Monday, March 28, 2011

Half Mary Tune Up

Most of the local running community is gearing up for the Bentonville Half Marathon on Saturday.  Mike Rush of Rush Running incorporates local races like this into his training plans for our weekly speed workouts.  This week we did a tune up workout that was geared towards making race pace feel easy. 

Each week Mike holds the workout top secret until after the group warmup.  Tonight though the white board with the workout was out on display as the group was huddling up for announcements.  The big news was that Mike has a new speaker system and microphone...let's hope he was just testing this out and won't have the microphone at all of our workouts! He's loud enough without the speaker system but the music playing during the workout was kind of fun. 

We should all know by now that Mike's workouts can be deceiving.  Tonight the white board displayed the following: 400 at half, 400 at 10k, 400 at 5k, 400 at faster than 5k. No rest between, 1:30 rest after times 2. 

He described the workout to us and the entire group was visibly excited for a 2 mile workout.  If only! Hang on for the surprise...written on the back of the board was the conclusion to the workout.  800 all out, 30 sec rest, 400 all out, 30 sec rest, 400 all out.  Whooooo, killer finish!

The initial two miles were actually kind of fun to do.  Mike asked us to hit the line and change gears for each pace change and then hold that pace for the full 400 versus fluctuating pace within each 400.  I struggle with that and normally have a much faster 2nd half of any repeat.  It was good to think about maintaining a steady pace during each 400.  My first two miles came in around 9:18 and 9:24.  I didn't take splits on each 400 and totally got called out for not doing so during our all out set. 

For our all out set, we descended the pace on the 800 since we were both a little nervous about the pace over that distance.  Mike wanted to know what our 800 time was and just laughed at both of us for not knowing. In our defense, we both were wearing our Garmins which aren't the best for stop watch capabilities. I think we hit around a 9:10 pace on the 1st half and 8:50 pace on the 2nd half but don't really know.  It felt fast and like we had picked up the pace!  Needless to say, we paid attention to our start/finish times on the last 2-400's and got 1:53 for both of those...that's definitely ALL OUT!!!  I definitely felt the workout even though it was short. 

Only a few more runs this week until the race.  I'm planning to take the race easy since my fitness over longer distance isn't quite where I had hoped it would be.  I always lose motivation in February and March and this year wasn't any different.  I see 5K's coming in the not so distant future so that should keep me motivated.  The race calendar just explodes once we get into April so I have no choice but to lose this winter weight and get race ready. 

If you are looking for a good workout, give this one a try.  It seems deceptively easy but you'll finish it up and have put in a hard effort. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Tasty Fave

Yesterday I was looking for a recipe and came across the recipe for one of my favorite pasta dishes.  Growing up this was one of my favorite recipes that my Mom cooked.  I think it originally came from a Weight Watchers cookbook but don't hold me to that since I don't know the nutritional content. 

Prosciutto and Pasta
8 oz. angel hair pasta
10 oz. asparagus spears, broken into pieces and cooked
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
1/2 C plain yogurt
1/3 C dry white wine
2 TBSP melted butter
6 oz. Prosciutto or deli ham, cut into strips

Cook the pasta according to the package.  Drain well. 
Cook asparagus until tender.
In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, yogurt, wine, butter, and ham. 
Combine with the cooked pasta and asparagus. 

Notes: I use the cheapo package of super thin sliced ham like Budding.  I also used Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt and it tasted fine.  The recipe actually calls for frozen asparagus but I always use fresh. 

This is a super easy and super quick recipe that I somehow seem to forget about.  It's probably a good thing because I tend to eat 3 servings because I love it sooooo much.  Give it a try and let me know what you think. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Little Cache on the Run

Recently I visited my sister and her family in Oklahoma City to celebrate her birthday.  My sister had asked her husband for a new GPS device so that her family could take up Geocaching.  She had been interested in geocaching for a while but had waited until my nephew got a little older and could also participate.  Well, Gavin is now six and the Alberts clan is taking up geocaching!

