Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's Fun to Stay at the YMCA!

Well, I didn't actually stay at the YMCA more like visit it! I have been visiting my sister Lindsey for the past few days.  My other sister Kristen came with me so we have quite the group together...both of my sisters, one of my brother-in-laws, and my two nieces and nephew.

For a little exercise and energy drainer for the kids we have gone swimming at the Y the past two mornings. Kristen took kid duty so that I could lap swim.  Lindsey stayed home with the newborn.

The pool was divided into several areas with space for kids to play, lanes for water walkers, lanes for lap swimming, and the diving well was divided into two for the slide and also an area for the water aerobics class.  Both days, I got 30 minutes of lap swimming in uninterrupted while Kristen played with the kids in the shallow area.

They had tons of fun jumping into the pool and then walking out the handicap ramp.  My nephew is almost six years old and is a really good swimmer thanks to his summer lessons.  My niece just turned three and is quite fearless and tries to do everything her big cousin does.  I'm sure that their pool time was pretty stressful for my sister but I was in oblivion just swimming my laps on the other side of the pool!

It was a nice breather to get in that lap swimming because those two kids can just wear an Aunt out! Swimming two days in a row has my arms worn out too! It was great to take advantage of the Y and I'm actually a little sad that we don't have such a nice facility available at home.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Review - 17 Hours to Glory

Recently I won a Pay It Forward Giveaway of two books hosted by Jason over at Life of An Aspiring Triathlete.  I just finished reading the first of those books, 17 Hours to Glory.  It is a compilation of stories about some of the World Champions of Triathlon and the everyday athletes that have found glory in the sport. 
17 Hours to Glory: Extraordinary Stories from the Heart of Triathlon

I enjoyed the book a lot and I have to caution you that it will inspire you to want to be an Ironman! This book lets you experience some of the greatest moments in Kona history.  It made me get on YouTube to even watch some of those moments too.  If you watched the 2010 race on NBC a few weeks ago you probably heard the commentators discuss the Iron War.  That story is covered in the book as well. 

From the pro triathletes to the challenged athletes to the age groupers all of the stories share a common theme...perseverance.  Nearly all the athletes experienced setbacks, injuries, and sickness at some point in their careers and in races.  It is really inspiring to know that the pros are human too!

This is a great book and if you stick around I will be hosting my own Pay It Forward giveaway soon.  I have to finish the second book first and then I'll do a giveaway for both with the stipulation that the winner also promise to host a giveaway and pass the books along after they are done with them.   I hope to have the giveaway up by the end of the week. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Blog-mas

Jill over at Run with Jill hosted a bloggy gift exchange. My gift exchange arrived in the mail yesterday from Funderson at Brillance Wasted

Funderson put together a fun mix of gifts with something special even for my pup Hershey! The gift included a Most Awesome CD of Christmas music that included some classics like So This is Christmas and even some Harry Connick Jr.  Another awesome inclusion was hot chocolate packets and chocolate covered caramels. For Hershey, there was a box of gourmet dog treats which she loved.  My dog loves cookies and these are all natural dog treats which make me feel better about giving her more than one at a time! 

Thanks so much to Funderson for the awesome collection of gifts.  It was fun to make a new bloggy friend and share in the holiday spirit.   I will definitely be enjoying the hot chocolate after my next cold long run. Merry Blog-mas to all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Brain Exchange - 2010 Wrap up

Jill at Finishing is Winning has upped the ante for the final Monday Brain Exchange of 2010.  The MBE is on hiatus next week due to the holidays.  Below are Jill's instructions for this week.

This Weeks Question: Write a poem (any kind works) that sums up your 2010 year of racing. The most creative poem will be rewarded. (Poem must appear in a MBE post on your own page by Tuesday, December 21, 2010 to be eligible.)  Yikes! Here goes:

Ode to 2010
Hello Twenty Ten
It's time for the year to begin.
An indoor triathlon, should be fun.
30 laps, when will I be done?

