. My suspicions were correct. They were all very nice though. I only remember a few of the names. Adam explained what a 400 (one time around the track, so quarter mile) and an 800 (twice around the track, so half mile) were. Ben called out "Good job!" every time he passed me. Melissa was also a newby, trying to get fast enough to join her college cross country team.

We started with a mile warmup, which is when I realized exactly how much faster everyone was. At least they didn't lap me. Then everyone broke out into 2 groups, for short and long distance. Because I am running a 10-miler next month, I went with the long distance group. They were running mile repeats at ... I forget what the pace was supposed to be. The coach explained to me (as everyone else took off) that I should probably cut it into halves or thirds, this being my first time.

I've never run track, never even run on a track. I've never run with a group or team. My only experience with speedwork is when I played on the treadmill. I kind of had it in my head that there might be a lap clock, like there is at the pool. Or that the coach would stand there with a stopwatch as everyone ran by him, calling out their times. I was wrong on both counts. The "coach" ran with the short distance folks. Everyone had a Garmin, or ran with someone who had a Garmin. I didn't even bring my phone with the Jog Log app. I determined I would just run at a slightly harder pace than normal. I would push, without sprinting.

So that's what I did. I started by cutting the exercise in half. Where they ran a mile, I ran a half mile. Remember that I haven't run in 2 weeks because of my heel. Understand that it was at least 85 degrees. Know that I ran the warmup mile faster than my normal pace. I ran 2 half miles, then cut it down to quarter miles for a total of 3 miles for the evening. I have no idea how fast I ran, but I do know I pushed all the way through. I could tell by my heartrate and breathing that I was working, never mind the sweat. I can tell by the stiffness in my legs today that I worked something.

I left after an hour, content that I put in work and promising to be back next week.

Here's the thing. While the high school track near me is locked regularly, there is apparently a track open about half the distance away as the track this group runs on. I am trying to decide if I need the motivation and accountability of meeting up with people. I am trying to decide if running with these super fast people will intimidate and discourage me. I've already decided I need some form of stopwatch with memory, or a way to carry my phone (I usually carry it in the camelback). I've decided speedwork is definitely a must if I want to improve. The question now becomes when and where.

I think I will be back next week, because I'm not sure I trust myself to do this on my own. We'll see if I get discouraged, being passed all the time. There were several encouraging comments throughout the evening, and while not thrilled with my speed, I didn't leave discouraged last night.

I'm also thinking about getting there early, and getting started early, so I can get the entire workout in before I have to leave early. They apparently post the workouts somewhere. I just have to find them.

July 11, 2011

Brick brick brick brick brick brick brick brick brick ...

Some words are just fun to say over and over, aren't they?

Brick isn't necessarily one of them. I've been saying brick a lot lately though. "I'm doing a brick workout, by running then going to work at my parents!" "I'm doing a brick by working at my parent's, then going for a bike ride." What I haven't done is an actual, honest to goodness brick workout.

Until today.

Today I swam for half an hour, then ran for 20 minutes. It was supposed to be swim for 45 minutes and run for 45 minutes, but apparently I'm dehydrated or tired or still recovering from Saturday night. I had about enough in me to pack what I needed and get out the door, then let momentum take me from there.

So, no clue what the swim yardage was, but it was 50 free, 50 breast, rinse, repeat, with a few backstroke and kick laps thrown in. Transition was ... 15 minutes? I rinsed off in the shower, peed, dried, and wrestled my running gear onto my still damp body. Then I hit the treadmill room and positioned a fan right in front of my chosen mill. I got on and bumped it immediately to a 12-minute mile.

The swim was like a warmup and I felt really good (albeit, dehydrated) ... up until the guys in the room started loudly complaining about how hot it was. One wrestled with the painted shut windows, while the other lounged on an elliptical, both at the top of their grouse about the heat.

It wasn't really that hot. I broke a sweat because I was running faster then I normally do. I wasn't dying though. I know for dying in the heat on a run. This wasn't it. There is an air conditioner, though I will admit it was cooler out in the hallway. I'm guessing sweaty bodies will do that to a room temperature.

So I cut my half hour short. I was already tired, and they annoyed me by making me focus on the heat. I also started feeling my heel, and I simply refuse to go there again. Not bad for a first real brick workout though. I'm completely happy with both the fact that I got on the treadmill, and the fact that I ran it at 12-minute-mile pace.

Now, I'm finishing up my group project and paper. My Project Management class ends today, and tomorrow starts Strategic Planning.