I spy...a Geocache!
I arrived for my visit on Friday evening and was given homework by my nephew to read his book by the boyscouts on the rules of geocaching.  They had found some caches in a nearby park and my sister told me that we would have to get an early start to beat the "Muggles" to the park.  On Saturday, we all got up and ready and headed out to a cache that had a travel bug in it.  My sister really wanted to have Gavin find the travel bug which was a Pinewood Derby car put together by a BoyScouts troop in Tulsa wanting to see how far it could travel.  I stayed in the car with my sleeping niece for the first cache but Gavin was super excited about the find and the bead necklace he chose out of the cache supplies. 

My sister with one of our cache finds!
We headed out to the park next and spent almost 30 minutes looking for the cache there.  Finally, I logged onto the website from my iPhone to read the recent logs for that cache.  Others were having trouble finding it so we decided it must have been moved.  On the way to the next cache I decided to search the app store and buy an app for my phone.  Yep, after only 3 cache locations I was on my way to being hooked into the competitive search for the caches.  With the addition of my phone app, I was able to read logs and hints which helped us find some of the caches and also helped us decide to move on when others marked the cache as no longer there.  We ended up spending the entire morning out hunting for the caches and I think we hit up 10-12 different locations.  We encountered lots of prickly bushes which made my nephew not so happy. 

Geocaching App by Groundspeak
I left Oklahoma City with strict instructions to hide the travel bug in a cache near my town.  I knew just the friend to help me geocache...Kyla! Kyla and I headed out on a Tuesday after work with her dog Pilgrim.  I had researched and found that one of our running trails had a few cache hidden along it and one of them would be big enough for the travel bug. 
Who brings a bear on a run? Not us, that is the cache hiding spot silly!
We used my iPhone app for the tracking and ran to a spot on the trail that seemed to be in the general area.  We then turned on the Geocaching app and used that to hone into the cache.  Our first stop was called the Hill of Doom and it was aptly named.  From there, we meandered on the trail system and then got back to the paved trail in order to visit a couple more sites including one with a unique cache.  We both had a great time and it was a perfect way to add some fun to our run.  We got to mix in some breaks while we hunted for each cache.  We didn't trade souvenirs with any of the caches except for leaving behind the travel bug.  We just signed the log books and headed onto the next one.  I think we would both consider doing a geocache run again...a friend has already told us that his daughter has hidden some caches so now we have motivation to go find those too. 

For more information on geocaching visit: Getting Started Guide

As for the Pinewood Derby Travel Bug, it's on it's way to the next stop on it's journey. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday

This Bad Boy will soon be mine...

Thanks to this Bad Boy...Steve In a Speedo!
I won his CycleOps Trainer Giveaway!!!!

Seriously, if you don't follow Steve In a Speedo you should! His posts are always can you not laugh when he has names for his race shorts and dresses up like farm animals to spectate at marathons?  I'm super excited for my new trainer...thanks Steve! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break = No Rest from the Track

It is Spring Break this week for all of the local schools here.  Unfortunately, we don't get a spring break from speed work in Mike Rush's world! Without exception, rain or shine, we are at the track on Monday nights for free speedwork sessions.  Our fearless coach was under the weather tonight so he got us started on the workout and then headed home to get well.  It was one of the most quiet workouts we have ever had since Mike is normally yelling at us with his special brand of motivation!

Tonight was a tough session.  We have a half marathon in two weeks so Mike has been working on getting everyone ready for that race.  Tonight the workout was 4.5 miles long and consisted of three sets of 1 mile at 10K pace, 1 min rest, 800 at 5K pace, 2 min rest. 