Half Marathon time, cold and dreary.
Up and down the hills of Bentonville
I should have been leery:(

April showers for Race for the Cure
Survivors like Mom provide the lure
to Race in the rain and persevere.

Gold Rush and Wildcats, Oh My!
5K fun in May with races nearby.

Route 66 Triathlon entered the Athena division
Freaked out in the swim, not a good position.
Shocked to be crowned the champion
And glad I got my kicks on Route 66!

Entered my first swim meet in ages,
Discovered sprints should not be done in back to back stages.

More triathlons in July including Y Not Tri!
Won my first race by getting overall first place.
One year of Triathlons marked at the Shark Sprint,
Survived the heat and hills at Horseshoe Bend
Excited to get another division win.

Had a good time at Run for a Child
Helped push LC who sang me a song
Watched my sister finish the race strong!

Chile Pepper for 10K cross country fun
A 5 minute PR came after the gun.
The Pub Run with friends was social and chatty.
Good times and pics, no worries, no matters.

Back to Route 66 for the half marathon.
High temps and wind ended the fun.
Redemption would be mine when
Run for the Ranch subtracted the time.
Another PR for the big finish.
A year too good to diminish!

Run for the Ranch Half Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday I ventured to Springfield for the Run for the Ranch Half Marathon.  I found this race after my disappointing run in Tulsa.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect for a race with temps around 48 degrees and it was sunny and just a light breeze in the air.

The course for this race is a loop course that is 3.275 miles long.  The half marathon equals four loops and the full marathoners run eight loops.  The race started at 2:30PM for the half and 1:00PM for the full.  I drove up and arrived just as the marathon was starting.  The race course was around the campus of Missouri State University so registration and the start/finish were near the student union.  It was nice to have a warm place to go and clean restrooms too. 

The race had a goofy start which was very crowded since the first 1/10 mile was on a narrow sidewalk.  Several people almost ran into random barriers.  Eventually everyone got spread out and then there was plenty of room.  The course was mixed between the road and sidewalks around campus.  That was probably my biggest complaint about the course because the sharp turns and jumps up/down off the sidewalk were tough on my feet.  It was also hard to know when I was supposed to run in the street or on the sidewalk. 

My goal for the race was to try to hit 33 minutes for each loop or a 2:12 finishing time.  This was a conservative PR goal for me and it was something that alleviated the pressure that I felt in Tulsa.  I had told myself to just go for a long run and see if something more( like a PR) could happen.  I avoided looking at my watch except for the conclusion of each loop just to get a feeling on where my pace was. 

Towards the end of the first lap I discovered a pace buddy.  #618 was running really steady and his pace felt pretty comfortable to me.  I decided to just stick with him and stay steady in that pace.  Somewhere towards the end of the second loop I pulled away from 618.  I stuck to the pace and tried to pick it up on the slight downhills to build some time for the slight uphills.  The race was relatively flat but there were a couple inclines that by the 4th loop felt huge! About a mile into the 3rd lap, my little pace buddy #618 showed back up.  I knew that I needed to stick with him as much as possible and not give back any time.  Near the finish of the 3rd lap I started to feel a blister forming along the back of my left arch.  No fun but #618 kept me distracted and moving forward.  We never spoke and we stayed as pace buddies until the last 1 1/2 miles when he pulled slightly ahead of me.  Whether he was by my side or in front of me, #618 provided me with the motivation to stay strong and keep moving. 

My laps were pretty good and fairly consistent.  I was listening to my iPod throughout the race and it was awesome how the random shuffle knew the right song to play for how I was feeling during the race.  It was the perfect soundtrack!
Posing post race with the school mascot!

I almost caught #618 to the finish but he ended up beating me by six seconds.  My finish time was 2:09:05 which is a 5 min 6 sec. PR for me.  If only I could have kept up with #618 I would have finished at 2:08:59! When I looked up the race results I was very surprised to discover that my pace buddy was a very young, spry, and fast 70 years old! I honestly thought he was running the full marathon and still had another lap to go when we finished but nope he was doing the half too.  It has taken me nearly 10 years of running half marathons to get to this pace and I can only hope to still be running (and maybe still in this time range!) by the time I'm 70!!! What an inspiration and big thanks to him for pulling me along!

