Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Getting Ready for Camp!

That's right...I'm headed to camp in August! It's a camp for blogger grown-ups called Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged!

I attended last year but only as a partial camper since I had conflicting events the same weekend.  This year the camp is going to be a sleep away camp for me since it is in another part of the state.  I'm pretty excited to visit someplace I have never been and meet with other bloggers.  This weekend I decided to do some prep work to get ready for camp.

My friend NWA Foodie is hosting a Foodie Friday add on to the camp.  I signed up for it after asking if a non-foodie blogger would be welcome! I mean as an athlete I eat food so that should count right?!?!  The Foodie program starts at noon on Friday and is going to be something fun to help me explore whether I want to incorporate more cooking or food info on my blog.  We're also going to learn some photography skills and prepare the appetizers for the opening party for the rest of the camp attendees.  

Well Saturday morning I picked up a huge box of tomatoes at the farmer's market for $5.  I was running low on salsa and my coach Mike begs for it so while produce is in season I thought I would make some more.  When I got the box home I got very overwhelmed by how many tomatoes I had actually bought.  In a strange coincidence of my mom calling right then I remembered that I had to head to Fayetteville for a haircut that day.  It would work out perfect to go to my mom's house and share the salsa making duty with her! 
Three batches of salsa in process!

Cooking in Gloria's Kitchen with my Mom!

Salsa making went quite well however I had a couple foodie fails.  I only wore one pair of gloves while working with the jalapenos and had burning hands afterwards for almost an hour.  The jalapenos were quite strong.  My next foodie fail was that I used a family secret recipe...something I could never share publicly.  My final foodie fail was that I forgot to take enough pictures...my mom had to remind me to take some so I never got pictures of some of the key steps in the recipe.  Oops! Good thing I gave myself plenty of time to practice being a foodie before camp. 
Secret time - my Mom set up this shot with the cookbook but what's funny is that we didn't use that cookbook for the salsa.  That's a secret family recipe! My mom used the cookbook for a peach jam that she made in the background!

On my way home from Fayetteville, I stopped at a local Western wear store to try on Boots!!! All of our camp attendees are receiving cowboy boots from a wonderful website run out of Arkansas called Country Outfitters.  I have never owned boots so I wanted to try them on first.  I have some very "strong" calves and was worried about finding a style that would accommodate my legs. 
Trying out different brands and styles of boots

Luckily I found the boots to be very comfortable and only a few pairs were tight on my calves.  I thought I would have a very hard time finding something to fit so this was exciting for me.  I enjoyed trying on the different brands and styles and think I was very entertaining to the other customers and workers there.  They kept offering to help me but I just told them it was my first time trying on boots so I was trying on lots of them! 
These were a favorite pair of Tony Lama's but stay tuned for the final choice!

I'll have more posts in the next few weeks as I get ready for camp including an upcoming post where I share more about Country Outfitters and the boots that I selected.  I was excited to go to camp even before the organizers announced that we would receive boots with our registration! We have a jig dancing lesson on the schedule and every Southern girl knows you need to dress the part for events like this!!! If you are in the Arkansas/Missouri area there is still plenty of time to register for the AWBU conference!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Say Hello to my Rollerblade Friends!

Way back in the mid-90's I first discovered rollerblading and rollerblade friends.  I grew up in DesMoines, Iowa, which has an awesome and very extensive trail network.  My friend Cortney and I would meet up to inline skate on the trails.  Cortney's family was a hockey family and she was a much better skater than me.  I remember saving my part-time job money and then buying my Rollerblades.  I can still remember sitting in the shop and trying them on since it was such a new thing to me.  I hadn't yet discovered running for fun and really spent most of my time either at the dance studio or cheerleading practice.  I used rollerblading as my cardio workout compared to those two activities.
I don't have a pic of Cortney and I out on the trails, but this is a photo of the trail system that I took in my high school photography class!

I moved away to college and lost touch with rollerblading.  The town where my college was just didn't have a trail network like DesMoines.  I finished college and moved to Washington, DC where I met another rollerblading friend.  My friend Meridith was a co-worker who started a week before me and had a very similar background.  She suffered from early onset arthritis in her feet and used rollerblading for her main source of cardio.  Every so often Meridith would run with me but she preferred her cardio with wheels!  About the time I was training and fundraising for my first half marathon, Meridith was training with Team in Training for a Rollerblading marathon event.  We held some fundraising events together and both had successful first forays into long distance events. 

Meridith, me, and Sarah at one of our fundraising events!

Another rollerblading friend that I have is Anjeanette.  She is another Iowa girl who I met in Arkansas through Rush Running.  She loves rollerblading and still skates as a way to maintain fitness and avoid injury through cross training.  AJ is a runner and friend that I do a lot of training with whether it is running, biking, or swimming.  She hasn't yet managed to get me out on Rollerblades again because I'm a little scared that I won't remember how to skate! 