July 9, 2011

How to install a set of stairs in 3 easy steps

Step #1:
Avoid running over the baby blue jay on the way to the job site
Step #2:
then measure again
then correct measurements
And measure yet again.
before cutting
then make sure the measurements were correct
before creating a mirror image of the first stringer
and boring out starter holes to router for treads
then router for treads
and verify the treads will fit in the routered holes
then bolt a park bench back together
and weed for an hour while Handyman routers treads
then take over and router the other stringer
while Handyman cuts treads and risers
and the center brace
then start putting it all together
fitting treads in routered holes with glue and nails

than nailing risers, glueing all seams, and notching for the center brace
before lifting stairs over porch railing and gently lowering them into the basement
Curse and swear and lift and wrestle and shove and shave and sweat and sledgehammer the stairs into place
Step #3:
Collapse after 11 hours of lifting and hauling and pounding and sawing

July 7, 2011

A change in plans

Everyone knows about the best laid plans, and how often they seem to go astray.

Today I planned to prime the front bedroom of my parent's house. Then Ninja made a surprise visit, so I didn't leave when originally planned. Then Ninja needed lunch, so we decided to visit our favorite sandwich shop, Grums. We arrived at my parents about an hour later than I normally get there.

When we arrived, my Dad informed me there would be no painting today. I'd already removed the paneling and bar from the right side of the basement staircase. Handyman needed the paneling removed from the left side as well. I broke out the flatbar, crowbar, and hammer, and got to work. The shelves underneath the stairs also had to come out. For that matter, the entire staircase had to come out. I just hauled the debris for that part.

Handyman removing stringers from the basement stairs
Everything we pulled out of the basement today
I planned to run this afternoon, but the bending and lifting tweaked my lower back, which complained to my heel. I decided another day of rest was in order. Actually, it will be 2 days of rest. I planned a swim/run brick tomorrow, but will now be helping Handyman build a new set of stairs. This is a good thing, as I may actually get paid.

I might have a chance to run once the stairs are in, but I'm not holding my breath. Saturday is still on, though. I'm looking forward to traipsing along the Shaker trail.


2/3 of the 2nd floor baseboards are currently on the 3rd floor
waiting for the electrician to rewire behind where they go
Carpet, nails, and staples are gone from the front bedroom
the back bedroom

and the master bedroom
Tomorrow I prime the front bedroom. Next week, the basement and kitchen ceilings come down, and hopefully we'll see the electrician by the end of the week.

Tomorrow I also hope to run for the first time in almost 2 weeks. My heel feels much better, though I am still aware of the heel spur while driving. There is no pain, and I have a race coming up next month. I plan to just do a few (3 to 4) miles on the treadmill. If tomorrow's run goes well, I will repeat it after my swim Friday (45 minute swim, 45 minute run). Then a long (10 mile) run/walk outside on Saturday. I don't expect to be able to run the entire 10 miles, so will incorporate the marathon plan (even though I never ran the marathon... yet). Sunday will be a well deserved rest day (after playing at karaoke until the wee hours of the morn).

More progress. This is the last week of my Project Management class. I have 3 classes left until graduation, and I'm freaking out only a little about what I will do then. I had plans to work toward both A+ certification and Database Administration certification. Neither of those plans got very far, for various reasons. I spent some time talking to an adviser today, who sent me some information on school run alumni job boards. I need to somehow find a way to get my foot in the door, in an entirely new field from everything on my resume. I have a lot of knowledge, both hands on and through school. What I don't have is experience. That and the type of school I chose (on line vs. brick and mortar) has me just a little insecure.

There is plenty of room for more progress.

July 5, 2011

Tired Tuesday

All the carpet is out of the my parents' 2nd floor. That's about 1 1/2 rooms worth you see. 4+ hours of ripping and tearing and cutting and rolling and taping and lifting and carrying and moving furniture around and bending to pull up tacks and staples and sweeping and cleaning and taping and tossing over the 2nd floor porch railing, then lifting and carrying some more out to the lawn.

I came home too exhausted for the 5 mile treadmill run I'd planned. Myfitnessplan.com says I did about 2K calories worth of work. I believe it.

Tomorrow is more furniture moving, as we pull baseboards in the master bedroom and sewing room. I'm getting my workout on, hard core this week!

July 4, 2011

Here's my July 4 plan

First, a little family picnic...

Everyone will have their favorites
Ninja, if he were coming. Unfortunately, he has to work
When the steaks are done...
Maybe a little desert..
Keeping in mind the reason we're celebrating.

Seriously, it's all about these guys...

A big thank you and lots of love to all our servicemen,
no matter how goofy they get on their days off.

Then... fireworks!

I hope everyone has a fantastic (and safe!) holiday weekend!