Post race was back in the student union to pick up the race medal.  They medal was a nice 3" medal shaped like a horseshoe.  It is a really nice medal for such a small race.  When you received your medal you also got a ticket for a sandwich meal from Blimpie.  My only complaint on the post-race was that the temperature was way too warm inside.  The difference between outside and inside that soon after a race was a little rough to handle.  I started to feel sick and was worried that I might faint.  I don't normally feel sick after a race so this wasn't fun...especially since I was there alone and had to drive home two hours.  I got a Diet Pepsi and Water and tried to chug some down which helped a lot.  I forced myself to eat the sandwich and get some food in since I was probably out of calories.  I only ate one Gu during the race where normally in a training run I'll eat three.  I changed into dry clothes and felt a lot better.
Post race food...after a few bites!
 Overall, I had a good time at the race.  My Garmin came up with a short distance but when I look at the map it looks like I might have missed a satellite point on one loop.  The loop went along side the football stadium and it looks like one loop is messed up because I know I didn't run as goofy as it looks! I liked the loops in that I knew what to expect and knew where to pick up the pace on each loop.  There were two water stops on each loop and were well stocked with water, sports drink, gels, and even pretzels.  The cost was cheap, just $45 for race day registration! I don't think I would use it as a goal race but it makes for a good backup option!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Quick Update

I'll post a full race recap tomorrow but for now I'm so excited to share with you all that I have finished my racing for 2010.  Today I capped off a great year with a NEW Half Marathon PR!!! My unofficial time was 2:09:05 which is approx. 5 min 5 sec faster than my previous best.  WhooooHoooo!!!

I'm so happy to have redemption after my less than ideal performance at the Route 66 Half Marathon last month.  Stay tuned tomorrow for the details!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rush Running 2010 Holiday Party

Last night was the Annual Holiday Party for the Rush Running team.  We had the party at the running store and had everyone bring a dish for potluck.  The food was amazing and so diverse...the team can cook (and/or purchase food!) as well as they run! The night had two big highlights: Team Awards and the Dirty Santa gift exchange.

First up were the awards...Mike and Ali Rush collect entries and stories throughout the year and then determine the final winners.  The categories are varied and solicit lots of laughs and cheers from the team.   After the awards we had a great time with the gift exchange.  Last year was the year of the snuggie for the exchange and this year it was the Shake Weight.  We had three shake weights in the gift exchange.  Some of the other hot items were the gift cards including $25 to Table Mesa, $40 to Maccadoodles, and $20 to the Rush store.  I ended up with some new bike gear including a mini pump and a multi-function bike tool. 

Here's my recap of the awards and I know I will miss a few categories so I'm sorry if I skip anyone.
Goofy Awards

Biggest injury - Jeff G. for his trail running ankle injury. It was a well deserved award since Jeff was in surgery getting his ankle fixed during the party and couldn't attend!

Worst Nipple Issue - Brian W. won the award for the Tulsa Marathon. He had no clue he was chafing and bleeding and his jersey literally looked like he had been shot.
Chatty Cathy - went to Matt B and Brian W and it is true they are quite the talkers!
AA Award - I think it went to Shannon M. and Dave W.

Shopaholics Award - this was shared by two couples the Mohlers and Leonhardts. They are all into running and triathlon so they need lots of gear and what is really cool is that their children are also into sports so that only increases their need for gear!

Most Official Unofficial Store Employee - Robert S. beat out some tough competition for this award but his punctuality threw him over the top according to Mike. It is so awesome that our running store is like a hangout and like Cheers they always know your name!