Here's AJ's game face! This is from a roller derby event we went to and she was practicing her mean face!
And finally a rollerblader who I think could easily be any fitness girl's friend.  Amanda Russell is a fitness enthusiast who attended University of Virginia on a full scholarship for track.  She was a strong runner and was one of the top seeds for Canada in the 10K event leading up to the 2008 Olympic Trials when she suffered a potentially career ending fracture in her fibula head just 2 weeks before the trials.  Her injury crushed her Olympic dreams but not her spirit for sports and athleticism. 

Amanda began a recovery process that incorporated rollerblading and within a year she returned to sport and won the first triathlon that she ever entered.  She credits inline skating with being a big part of her recovery. 

Below are some facts on rollerblading / inline skating and why you should consider it for cross training/injury prevention or recovery.

 Inline skating burns almost exactly the same amount of calories as running but with much greater muscular benefits. For instance, a 125-pound athlete skating at a moderate pace for an hour burns roughly 700 calories; running for an hour at a moderate pace, the same athlete would burn 730 calories. Skating also happens to be 50% easier on your knees, hips and other joints than running (a real number from a University of Massachusetts medical study). Physical therapists love inline skating because it gets people outside and is a full body-body strengthening workout. In addition to legs, inline skating works your core, back and shoulder muscles.

Rollerblade has released an App to help you with tracking your skating workouts. This App allows you to track your inline skating sessions including such things as pavement quality and difficulty of the session as well as things like speed.  And you know, we runners love to track things like speed! I invite you to check it out and look at Rollerblading as an alternative for injury recovery/prevention. Visit Rollerblade's Facebook page to learn more and chat with other inline skaters for recovery tips and workout ideas. 
iPhone Screenshot 2

Some information for this post was provided by Rollerblade USA.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Making Cents of Breakfast

This week on Facebook I saw a fun Infographic from The Breakfast Project by America's Milk Processors.   The inforgraphic shows you how much of each drink you get for one quarter and what nutrients it contains. 

I am notoriously a bad breakfast eater and also a horrible milk drinker! I always got special treatment as a kid and negotiated with my mom that my glass of milk at breakfast was the milk that I would use in my cereal.  Thus I only had to have one glass of milk instead of two.  I know...horrible child especially since I wouldn't always drink the leftover milk in the bowl. 

Since then I have slightly improved my feelings towards milk.  I can handle skim milk if it is super cold or chocolate milk.  I really appreciate the information that they have provided and think an 8oz glass is quite manageable.  When I have chocolate milk in the house I have been known to have a small glass of that before heading to work.  I should work harder to switch to skim milk and getting more calcium in since sadly I am approaching my mid-30's and I want to avoid osteoporosis for sure. 

Thoughts? Do you include milk in your daily breakfast? 

Breakfast Beverages

Monday, July 16, 2012

10 Seconds

Last week was a good swimming week for me since I managed to get in almost 5 miles of swimming! It worked out really well and two workouts really stood out for me.  In between these two lunch time swims I read a recent blog post by pro triathlete Jesse Thomas on the Triathlete site.  Titled, What's the Deal with the Old guy Jesse writes about joining the local high school team to improve his swim technique and speed.  His nemesis...a high school girl! The overall moral of the story is that single sport athletes are always going to be stronger in their chosen sport than those of us that are multi-sporters. 

Back to the workouts...on Monday the lunch swim group had a main set with 100m repeats done on a 2 min interval.  In swim, the interval time includes your rest so that meant we were starting a 100m interval every 2 minutes.  It was tough and I think I made it through 5 or so before I had to drop out of the workout and just swim easy to finish my distance. 

Fast forward to Thursday and we had a set with 100m repeats on a 2:10 interval.  It was amazing how much of a difference that extra 10 seconds made.  I stayed in the whole workout and felt really great. 

These workouts were fresh in my head last week when I started to read my August issue of Triathlete. In the Swim Training Tips section, Sara McLarty provides a quick comparison for switching between long course meters and short course yards times. I knew that 50m did not equal 50 yd but I just didn't think about it that much. I just trust my friends to come up with interval times and then I try to hang on! Little did I know!!! Turns out the normal intervals that I use for short course 100yds of (1:50-2:00) would equate to almost a 2:15 interval for long course. The 2:00 min interval for long course 100m that we have been doing is equivalent to a 1:45 on short course. Whoo...it pumped me up to figure this out. Sara's calculation is SCY time * 1.11 + 1.6 sec. 

Now I know why I'm always scared to hear the interval times from my swimmer friends...the majority of whom are single sporters.  They start at 2 min intervals normally and then work their way faster.  It has been overwhelming but also really powerful to realize that I can hang with them on a faster interval if I just shut my brain up and swim.  While I can't always last the whole workout at their intervals...I can last further than in the past.  It has paid off in races too since I have noticed improvement in my swim times at races and also at our long course swim meet in June.   I consider my swimming friends all my free coaches and am certain that they push me harder than I would on my own. 

Needless to say, I definitely side with Jesse and have for quite a long time.  If you want to be a better swimmer...swim with swimmers! Even if you swim freestyle only during the workout you will see improvement.  I've been so lucky to have so many swimmer friends that let me swim with them.  It's taken four years but I finally feel like I can keep up with the workouts. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why not take a traffic cone with you?