Anne and I got to the track early and got 2 miles in for our warmup.  I wasn't feeling much spunk after the workout and only walked a very short cooldown.  The walk to the car totally counts! The workout was a good mix of speeds and was challenging since I wasn't feeling 100% during the workout.  My total for the night was 6.6 miles and I was around 9:50 per mile for my 10K pace and 9:15 per mile for 5K.  I have plenty of room to start dialing the speed down and set some new goals for the upcoming summer. 

Hope you have a great Spring Break!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Lenten Challenge

This year I have decided to take on a new challenge for Lent.  I got a little help from my friend Anne on putting together the challenge. 

My original idea was to create a group of 40 exercises (one per day) as a way to incorporate more core and strength exercises in my schedule.  I am horrible about doing any core or strength work and just assume that my running will take care of me.  I was going to start out with one exercise per day but Anne talked me into doing a compilation of 3 per day.  Her idea was to have one upper body, lower body, and core exercise for each day. That made a lot of sense so I decided her idea was better.

I ended up with a mixture of exercises that included kettlebell days, stability ball days, and yoga days.  I wrote out my three exercises per day on some note paper and then put them all into a bowl.  Each day I will select a paper from the bowl and then complete those exercises.  Originally, I was going to make a paper chain but it was hard enough writing out 40 workouts so I just went with a bowl!

My draw for today, Day 1, was a yoga draw.  My challenge was to do: Bridge Pose (3 x 20 seconds), Cobra Pose (3 x 20 seconds), and Triangle Pose (3 x 20 seconds per leg.) Mission accomplished during a commercial break! I'm hoping to combine my workout challenge with reduced sugar consumption but know that it will be tough to cut back until I make it through next week which will be pretty stressful at work. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Trying out a New Sport

Today I got to try out a new sport...bass fishing. I've been super busy for the last few months at my job planning for my company's sponsorship of a pro fisherman in a major fishing tournament series.  This week was the first of the tournament events for our angler.  One of the cool perks, is that a few of my co-workers and I got to go out fishing with the pro angler for a few hours. 

I've never been fishing before and had no clue what to do, but I went into it with an open mind and knew I was getting to learn from a great fisherman.   It was super cold this morning with temps at approx. 27 degrees on the lake.  I loaded up with lots of layers including several running items. My fleece tights and running tops came in handy, not too bulky and plenty warm. 

After the top 10 anglers headed out for their final day of fishing we headed out.  Our pro, Terry, took us into a cove area that was protected from the wind where he had fished during practice days.  Terry started out by casting for me. I was using a jerk bait that looked like a minnow. I really struggled with the jerk rhythm though.  After watching Terry for a few times, I decided to try out casting for myself.  It took a few tries but eventually I got the hang of it. 

Unfortunately, the first spot we went to wasn't that great so we headed out to another.  After some time I finally made my first catch. The metal roof of one of the docks! I'm not kidding I hooked the dock and actually needed help getting the bait off the roof.  Once the sun came out, we switched to a different style of bait and almost immediately had some success. And by we, I mean Terry! Terry pulled in a couple of small bass and was in the process of taking a fish off the hook when my co-worker Pablo hooked a big fish.  Terry went to help Pablo with the net and in the process dropped his fish at my feet where it flopped around and freaked me out.

About this same time, I was having trouble reeling in my rod.  I figured that I was hooked on some brush since we were fishing a ledge near the shore.  I laid my rod down in the boat and took pictures of Pablo with his giant fish (almost 7lb large mouth bass) and figured that Terry would help me get the hook off the brush when he was done.  Well, Terry picked up my rod and swore to me there was a fish on it.  Apparently I had caught a fish and didn't even know it! Obviously I am super new to fishing and a total dork. 

I did have a great time casting and reeling but I'm still a little squirmish about touching a fish.  Bass fishing was a lot more fun that I thought it would be and I'm so glad I got to spend the morning out on the lake with the pro.  I think I'll stick to running, biking, and swimming for my sports but I'm sure I won't turn down another opportunity for a day of fishing either (even though I know I got a little spoiled though by fishing with a pro today!!!)