Biggest Blowup - went to Dave K for his 2008 Chicago Marathon performance. He won the award for the same race last year and Mike said he will continue to win the award for the foreseeable future. It is an awesome story of perseverance...Dave was on track for his goal time. He collapsed within 1 mile of the finish line and was taken to the medical tent for an hour to receive IV fluids. His dad walked with him back to the spot where he collapsed and he proceeded to finish the race. That takes a lot of heart to do and he has since gone on to amazing marathon times including a 5th place finish at the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon this year.

Most fashionable - this went to Mandy S. and Cathy R. who both are always dressed to the nines.

Best moment- a tie between The Slap and The Pass. Both moments happened during Ultra runs and are funny stories.

Most likely to get lost – poor Keith B. went out for an 8 mile run with the group on a route he wasn’t familiar with. He got separated from the group and missed a key turn. His little 8 mile run turned into a 17 miler in the heat of summer without water or nutrition. There were quite a few frantic phone calls and searches going on trying to find him.
Serious Awards

Most consistent - Tony M. won for his consistent running and racing performance and for all the support that he provides to Mike and the store with helping time races to helping with the remodel when the store moved. This was a well deserved award for Tony!

Mr. and Ms. Rush 2010 – These awards went to top performers of the year. For the men, this went to Digger L. for his amazing 2:29 marathon at Twin Cities this year. Not your typical recreational runner! For the women, Carolyn A. won for always having impressive performances including lots of age group wins at a range of distances.

Most Improved – Matt M. won for the men and I won for the women. Matt joined the team this summer and he has shown huge improvements and now races at the front of the pack!

Biggest Change (not the right award title) – went to Tom L. who in a year has gone from wanting to do a marathon as part of his bucket list to signing up for and completing 100 mile ultramarathons. Tom has two already scheduled for 2011.

Congrats to the entire Rush Running team for an amazing 2010! I'm so honored to be a part of the team and so lucky to be able to call you all teammates and even more importantly friends! I can't wait to hit the roads with you again in 2011!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Have you met Coach Troy?

Tonight was my first workout with a Spinervals DVD.  I recently bought two different Spinervals DVD's in an effort to keep myself motivated to utilize my bike trainer this winter.  Coach Troy Jacobson leads a group of cyclists in an interval workout with directions on what positions to have your bike on for both front and back chain rings and/or the resistance levels depending on whether you are using a spin bike or your bike on a trainer.

Competition 10.0 - Ride and Stride
Tonight I completed the Ride and Stride DVD which is geared towards triathletes.  The workout is divided into 3 intervals that are 15 minutes in length.  If you have a treadmill, then you do 10 minutes on the bike followed by 5 minutes on the treadmill for each interval. Otherwise, Coach Troy breaks the interval into two sets within each interval one in the big chain ring lasting 10 minutes and a second 5 minute set in the little chain ring. 

Before today I had only really been in my big chain ring on accident during rides.  I have a triple crankset on my bike and have known that I should use the big ring just have trouble shifting between the rings on the front while in motion! The workout was really good and I was dripping with sweat within just a few minutes of the workout starting.  The music was a little drab and somewhat outdated but it is easy to just not hear it.  Coach Troy kept constant feedback through out the sets...sometimes I liked this and sometimes it was a little too frequent between updates. 

The treadmill portion of the workout sounded intense and made me thankful to not be participating in it! The 5 minutes started at your base pace and then increased by 1-2 mph and 1% incline after each minute.  Yikes, maybe someday I'll be ready for that!

Overall I had a good time during my first workout with Coach Troy.  The second DVD I bought is actually a 3 series set that contains 5 hours of workout.  I'll keep you posted on my thoughts once I try that series out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Brain Exchange - 2010 Highs/Lows

Each week, Jill over at Finishing is Winning, poses a new topic for bloggers to post on.  This week the topic is around your race highs and lows for 2010.  This Weeks Question: Tell readers about your 2010 Best and Worst races. What made them so great or not so great?

Y Not Tri Awards
Best Triathlon - Y Not Tri in Cassville, Mo. This was a small triathlon race put on by the YMCA in Cassville and it was my first time to ever outright win an entire race!!! Whoohoo! I was completely shocked to hear my name called as the race winner. It was so fun to share the moment with friends and I was so giddy when I called my sister to share the news.