Tonight's workout was a fast interval bike ride that was a special request by my friend Britt, the traffic cone!  Britt is training for Ironman Wisconsin in 9 weeks and normally doesn't dress like a traffic cone but today was a special day and she did! She works with a coach and gets workouts every week and sometimes asks for company on them. 
Is that a traffic cone? Nope, just Britt!

Her coach had prescribed 8 x 5 min at hard effort with a 2 min recovery between.  Kyla, AJ, and I all were able to join her and none of us has been doing interval work on the bike that much.  One thing is for certain with interval workouts...they are always easier when you have company and you always work harder when you have company pushing you.  Another thing that might be certain is how sore we will all be tomorrow!
Really, my friends aren't in the Witness Protection Program. I swear!

We started out by riding through town as our warmup.  We decided that once we passed the Home Office we would be on roads that would be okay to start our intervals.  Truly we were still in town in some neighborhoods so our first 2 intervals were a little slower since we had hills, turns, and stops to navigate. 
Speed over time...you can see a definite jump during the hard efforts. Some hills were thrown into the 1st two which is why I didn't hold consistent speed on them.

Once we were out on the highway it was much easier to do the intervals.  We had a nice wide shoulder to work with and the road is mostly flat with very small inclines.  We did 3 more intervals heading out of town so that we would only have to do 3 intervals once we turned to head back.  This helped us so that our final interval didn't have to be in a neighborhood!

Overall, the intervals were tough especially when we had a headwind.  Just before our turnaround, we saw a friend of mine pass by. He and his riding partner had a minute or two headstart on us and I wanted so very bad to catch them.  It took all three intervals that we had left to do it, but Kyla and I did finally catch them with 1 minute to go on our very last interval! Persistence pays off!

One thing I didn't like about the ride was that there wasn't any time to be social.  During the intervals we were all working way too hard to try and have a conversation.  And 2 minutes recovery time isn't enough time to tell a complete story.  We were all so glad to be done with the hard efforts and we took a nice leisurely pace to finish up the remaining 6 miles. 

We finished up at the Bentonville square and met up with some of our running friends for dinner outside.  They had already finished up eating by the time we got there.  We made it to the coffee shop with 10 minutes to spare before they closed.  Just enough time to order a sandwich and lemonade.  It was nice to sit outside for a few minutes and catch up with friends. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The day I took my bike on a hike

Every so often I join up with the Bentonville Women's Bike Group for bike rides.  Last Thursday was one of the nights when my schedule worked out to join up with the group.  It was super hot...super hot that night.  I had put in a request for a route that we hadn't done in a while which included a long section in shade. 

Three of us ended up on the longer route and a group of six or so ended up on the shorter more casual ride.  We headed out of town and within a couple miles I could tell that something major was wrong with my beloved Koi Bear (that would be my bike!)  I could shift just fine but there wasn't any tension on the gears and I was pedaling with a super high cadence which isn't my normal style.  It wasn't too bad so I kept going.  

Our route winds through some residential neighborhoods in order to avoid a section of highway that is pretty busy after work.  It lets us skip some of the more dangerous parts of the highway and still get in decent riding.  As we were making our way through one neighborhood I saw a funny sign.  It read something about "Find a new Shortcut, this is our home where kids play."  I took it to mean that cars are bothering this section of the homeowners but that bikes were cool.  Well, bikes weren't mentioned on the sign so I decided for myself that we were cool!

We soon were on the highway and relatively flat ground.  The high cadence wasn't working for me so I switched up to my big ring and still had a high cadence while pedaling. Not a good sign! We made it to Hiwassee which is a normal stopping point to allow people to regroup.  We took the time to hydrate...the heat was crazy!
Erin, me, and AJ

We made our turn to continue the route and saw a bad sign...Road Closed! We decided to go ahead and pedal along to see whether the route was salvageable.  About 1/2 mile down the road we came upon the road construction.  They are building a bypass and had torn out part of the road we were on for a new overpass that is being added.  We decided that we could easily hike our bikes across the dirt and so we did. 
Construction...no problem!

It was well worth it since we got 5 miles of shady road to enjoy for the route! After our sojourn in the shade we made a pitstop to refill our water bottles at a gas station.  I bought each of us a $1 lottery scratcher but sadly none of us had winning tickets. 

We finished up the route back at the square and saw several friends hanging out finishing up dinner.  They yelled out that there was leftover carrot cake and with those magic words we headed over to join the table.  It was great to hang out and enjoy the cooler temps as the sun went down and cap off a great ride. 

The next day I took my bike into the shop for repair...the diagnosis was a super stretched out chain.  It had even done some damage to my cassette.  Not cool but having a great bike mechanic who takes care of you makes it all better! I'm still looking into what to do about my cassette.  I think I'll replace it in the next few weeks but I need to check in with my mechanic to find out if we'll have to special order it since I like the gearing options I currently have.