Worst Triathlon - I didn't actually have a bad race this year.  I would say I had a horrible pre-race for the Cats Sprint Tri in Conway.  For some reason I just couldn't sleep the night before the race.  It was miserable, my head just kept going round and round with the battle of trying to fall asleep. 

Best Run Race - Chile Pepper 10K hands down. This race has owned me for the past few years and I finally showed it who is boss. I had a solid mental performance and massive PR in this race which was a big break through for me.

Runner Up Run Race - Run for a Child 5K. I loved this race because it was my sister's first race in several years.  I ran with her and helped push my niece in the jog stroller up and down the hills around Pinnacle Promenade.  I'm so excited to be able to share the fun of running with both of my sisters.

Worst Run Race - Tulsa Route 66 Half Marathon. Where Chile Pepper was a mental breakthrough for me, Route 66 was a major set back.  The weather was very unfriendly on race day with warm temps, high humidity, and strong winds.  But really my lackluster performance was because I gave up under the pressure I had set with trying to break my PR.  I'm still working on my mental stamina, especially in adverse race conditions.

Best miscellaneous - Fourth of July Firecracker Open Water Swim. I still can't believe I swam 1.8 miles! Last year, the lake swimming really freaked me out and my first open water swim during my first tri this season was a mess.  This event really increased my comfort level with lake swimming and I enjoyed it a lot.  I still have my souvenir rock from the island destination sitting near all my medals and running memorabilia.

5K Races - 8
10K Races - 1
Half Marathons - 2 (maybe 3- might run one 12/19)
Swim meets/Open Water Swim events - 4
Sprint Triathlons - 6 (Whoa!)
Bike events - 1
Misc. Runs events - 2 (Turkey Trot and Pub Run)

What a Year!!! I couldn't have done it all and had so much fun without the awesome coaching of Mike Rush, the support of the Rush Running Team, and the great friends and training partners who each push me to be a stronger athlete.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holy Swim Sprints, Batman!

Sunday afternoon swims are a highlight of the winter off season for me.  My swim buddies Kyla, Carrie, and Brent have a standing weekly swim meet up on Sunday afternoons at their corporate fitness center.  I go as a guest and figure the guest fee is well worth the intense workout!

Today we started with a 400yd warmup, 300yds of drills, and 200yds of kick.  The drills are done as 75yd per stroke.  Brent and Kyla are swimmers that also do triathlons so they don't stand for any of this steady swimming of free style as a workout stuff that most triathletes do! Carrie is an awesome swimmer who has a collection of tough workouts that she shares with us. 

The first main set of the workout was a 1000yd ladder.  The ladder went like this: 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, 150, 100, 75, 50, 25.  For the shorter steps the rest time was around 10 sec. The longer ladder steps of the 150-200s got 30 sec rest.  I'm a little slower than the others so sometimes I have to shorten the workout to not fall too far behind.  I only shortened one of the ladder steps and instead of doing the 200, did a 150.  We did a bunch of different strokes during the ladder...I managed the first 25yd with butterfly but that was all the butterfly for me.  We all finished and took a short rest break before starting the second main set.

The second main set was 12 x 25 on the 1 minute.  The trick was that the 25's were done with dive starts and were crazy fast sprints.  I'm not comfortable diving off the blocks so I just did my dives from the pool deck.  I also didn't feel comfortable with shallow dives so I just did a wall push for those starts.  Our group was hitting the wall around 18-20 seconds for each sprint.  Let me tell you, I needed all that rest to get ready for the next sprint! These were a tough finish to the workout especially since we were trying to minimize the number of breaths during each sprint.  The goal was no breath but I'm not there yet!  These sprints definitely had my heart rate up super high.

We finished up with a short cooldown.  Typically we close out our Sunday swims with hot tub time but Kyla and I both had things to do after and we couldn't stick around. 

I'm so lucky to have such talented friends that let me join in their workouts.  Sometimes their pace is more than I can handle but I try to hang on for as long as possible.  I have improved so much in the last year in both speed and form because of these great swim buddies and their workouts. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Plyo-technic Workout

Do you keep up your speed workouts in the cold of winter? For those of us in the Rush Running crew, speed workouts go on year round.  We have only had a 1-2 workouts cancelled per year...I think Mike Rush is more reliable than the US Postal Service. Nothing stops him, rain = perfect weather, sleet = quick feet, snow = perfect time trial weather! 

I'm exaggerating, of course! Mike is very conscious of the weather conditions and works hard to provide us with challenging, weather appropriate workouts each week.  Mike was out this week recovering from knee surgery so his wife Ali filled in as our coach for the night.  The weather was low 30's and very chilly so we got a little different was plyo-technic! The main set of the workout was 6 x 800m repeats at 5K pace.  Instead of getting standing rest time between each 800, we did different plyometric type workouts as our active rest.  The plyos were 25 pushups, 50 situps, 25 burpees, 25 air squats, 50 mountain climbers. 

The workout was 3 miles of speed work plus warm-up and cool down.  I decided to add 3 x 400m repeats after I was done with the 800's in order to get in a little extra speed time.  I did the 400m in descending pace and got beneath my mile pace for the final one. I had some help on my last 400 from a friend who paced me and reminded me to breathe easy and push myself. My split was 1:54 for that last 400m repeat and it was a pretty awesome finish to a cold workout.  I did extra pushups and situps between my 400m repeats to really go for the overachiever status for the night. 

I ended up with 6 miles and hopped on my bike trainer when I got home for another 30 minutes.  Not bad for a Monday!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Brain Exchange - Alternative Activities

Jill over at Finishing is Winning sponsors the Monday Brain Exchange with a new question each week.  You can participate by linking to Jill in your post and answering the weekly question. 

Up for this week is the topic of alternative activities: What activities do you enjoy outside of swim/bike/running? Are you a winter sports person or summer sports person? Do you enjoy team or individual sports? Do you participate in more alternative activities during the off-season?

I'm actually not very sporty outside of running, swimming, and biking.  I started biking and swimming in 2009 in order to complete my first triathlon.  I was not very good at maintaining my biking and swimming fitness last winter and it is something that I am trying to change for this year.  I have been doing bike trainer workouts and trying to swim at least once a week.  I tried out a new yoga class last week and was pretty sore afterwards.  I'm going to try to go to this class on a weekly basis.  That is about it for me and fitness activities. As far as participating in sports, I never played on any sports teams growing up...I was in dance and cheerleading.  I do enjoy golf quite a bit but haven't dedicated enough time to the sport to be a consistent golfer. 

How about you?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Post Long Run Treat

Oh, yes! That is a McDonald's Hot Chocolate and it makes the perfect treat after a long, cold run!

Saturday morning the temp was around 40 degrees for the 7AM start of my long run.  The temp wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for the wind.  Our little group decided to try out a route that would hopefully get us out of the wind but we had to substitute rolling hills for the wind relief.  It wasn't too bad and I definitely need to be running more hills that I have been.  Our little group got in just under 6 miles and then I added on another 5 to get the distance I needed for the weekend. 

The wind always perplexes me.  It was coming out of the North so we ran heading into the wind to start. Our finish was along an East/West street and I didn't feel like we were heading into the wind at all.  When I went to add on, I got back onto that same East/West street and the wind was right in my face.  It was a little tough to talk myself into continuing on but I did! I ran towards the park and caught a glimpse of a 2 mile charity race that was going on.  I did a lollipop out and back meaning I ran out, did a loop, then came back! I was 1/4 mile short of 11 miles when I got back to the car so I ran down to the little outdoor ice rink and got to see ice skating lessons!

On my way home, I stopped for a hot chocolate at McDonald's. I chose the skim milk option but it still tasted great and helped warm me up. Hope you had a good long run this weekend!